Devon's Hugo Whitlock bowling during the pre-lunch session against Shropshire. He took two wickets that set Devon on course for victory<br>credit: Conrad Sutcliffe - no re-use without copyright owner's consentad

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DEVON are heading for promotion decider against Wiltshire for a place in Western Division One next season after crushing Shropshire by 280 runs at Bridgnorth.

The end came shortly after lunch on day three when Shropshire were bowled out for 170 chasing an unlikely 451 to win.

Victory has set-up a promotion decider against Wiltshire at Sidmouth starting this Sunday, n the final three-day match of the season, for a place in Western Division One next summer.

Devon’s win over Shropshire put them on 53 points, six points clear of Wales (47) at the top of the table. Wiltshire are third on 39 and Shropshire, who have completed their programme are fourth on 33.

Devon will be promoted if they beat Wiltshire and obtain at least two bonus points as Wales won’t be able to catch them, whatever the result of their game against bottom side Cornwall at Truro.

Wiltshire will go up if they defeat Devon and Wales lose to Cornwall. Wales have to beat Cornwall and hope the game between Devon and Wiltshire is drawn.

Devon were always in control of the game after amassing 503 for five in their first innings then dismissing Shropshire for 255.

James Horler (174) and Elliot Hamilton (137) broke Devon’s all-wicket record by putting on 289 in the first innings and the miserly continued with Ed Middleton (62no) and Calum Haggett (88no) swatting 129 in nine and a bit overs late in the day. The previous record of 286 belonged to Bob Dawson and David Lye, who set it against Herefordshire at Sidmouth in 2009.

“It’s nice to break a record but even better when the two batsmen are 20 and 19 respectively and developing into fine, young cricketers,” said Devon team manager Dave Tall.

“Not only was it the first Championship tons for both of them, they have only played together six or seven times, which makes their achievement all the more special.”

Shropshire, 71 for one overnight, were undone before lunch by Devon pace bowler Kazi Szymanski (below), who steamed in to take six wickets for 10 runs during a lively spell of bowling.

Devon's Kazi Szymansk bowling on the third day against Shropshire – he took seven wickets in the match

After three largely indifferent overs by way of a warm-up, one of which was carted around for 22 runs by George Hargrave , Szymanski took two wickets in three balls and Shropshire started to slide.

In his next five overs Szymanski took four more wickets to give him six for 10 in that period and six for 32 since starting his spell.James Horler during his first-innings knock of 174

“It was a spell of bowling that changed the game,” said Tall.

Tail-enders Sam Whitney (32) and Ben Roberts (34no) gave Devon the run around while adding 68 for the last wicket.

Jamie Stephens, the Devon captain, could have asked Shropshire to follow-on as they were more than 150 runs behind after both first innings had been completed. He chose to rest his bowlers instead.

Although Horler and Hamilton were unable repeat their first-innings feats, Calum Haggett and Ed Middleton both made half-centuries to take Devon to 202 for eight before Stephens felt a 450-run lead was enough.

Shropshire, 17 for on overnight after bad light stopped play, lost surviving opener Andre Bradford in the second over of the morning to a one-handed, diving catch by keeper Matt Thompson. That set the tone for the rest of the innings.

A combination of Devon’s seam bowling and sticky fingered catching around the bat – Thompson hung on to four catches and finished with a stumping – sealed Shropshire’s fate.

Wickets were shared among Devon’s bowlers with three for Hugo Whitlock (3-26) and two each for spinners Middleton and Stephens.,

Shropshire’s Joe Stanley made 68 out in a losing cause while Middleton (2-48) and Stephens (2-30) removed the last four batters from the other end in a final total of 170 all out.

Tall said if Devon have played better during his time in charge of the team he could not recall when.

“I would say it was the most complete performance during my time with the team,” said Tall.

“Generally our discipline and concentration was excellent, both batting and bowling.

“There might have been the odd blip in the field, but nothing that really cost us.

“We go on to Wiltshire at Sidmouth on Sunday with everything to play for.”

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