1st XI vs South Devonby Pat Steward
A clash between top and bottom of the A Division. Exeter had everything to lose; S Devon had little to lose.
The wicket, given weather conditions during the week, was fantastic and a huge credit to the groundsman and his gofers - Price and Medway.
Losing the toss, with rain forecast later in the afternoon, did not make for a happy skipper. But the toss turned out to be the only thing South Devon won all day!
S Devon’s opening bowlers trundled in against the in-form Wilkinson and Webb. After witnessing the first few overs, sprinkled with wides and long hops, several cars were moved to relative safety behind the squash club.
Wilkinson and Webb got off to their usual fluid start, with a deep square leg soon being preferred to a first slip! Webb was unlucky to be run out backing up, for 25, just as he was beginning to move up through the gears. Holman entertained briefly, pushing Wilkinson between the wickets. But then Holman decided to run down the wicket and miss it. Norwood took a little while to get going and then realised that hitting over the boundary, which had been shorted during the game by the umpires (!), was the best bet. Meanwhile, one turned the ‘wrong way’ against Wilkinson who was out for 30. Still and Norwood took the game to South Devon’s spinners, with fielders fetching the ball from Prince of Wales Rd and West Avenue, just as Tipper was heard to mutter “200, just get me 200”. Still was remarkably caught at mid on off a chest high full toss from the S Devon overseas spinner, who was the one visiting player to make an impression on the game with variation, spin and no balls (for bowling over but around the wicket!). Grainger nudged, nurdled and stroked the ball around the park for 38 n.o. and, with help from the much improved batting of Richardson, helped add 75 in the last 15 overs.
A total of 245 for 6, with the wicket doing a bit, was a very competitive score. The skipper was showing signs of happiness, although some thought that was just because of tea.
Tipper’s smile broadened as S Devon went one wicket down in the first over, and two in the second. At 11 for 4, with three wickets of his own (opening the bowling), Tipper was struggling to contain his excitement. S Devon were never going to recover and the main interest was which bowler – Mead or Tipper – would be the first to get five wickets. At 19 for 6, the wickets were shared equally between the two bowlers. At 25 for 7, with Tipper just ahead on the wicket tally, the record books for lowest A Division score were in danger of being re-written. Tipper made it to five wickets ahead of an increasingly angry Mead. At 36 for 9, S Devon were throwing the bat in hope. Mead had one difficult chance at second slip put down, which meant he stayed on 4 wickets and allowed the skipper to take his 6th wicket the following over, with the score on 46. Tipper finished with figures of 6 for 27 and Mead 4 for 19.
A really good team effort, 20 points and a bar crowded much earlier than usual. The skipper was very merry.