The 2010 Season
 Southern Counties Champions











v D.C.C.C. at Exeter C.C. - Match Tied
D.C.C.C.      179 (M.Gilmour 3-18)
DEVON        179-8 (A.Buzza 32; S.Smith 67)
Southern Counties Competition
v Dorset at Weymouth - Devon won by 8 wickets
DORSET      131 (M.Hickey 4-34)
DEVON        132-2 (M.Thompson 37; B.Huxtable 56*)
v Isle of Wight at Ventnor - Devon won by 70 runs
DEVON         267-6 (B.Huxtable 50; S.Smith 108; G.Chappell 45*)
ISLE OF WIGHT 197 (G.Chappell 4-30)
v Wiltshire at Chippenham - Devon won by 3 wickets
DEVON         218-7 (B.Huxtable 75; D.Hardy 33; J.Overton 36)
v Cornwall at Torquay - Devon won by 4 wickets
CORNWALL   141 (M.Gilmour 3-33)
DEVON           144-6 (A.Buzza 32)   

The 2010 Squad
J.Smith (captain); G.Chappell (vice captain); E.Acton; S.Benton; A.Brown; A.Buzza; M.Curtis; L.Gregory; M.Gilmour; D.Hardy; M.Hickey; B.Huxtable; T.Ingham, C.Metters; J.Overton; J.Seward; S.Smith; M.Thompson; J.Thompson.

With the marked improvement in the player pathway for young players into the full county side the need for the under 21 side has now substantially diminished. The 2010 season is therefore likely to be the final summer for this age group. It is pleasing that the side maintained its outstanding record at this level, remaining unbeaten and retaining the Southern Counties title.

The season started early in April. Over recent years spring and late summer has perhaps provided the best weather for cricket, however, with the 2010 April extending its reputation for showers to persistent rain, there was real concern when feedback came from a number of grounds who were hosting fixtures on the Board's behalf. The relentless rain had restricted the preparation of squares and outfields. Indeed a courtesy email exchange with June Parker, the caterer at Exmouth, revealed as early as the preceding Monday that we would not be playing our pre-season game with the County Club at Exmouth. Fortunately Exeter Cricket Club rode to the rescue and kindly agreed to host the match. The weather was not the only concern as selection was also testing the twenty ones. Bradninch was on a European tour and captain Joe Smith was acting as coach to the Blundell's school team in Le Manga — how times have changed! Duncan Hefford then reported he was suffering from tonsillitis, as he is not the noisiest it is not sure how that would have affected his presence! There was, of course, a silver lining to these problems as it gave others an opportunity to stake a claim for a place and they all grabbed it. Having started the sixteens' last winter session at the cricket centre, this was the first time in twenty years involvement that Exeter Cricket Club was entered for a Devon youth match. There had been heavy dew but much work was being undertaken and everything looked in surprisingly good order particularly in view of recent complications. It was a good opportunity to catch up with everyone again before the season proper started in June. The initial reaction from the captain, Jack Porter, on exchanging team sheets, was disconcerting but the response he got from his team was remarkable. Devon batted, opening with Rob Holman and Josh Bess, and Holman was leg before off Lewis Gregory's eighth legal ball. Bess and Bobby Dawson added 52 with the former county captain's first four scoring shots all being fours. Porter, possibly trying too hard, was having problems with his radar then took himself off after three overs. He was replaced by Toby Ingham, who bowled with Gregory up to the twelfth over when the county club were 46-1. Joe Thompson and Chris Metters took up the mantle and in Metters second over Bess was bowled for 13 in an hour and four minutes off 42 balls. Extras were fast becoming a concern; in all they totalled 41 of which 28 were wides. From 59-2 after sixteen, it became 86-3 after twenty-one when the two bowlers combined, with Metters catching Neil Hancock off Thompson for 10 with 2 fours. The twenty-ones continued to make inroads with the fourth wicket falling at 93 when Metters took his second wicket removing Dawson for a fifty-eight ball 44 caught Gilmour. It got even better for the twenty-ones as the county club was reduced to 127-8 off thirty-seven overs. David Lye was bowled Gilmour, Gregory returned to bowl Allen, Mark Gilmour took the next two wickets bowling Foan and Anning. Mark had phoned earlier in the week to confirm his current bowling style and he was putting it into high quality action - his words - as he took out three established batters for 18 off seven overs. Joe Smith's words came to mind - there will always be a partnership - as the final three batsmen Chris Bradley, Will Murray and Ian Bishop put on an annoying 52 increasing the target by 41%. Joel Seward, now playing in Somerset for Chard, had Bradley caught by the captain after thirty-four minutes at the crease and putting on 21 with Will Murray. The Sidmouth captain is no mean batsman, an occasion when he should have batted in an important game with Dorset still rankles with his family, and he batted typically adding 23 off 39. Ian Bishop took out his long handle and scored 20 off 16. The county club was all out for 179 with fifteen balls unused. Would the contribution of 23% extras to the total play an important part?

