One against the head
Champions win easily on eventful trip to Instow
A glorious day at Instow provided a stunning backdrop to the 2nd XI's eagerly awaited minibus trip to North Devon. Executive travel it wasn't. Saj Patidar stretched his all round capability to be the designated driver of the 'rust bucket'. With 13 people, 11 kits and enough beer to cater for a cruise ship, it was surprising that the bus managed to reach the beautiful coastal ground on the Taw and Torridge estuaries. There was a suggestion that Anthony Griffiths' carefully concocted "rocket fuel" may have been used to supplement the petrol. More about that later.
North Devon decided to bat first on winning the toss. Nobody in their batting line up seemed intent on getting their head down and work on building a base. They were not helped by a wicket with the first ball of the match when Toby Seldon removed the opener's middle stump with a beautiful delivery. Toby continued to bowl as well as he has done all season, with a very consistent line and length. Pick of the bowlers on the day, Toby bagged three wickets, including one with perhaps his only bad ball in the spell.
Taking wickets with poor deliveries became a theme during the innings. Messrs Raistrick and Holmes between them taking four wickets with a combination of full tosses and long hops, as North Devon failed to capitalise on the visitors' generosity. The innings never gained any momentum; the final total of 105 was never going to be enough on a good wicket and fast(er) outfield, which were in sharp contrast to the ground conditions experienced in last week's game at Plympton. A better ball from Luke Raistrick and the ubiquitous wicket from Saj Patidar accounting for the final two wickets. The all round fielding display was one of the strongest of the season, with a number of good catches taken.
Visits to North Devon always seem to produce moments of comedy or drama. This was not to be an exception. Chasing a ball to the leg side boundary, Charlie Dibble turned and threw (almost) in one movement. The ill-directed throw was heading well off line from its intended target, and alarmingly was heading towards umpire Colston Herbert, who quite correctly was not watching the ball, but looking out for a possible run-out or for incomplete runs. Time stood still. The noise that followed, as the ball hit Colston square on the back of the head, was very similar to a knocking-in mallet making a single thwack on a new bat. Thankfully the throw had come from a 'chocolate' arm and not from a Daley Holmes or a Byron Knowles. Although shocked, there was no significant injury - thank god. Colston was able to return to the action after a 20 minute sit down, sore, but undeterred. Later on, all were able to see the funny side of the incident, reflecting on the different potential outcomes. These are best not discussed here. Gallows humour.
The inadequate total set by North Devon was never going to test the Sidmouth batting line up. Anthony Griffiths helped himself to another half century surviving a couple of dropped chances to remain undefeated. Two wickets were lost in the chase but Nick Mansfield with an unbeaten cameo innings supported Griff in getting the divisional champions over the line.
The game was concluded prior to tea, perhaps underlining the gulf between the two sides. Given the sustained record of this team over such a long period it is not unfair to see the merits of an all through league, because to improve, the side need to be truly tested week by week.
So, onto the rust bucket again and the task of making a dent in the improvised bar. Within the journey was an unusual quiz whereby the increasingly cheerful occupants of the 'bus' had to guess the ingredients of Griff's rocket fuel. It would be unprofessional to list them here, but it was clear they were a great anaesthetic for Colston's head. Maybe best not contemplating the combined affects of the ball injury and the rocket fuel on Sunday morning. Sorry Colston.
Thank you to Clive Dwerryhouse for scoring (on his own for third time this season) and to Saj for driving and somehow managing to caress and cajole the bus home, making it feel like a high performance sports car rather than the heap of junk it was.