The 2010 Under 16 Season

The Under 16 2010 Season





Won on 1st Inns




Lost on 1st innings




v Cornwall at Redruth C.C. – Devon won by 3 wickets
Cornwall    193-8 (M.Curtis 3-28)
Devon       197-7 (M.Golding 58, J.Abbot 30*)

v Haberdashers' Aske at Axminster - Devon lost by 21 runs
Haberdashers 264-5 (M.Steward 3-46)
Devon       243 (M.Golding 35, R.Davies 42, J.Abbott 34)

v Somerset at North devon C.C. - Devon won by 5 wickets
Somerset   152-8
Devon        153-5 (M.Cousens 89*, J.Abbott 35)

v Cornwall at Cornwood C.C. - Devon won by 47 runs
Devon         207-8 (J.Abbot 47, R.Davies 57)
Cornwall      160-8 (H.Kerton 3-31)

v Worcestershire (2 day) at Kidderminster C.C. - Devon won on first innings
Worcestershire 204 (H.Booker 4-32, Pv.Mawalage 3-31)
Devon             255-9 dec (C.Eaves 45, C.Overton 60*)

v Warwickshire (2 day) at Torquay C.C. - Devon lost on first innings
Warwickshire 230 (G.Yates 4-27)
                     85-0 dec
Devon            175 (J.Overton 31, G.Yates 46)

v Somerset at Taunton Vale C.C. - Devon lost by 52 runs
Somerset       265 (G.Chaplin 4-21)
Devon            213-7 (T.Ansell 56, J.Abbot 35, H.Booker 36, R.Davies 33)

v Warwickshire (60 overs) ay Leamington Spa C.C. - Devon won by 6 wickets
Warwickshire 131 (J.Overton 3-26, C.Overton 3-24)
Devon            131-4 (J.Abbot 36, C.Overton 53)

v Staffordshire (2 day) at Penn C.C. - abandoned.
The 2010 Squad C.Eaves (captain); J.Abbott; T.Ansell; H.Booker; G.Chaplin; M.Cousens; M.Curtis; R.Davies; C.Overton; J.Overton; M.Golding; H.Kerton: J.Mailling; Ps.Mawalage; Pv.Mawalage; R.Rickard; J.Richardson; E.Staddon; M.Steward; B.Williams; G.Yates.

A number of players being regularly involved with the seventeens and a couple of long term injuries resulted in twenty-one players representing the sixteen’s in 2010. This is an above average number but did enable some new players the opportunity of sampling county cricket. The strength and quality of the squad in a more normal season could well have broken a number of long standing records, as a team and individually. It was however a successful and enjoyable summer with the weather only intervening when the squad were in the Midlands, which resulted in only one day’s play out of four.

Taking into account all the circumstances that occurred prior to the first game of the season with Cornwall, the end product was a really encouraging performance. However during the course of the game Devon made life as difficult as possible for themselves at the really well appointed and welcoming Redruth ground. Greg Chaplin was at the ground before the rest of the squad but unfortunately he was going to experience one of those days which he probably would prefer to forget, although he was there at the end of the game all padded up and ready to see his side home if necessary. He was soon joined by the rest of the side who had travelled from all parts of Devon with Ben Williams outdoing them all having arrived on the 6.30am ferry from Roscoff. With Coach Matt Thompson making his full debut for Devon, it was a do it yourself warm up with Eaves, Curtis and Golding leading the group who followed them superbly. They all did a really good, well prepared job and the picture painted was perfect. They had nearly completed their pre-match preparations before their opponents had even started. Devon was going to insert but Cornwall won the toss and batted. Williams and Yates opened and restricted Cornwall to 27 off ten. In the eleventh over, and with his fifth ball, Passi Mawalage caught and bowled the Cornish captain Rowe 1. Craig Eaves went four balls better when with the first ball of his spell he castled Rule; there must be a pun there somewhere. Cornwall was now 32-2 and when the first drinks were taken at 17 overs Devon were confident, provided they could break the current pairing of Purchase and Rowe 2, that subsequently life would be easier. They failed as the batters were still together at the second drinks break with the score now 124-2. The seamers continued the good work but the third wicket pairing took a liking to spinners, Golding and Pavi Mawalage, who conceded 46 runs off six overs. In the thirtieth over Max Curtis entered the attack and started a very telling spell. Two overs after the second drinks break he had Purchase well held at long off by debutant Harry Booker for 59. Purchase had earlier been missed at mid wicket on 32 off Golding. The third wicket pair had put on 95 in 24 overs. Seven runs later Yates in the style of Ponting held a memorable catch off Curtis to remove Pooley. Cornwall was now 155 after forty overs when the boundary and resting fielders were asked to estimate the final score. Abbott came in at 190, Curtis started at 193 but realised that he was bowling so increased it to 203 and Steward was even less confident at 213. The fifth wicket fell at 161 when Rowe 2 was bowled by Curtis. His figures were then 7-1-20-3, most impressive. Two wickets fell on 179 when Yates bowled Alsop and Pavi threw out keeper Burchell who was on his third run to mid on! It was a neat pick up and direct throw. Craig Eaves first five overs had conceded just six runs for his first ball wicket and he returned for a final two overs, successfully having Sharp caught by Curtis on the final score of 193. Curtis, o ye of little faith. The side had kept at it well in the field, bowling at a decent over rate. Some of the players would need to work on their fielding but Yates was outstanding and under 15 keeper Rhys Davis, making his first appearance, had been brilliant. He also fitted in exceptionally well and was to prove to be a huge asset over the summer. His debut duck will disappoint but he has two strings to his bow and his proven batting skills will be vital in 2011. Devon used eight bowlers but not the unlucky Chaplin.

