North Devon see off Paignton chase

PAIGNTON chased North Devon to the bitter end at Instow before conceding a 19-run defeat.

It wasn’t a bad day to be visiting the Premier leaders as pace pair Tom Allin and Jack Popham had both pulled out of the side due to injuries.

Allin was with Warwickshire for six seasons and Popham has just won a deal with Gloucestershire.

Faced with a target of 276 to win, Paignton looked down and out at 84 for five.

A maiden Premier Division ton by Dan Wolf in a record-breaking sixth-wicket stand of 124 with Chris Kelmere put the game back in the balance.

Right to the last pair Paignton went for it. Although they ultimately fell short, they brought home 10 bonus batting and bowling points, which keep them 27 points clear of the drop zone.

North Devon lost opener Callum French to George Benton in the first over – then assaulted the Paignton bowling with impunity for the next 18 overs.

Dan Bowser clouted nine fours and four sixes on his way to 81 off 67 balls in a second-wicket stand of 141 with Max Curtis.

Curtis made 46 off 55 balls with seven fours, which looked positively pedestrian in comparison.

Mikey Cousens (2-51) and Connor Ashworth (3-37) shared three wickets for 13 runs as North Devon slowed to 155 for four with Bowser then Curtis and Quintin Dreyer out of the way.

Barney Huxtable (16) and Ed Yeo (32) upped the tempo a second time then Josh King slammed 55 not out off 35 balls in a seventh-wicket partnership of 64 with Yeo as North Devon got to 275 all out in the final over.

George Benton took three for 70 on his last bowl for Paignton before leaving for an 18-month trip to Australia next week.

The early signs were inauspicious for Paignton as they lost Noah Wright in the second over to Sam Witheridge (2-55).

Peter Taylor (35) and Cousens (12) seemed to be making progress, but a coalition of bowlers proved effective with Taylor, Cousens and Scott Baldry going between 52 for two and 66 for four.

When Connor Bryan was caught behind of Matt Westaway (3-25), Paignton were 84 for five and long odds to even get close.

Wolf and Kelmere changed the scenario with a sixth-wicket stand of 124 that broke a long-standing record and got Paignton back in the game.

Previously, the best partnership for the sixth wicket was 116 shared by two pairs of batsmen.

Exeter pair Derek Lammonby and Orlando le Fleming set it against Sandford on 1992 and Plymouth duo Ian Law and Jon Fabian matched it against Seaton in 1995.

The stand ended just after Wolf reached his ton. Kelmere fell for 44 to Witheridge.

Wolf was next out on 236 for seven, having hit 16 fours and two sixes in a 105-ball stay.

With 40 needed and five overs to go, the lower order went for it.

North Devon skipper Huxtable opted for the spin of French and it proved a sound move.

French took the last three wickets to fall as Paignton got to 256 all out in the penultimate over – last man Harry Ward (12) resisting to the end.

It was a great effort and drew praise in several areas from Paignton skipper Connor Bryan.

“Dan Wolf showed incredible maturity and there are several more hundreds to come from that boy,” said Bryan.

“North Devon got off to a great start after they were 114-1 after 12 overs.

“The boys pulled it back well to bowl them out for 276.

“We needed someone to go on and get a 60 along with Wolfie. Unfortunately, that didn't happen.

“Kelmere and Wolf’s partnership brought is really close, but we needed a little more up top.”

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