As work has rather taken over lately, I have been extremely remiss in posting reports and observations on the quite brilliant performances being turned in by the Magnificent 3's! As you may well already know, the 3rd Xl have already sealed a second successive League title and can now look forward to life in Division C next season. To update you, here's how they did it!
3's Thwarted by Wear
Following on from the superb victory at Uplyme, the Mighty 3's looked to stretch their lead at the top of D East with a home win over an unpredictable Countess Wear. El Capitaino won the toss yet again, and on what was the best pitch for a while, decided to have a bat!
Big runs would be needed to negate the dangerous James Blackmore, and Wear also had the hard hitting Greg Newcombe in their ranks - a recent transfer from Civil Service. Not for the first time we managed to lose our 1st wicket in the 20's, with John Hurrell falling for 13 with the score on 24. another 24 runs later and Sinth was gone - 48 for 2 - not what the Skip had in mind when he chose to bat.
Next in was Naj Choudhary, who once again was having a good season - he would steady the ship. Having added another 20 runs, Whitey nicked off to Greg Newcombe - 68 for 3. This saw Alex Reddick join Naj and the pair looked to emulate their 153 run partnership in 17 overs at Countess Wear earlier in the season. The pair did indeed calm things down, both batting sensibly, but happy to punish the bad ball. The pair added 50 before Alex (21) drove straight and was caught and bowled by Newcombe - 118 for 4.
As Joel Heatley strode out to join Naj, 200+ was definitely on the cards, but this had to be a big partnership. As Naj went about his business at one end, scoring fluently with a fine array of strokes to all parts of the ground, Joel watched on, biding his time, getting comfortable. Joel got into his stride and the pair were taking us on towards the 200 mark. 15 runs short, and ending a superb a partnership of 68, Naj went for 65, caught off of Dave Saphiecha's bowling - another great contribution from Naj.
185 for 5 with 8 overs left - cue the Heatley / Boz onslaught! Brian Bosomworth - fresh from his batting heroics at Uplyme, took on the bowling looking to post a decent score. Boz crashed a couple of 6's on his way to a rapid 23, before falling in the 44th over, but not before he and Joel had added 55 in 6 overs! Joel was joined by rising star James Vanstone, and the pair added a further 26 in 2 overs.
James finished 14 not out from 6 balls, but credit must go to a quite brilliantly constructed and paced innings from the ever dependable Joel Heatley. Finishing unbeaten on 70, Joel's innings contained eleven 4's and some quality stroke play. A good job in the end and the 3's posted a very competitive 266 for 6.
After another fine tea, prepared and overseen by Mrs. Captain (Dee), the 3's set out to restrict a strong Wear batting line up. James Vanstone got things under way with a tidy over, and Boz was fired up at the other end. He removed Martin Bovey in his first over, and at 4 for 1, we had made the start we wanted. Downside to the early wicket was that Zimbabwean Blackmore came out to bat. A brilliant bat who was not able to play that often, but could dismantle our score single handed if allowed to get going.
Vanstone then had young James Bovey snaffled sharply in the slips by Joel, and then with Greg Newcombe joining Blackmore, the hard work started. At 26 for 2 after 9 overs, there was a long way to go if we were to get our desired 20 points. Blackmore was threatening to cut loose, when he missed judged and drove over a Jit Singh Yorker and was bowled for 19. Jit as reliable as ever - pitch it up and bowl straight. Newcombe was still proving a handful at the other end, and a frustrating partnership of 53 was finally ended by Naj when he had Newcombe caught by John Hurrell wit the score at 109 for 4. Jit's first spell of 1 for 30 from 7 had been a mixture of great bowling, but with the occasional swat for 4 form Newcombe.
With Naj removing Greg, Jit was bought back into the attack and he struck twice in his first over back! 109 for 5 soon became 132 for 6, but 35 overs had now gone. Time to mix things up! John Hurrell's occasional left art spin was introduced and in his second over he had Dave Sapiecha stumped by the quick hands of Paddy Poustie. Not wishing for JH to start thinking of himself as a strike bowler, he was removed from the attack with figures of 1 for 20 form 3.
Countess Wear made no attempt to play at anything they didn't have to, and at 184 for 7, their innings closed. A Winning Draw, but not the 20 we were after. Never the less, a positive result containing some great performances, Jit finishing with 3 for 44 from 13.
3's Go In Search of Pitch!
After yet another wet week, we arrived at Newton Poppleford in heavy rain. In a game that we really needed to get a big win from, it was not encouraging to hear all the negativity from the Exmouth 3's, who obviously didn't want to play.