In response the tall Booker found the low bounce difficult and was bowled for 1 with the score on five. Curtis and Golding, who had been with the Somerset Academy the previous evening, put on 83 with no signs of concern and in particular their shot selection and running was good. It was therefore a disappointment that neither batted on. Max Curtis was caught behind off Rule for a 70 ball 33 and then Yates and Golding added 26, taking their side past three figures, before Alsop bowled Yates. Matt Golding then holed out, again off Alsop, with his side now on 130. He scored the side’s first fifty of the summer. He had looked in really good form and three figures should have been there for the taking but his 58 off 77 had put the side in a reasonable position. One run later Davies was back in the pavilion leg before. South Devon’s Eaves and Joe Abbott put on 37, again in a comfortable manner. This was a fine return to the fold by Abbott as the pair looked to be taking their side to a win. To his own obvious annoyance Eaves was caught for 26, he had batted really sensibly to his side’s needs and then…….. Merrick Steward was immediately caught at cover second ball and at 168-7 more sensible batting was needed. Passi Mawalage and Joe Abbott did just that. Abbot was not out 30 and Passi undefeated on a vital 11. Devon had seven balls to spare and interestingly had scored at virtually four an over throughout. An unusual experience as acceleration tends to kick in at some time. It was a good result, the senior players played their part, Eaves led well throughout the day and in fact everyone, well nearly everyone, made a contribution. Post match the ten good points were quickly reeled off and the five that needed attention discussed and did improve over the summer. This had been a good start to the summer considering that the Overton twins were missing as they were also involved in the Minor County game. But later in the week it was played two, won one, lost one.

Although at one stage it did look as though the annual game with Haberdashers’ might be a much heavier defeat that the eventual loss by 21 runs, it did however achieve many of its objectives, apart perhaps from a win! Devon was confronted by an inform side with Letts having been breaking records all week on the school’s annual tour to Devon, scoring runs for fun. There were also two Test Match nephews in Edrich and Kartic. This annual fixture is a vital opportunity to give opportunities and take players from the safe environment of an indoor facility and club cricket into a proper contest, as the school look at Devon’s scalp as an important one and so it should be!

Played in hot weather on the second Axminster ground the visitors won the toss and batted. This was Matt Thompson’s first external involvement and he could be satisfied on his debut. He had missed the Cornwall game due to his commitments with the full county side, scoring a ton. He is to be congratulated on being the youngest ever county centurion by just twenty-four hours. His subsequent appearances for the county during the rest of the season severely disrupted his availability, as it had been proposed that he would be with the 16s and 17s all summer. Fortunately the void was filled by other Devon coaches, in particular Joe Smith.

Haberdashers’ reached fifty in eleven overs and lost their first wicket at 51 in the thirteenth when Patel was caught by Booker off Steward. Steward took his second wicket at 76 when he trapped Malde in front. The Exeter left armer then had Selvakumar caught first ball by debutant Elliott Staddon. This batsman was later to cause the seventeens major problems in their semi-final with Middlesex. Captain Eaves joined in 120 runs later when the high scoring Letts was caught by Golding. Letts had played the match winning role in 2009 when he had shared in an unbeaten partnership of 149. This year’s partnership with Tom Edrich had lasted just 118 balls and took four minutes over the hour. It was not without mishap as the scorebook indicates dropped catches when Letts was on nought and twenty-five so it really was a matter of catches…….. The pair batted really well and had taken their side up to 196 off forty overs. The predicted final total varied but in the real world the visitors went at 6.9 and took the game away from Devon. This score equalled the fifth highest total conceded by Devon at sixteens in a one day game. Forty-one had been added for the fifth wicket when Edrich was caught and bowled by Eaves. The sixth wicket put on an unbeaten 27. Due to his most unfortunate shoulder injury this was to be Max Curtis’s last full county youth game for the summer and, along with the other bowlers, he would have been disappointed at the standard of bowling and the rate runs were conceded. In fairness the bowlers were not helped by the best of fielding performances.

To win Devon would need to have scored at 5.26 an over and, as had been discussed in depth in the winter, the first ten overs were as critical as the last ten. Disappointingly Devon were unable to utilise their full quota of overs which was just not acceptable. Devon were 32-0 off ten but were not doing the fundamentals of rotating the strike and taking the singles. Frustration was creeping in and Ansell started to look to charge the bowlers. His role in the side includes supporting his partners with regular singles even when tied down. Having faced thirty-seven balls and having hit two fours he was caught to give Silvarna his first wicket. After another forty-eight runs Golding was Silvarna’s second victim for a forty-two ball 35 as Devon tried to raise the tempo. At the half way stage Devon were 92-3 with Booker also back in the pavilion for a faltering sixty-three ball 23. The required run rate was now just under seven with seven wickets in hand. This was to prove to be an interesting phase and gave a clear clue as to the side’s ability to finish a game. The finishers proved to be Davies, Eaves, Abbot and Steward as the noise level in the field was reduced and the standard of our opponents’ fielding fell. By the fortieth over Devon had reached 182 with the rate now over eight. Eaves had departed at 160 for a seventeen ball 21, keeper Davies fell at 183 and, with his demise, perhaps his side's chances. He had come with a reputation of being able to change games and he very nearly did in this instance. His 42 included two fours and two very big sixes. Overall in the three age groups Davies and Jamie Overton hit the most sixes in the summer – eight. However it was still not all over as Abbott and Steward put on 25 of 14 before Steward was caught for a thirteen ball 23, which also included two sixes! Joe Abbott soldiered on, enhancing his own reputation, but the game was all over in the forty-eighth over twenty-one runs short. It had been useful workout won by the better side but much had been learnt

Our next game was the first under 16 game at Instow for some years. The previous day, on the way up to the north of the county from an abandoned under 21 game at Axminster, the rain started just past Tiverton. Braunton was wet but a surprisingly optimistic call was received from North Devon Cricket Club. An update email was sent to Somerset advising them to travel the next morning. It rained during a convivial meal at a remote pub as pictures of Barnie Huxtable’s exploits at under 21s were viewed in the North Devon Gazette. It continued to rain overnight but somehow against all odds our hosts put on the fixture. They had been there in force since dawn, Andrew Cameron’s radar was in direct contact with the met office and the square well covered. On arrival at the well appointed ground the players were pulling up the site screens and putting them in place and an old acquaintance, Tom Wright, was coach to the Somerset side. The injured Max Curtis turned up with the latest prognosis and a neat little sling. He received genuine sympathy from all. The game was to be played on the same track on which North Devon were to play an important Premier League match the next day, telling you much about our host’s attitude to youth cricket - outstanding.