Andrew Buzza volunteered to open with Matt Thompson and the pair put on forty-six in eleven overs. Earlier Buzza had reminded everyone what had been missing on the county youth scene for the past two summers as he personified Arthur Askey's busy bee. This was also apparent in his batting as he took head on his Exmouth team mate Trevor Anning and Budleigh's Ian Bishop scoring 32 off just 39 balls including four fours. The introduction of Will Murray brought his demise as he played too early to be caught by Bishop. Without an addition to the score and in the next over, Lewis Gregory was caught behind off Bishop. Last year's under 17s, Thompson and Brown, had added 12 when the county captain took his first wicket, catching Thompson in three minds and giving Anning a simple catch. Thompson's sole objective, when batting in this set up, should have been to bat through. Something he achieved later in the summer when he scored his first ever county century for the county side against Herefordshire. This hundred was a record as Thompson was Devon's youngest ever centurion. The flair he seeks will hopefully come later. Murray then bowled Brown and the under 21s were struggling at 60 for four. They still had plenty of time, however the rate had risen from 3.60 an over to four but with depth in batting. Sam Smith was at the crease with his captain, Jack Porter. Smith is one of the most naturally talented players ever to grace Devon youth cricket, a player of immense ability who has perhaps lacked application. He has produced some of the most memorable innings of recent seasons but has never quite reached his full potential. In this innings he indicated that eight months in the capital of the Principality might well have provided him with the missing ingredient for he was simply magnificent. In what might well be his final appearance for the county Porter made one of his slower contributions but they both knew what they were trying to achieve. They put on 45, taking their side into three figures, and the crisis seemed to have been averted. Will Murray and Chris Bradley were bowling frugal spells, both conceding 1.7 an over, when Bradley held a sharp return catch from Porter. He had faced 52 balls for his seven — all singles. This was to be the last victim for the county club bowlers. Chris Metters, who not that long ago was a front line batter, was greeted by a very short extra cover but with Smith nearly took the under 21s home. However three short of the hundred and fifty he pulled up and limped off with a very nasty swollen ankle. He had scored 14 before he retired. With this injury the momentum was lost and one run later the key wicket fell. Yau called Smith for a sharp leg bye, the keeper Allen returned the ball to the bowler, Hancock dived and somehow diverted the ball on to the stumps with Smith just out of his ground. Former England and Leicestershire keeper Roger Tolchard, who was officiating at the bowlers end, considered he had never seen a piece of fielding like it during 50-odd years in the adult game. Smith had contributed 67 out of 148; he had batted for an hour and a half facing 92 balls of which four had been dispatched to the boundary. It was not a surprise that after the game he was given MCCC registration forms although he was not available when selected to play for the county. He had simply out batted everyone on a typical early season track, an innings of the highest class. Two more run outs — Joe Thompson (11) and Justin Yau (10) - left the under 21s needing two to win off the last delivery. At the start of this over five had been needed but it was obvious the county captain, Neal Hancock, was not going to make it easy as he gave a superb demonstration of bowling at the death. It was hoped that Mark Gilmour, who had contributed two of the three runs to be scored, and new batsman, Toby Ingham, had hatched a game plan but it was unlikely to be the scrambled leg bye they took. Perhaps a tie was the politically correct result but the twenty-ones had acquitted themselves really well and a win should have been achieved. Exeter is to be thanked for making this game possible.

