Sinth Sees 3's Homeby Vince Reddick
On a day when the weather forecast threatened to decimate the Devon League Fixture list, it was important to take an early look at Bicton and see how our home fortress had held up against the overnight rain. On arriving at 8am to meet with Bicton stalwart Pete Cooke, it was pleasing to see everything looking good, dry and ready to go. The good news was that there was a strong wind blowing which would hopefully dry things still further.
The bad news was that just after the skipper had left the ground it started raining! A phone call received from Colin from Sidmouth at 11.30 confirmed that the early rain came to nothing and it hadn't rained since - good news, quest for 20 points ON!!
All looked good, we arrived at Bicton for 1pm and the ground had indeed dried further, and although the wicket was green and damp it was definitely playable, but it was a big toss to win. Upottery arrived and a key moment arrived - the toss. Mark Joyce, the visiting captain called heads, and after flipping the coin a good twenty feet up into the wind it came down tails! Brilliant, 'you can bat' said Reddick (Snr), quest for twenty points still on course.
Bad news - about 20 minutes before the scheduled start it started raining, not heavy, but steady drizzle. No way we were going to start in the rain, and having lost the toss, Upootery's interest in playing began to wane. Half an hour after the rain started, it stopped. The problem was some small puddles in old foot holes (it was a used wicket) and a little surface water. Home skipper went in search of a fork to aid the drainage, but had to make do with poking the wet spots with a boundary flag.
Then as increased reticence set in, especially with the umpires, the sun came out. Reddick walked up and down the wicket with spikes on hoping in some way that this would help. "You're Old Man is keen to play today" Alex was told as the home team took to the deck chairs and watched the figure in white march repeatedly up and down the track. The wind still blew and the pitch slowly dried. With both umpires ducking the issue, Reddick suggested a 3.30pm start, but was told to get agreement from the visiting captain. Mark Joyce was found sitting in the changing room on his own. Ideal, no one to argue against Reddick! The 3.30pm start was proposed and reluctantly accepted after some well chosen words from the home skipper.
The game was reduced to 33 overs per innings and Joyce opened with Broom for Upottery. We opened with Drew and Alex Bate, called in late to replace the revising Tom Poustie after the 2's were called off. The good news was the track played pretty well - still good bounce and no real sign of a real shooter. Reddick still didn't fancy chasing more than 100, so it was another day when bowling changes would be crucial. Joyce went after Batey in the fourth over, hitting over the top to take 13 runs, but Drew put the brakes on again in the 5th over.
With Broom already removed LBW to Drew Smith, the key would be to remove Joyce and Arscott, who were looking like they wanted to be positive. Drew had Joyce caught at mid on by Jit Singh with the score at 32 for 2, and the feeling was we could take the 10 for under 100. Much work still to do though!
Arscott rode his luck a bit, a few good shots mixed with some streaky stuff and a few 'play & misses'. One attempted drive resulted in Alex Reddick chasing back from mid off, colecting, turning and throwing to the stumps where Alex Bate took the bails off - a run out, great work the two Alex's - 39 for 3.
A change was required, Alex Bate, having bowled his quota of 7 overs, finishing with a wicket maiden (7-1-24-1) and reducing Upottery to 54 for 4. He was replaced by Jit Singh from the Pavilion End and in his first over Jit had Jefferson caught in the covers by Jim Wenley - a wicket maiden, great start Jit - 58 for 5.
Drew kept going into the wind from the Car Park end with his customery good lines and lack of luck! Restricted to a maximum of 9 overs due to the reduced game, a frustrated Drew completed another fine spell with figures of 2 for 32 from his 9, including 2 maidens, but again deserved more wickets.
Jit's second over opened with a wicket from the first ball, Alex Reddick, running around to his right from mid off, went for a hard hit straight drive from Arscott, and although it looked like he might not get there, a stoop and an extension of his long arm took a very good one handed catch at just below waist height, a feat later described by Drew as Alex's 'go go gadget arm' - Arscott gone with the score at 58 for 6. The target of under 100 looked to be on. Jit completed his second wicket maiden and it was time to throw the ball the returning holiday maker Pete Hensor to replace Drew.
After a difficult first over bowling into the strong wind, Pete bowled 3 tight overs to concede only two runs, but no wickets. Jit's third over went for 7 runs, but he collected another two wickets 79 for 8. awesome. Jits final figures were 5 overs, 3 maidens, 4 for 8 and we were in a strong position.
Upottery were showing signs of trying to see out the overs. a change of tack was required to winkle out the last two and take maximum bowling points. Jim replaced Pete and immediately obliged by taking the 9th wicket in his first over - 88 for 9. Naj replaced Jit at the Pavilion end and bowled a couple of tight overs before claiming the final wicket in the 30 over, with the score on exactly 100. First part done, now could we knock it off no more than two down?
As everyone tucked into tea it started to rain, not good. Any advantage we may of had batting on the drying wicket was negated by a steady 20 minute shower. Still, we had plenty of fire power so 20 points was still on the cards.
The shower had certainly levelled things up. the ball stuck in the pitch a bit and the outfield had slowed up with the rain on it. Lucian looked to start where he left off last week, but perished with the score on 12. No need to panic, Fradge and Sinth could see us home. Wrong - Fradge went for 8 and the score was 29 for 2. Still loads in the hutch, so 'no worries'. 32 for 3, Naj out for 0 - WORRIES!
Alex R played some fine shots - straight to fielders, and as the rain started to fall again he was bowled for 6 and the score was 41 for 4. 'OK, see it out and we could still get 19 points' the skipper thought, wrong - Hensor caught for 0 - 41 for 5.
Suddenly, Upottery were interested, they sniffed an unlikely win. The rain abated and Drew strode out to join Sinth. The pair set about regaining control of the game, and some good running to take 3's on the wet outfield saw the pair inch us towards the required 101.
As the precipitation continued as what we call in this Country 'light drizzle', later described by Drew as a torrential downpour of biblical preportions, the scoreboard ticked along towards the required total. Tight bowling by seasoned campaigner Sam Bath had made things dificult for us, and he finished his excellent 10 overs with figures of 4 for 18 with the score on 58 for 5.
What did Upottery have to support Bath's efforts? Answer - bugger all! Sinth and Drew set about getting the job done against a poor bowling attack, and after one over form captain Joyce had gone for 15 we were 92 for 5 and the end was in sight. Drew took a single off of the first ball of the next over and Sinth had had enough - hitting the next two balls for 4 to see us reach the required 101 for 5 wickets, thanks to an invaluable unbroken 60 run partnership between Drew and Sinth.
Sinth finished 43 not out, hitting 5 fours and batting with discipline and control in trying conditions. We may well look back on his innings at the end of the season and say 'that's where we won the league'. His knock, supported by a damp Drew, gave us 18 points and the skippers determination to play was rewarded with the news that no other game in our league were completed, thus allowing the mighty 3's to stretch their lead to 21 points over nearest rivals Feniton ll Xl.
On a difficult day, in blustery conditions, one of the strongest teams to take to the field under the name of the Exeter lll Xl had again played as a team, demonstrated great spirit, determination and fight and put in a superb performance in the field, holding everything and missing nothing of consequence.
Exeter lll Xl have now accrued more points than any other team in any division of the Devon Cricket League. We march on, Division C here we come! Kentisbeare next week, and then Feniton - 2 wins and we will really be in the 'box seat'.