Craig Eaves decided to give Somerset first use of the track and Passi Mawalage held a neat slip catch to remove Easton off Craig Overton. Rouse was bowled by Yates at 46 and four runs later the under 15s’ Cousens and Davies combined to run out Smith. Jenkins, who was to bat well against the 17s the following week, added 31 with Barrett as Somerset passed the hundred in the thirty-fourth over. The home twins removed Jenkins caught Craig. Hayes batted 48 balls for six when Craig held another good catch off West Buckland colleague, Harry Booker. The sixth wicket fell at 108 (37 overs) when Jamie Overton caught Barrett off Steward for a 59 ball 32. The final three wickets put on 34 runs off 79 balls as Devon failed to take the final wickets. Marsh was caught Eaves bowled Pavi and Vicary was caught Golding bowled Craig Overton. The catch being caught on camera by Michael Overton, whose photographs throughout the summer at all levels proved to be a huge success with players and management alike.

A splendid lunch was served by Helen Overton and Teresa Curtis with a one handed waiter in attendance. Cousens and Abbott gave their side the ideal start, scoring 118 off 132 balls in 85 minutes. There seemed to be no potential problems and yet what at one time looked a comprehensive win suddenly became difficult. Abbott continued to establish himself in the side with a county best 35 when Blake caught him off Easton. Enter now spinner Vicary and the whole complexion of the game changed as he took four cheap wickets. Craig Overton caught Blake, Golding leg before first ball, Jamie Overton bowled 0 with a big bang on the foot which caused him to limp off with unfortunately no support from his colleagues. This knock was to have a critical effect on the rest of the season for in particularly the seventeens. It aggravated an old injury and severely affected his ability to bowl. Rhys Davies struck a four and then was caught by Rouse. Cousens was watching this debacle undefeated on 87 in a splendid innings. His season too was to come to a premature end as his long term injury was now to rule this key player out for the remainder of the summer. The captain helped put on the three runs needed but ended up on one not out despite his sweep crossing the boundary but he had already crossed with his partner. Cousens had shown all the necessary attributes in a batsman, despatching the bad ball to the boundary. He had batted two minutes under two hours and faced 86 balls for his 89.

It had been good to meet up with both Tom Wright and Neil Bettis, who is still Devon’s most successful under 16 batsman although his record could have been under pressure by Craig Overton had the huge demands on him not curtailed his under sixteen season. There was some relief on the following Sunday morning, on checking the Saturday results, to see that North Devon had picked up another win with a century from Craig Overton. The club could not have been more co-operative and we play a two day under 17 game at Instow in 2011.

Injuries to a number of the under seventeen players were now having a knock on affect at sixteens. An increasing number of the squad were playing for the seventeens and also undertaking important roles at their clubs. For future under sixteen fixtures it was decided to share selection around the other members of the squad and, for the game with Cornwall at Cornwood, with local fifteens. The depth of talent available in Devon was therefore tested and indicated there is a large pool of able players available. Devon took its foot off the accelerator when neighbours, Cornwall, were 68-8 with twenty overs left and 139 needed. This was the first under 16 game at Cornwood and it was a genuine pleasure to test drive their brilliant new facilities. They were exceptional hosts with their groundsman, Dave Vanstone, up with the larks to prepare the ground. Merrick Steward won the toss and, despite the advice of a home batsman, wisely decided to bat. With Michael Cousens and Max Curtis both out for the summer, a new opening partnership was needed. Joe Abbott had done a good job at North Devon and continued to impress putting on 54 with debutant Josh Mailling. Although Abbot tried to run out the Ivybridge all rounder, they combined well batting for fourteen overs. Mailling was the first to return to the new pavilion, caught for a forty-one ball 29 which included 6 fours. Harry Booker, who had not been excused games, had made the long journey down from North Devon and was almost immediately caught and bowled for 5 in the seventeenth over. This brought in Cornwood’s under 15 batsman Ryan Rickard, who had been making a big impression during the summer, but he too was back in time for the ice cream tubs when he was bowled in the twenty-first over with the score on 73. Abbott and Rhys Davis added 55 off 86 balls when, three short of his maiden half century, Abbott was caught having faced 94 balls, another very useful contribution. The predicted score varied from the unlikely to the ridiculous but Langage Farm Ice Cream has few peers. Davies was hitting the ball into the trees and road but lost his captain on 139 and then departed himself on 185 after putting on a further 46 with Passi Mawalage. His excellent innings had been a personal under 16 best and had taken up 75 minutes, with 73 minutes and balls to pass his maiden sixteen’s fifty. Davies hit three fours and sixes in a most accomplished innings. Passi obviously did not agree with the season’s minimum ten run partnership rule as next ball he was dropped at long off! Greg Chaplin added 8 with the taller twin but was bowled by J.Rowe for 3. Passi fell at 200 for a useful 33 ball 24. Williams and Stadden took the side up to 207 – with Mailling the closest at a predicted 203. There had been some good cameos but once again no one had batted on. The highest individual scores in the summer were Cousens’ 89 and Craig Overton’s 60 – this was not good enough.

