James Horler blazing away during his innings of 83 against Somerset<br>credit: Conrad Sutcliffe - no re-use without copyright owner's consente


JAMES Hildreth and Andy Umeed both hit half-centuries to steer Somerset to a six-wicket win over Devon in yesterday’s showcase game at Bovey Tracey.

For both it was valuable time in the middle before the Royal London Cup gets under way tomorrow (Thursday) when Notts Outlaws pay a visit to Taunton.

Steve Davies (35) and Matt Renshaw (23) found balls to hit in the first eight overs as Somerset went off in hot pursuit of 182 to win.

Unmeed (57no) and Hildreth (57) took Somerset to the brink of victory during a third-wicket stand of 102. By the time Matt Skeemer’s direct hit ran-out Hildreth the pizza van had packed-up and gone and it was last orders in the beer tent!Devon's Ed Middleton batting against Somerset leg-spinner Max Waller

Meetings between First Class counties and teams in the National Counties competition have been few and far between since the demise of the old format C&G Cup in 2005.

ECB has introduced games like this as a chance for non-professional counties like Devon to ‘showcase’ the talent and ability they have in their ranks.

And although Devon were well beaten by Somerset, who won the game with more than 18 overs to spare, they were by no means disgraced.

Devon opening batsman James Horler made the top score in the game on either side of 83 in his team’s all-out total of 181.

Horler, a well-organised left-hander, knew which balls to hit and mostly which ones to leave alone. A selection of his drives on the off-side skipped across the outfield in a hurry to the boundary.

Elliot Hamilton, another left-hander, made 22 and shared a stand of 50 with Horler before he was brilliantly caught at full stretch by Kasey Aldridge off the bowling of the impressive Alfie Ogbourne.

Having dealt with paceman Aldridge, left-arm seamer Jack Harding, Matt Renshaw and skipper Ben Green, it was spin that proved to be Devon’s undoing. Matt Waller, well known in Devon from time playing league cricket for Torquay and Budleigh Salterton, took four for 29 from nine overs as the lower order struggled against the turning ball in general and his googly in particular!

Highlights in Devon’s bowling performance came from Kazi Szymanski, Will Christophers and Ed Middleton.

Szymanski, still hoping to break back into the pro game after leaving Glamorgan, took a sharp return catch to dismiss Davies and bowled Renshaw with a peach of a ball that jagged off the pitch and took middle and leg.

Christophers bowled four overs for 22 runs on his Devon debut and was unlucky to have a simple catch dropped at backward square.

Every seat is taken on the boundary around the ground at Bovey Tracey

And Middleton’s frugal four overs of leg-spin for 23 runs showed why he has been playing second-team cricket for Gloucestershire for the last month.

Dave Tall, the team manager, felt Devon could be largely pleased with the way they performed against professional opposition.

“Take out a couple of blips in the field – a simple catch and a routine run-out – and the game would have been a little closer,” said Tall.

“Hamilton and Horler batted well and in particular Horler showed just how much he has come on as a player. 

“James is developing into a player who understands the importance of batting for long periods without worrying too much about strike rate.”

A crowd of around 700 watched the game from fold-up chairs, picnic rugs and various vantage points around the ground.

Tall said he hoped the new faces among them liked what they saw enough to keep watching the county side.

Full scorecard

The Devon team pictured before the game againt Somerset at Bovey Tracey. Back (left to right): Dave Tall, Ashley Causey,
Kazi Szymanski, Jonty Walliker, Ed Middleton, Elliott Staddon, James Horler and Tim Western; front: Will Christophers,
Matt Skeemer (captain), Ben Beaumont, Elliot Hamilton, Sam Read and Max Shepherd | Photo: Conrad Sutcliffe