The first two Southern Counties fixtures were the successive away games against Dorset and the Isle of Wight. June two thousand and ten will long be remembered for those blowing their own vuvuzela and not just in South Africa! Fortunately the Devon under 21s considered that actions speak louder than words and in real heat they put on two very special performances. It was to be three consecutive days cricket for the group and the high fitness levels of the squad stood the test. The selection for the mini tour to Dorset and the Isle of Wight had been affected by chemistry GCSEs, A levels and cup finals (subsequently a broken toe) but the appointed twelve all arrived at Exeter Services unscathed from toiling in the sun the previous day. Chris Metters was to leave the party at Lyndhurst to play for the minor counties under 25s at Cheam on Monday. The twenty-ones were the first users of a brand new Ford Transit and there was some relief when the ‘Sussex lay by' was passed without mishap. No sign of any plaque to commemorate the three hours in the sun the previous August! A massive road improvement scheme preparing for the Olympics at Weymouth caused a slight hold-up but Redlands was reached in good time, although SatNav took Exmouth's slow left armer on an entirely different route! It looked a good toss to win, with Dorset pulling in their eleventh man from an adjoining game at the eleventh hour, but Joe Smith, on his twenty-first birthday, lost it. There were no regrets as after just eight overs Dorset was 15-5. Fourth ball Matthew Hickey trapped the Dorset captain, Stickland, in front, five runs and thirteen balls later he bowled Jacques. Ten runs were put on for the third wicket when Hickey had Collins leg before and then bowled Weld. His figures were 4-5 off four. Toby Ingham then joined in having keeper Ridley caught by Dan Hardy. It looked now as if Devon might be able to watch England beat Germany but Dorset had other ideas as sixty-one were added by Elliott and Gunn. They took sixteen overs as Mark Gilmour, Chris Metters and Gary Chappell entered the attack. Chappell had Gunn leg before with his twenty-second ball and Metters took his wicket in his penultimate over, having Elliott caught behind by Thompson. This was not a common-or-garden catch, it was perhaps one of the keeper's best ever. The ball went leg side and so did the keeper and somehow he held a truly amazing effort. It was now eighty-nine for seven after thirty-one overs. Max Curtis replaced Metters for his first bowl for the twenty-ones. At sixteen years and 176 days Curtis was one of the youngest to play at this level. Dorset were in a hole and they targeted the North Devon off spinner. It was an interesting baptism and it would be intriguing to see how he responded. His response the next day showed why he had been selected, when he bowled beautifully under pressure displaying an ideal temperament. Toby Ingham replaced him but it was Chappell who took his second wicket when Dunham was caught on the rope by Ingham. After thirty-eight overs Dorset was 127-9 when Thompson caught a routine catch off Ingham. The final wicket fell at 131 when Gilmour bowled Beetham senior. By now England was two nil down. If you take out Hickey's slower ball, his return of 4-30 off seven was a very impressive first under 21 appearance.

Tea was taken, Upson headed home and Lampard's goal was disallowed, half time. Thompson and Andrew Buzza looked comfortable as Buzza played a couple of majestic cover drives, both on the ground. On twenty he put one in the air to be caught by Gunn. The side's third debutant, Barnie Huxtable, helped put on fifty-eight in fourteen overs when Matt Thompson was caught for a sixty-six ball 37. Germany was now 4-1 up, with everyone now enjoying the sunshine and Devon was home and dry by 5.34pm as Hardy and Huxtable put on another 55. Huxtable passed his fifty and was unbeaten on 56 (11 fours). Hardy had struck three fours in his half an hour at the crease. An ideal start to the season with England also winning at cricket albeit in the final over. The side bowled, fielded and batted to the high standard needed. Some really excellent deeds were achieved by a first rate and talented squad, perhaps the typical English narrow minded selection group (an opinion from North Devon) might have got something right!