Lunch was enjoyed and then Plymstock’s Hallam Kerton produced one of the best debut spells from an under 15 in twenty years. Cornwall openers T.Rowe and B.Rule, whose nickname is either a measuring device or a monarch, had put on 28 off 42 balls before Kerton, in his fourth over, found his line and length and fourth ball bowled the Cornish captain, two balls later trapped Sharpe leg before and twelve balls later with the final ball of his spell he had the King caught behind by Davies. His impressive figures were six overs, one maiden, fourteen runs, three wickets. Alan Swift had discovered him the previous summer as a batter and took him to South Africa. He is a real find and is a very sensible down to earth bloke. It was unfortunate that the management still do not have a full grasp of the bowling directives as he was trying to get him off an over early! Cornwall were now 43-3 and were soon reduced to 55-7 after twenty-three overs. The captain bowled Bamber-Jones E, Rowe J was caught Steward bowled Chaplin. Greg was probably disappointed to have been given a bat and bowl after his previous inactivity at Redruth but he too bowled a good spell. The inform Steward took out Pooley leg before and Joe Abbott held a snorter at short extra cover off Chaplin to remove Mitchell. Steward’s impressive figures were 2-8 off seven; Chaplin's equally good figures were 2-4 also off seven. Merrick then shared the bowling around bringing in as many players as possible. Elliott Staddon, to the delight of his local fan base, took his first county wicket on his favourite home strip number seven when he acquired the final wicket of the afternoon, bowling Jenkin. Alsop was 66 not out off 98 balls and Burchell scored an undefeated 23 off 65, they both enjoyed themselves at Devon’s expense putting on an unbroken 92 for the ninth wicket. This partnership gave their side’s score some real respectability. Once again much was gained in this friendly, which proved to be a useful workout for a number of players, some of whom did their chances in 2011 no harm. Hopefully this will be the first of many visits to Oak Park and our thanks to all their members who made the day possible.

Devon was all present and correct at the Exeter services for their first trip up to the Midlands. New coach Andrew Buzza was in place on the front bench but not on the wing seat so he was in charge of the music. Immediately he showed his age with the regular response of ‘No’ to his music choice. He started with a west mother’s ring tone which made at least one player feel at home. There was apparently more to the question ‘How long to the ground?’ than first met the eye and this from an experienced traveller. Apart from a spell off the motorway good time was made as Ombersely Cricket Club and the overnight accommodation were passed. We also drove past the ground, TOM TOM  at fault again but on eventually entering it we were confronted with another special playing area with excellent facilities, the no dogs sign was of concern but the club secretary could not have been more helpful as indeed he was throughout the two days. He was well supported on the ground and with the catering. This was another toss to win, sadly democracy entered the under 16s vocabulary, one that will be immediately removed, as the captain undertook an opinion poll and came up heads – HEADS!! Of course the noise came from the home side as for the second time in Worcestershire in a week Devon contemplated a day chasing leather. In fact, for the second time in a week, Devon were confronted with a difficult period to bat to close. It looked as if it would be a long day in the field as Hingley and Hills put on 40 in seventeen overs when Booker added to his mounting fantasy points with a six foot plus dive at cover to pick up yet another fine catch this time off Yates. On 58 Devon were then gifted a wicket when a slip and a misunderstanding sent Hingley up the steep concrete steps to a very well appointed dressing room run out by Abbott and Davies. Lunch was taken at an even-stevens 85 -2. The choice, size and quality of the lunches was also special but the length of the queue for seconds was a concern. It should not have been as first ball after the interval Worcestershire had lost three, Underhill leg before to Booker. Captain Rhodes, who had played against the seventeens the previous week, looked in good form and was still there unbeaten on 27. He had gone on to top score with 36 when in the forty-fifth over Booker suddenly found himself on a hat trick. Unfortunately he failed to take the first ever under 16 three in three. He first bowled Rhodes and next ball Huckley was well caught at short leg by the diving Passi Mawalage. It became 138-6 as Pavi became involved when six runs later Rudd was caught Eaves at the sixth attempt. Twenty were added for the eighth wicket when Golding had Pollock well stumped by Rhys Davis. Both Golding and Davis were having good days and it was particularly important from the team’s point of view that Golding was looking like his old self with the ball. Worcestershire advanced to 197 off seventy-nine overs when Booker struck again. Passi in at short leg held a sharp chance as it was put down his throat but hit really hard, giving Booker his second four wicket haul against the Royals. It was 204 all out as Pavi dived sideways his full five foot three to take a good return catch.

Having started at 12.00noon  Devon was now required to bat a minimum of twenty overs, as the county seventeens had been six days earlier but this time there was no need for a walk. Joe Abbott had a difficult seven balls and was bowled on the eighth for a rare failure. He could look forward to a rest day in the score box and rather unfairly he was treated to a personal dedication on the return journey – Daniel Powter’s Bad Day. Eaves and Booker were in control as the weather started closing in and 45 minutes were lost. Play was now to continue until 7.45pm so the meal was put back. However at 7.24pm close of play came through a combination of drizzle and bad light. Devon was 43-1 after sixteen overs. The ground was left extensively covered for the rain that was originally due around 3.00pm still had not yet fully arrived. The evening meal was taken at the nearby White Hart. The team was greeted by some vocal locals who recommended a local club. Joe Smith would have been proud as the menu was checked to determine everything was available. It was, well until ordering when the 16oz rumps and lamb shanks went AWOL. Throughout the meal it was cats and dogs (rain that is and really heavy). During the day we had learnt that Jamie Overton’s visit to his physio had revealed that the source of his ankle problem had been his earlier innings at North Devon against Somerset when the rap on his ankle had aggravated an old injury resulting in tissue damage. There was some relief as the prognosis could have been even more serious.

