Cameron's return improves Daley's mood
Granger-Evans and Holmes take headlines as North Devon's batting implodes
After the sultry heat of the week, a greyer day formed the backdrop to a second successive home game for the table topping 2nd XI. North Devon, the visitors this week from Instow, were asked to field first by stand-in Saj Patidar, with Declan Lines having been promoted to the 1st XI for the long trip 'up north'.
Louis Adey stepped up to open the batting, but fell early to a sharp slip catch. Isaac Thomas and Anthony Dibble then embarked on a fruitful second wicket partnership against a bowling attack that had a tendency to deliver at least one poor ball an over. Isaac fell run one run short of his half century and continues to accrue a large number of runs this summer. However, one is left wondering what might have been. A case for a 1st team call-up would certainly be more compelling if he had translated his efforts into scores that exceeded cricket's more notable batting landmarks.
Anthony (70) passed his half century, profiting largely on the leg side, and finding a way to score off the wily Tim Cooke, whose flighted slow bowling would struggle to register on the Sky Sports speed gun. After a useful partnership with skipper Saj, both ended up falling to Cooke, much to their mutual frustration.
It was returning keeper-batsman Cameron Grainger-Evans (69 n.o) and Fionn Wardrop (33) who kept the innings momentum going, scoring especially heavily in the last five overs, and helping Sidmouth reach a very healthy total of 285. Both hitting sixes in their final 5 over splurge, Cameron finding the promenade; Fee going straight.
On a good wicket, with a very fast outfield and a short boundary at the bottom of the ground, this felt not much more than a par score. Time would tell.
Following tea the bowlers were met by a belligerent North Devon opening pair, who were quick to punish any bowling which was not quite on the money. Fionn Wardrop had no luck from the bottom end and could have had a couple of wickets. Jash Patidar made a single breakthrough at the other end, earning Grainger-Evans' first scalp back in a Sidmouth shirt behind the stumps. I say Sidmouth shirt, but we'll gloss over that detail.
Cameron enjoyed his return to the Valley. A later stumping (at second attempt) capping a fine first league appearance of the season for his new old club. Having left some kit in the home changing room for a few weeks, following a lay-off resulting from a pre-season broken metatarsal, he feared some light fingers had accounted for a missing bat and helmet, posting a comment on social media to this effect. Team mates however urged him to look more carefully. This was Sidmouth after all. The kit was duly located in the store cupboard. Faith restored.
Amongst the bowlers it wasn't quite Toby Seldon's day, in the week of his 21st birthday. Perhaps burdened by his father's pledge of £20 per wicket to mark the occasion, Toby didn't bowl to the standard he has set himself over the last year. If he went wicketless he had to pay his Dad £20. Never have the captain's words: "take a spell" hurt so much. We wonder if Toby will keep to this part of the bargain.
It was the introduction of the two off spinners Charlie Dibble and Daley Holmes that set off quite a capitulation by the batting side, having reached in excess of 100, with only two wickets lost and at a run rate well above that required. It was Daley Holmes in particular who went through the batting line up like a hot knife through butter. He returned incredible figures with his 5 wickets taken in just 18 balls bowled. Can anyone recall a "Michelle" taken in such speed? One of his teammates suggested Daley bowls better when he is in a good mood. The down side of this theory is that someone now has to take Daley to Crealy Adventure Park next Saturday morning and buy him copious amounts of jelly and ice cream to optimise his mood and performance later in the day. He was certainly happy here on taking his last wicket, to secure his side's win, gripping onto a caught and bowled chance, although nobody was clear about in which part of his anatomy the ball finally lodged.
Daley's blast of wickets was punctuated by a great run out from Fionn Wardrop with a direct hit at the bowler's end. Wife Lisa, we learned in the resulting team huddle, is the lucky recipient of a treat from Fee whenever he performs such a majestic piece of fielding.
So North Devon were all out for 128. At 5.15pm they were two wickets down. At 6pm they were all out, and that included a drinks break. There were 21 overs unused.
Next week is the last week in the first half of the season, with a trip to Plymouth for the 2nd XI. The team head the table, unbeaten and with improving squad availability predicted over the coming weeks there is reason for optimism in the ranks.
Thanks as ever to Colstan and Clive for their excellence.