An early meal at the Botany Bay and Stoney Cross was reached without any detours but still late due to heavy traffic. Dan Hardy arrived at breakfast cleanly shaven perhaps the only plus from England's disastrous performance the previous day against Germany. Despite the best efforts of the players, traffic, lolly pop ladies and traffic lights the 9.25am ferry was taken in wonderful weather. The coastal route up to Ventnor remains evocative and the ground was reached first time, a rarity in probably fifteen visits. In the first day of his twenty-second year Smith called heads and somehow won the toss. Burford, who had not slowed up since his performance at Axminster in 2009, removed Matt Thompson third ball leg before. Tommo was still shaking his head all the way to the balcony. He was now confronted with a couple of hours in the sun with an ice cream. Andrew Buzza, timing the ball perfectly, was causing consternation to the opposition's coaching staff as he was driving and flicking the ball beautifully. He added twenty-six of the partnership of thirty-five with Huxtable. Buzza added much to the side, and his bowling later in the game started to turn it, but he is much more than a cameo performer. He should be looking to make major contributions in all his cricket. In fairness this time he was brilliantly held by a sixteen year old slip, Cheek, with the ball leaving him at pace to his left hand. Burford was again the bowler. Last year's leading batsman, Dan Hardy, was Burford's third victim when he too was trapped in front second ball. He considered putting his razor away again. At thirty-five for three off eight Devon's innings was not going to plan but a partnership of 96 off 141 balls put them back on track. Huxtable continued where he had left off at Weymouth and Sam Smith, after an untypically slow start of 18 off forty balls, turned the tide. Huxtable reached his second fifty in two days with a four, having faced one hundred and three balls hitting seven fours. Communication then ceased between the two batsmen and Huxtable was on his way back up the steep slope with an apologetic wave to his partner. If only he had called, as he was run out by a distance. He had demonstrated the great depth of talent available this summer with two first rate knocks. The crowd sat back to watch the telepathic running of the Smith brothers but gloves only touched five times as twenty-eight were added off thirty-seven balls. The senior Smith gave leg spinner, Cheek, the charge, reminiscent of some of the fateful dismissals of his recent charges, and carried on to the pavilion having been stumped by his opposite number. Sam Smith was now in total control with just one dodgy sweep as he put on 94 with vice captain, Gary Chappell. The right hand/left hand partnership put the home bowlers under more pressure and the shot selection was excellent. Smith reached his second county hundred in a more sedate manner than his first at Sandford. However he still advanced from fifty to a hundred off only thirty-four balls. In all he faced 114 balls, batting for 137 minutes and hit thirteen fours and a six. He was nearly looking as if he was enjoying himself when he holed out to Barton to give Burford his fourth wicket. Matt Hickey, who had scored a ton on one of his previous visits to ground, added a further 14 with Chappell. Gary Chappell had batted to the needs of the side scoring an undefeated 45 off thirty-nine balls, striking four fours. The final score of 267 was the fourth highest by the Devon under 21s.

The Isle of Wight obviously thought this was within their reach as they raced away at six an over (the required rate was 5.36) to reach forty-eight off seven. The openers put on 72 off thirteen before Smith turned to Gilmour and Buzza. With Metters in Tony Hancock country (one for the older generation), Smith had turned to Andrew Buzza as his sixth bowler. Bowling like a young David Lye, he also proved he had a golden arm similar to his mentor as he uprooted Barton's off stump second ball. Next over he found the second opener's edge to give Matt Thompson another catch. At 80 for two off fifteen Devon was now back in control. Smith waited until the twenty-sixth over to introduce his spinners. The score at the start of this over was 121-2. Over the next twenty overs Chappell and Curtis exerted complete control as seven wickets were taken (including a run out) for just 62 runs. Curtis immediately hit his length and line but it was Chappell who took the first wicket when the skipper held the first of two fine catches to remove Woodhouse one short of a half century. He had faced sixty-two balls. It was dejà vu in Chappell's next over as Hickey dived and speedily returned the ball to the keeper to run out Sharp. Hickey had completed a similar special piece of fielding two years earlier at Ventnor against Lincolnshire. Curtis had earlier found Woodhouse's inside edge to be missed behind but was looking to take a wicket all of the time. On 169 he had Cooper leg before. Chappell then removed Dye bowled and Joe Smith held another remarkable catch leaping one handed to send back Bartlett. The eighth wicket fell at 181 when Curtis bowled Burford. On the same score Chappell took his final wicket when Bartlett was held under the trees by Sam Smith. As on the previous day Mark Gilmour took the final wicket, bowling Gordon. The Island had put up good resistance but Devon came out winners by 70 runs. For the second successive year we waved goodbye to the 7.30 ferry just 10 metres off the quay. The 8.15 was taken and the players, who should have been tired, enjoyed each other's company, a vital ingredient, and the atmosphere on the mini bus was good and the singing reasonable. It was reassuring that at long last Matt Thompson has found a role even if it is one off the field! The Dorchester McDonald’s was reached at five past ten and the services before Tuesday, but only just. This might be the last visit to the Island by a senior youth side for some time.