Breakfast was at the adjoining Little Chef with departure at 9.15am. For the first time for a long time we did not leave on time. It was not the Little Chef’s fault but some of the most unlikely members of the group. We were not impressed but it was saved for later discussion. On arrival at the ground we met a problem, there had been a leak in the covers and one seriously damp patch. Much work was undertaken but play was likely to start after the scheduled 1.00pm lunch. Andy Buzza kept everyone involved but somehow in the course of ten minutes a month’s supply of ice packs had been used! First George Yates was hit close to the eye, then the coach's bowling marked Craig Overton’s elbow close to an old hockey injury. Both could have proved to be critical and future invitations to this energetic coach will be reviewed! Play started at 1.43pm and Harry Booker's growing all round reputation was suddenly shattered as second ball of the day he did the unthinkable and played an airy fairy shot to be caught behind. Matt Golding lasted twenty balls but was third out on 54 for 8 with 2 fours. The Cornish town of Gunnislake must have been quiet as half the population was in the former carpet town of Kidderminster to watch Davies pulverise the attack. He lasted six balls, hit a four and was leg before for five. Hopefully they too were Daniel Powter fans. It was now 59-4 and, if that self perpetuating myth is right that Devon young players lack mental toughness, the side would now fold. The myth is of course a myth as Devon dug in and recovered the situation. The captain was proving he has an ability to play in various situations and was batting well, he was now joined by the under 17 saviour against Wales, George Yates. He looked OK, his looks not really adversely affected by the bruising and wound and he batted sensibly catching up his captain. They put on 48 when Yates seemed to hit the doldrums and did not score off five balls, not his normal scene and he was bowled for a crucial 29. He must learn that there are big scores within him and the two day game is the platform to complete them. The captain’s day had not started well, he had been late to breakfast (a really pathetic excuse blaming his recent batting partner) and now he had a chance for recompense but he did not bat on. He had batted well and received a deserved post match plaudit from an umpire for his general demeanour and for his and his side’s behaviour.  At this stage Devon still needed another 93 for first innings points. Tom Ansell, whose toes had shed Hebridean sand all over the dressing room carpet, now had to put his two weeks’ beach cricket into use. He found a sound partner in Passi as the target was reduced by a second partnership of 48. They both played really well until in quick succession these tall men brought out their pulls. Ansell’s sailed over short leg to fall ten yards short of orthodox mid wicket and Passi did little better. In Ansell's case perhaps the sand short pitched ball is easier to play than the one on a hard grass track. Hopefully in both cases the shot was put back in the locker. They both played the spinners with consummate ease and it was the returning seamer, Pollock, whose yorker trapped Ansell leg before. Thirteen runs later Passi was back in the score box doing the numbers. The bruised Craig Overton replaced his North Devon team mate and Merrick Steward came in for the Plymouth all rounder. Thirty two were still needed, Steward worked the leg byes and Overton the boundary ropes. His personal batman, Harry Booker, was on continual standby with the ice and spray and Joe Abbott’s day was made when he was invited to pad up as a potential runner for the wrist injury. Eventually the sleeveless fleece was removed to expose the number 9s real number – 3. It should not have been a surprise to Rhodes as Overton had batted aggressively the previous Thursday. The target was passed with no further mishap; that occurred when Steward tried to clear the pavilion only to reach mid off but his partnership of 43 would have acquired the ten points. Greg Chaplin quickly changed his brown trousers to another pair of white and was a total revelation. It was the long and short of it as Overton flashed past his fifty and Chaplin hit two fours in an unbeaten 16 and an unbroken partnership of 39. Devon declared on 255 with Overton on his way to a ton, 60 not out.

It had been a very useful two days and, as had been stressed in the winter, it is often the unsung cricketers who play the vital role, in this case Tom Ansell and Passi. Ansell’s subsequent decision in the closed season to withdraw from county cricket was a disappointment. Kidderminster, a club used to hosting high profile games, were excellent hosts. The news of the nasty traffic accident to a Lancastrian second team player on his way to play at Ombersley had been reported in the Telegraph. Due to the overnight rain no play had been possible at that ground, making us exceptionally fortunate to get in so much cricket at Kidderminster. However the real find of the trip was a very high quality DJ, reminiscent of the younger Tuckett. He kept all age groups and preferences happy and whisper this he knows Les Mis. Craig Overton now has a secure place in the side based on his skill on the decks if not his cricketing ability! Andy Buzza had been a great success but was disappointed at the lack of singing! He tried a one man show with no support from the rest but Don Mclean’s American Pie has been added to the play list. Gordano services had a 50/50 split between Burger King and Kentucky Fried and Passi did a bleep test in the car park. We were back at Exeter slightly later than the previous week but this had been a most worthwhile trip.

The sixteen’s lost their unbeaten county record at Torquay, where the Warwickshire batsmen exhibited a greater ability to play spin than their hosts. Batting second on a turning track, Devon were confronted by not just some decent spinners but a bowling attack well supported by some brilliant catching. On the eve of the match our injured, West of England, under 15 captain’s school was a key part of the semi-final of Celebrity MasterChef but the celebrities were not put under the kind of pressure that was exerted on the Torquay catering team. An electrical health and safety device that protects the gas supply blew causing chaos, where is electrician Buzza when you need him. With the huge co-operation of our visitors, it was agreed to have tea at lunch and lunch at tea – possibly a first. Despite utilising the SKY plus freeze frame, Cousens did not appear in a single shot of MasterChef but a friend of his offered his compliments to the Chef. It was good to catch up with Michael Cousens and Max Curtis over the two days. Cousens spent a lot of his unexpected free time on languages, particularly Russian and German. Curtis was apparently keeping wicket, dropping more than he was catching but it was pleasing to learn that he was at least getting out on to the cricket field again. He had returned from the Hebrides after just two days, he and his father were indeed fortunate that the Islands were so close to Devon! The two C’s have been huge losses and would have been vital cogs in the under 17s final furlong of 2010. The Chaplin was at the ground before the Abbott, the North in force before the South on a bright morning with Ian Western and Ken Jeffery already getting everything in place. Warwickshire, fresh from an overnight stop at Exeter University, won the toss and batted. Devon’s woes then multiplied ten fold when strike bowler Jamie Overton pulled up after his first delivery. The captain took over and with his eleventh ball he had Best caught behind. Devon made the most of the new ball when on 23 Clapper was leg before to Yates; Shoab was Yates next victim when Craig Overton held his first catch. At tea (lunch) Warwickshire were 65-3 off thirty-seven overs. The fourth wicket fell six short of the hundred in the forty-seventh over, Greg Chaplin’s catch providing his captain with his second wicket. The 59 put on for this wicket may well have been the best of the innings but subsequent partnerships were equally important. Craig Overton was the next bowler into the scorebook when, with the score on 136, Rhys Davies held his second catch to remove Findley. Two wickets fell on 140 Bharj was bowled Pavi Mawalage and Fry was Craig Overton’s second victim in the same manner. Jamie Overton held a splendid catch off Yates to send Burnett and everyone else into lunch (tea).  At 170-8 Devon should have been satisfied with their endeavours and were buoyant for perhaps the last time in the game. The last two wickets added sixty, which with the benefit of hindsight took the game away from Devon. Sale was run out – Eaves to Pavi - and Grundy, Warwickshire’s captain, was last out giving Craig Overton his second catch and Yates his fourth wicket for just 27 off 10.4 overs, whilst Pavi’s figures were 24-7-48-1. The concern was that some real turn was already evident. The final two overs of the day were somewhat disconcerting wrist spin; the resting Golding had been definitely missed. However at close of play Abbott and Eaves remained unbeaten after eleven overs with 20 on the board. It had been good to catch up with Hilary Swift and Frik Rossouw, who makes the annual visits to Kruger so very, very special for the Development squads. The downside was the presence of Hilary’s husband!

