TIM Ward was an easy pick as Man of the Match after steering Paignton to a three-wicket win over Exeter in yesterday’s Devon Cup final at Axminster.It was Ward’s eighth appearance in a county final for the kings of knockout cricket – and he needed to draw on all the experience accumulated over the years,Paignton must have thought they had done the tricky bit by winning the toss in damp conditions at Cloakham Lawn, putting Exeter in and bowling them out for 95.Skipper Neil Hancock bowled eight feisty overs for a five-for-eight haul, while Nat Price kept the other end tight by taking three for 24.But Paignton didn’t find the conditions any easier and were soon in trouble themselves at 26 for five. Big hitter Hancock came had been and gone for six as left-arm pacer Del Lammonby tore in to take four for 19.And there was no let up at the other end where former Bovey Tracey spinner Adam Gribble (2-11 off 8) was operating pretty effectively. Paignton’s last chance was something special from former Devon all-rounder Ward, and he duly obliged with a match-winning innings off 55 not out. It took him 86 balls, although time was never an issue as Paignton had six overs to spare when the game was finally won. But it could have gone either way up to the end, which looked like coming sooner rather than later when Paignton were 64 for seven after the demise of Justin Mann. But Ward found a willing accomplice in young Andy Kingdon, who will seldom make a more important nine not out however long he plays. Their unbroken stand of 32 gave Paignton their fourth cup win in six seasons. Hancock, who appeared to have set it up nicely for Paignton with his early burst, had nothing but praise for the occasionally wayward Ward.

And he was quick to recognise Kingdon’s contribution as well. “It was slow and it was low out there, but Tim applied himself and when we needed him to produce something special he did it,” said Hancock. “It wish he would do it more often on a Saturday afternoon. “Young Andrew was very nervous before he went out – and you can’t blame him – but he batted well, protected his wicket and hit a couple of nice fours which helped take the pressure off  Tim.”

Exeter 95 (M Gitsham 27, H Brown 19; N Hancock 5-8, N Price 3-24), Paignton 98-7 (T Ward 55no; D Lammonby 4-19, A Gribble 2-11). Paignton bt Exeter by 3 wkts.