Kazi Szyma?ski – five wickets for the Devon pacer, who was drafted into the side at short notice<br>credit: Conrad Sutcliffe - no re-use without copyright owner's consent


DEVON trounced Buckinghamshire by 92 runs at High Wycombe to snatch the leadership of their qualifying pool in the NCA Trophy.

Ben Privett slammed his maiden Devon century in any format of the game towards a 50-over total of 279 for eight.

Pace bowler Kazi Szymanski, an 11th hour inclusion in the side, then took a competition personal best of five wickets for 28 runs as Bucks were dismissed for 181 with more than eight overs to go.

Victory took Devon past Berkshire on net run rate into top spot, but from one more game played.

It could not be much tighter in the race for a top-two finish and a place in the last-eight knockout stages as Devon, Berkshire and Oxfordshire are all on four points.

Dave Tall, Devon CCC’s director of cricket, said it may be a good position to be in but qualification is not assured yet.

“We have a good chance of qualifying, but must beat Cornwall at Cornwood in our final pool game in two weeks,” said Tall.

“Berkshire have two games to go, one of which is against Oxfordshire, and if they win that’s Oxfordshire out of it.

“Where it get tricky is if Oxfordshire beat Berkshire, we beat Cornwall and Berkshire beat Buckinghamshire in their last game. Then everyone is on six points and net run rate will decide it.

“All we can do is defeat Cornwall and wait for the other results to come in.”

Privett’s 101 – ten fours, one six, 144 deliveries – formed the backbone of Devon’s total. By the time he was sixth out on 197 he had been involved in stands of 83 with Elliot Hamilton (31) and 74 with Charlie Sharland (43).

“Ben’s was a chanceless innings, until he tried to guide one behind him and nicked it to the keeper,” said Tall.

Sharland got a pat on the back for 43 off 35 balls, accompanied by an observation from Tall.

“Charlie looked like a million dollars when he batted, but got out playing a reverse sweep when he probably did not need to,” said Tall.  

With wickets in hand going into the final 10 overs, Lawrence Walker (40no), Sam Read (22) and Jamie Stephens (16) kept the runs coming.

Walker’s reputation for getting on with it is growing with every game he plays for Devon, as Tall noted.

“For someone only just in the team it was a very a mature innings,” said Tall.

Bucks were looking good at 79 for one in the 14th over. But it was a different story at 92 for five after a battering from Szymanski (5-28) and spinner Max Shepherd (2-41).

Ed Bragg (47), in at 92 for five, delayed the inevitable for a while and wrung 86 runs out of the bottom half of the order.

Once Bragg went, wicket number four for Szymanski, Bucks caved in from 178 for seven to 187 all out.

Szymanski, 12th man in Devon’s first two qualifying games, was initially left out of the squad for the trip to High Wycombe. He was given an Saturday night recall when Cornwood’s Ben Beaumont pulled out due to an injury sustained that afternoon in the win over Heathcoat.

Tall said Szymanski took the opportunity to show what he could do with both hands.

“Kazi was disappointed to be left out, but fate brought him back into the side and I could not be more chuffed for him,” said Tall.

Overall, Tall was unstinting in his praise for Devon's display against Bucks.

"It was a brilliant, all-round performance and, without doubt, the best white-ball performance in my time," said Tall.

"I knew that they had that performance in them and they are playing with a lot more belief."