On the second day Derek's ‘Angels’ were again present in force and perhaps the Champagne Moment of the Summer occurred before play started when Pavi demolished the ice cream sign in full flow with arms outstretch behind two ‘huskies’ apparently on sheet ice, truly memorable! Cousens went off to his Grand Prix Go Karts and Devon slumped to 92-6 after thirty-nine (28 in the morning). Many of the dismissals were similar but Eaves was an orthodox nick to the keeper, Abbott caught second slip off wrist spinner Zamen, Craig Overton bowled Grundy keeping low and Booker another Zamen wicket. Harry had two disappointing days for the first time in the gold, royal and black of Devon to prove he is human! Unfortunately he and Merrick Steward will not be available for the critical first six days of the of the 2011 season. However this will give others an opportunity to establish a place in the side with some already pressing their claims at the winter workshops. For Rhys Davies read Abbot but Grundy the fielder and then Jamie Overton, after playing his favourite shot a six over extra cover, was leg before sweeping Zaman for 31. Matt Hunt and Jon Mears had decided to watch one of our poorer days but their company was good if not the cricket. Devon’s highest partnership of the innings - 34 - was put on by Tom Ansell and George Yates, taking Devon up to 125. The lunch (yes the electricity was now working) interval undid Ansell, as fifth ball after the break Tom was another caught Sale but the first of new spinner Purser’s four wickets. The eighth fell at 144 when Devon’s Man of the Match George Yates was caught Grundy bowled Purser for a 96 ball 46. Passi, Merrick Steward and Greg Chaplin took the side up to 175 after sixty-seven overs, Merrick hitting the team’s second six and Chaplin the final two fours. It was considered perhaps the most disappointing performance of the summer and our technique against sharp spin is high on the list of workshops during the winter. Warwickshire batted to tea scoring 85 without loss, which was a concern as both the Devon spinners should have utilised the conditions better. Warwickshire then went off, well satisfied, into the Friday traffic up the M5 and a game in Wales before we were to play them again in Leamington. We thank coach Mark Gilmour for his work over the two days. In the cool down Davies was on a hat trick and his final shot unfortunately took out a long standing Torquay member – profuse apologies all round. Devon had lost both sessions in the day and looked tired. It had been a testing week deliberately, as next year only the fittest will be able to play three days cricket and during this week some were unfortunately found wanting. Torquay, despite their unwarranted embarrassment, worked tirelessly in ensuring all went well over two full days play. Much was learnt for the crucial under 17 game against Middlesex. Particular thanks to the chauffeurs for getting all the players to the ground, some very long round trips were involved.

Having made the considered decision to rest the six seventeens for their critical game with Middlesex, the fixture against Somerset was always going to be a difficult task. The psychological effect this decision would have on the remaining members of the team was also a major consideration and coach Matt Hunt picked up on it immediately, commenting on the side’s general attitude without knowing the full background. It was a real surprise, indeed disappointment, to learn from their coach that Somerset have problems motivating their players to play the non first class counties such as Devon. This could be considered slightly rich, as before that day’s defeat Devon’s record against Somerset since under tens was 4-3 to Devon! This will make the team talk in 2011 exceptionally easy - they do not rate you! The fact is that with greater belief, improved ground fielding (a minimum of 20 runs given away on the day), better throws on a couple of run outs (anyone’s guess) and more decisive batting and running particularly between the tenth and thirtieth over (a minimum of one an over would have given 20 extra runs) Devon could have severely dented the deficit of 52. In fact the side bowled Somerset out and despite not fielding our strongest batting line up, thanks to a number of useful contributions we could have chased something around 230. As four players scored thirty plus it just needed one of the top order to bat on to a bigger score and see their side home.

The coach wanted to field, George Yates won the toss and Devon fielded. Harry Booker caught keeper Blake off Passi for 2, the first of the Somerset top guns, Rouse, was well caught by Abbott at gulley off Richardson, Pavi’s second direct hit of the summer removed Abell but this one was from the rope and Somerset were 119- 3 at the half way stage. Jenkins scored a fine 64 ball 66 before being caught and bowled by Stadden, one run later Stadden had Smith well stumped by Davies – 155-5 off 34 overs. Barrett, who was looking a major problem, should have been run out on 34 but for a poor return to Davies. Seventy-three were added for the sixth wicket with Marsh contributing 16. He was Greg Chaplin's first wicket, caught Williams. Easton was caught Steward bowled Chaplin and Cook run out. Barrett, who was on 99 at the striker’s end, set off, the ball brushed Cook who did not move far; Barrett passed him gaining his ground at the bowler’s end and Richardson’s throw to Davies ran Cook out by three quarters of a length. The integrity of the Devon side was then challenged by a cricketer who did not have a full grasp of the run out law. Indeed the first team also suffered in the Twenty20 final in not fully appreciating the same law. Barrett reached an excellent hundred and then gave Yates a catch off Chaplin, who then took a  caught and bowled for double fantasy points.

Inwardly it was felt that 5.3 would be a big chase. A debate on the approach was totally unnecessary as Devon set off at pace. Tom Ansell and Joe Abbott put on 66 off ten, amazing in the situation. Abbott was leg before for 36 after a partnership of 78 off ninety-nine balls. He obviously likes this attack as he had put on 118 with Cousens at North Devon. They had however slowed up after the initial Powerplays. The second wicket put on 38 but critically off 82 balls. Ansell reached his fifty off 74 balls and fifteen balls later was out. A fine effort but he should have batted on to the end which would have made all of his endeavour worth while. George Yates took his rest too literally as he lasted 20 balls for nine. Booker had been holding his end up but watched Rhys Davies smash two big sixes and three fours in a twenty-nine ball 33. Booker was sixth out on 206 for an 86 ball 36 with just one four, twenty-eight ones and some two’s. He assessed his own contribution perfectly. The game had gone by now, Steward scored 18 off 17 and Chaplin told to bat it though was leg before for 5. Devon ended 213-7 off fifty.