For the game against Wiltshire it was another bright and sunny day for the journey up from Woodbury to the excellent Chippenham Sports Ground, scenes of success in the nineties for the seventeens but now much changed. The day suddenly became fraught with a possible need to call at Leigh Delamere to rescue three members of the side who had been in training for the following Sunday's Silverstone Grand Prix. Fortunately it was an incorrectly inserted digit that was the problem not the Tesco car insurance! The side showed two changes with Elliott Acton coming in for Chris Metters, who was again playing for the twenty-fives, and Jamie Overton for another under 16 Max Curtis, who was at the start of a very busy programme with the 16s and 17s. Jamie had been twelfth man for the county at Eastnor Castle at the beginning of the week. Unfortunately Curtis was not to feature again in the summer as he picked up a long term shoulder injury that ruled him out for the season. It felt like the hottest day of the year, so Smith was again under pressure to win the toss and heads again was the wrong choice. It actually clouded up but was still fairly oppressive as Devon took the field. Matt Hickey put in another economical opening spell going for a run an over off his seven. Toby Ingham was holding his back in his first over and was immediately replaced by Gilmour. After fourteen overs Wiltshire were 47-0 and Devon were not fielding to their normal standard and generally looked untidy. Jamie Overton had his first bowl and the captain also tossed the ball to Eliott Acton but it was Daniel Hardy that took the first wicket when, with his first ball, he bowled Wilson. After nineteen overs Wiltshire were 71-1. They had advanced to 88 after twenty-four when the fielding suddenly reached a different level as Buzza picked up cleanly on the boundary and sent in a rocket throw to Thompson and Wiltshire's promising Qureshi was run out for 31 off 77 balls. Chappell and Hardy were bowling well and on 92 the left armer had the Wiltshire captain, Miles, well caught by Thompson. Nelson struck again when Clark was leg before to Chappell. Fifty-three runs were added for the fifth wicket, Hardy had completed an important spell and Chappell's final two overs were kept back for later in the innings. Gilmour and Buzza came back but then Smith decided to bring Chappell back early. He did not get any wickets but did gain some fantasy points. Young Mynott, who had been batting well hit the ball hard at Joe Smith at short extra cover and ran. Smith parried the ball to Chappell who threw to Thompson and the batter was on his way home for a 55 ball thirty. Devon conceded 6.25 off the final eight overs with Buzza picking up two wickets. He trapped Rowson in front and Thompson, who had been standing up exceptionally well to all the seam bowlers, stumped his opposite number Hawkins. The chase would be at a rate of 4.3 which at various times, in particular when a five had been conceded, looked as if it might be much steeper.

After the second over Devon were 21-1 Buzza was back with his friends for 12, caught and bowled. Twenty-three were added for the second, not without some playing and missing and this was not to be the day that Thompson scored his first youth ton. He was caught behind for 7. One hundred and six were added in twenty-two overs by the accomplished Hardy and Huxtable. Huxtable had now passed his third successive fifty for the twenty-ones, a first at this level, when Hardy fell meekly for a vital 33 off 63 balls, four of which had crossed the rope. Sam Smith quickly gave Wilson catching practice, fortunately he had fielded earlier to his own very high standards, and Jamie Overton strode to the crease to bat with his under 17 colleague Barnie Huxtable. The tempo changed as Devon added 35 before Huxtable fell twenty-five short of a ton. With thirty-eight overs gone, 184 on the electronic scoreboard and five wickets down, Devon required 31 off 12 at 2.58 an over. Corporal Jones would not be needed to reassure the captain. Joe provided two runs to the total, but glared at his young partner for declining a three. Overton was then caught almost immediately for what had been an excellent debut knock. Overton had scored at just short of a run a ball — 36 off 39 with seven fours — a good start. Smith was then leg before next over 196-7, slightly devaluing the glare. Just 19 needed off 45 balls with quality batting all the way down. Gilmour was dropped off an absolute dolly at short mid wicket then decided attack was the best form and scored an eleven ball 21. Game over. Another very good performance with some attention needed in certain areas. The home game with Dorset fell foul of the weather, the first of three abandonments.

