PULLING POWER! Elliot Hamilton hits out on his way to an unbeaten 154 against University of Exeter<br>credit: Conrad Sutcliffe


ELLIOT Hamilton and Matt Skeemer both had claims for the man-of-the-match award in Devon’s 96-run win over University of Exeter in a pre-season warm-up game at Sidmouth.

Plympton opener Hamilton, just back from a winter playing Grade cricket in Australia, made an unbeaten 154 in Devon’s 50-over total of 252 for seven.

Jonty Walliker – made the bowling breakthroughs Devon neededAfter Hamilton’s Plympton clubmate Jonty Walliker (3-44) got rid of the Students’ top scorer Will Chesterman (43), Cornwood all-rounder Skeemer ran through the bottom half of the order in a hurry.

Skeemer took four wickets for eight runs conceded from 16 balls bowled in his second spell when returned to the attack as the Students collapsed from 135 for six to 156 all out.

Tail-enders Conway Gilbert and Will Lucas went in successive catches to Cornwood pair Elliot Staddon and Ben Beaumont – the latter to a brilliant grab taken with a full-length dive running away from the stumps. It was a catch that deserved to dismiss a better batter than the last man in!

Dave Tall, the former Plymouth captain who is Devon’s director of cricket, gave man-of-the-match to Hamilton… but only just!

“Matt Skeemer has bowled well and did what needed to be done, which was to skittle out the lower-order batsmen,” said Tall.

“Matt is an effective bowler and it was great to see him in early season form as our first real match is less than two weeks away.

“What I liked about Elliot Hamilton’s innings was the way he did not get fazed when things did not go his way.

“It wasn’t a chanceless knock – he was dropped more than once including when he was on 99 – but it was how he dealt with it that impressed me most.

“When batters give a chance and get away with it they often get out soon after because their concentration has gone. Elliot just got his head down, played himself in again and got back to the task of scoring runs.

“Elliot has had a winter in Australia playing tough cricket and I think we will see the benefits of what he has learned about the mental side of the game.”

Hamilton got on with it from the start and clouted 13 off the first over from Pierce to get Devon up and running.

An opening stand of 102 between Hamilton and Adam Small (28) took Devon to the halfway point of their innings and once the first wicket went the scoring slowed as Beaumont, Jack Ford and acting captain Calum Haggett all came and went cheaply.

Enter Staddon on his first Devon appearance who, once settled, got on with the job of scoring runs.

Successive sixes off the bowling of Mike O’Donohue, both of which clattered into the bin store on the mid-wicket boundary, were among the highlights of Staddon’s 38-ball stay for 40. A third six scattered players on a nearby croquet lawn!

Hamilton and Staddon hoisted 101 for the fifth wicket in a stand that impressed Tall.

“Elliot added the impetus we needed at that time to get and wasn’t afraid to play his shots doing it,” said Tall.

Walliker and Staddon picked off an opener each early on when Devon bowled, but a patient stand of 49 between Jamie Baird (26) and Harry Fisher (29) began to get the Students back into the game.

Baird went first, caught behind, followed by Fisher to a smart run-out executed by Hamilton.

Once Walliker cleaned-out Chesterman with the first ball of his second spell, the Students started to decline.

With Walliker (3-44) picking up two wickets and Skeemer the rest the Students lost six wickets for 36 runs en-route to an early finish.

Said Tall: “It was an ideal work out for us and allowed players to get runs and wickets under the belts.

“We have got a T20 double-header against Gloucestershire Academy at Exeter this Sunday, which will be a step-up and a bit more of a test.”

Devon 252-7 (E H Hamilton 154, E J Staddon 40, A J Small 28), University of Exeter 156 (W Chesterman 43, H Fisher 29; M P Skeemer 5-23, J E B Walliker 3-44). Devon bt University of Exeter by 96 runs

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Elliot Staddon puts bat to ball on his way to a quickfire 40 off 38 balls