Encouragingly there were some plus points, we held virtually all our chances but had we stopped the twos, picked up more cleanly, and stopped a couple on the ropes we would not have been chasing at over 5, which would have been interesting whatever side had been selected. Apart from the first ten overs the batting lacked momentum, there were far too many dot balls, ones were not converted into twos and ones were not taken when they should have been. This was an ideal opportunity for some players to show what they could do. George Yates in his first stint as captain did well and he will have learnt a lot from the experience. The moral of this story goes back to an early newsletter and the message we try to drive home on every occasion that our aim is to outfield and out run our opponents, which on this occasion we patently did not achieve and that in itself was not acceptable. In finalising selection on close calls, it is the player who fields and runs well who will gain preference over a lesser contributor in these two vital areas of the game. It was special to meet up with James Gibson again and learn what he is achieving in Surrey, none of it a surprise. Derek Eaves was missed.

It did not need the invitation to apply for the random ballot for the Strictly 8 Launch Show to decide on the headline for the Midland Tour website report – it had been a dis..saster. Indeed if the period is extended to the preceding and following Fridays it sums up perfectly the final week of the 2010 DCBYA summer. Just one day’s play out of a potential six brought back memories of the nightmare summer of 2009. Indeed they flooded back with the three days in Cardiff the lowest and  wettest point. This was a tragic end to the summer for players and management but the players were stoical. The twenty-ones had key games against Cornwall and Wiltshire lost and the tour was intended to set up the sixteens with the ethos that will be a vital part of their 2011 season. The five days together normally give a huge clue to compatibility, balance, desire and commitment of the players. The selection for the tour was more difficult than first anticipated and subsequently compounded further with the news of school tours to Barbados, Ski Lanka and South Africa in 2011, which threw a spanner or two into the long term preparation of the group. The sixteens availability over this summer had, in the main, been excellent but it will be even more critical in the selection process for the 2011 squad when continuity will be vital.

The relevance of weather forecasts has been increasingly put in doubt over recent summers and for the trip up to the Midlands it initially appeared as if only one day’s play would be lost! The radar changed regularly with a worrying increase in the green/gold bands. Sunday was bright, we had another 2010 min-bus with a reasonable limiter, Craig Overton enhanced his musical reputation but was never to be seen again, there was a long delay between junctions 6-8 which seemed to clear immediately we reached the third junction and Leamington Spa was reached well behind schedule. The Anchor had changed its layout but still provided fine food. It was very obvious that not all was right with Pavi who was decidedly unwell. A golden rule that young cricketers fail to fully comprehend is that, if you are carrying an injury or are unwell in advance of a game, particularly one hundreds of miles from home, you should alert your organiser. The situation can then be assessed and contingency plans made but to turn up far from being 100% creates huge demands on your colleagues and will seriously affect the performance of the side. In this case Pavi was on his way back home on Tuesday with Devon having just eleven fit players in what is now clearly a twelve a side game. His father travelled almost all day on Tuesday to get him home but a phone call on Saturday or Sunday, however late, would have resolved the situation to everyone’s benefit. It was raining at 1.30am on Monday morning and the green/gold was in full flow at 4.30am. On arrival at the ground the gates were ominously closed. It was evident that all was covered but there appeared little chance of play before lunch, but if there was further rain…………. During one of the dry spells this summer an ECBCA meeting had been arranged at the ground post lunch which complicated the situation for the minibus driver. Ten pin bowling was the choice; it transpired that the Leamington alley would not open until midday so the Ford Transit set off more in hope than real expectancy to try Coventry. The coach’s navigation skills will hopefully improve when he starts to drive but even with the help of a postman he only got us to a car park with silent policemen. It was decided to cut our losses and thanks to the ECBCA vice chairman’s navigation Leamington was reached. Fortunately an hour early the bowling alley had opened. The Overtons and Yates were the lane winners and lunch taken accompanied by a monsoon – day over. The players had to wait whilst the development of the CA over the next four years was discussed. The squad was impeccable and very patient. The min-bus then set off to our kit suppliers in Kings Heath, where new lines were considered but a potential new playing shirt was not received favourably. Longer shorts and a smart sweat shirt to replace the outdated shell suit tops were agreed. The sun was now out for the return journey. It had been agreed to start at 10.30am on Tuesday and it was planned to get in a sixty over game. The powers that be had brought forward results Thursday to results Tuesday so much could happen on the following day. The Holiday Inn was left on time, the gates at the ground still shut but activity indicated there would be some play. Arrangements were made for Pavi to return to Plymouth and early conversations indicated general satisfaction for the hard work put in over the years at school. All did not seem right in the home camp as their numbers seemed down with players making personal visits to their own schools. An important toss was won and Devon took the field in baggy caps which looked better on the field than off. Warwickshire were 8-2 after six overs both batsmen caught at second slip by Jamie Overton bowled Craig Overton, Roberts off his first ball and Sale with his fifteenth, team numbers were improving for the home side as their third wicket fell on 24 when Best, who had taken Staffordshire for a ton, was caught behind by the ever reliable Rhys Davis who had fitted into the side like his gauntlets. The bowler was Jamie Overton but it was his brother who was in action when the fourth wicket fell at 29, an unusual Chaplin misfield let in Eaves for a direct hit to run out Burnett. On the same score Zaman was a bowled J.Overton. The sixth wicket fell at 50 when George Yates bowled Findley. Twenty-two runs later, in the twenty-sixth over, Passi, who had originally been bowling too short, pitched one up to trap Shoab (a mega A* candidate) leg before. Klapper, who was the second home side A* star, was his partner but he fell on 91 caught Golding bowled J.Overton. Lunch was taken after thirty-nine overs with the score on room 101. Post lunch Devon had a poor fourteen overs dropping two catches, one at slip and the second at mid on with the score on 115. Cloud was building up and closing in but in the fifty-fourth over Golding removed Harrison off C.Overton. Purcher did not play a shot at his second ball George went up on his own and gained the decision – the target 2.16 an over.