The next fixture was the first of the two critical games with Cornwall. Driving through Shiphay it was obvious that there had been a recent cloudburst and arriving at the Recreational Ground the covers were in place but there was activity on the square. The covers were removed and the mower started when from nowhere the heavens open. A number of the players got soaked replacing the covers and Cornwall went off to find some lunch in Torquay. Communication was maintained by text as the umpires kept inspecting. A decision was made to reduce the overs to 35 a side and the game started at 3.00pm. Joe Smith won a vital toss and inserted and was so keen for a prompt start that Joe Thompson was deprived of a permanent record of his home game, as at the photo call there was tension in the air, fortunately not experienced by the photographer as his next shoot was with a Spice Girl! Mark Gilmour caught and bowled under 17 Jake Libby with the final ball of his first over. Sam Smith caught Hughes off Elliott Acton's twenty-third ball and after ten overs Cornwall were 32-2. The important wicket of captain Matt Rowe fell one run later when Chris Metters enticed him to put one into the safe hands of Joe Thompson in the deep. A year earlier Rowe had played one of the top innings by any opponent at this age level. It was 40-4 when Metters bowled the experienced Dan Davis and 49-5 when Chappell had the second Rowe leg before. Wickets continued to fall; next back in the pavilion was Roberts run out by the Buzza-Metters combination. What was marked in a decent fielding performance was the player's awareness; they invariable chose the right end to throw to. It is accepted they have stronger arms but the actual decision making process was almost one hundred percent spot on and this puts immense pressure on the batsmen. Another important wicket fell at 73 when Smeeth, who has been a thorn in Devon's side for what seems an eternity, was bowled by Chappell for a thirty-one ball 19. Cornwall now had eleven overs left with three wickets in hand. Devon had been in total control but now lost some of their grip on the game over the remainder of the innings. The previously reliable Andrew Buzza had serious problems with his direction and in the next over it was necessary to resort to the help of Nelson to take the eighth wicket, when the second Davis was held by Hardy to give Gilmour his second wicket. Hardy, who had turned the game the previous year, had a less successful entry into the attack this year as Hockin lost a ball in his personal onslaught. The ninth wicket fell in the final over when the captain held Hockin to provide the Paignton seamer his third wicket. Devon would need to score just over four an over as in 2009.

Torquay continued to be perfect hosts with an excellent tea and the Devon openers made some inroads against a minor county bowling attack. Hardy was caught Rowe, bowled Hockin, Thompson caught Hughes, bowled Hockin for 22, and Barnie Huxtable failed for the first time at this level to be Hockin's third close to the wicket catch, this time behind - 49-3 with 92 needed off twenty-two overs with batting to come. Seb Benton, making his first appearance for two years, was batting with livewire Sam Smith and all seemed right in the world until Benton charged Rowe and, despite the keeper giving him a chance to get back, was stumped by some distance. Next over the captain became Smeeth's first wicket, caught behind. Although not fully fit, Smeeth was still able to cause problems and on 105 Sam followed in identical fashion. Fortunately that was that as Andrew Buzza and Gary Chappell put on the required 37. It was a combination of subtle shots and a bit of a bash but it worked. It was not all plain sailing as a maiden was faced and the overs' units digit was defective on the scoreboard indicating one less over than actually was available so the tension mounted in the pavilion. Two dots and then Chappell played a classical leg glance, game over. This had been another united performance that set the summer up for the trip to St Austell in August. In difficult conditions Torquay, in particular Ian Western, had been outstanding.

However unfortunately the second game against Cornwall fell by the wayside, as had some of the squad, with another monsoon and the heavy rain of the final week of the summer resulted in no one travelling to Axminster to play Wiltshire. In some ways this had not been the easiest summer but throughout Joe Smith had been exceptional and regaining the title was a fitting way to end his involvement with Devon youth cricket. His vice captain Gary Chappell deservedly retained the player of the year award. We record our thanks to all the umpires and the host clubs. This side was good; at this level Devon has an enviable record of producing good sides with outstanding individuals. In place is now a process where talented young players will hopefully be given opportunities to play at full county level —job done!

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