As El Skip left the Exmouth team to there whining, he and a few of the 3's went to look at the wicket - where was the wicket? had one been prepared? "I reckon it must be this one between the white lines" proffered a learned colleague. By Jove - he was right! This was going to be a BIG toss to win.
By 2pm the rain had stopped and the sun was shining. The Captains went out for the important toss and Exeter won again! Still only one defeat at the toss all season. James Grant of Exmouth then proceeded to question the ethics of the Exeter Skip by playing seriously - namely, asking Exmouth to bat !?
Thankfully, wickets fell steadily as the wicket misbehaved and proved difficult to bat on. This, coupled with the fact that the grass on the outfield was longer than that on the neighbouring football pitch, ment that a big score was not likely.
This week 'Angry' Boz had turned up and he wasted no time in cleaning the top 3 batsmen on his way to 3 for 26 from 12, with 4 maidens. Jit was struggling from the Nuclear Bomb Shelter end (sorry Pavilion end) and Jake Reddick was brought into the attack.
He too wasted no time getting amongst the wickets, clean bowling two (including Skipper Grant round the back of his legs) and having one stumped by 'sharp hands' Poustie. Naj was on at the other end by now and was wreaking similar havoc. Another stumping victim, one bowled and a sharp catch by Sinth helped Naj finish with 3 for 29 from 5, whilst Jake ended up with 3 for 28 from 10. Exmouth all out for 97.
The sun had been out for a while, and although the track was never going to be a 'road', it had dried enough to suggest a more comfortable chase than might have been expected. Sam Reddick was joined by older brother Alex in yet another opening combination, and yet again, we lost a wicket in the 20's - this time losing Sam for 15 with the score on 21.
The hero of the previous week, Joel Heatley, was promoted to 3 and joined Alex at the crease. The pair wasted no time in thumping us towards the 98 needed, Alex riding his luck a little on the way. As the target was reached, Alex finished unbeaten on 33 and Joel helped himself to a rapid 31 not out, including two 6's and three 4's.
97 for 1, job done, 20 points - lets get the hell out of here!!
3's Axe Ax After Early Scare
Back to Bicton on a dry day after a decent week! A chance to bat first and put the visitors under pressure. Toss duly won again and we will bat! John Hurrell and Sam went to the middle looking to try and get us off to a decent start. Despite some fantastic batting performances this season, we had struggled to get it right at the top of the order.
Once again, we lost an early wicket, and shortly afterwards, both openers were back in the hutch with the score on 31. At least our next three were the form players of the season. Joel, looking very comfortable at number 3, and Naj at his customary 4 set about posting a score.
Once again, both played fluently, timing the ball well, playing some text book strokes and finding the rope regularly. After 20 overs we had recovered to 93 for 2, but after working hard for his 38, Naj was caught behind by skipper Enticott off of Swain's occasional bowling. Joel put on 31 with Alex before his excellent 45 came to an end off of Swain's bowling - apparently this was the first time Swain had bowled this season and he had already claimed two wickets! Make that 3, he had Sinth LBW the very next ball - 124 for 5.
Boz 'the Bat' joined Alex, but Swain struck again, bowling Alex for 14 with the score on 129 for 5. Boz looked to target the indifferent bowling at the other end, and Jake hung around with Boz and the pair added 47 in 8 overs before Jake was Swain's 5th victim, and keeper Enticott's 4th catch behind the sticks.
Boz bashed his way to 44 with six 4's and one 6 with the score on 196 for 9 with 4 overs to go. There then followed one of the seasons highlights as Paddy Poustie and Jit Singh despatched the bowling with disdain for an unbroken 38 run partnership which saw us through the 200 mark to finish on 234 for 9. Would this be enough with the destructive Sean Perry in the Axeminster line up?
Following copious sustenance, the 3's set about the task of taking 10 wickets. The stubborn Colin Leadbetter opened with the explosive Perry and the pair went off like a train wreck! 86 without loss in 13 overs, Boz coming in for some unaccustomed punishment from the bat of Perry, who looked to be in the form that took him to an unbeaten 159 two weeks earlier.
With only James Vanstone surviving the carnage with half decent figures (6-1-21-0), Naj bought himself on and with his very first ball he turned the match - Perry hammered the ball to point and Sinth took an outstanding one handed catch to remove the very dangerous Perry for 68 with the score on 86.
A much needed wicket and a collective sigh of relief could be heard. Now for the other 9. What was to follow was yet another outstanding performance from the 3's outstanding player of the season. Naj struck again in his first over, then again in his 3rd over and after 3 overs he had the figures of 3 for 2 with 2 maidens - awesome!