Prior to the 2010 season Joe Abbott had a reputation of being a hard hitting batter in South Devon who also bowled and who many considered should be playing county cricket. He had been proving the point all summer and against Warwickshire he hit six fours in his 52 ball 36. He saw his captain depart with 33 on the board off 31 balls and Harry Booker return to his large West Midland family who were watching. It was not the best of days for Harry - no wickets, no catches and no runs but, until tiredness kicked in towards the end of the summer, his presence during the season at both sixteens and seventeens had been vital. It turned out to not be the worst of days, as his call to his mother proved he was not as thick as he appears!!! The score was now 40, eighteen runs later Abbott’s concentration waned and he was bowled. It has been a good summer for Joe Abbott but in 2011 cameos will not be enough and this should be the area on which he needs to spend some time. The Overtons put on 40 off 25 with some outstanding stroke play and hitting. It was the type of onslaught that you enjoy watching when it is your side batting! Jamie’s innings of 19 off 14 (three fours and a six) ended with the side still 33 short and it was appropriate that Craig Overton and Matt Golding were undefeated when the final single was taken. Golding had averaged around 30 and Overton 60 plus but with insufficient innings to gain a place in the record books. In a full season he could easily have broken Neil Bettiss’ long standing record such was the quality of his batting. He struck 7 fours and a six in a 46 ball 53. Merrick Steward was the really unlucky member of the squad as apart from fielding fifty-five overs he was not asked to make a contribution but he did have his pads on. He received sympathy from Greg Chaplin whose summer had started in a similar manner. Devon reached their target in 27.3 overs, scoring at 4.76. The ease in which the game was won against the same spinners who had appeared to be so dangerous the previous week put into perspective the tired performance at Torquay. The Malawage family reached their journey’s half way point around 5.30pm and then Devon set off to enjoy Spaghetti Junction in the rush hour in very heavy drizzle, it does not get better than that! The Boathouse at Rushall had been a concern of the Travel Manager all summer but we all had concerns when TomTom could not even find it! More basic navigation did find the pub but they were not expecting a party of 14, which was a relief. The manager at the Toby Carvery could not have been more helpful as he found space at 8.45pm – creating real relief. Their food seemed to go down well with all as plates were cleared and seconds requested. It was still raining but contact had been made with Staffs and no concerns were raised.

The next day navigation was again proving to be a problem as we toured some high quality cul-de-sacs, hair salons, post vans but found no cricket ground. A new post code resulted in major road excavations laying a new gas main and a one way system giving everyone nightmares. The landmark corner pub was spotted by the mini-bus if not by our pilot, who was not to be seen again for over 40 minutes as she found her way back to the start of the road works. Penn Cricket Club was eventually found but it is difficult to remember such gloom and despondency on arrival at a cricket ground. It reminded one of a 1960s hockey ground of the old grass type in November! Still there was much grass evident with the square exposed but it was visibly very damp and uninviting. There had been a late change to Penn from last year’s venue,  Walsall, and it was obvious there was little chance of play that day, the next or……………..In Private Fraser’s words we were doomed. It all felt rather Laurel & Hardyish “nice mess you've gotten us into”. If there was any chance of play the next day, we had to be available to play. Having got the weather wrong the previous week with the seventeens at Torquay we had to stay. The problem was also compounded by the fact that families were not expecting the players back until the next day plus the fact that the accommodation had been paid for in advance. The decision was made to stay in Staffordshire. We were offered facilities in Wolverhampton and were in fact stung for the two hours cricket and football. Lunch was Kentucky buckets and a film was taken in. It was all very democratic and the choice was Step Up 3 – Genre:  Dance, Street, Urban – starring Rick Malambri, Sharni Vinson and Adam Sevani. Apparently the plot was New York’s intense street dancing underground comes alive as the raw, passion-fuelled culture goes global. A tight-knit group of street dancers find themselves pitted against the world’s best break dancers in a high stakes show that will change their lives for ever. A great improvement on the film we had watched in Cardiff the previous year and it was a surprise to learn that Fl Rida Club Can’t Handle Me was already on the iPod – Respect.

The M6 again looked horrible so an arm was chanced and somehow the Travelodge was found unassisted, perhaps the moment of the summer, after all the unfair abuse about the driver’s lack of directional sense. This time the group was all together at the Carvery, Greg Chaplin tried hard to out question his earlier candidate for the Alex Hill Question of the Year and proved to be a worthy winner. His knowledge on R&B and Drake was however very limited. There was no contact from Staffs indicating that play would be possible so a late leave of 10.00am was agreed and we were promptly on our way home. There had been many attempts at trying to be the ruler of the wavelengths, indeed the captain tried again and sadly failed to make an impact on the return journey, but the snatched 25 seconds of Drink with Me and even less of American Pie (one of the year’s poorer investments) ensured the 2010 Award went to Craig Overton. It was a reasonable return trip despite a nasty accident on the Tiverton roundabout and the coach took over for the final stretch with a perfectly timed entry to the services. Axminster the next day was called off early, the mini-bus returned to base as opposed to the airport, the overnighter at Woodbury cancelled and, after ensuring all knew that we were not to play Wiltshire, it was straight to bed for 72 hours.

Two thousand and ten had been a good year with an outstanding group of players and, despite the total loss of Cousens and Ansell and Booker and Steward to tours, we can now look forward to the two thousand and eleven season. The squad has the potential to be one of the very best provided we lose no more players and availability is good. Craig Eaves led the team well, receiving excellent support from the leadership team. Craig Overton was the Player of the Year, Joe Abbott the Batsman and George Yates the Bowler. All our games were well umpired and our hosts Axminster, North Devon, Cornwood and Torquay were brilliant hosts

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