Jit and Jake picked up a wicket each, but today was the Naj Choudhary show. He bowled quite brilliantly, going through his full repertoire of variations, giving very little away, claiming a season's (and maybe a career best) 8 for 29 from 10.2 overs. Naj clean bowled 6 of his eight victims as they just didn't have a clue how to play him.
A great batting performance to set up a competitive score, finished off by one of the best performances seen by an Exeter bowler. Magic Naj completed the job to reduce Axminster to 164 all out. It could be said that Naj delivered at least 14 of the 20 points, but he is too modest to accept that. Another great result and Division C looms ever larger!
3's Upend Upottery
Another wet one, another important toss, another toss won! Bloody hell - still only lost one toss! Hosts invited to bat by El Capitaino, but a wet sloping wicket would not many any score easy to chase, so a good job with the ball was required.
James Vanstone opened the bowling, and despite a few wides caused by falling down the hill as he bowled, he returned tidy figures of 1 for 21 from his 6 (thanks to a diving catch from the Skip - 5.3 on the Richter scale). Jim 'The Hoop' was back in the fold after his holiday in Italy, and Jimcenzo was keen to stretch his lead over Naj in the wicket taking stakes, after Naj's big haul the week before.
A weakened Upottery offered little resistance, and only captain Adam Pulman with 37 offered any fight, but we still had to bowl in the right areas on what was an awkward wicket with some short boundaries.
Jit bowled well from the Cow End, and was well rewarded with 3 for 42 from his 12 overs, but once again, the star was Naj. Bought on a little late, it has to be said, to replace Jim who was giving nothing away with very little reward (10-0-30-1).
Naj removed the troublesome Pulman and then set about mopping up the rest. A trade mark one handed 'go go gadget arm' catch by Alex saw Naj claim his 4th wicket as Upottery were all out for 125 in 35.2 overs, and Naj finished with 4 for 6 from 4.2 overs. Why didn't the Skipper bring him on sooner!?
A warm afternoon had helped to dry the wicket, but as we learnt last year, a very cautious and watchful approach would be required if we were to claim another 20 points. Plenty of overs (56), so no need to take any risks!
Lucian had a party to go to, so opened with John Hurrell - yet another combination, this time two 'Lefty's'. This time we made it in to the 30's before losing our first wicket on 31 - Lucian out for 22, on a mission to finish early! Sam joined John and wasted no time in getting off the mark with a 6 over mid wicket. Shortly afterwards, Sam hit an extremely powerful straight drive which was hit so hard the bowler had little chance of avoiding. The ball left a seam mark on the bowlers arm as he went off in search of ice and a bandage.
Exeter did the decent thing, and in the spirit of the great game of cricket, lent Upottery a fielder. Sam was bowled by the Andrew Pulman, who had replaced Sam Bath - the bowler Sam had injured! Justice, some might say.
50 for 2, but John was still there and looking very solid. Joined by Super Hero Naj, all looked to be going our way and the pair batted well, with only the occasional hand grenade going off! Naj was carrying on in a rich vein of form, and John was content to work the gaps and give Naj the strike. Only once did John let himself go, hitting a classy straight six into the cow field.
With victory in sight, John cut to point and was well caught by the diving Fred Drew - 94 for 3. It was left to Sinth to play the support role as Naj merrily went on his way to 41 not out and the target of 126 for the loss of 3 wickets. Another 20 points, made all th emore important by the news that Feniton had gained 20 because North Devon couldn't raise a side.
Job Done for 3's as K'Beare Scratch
With only 10 points required to claim the title and promotion, Kentisbeare skip Tom Wilkinson called El Skip on Thursday to advise him that they couldn't raise a side. A disappointing way to achieve promotion, but as every other game in the Division was rained off, we would've been promoted anyway! One last job to do at Feniton on the 1st, and then a well earned winter break for all involved with another successful 3's campaign - not before a celebratory drink (or 6) at the club on Saturday night!
THANK YOU !
Thanks to Clive Dickinson (Umpire) and Paul Easterbrook (Scorer) for all there help this season, and remember Clive, I only appeal when its out! I hope both of you will be able to remain as part of the team next season.
Thanks to my team mates for making the season so enjoyable and so successful - it is their efforts that have put the 3's where they are, nothing I've done - it's been a pleasure to play cricket with you all. I hope you will put up with me again next year!
The biggest thank you goes to my wife, Dee, without whose help on a Saturday teas wouldn't happen. She also has to put up with me, Alex, Sam & Jake dissecting every aspect of the game, and reliving all the good and bad moments!
Despite the weather, a great season. Winning 12 out of 13 tosses has helped though!