The 1994 Under 16 Season

Played 12                                                         Won 8               Lost 2                      Abandoned 2

THE MIDLAND TOUR

v GLOUCESTERSHIRE at Flax Bourton C.C. - Devon won by 11 runs

DEVON                                     173 all out                  (R.Goldring 63, N.Reed 46)

GLOUCESTERSHIRE               162 for 5                   (M.Theedom 3-35)

v HEREFORDSHIRE at Eastnor C.C. - Devon won by 131 runs

DEVON                                     305 for 6                  (R.Goldring 97, C.Read 55, Cflurrell 49)

HEREFORDSHIRE                    174 for 6                   (C.Hurrell 3-45)

v WORCESTERSHIRE at Droitwich C.C. - Match Abandoned DEVON  37 for 2

v WARWICKSHIRE at Moseley C.C. - Devon lost by 19 runs WARWICKSHIRE 215 for 6

DEVON                                     196 all out                  (C.Read 72, M.Theedom 38)

v AVON at Bristol Grammar School - Devon won by 76 runs

DEVON                              244 for 6                (C.Read 100, M.Theedom 57, S.Friend 31)

AVON                           168 all out                   (N.Cane 3-23, C.Hurrell 3-31)

FRIENDLY COUNTY FIXTURE

v WORCESTERSHIRE at Tiverton Heathcoat C.C. - Devon won by 97 runs.

DEVON                              231 for 5               (J.Fulton 100 not out, N.Reed 32)

WORCESTERSHIRE                134 for 8                   (C.Hurrell 3-38)

TEXACO TROPHY FIXTURES

REGIONAL MATCHES

v CORNWALL at Bovey Tracey C.C. - Devon won by 28 runs

DEVON                              226 for 8                (M.Theedom 84, "Lewis 35)

CORNWALL                              198 all out                   (C.Knapman 3-53, P.Warren 3-71)

v DORSET at Sandford C.C. - Devon won by 9 wickets

DORSET                                  125 all out                (P.Warren 6-30)

DEVON                                     128 for 1                 (J.Lewis 47 not out, M.Theedom 45 not out)

v WILTSHIRE at Trowbridge C.C. - Devon won by 3 wickets

WILTSHIRE                              226 for 8             (C.Knapman 4-48)

DEVON                              229 for 7                (R.Goldring 64, C.Read 52, J.Williams 35 not

out)

v SOMERSET at Claverham C. C. - Match Abandoned SOMERSET       41 for 4

GROUP PLAY-OFFS

v GLOUCESTERSHIRE at Sandford C.C. - Devon won by 5 wickets

GLOUCESTERSHIRE                174 for 8             (C.Knapman 5-53)

DEVON                                     178 for 5            (C.Read 75)

NATIONAL QUARTER FINALS

v HAMPSHIRE at Sandford C.C. - Devon lost by 34 runs HAMPSHIRE   213 for 4

DEVON                                     179 all out                (C.Hurrell 33)

THE 1994 SQUAD

M.Theedom (Captain), A.Bertram, D.Calland, N.Cane, N.Evans, S.Friend, J.Fulton, P.Glazier, R.Goldring, C.Hurrell, C.Knapman, J.Lewis, C.Read, N.Reed, P.Warren, J.Williams, J. Youngs.

 There are some good seasons and some bad, but, as can be seen when this report is read in conjunction with that of the Under 17's, 1994 was an exceptional year. The side, for the first time in the county's history, were winners of their group in the Texaco National Under 16 County Cricket Competition and went on to win the regional play-off against Gloucestershire only to lose narrowly to Hampshire in the Quarter Finals. The team needed to win this game to be invited to play in the National Finals at Uppingham School, where the country's top four sides play off for the title. Nevertheless to be one of the top eight sides in the country is a major achievement in itself and has now provided a target for future squads to beat. This team deserved their success, as they were one of the most closely knit, enthusiastic and delightful units one could hope to be involved with, add a large amount of natural ability, grit and character and you have the chemistry for an outstanding side and that is exactly what they were. The leadership of Captain Matthew Theedom and Vice Captain Chris Read was a major factor in the side's success; both have good cricket brains and are prepared to listen to other members of the side's "think tank". For the team thought about their cricket with a maturity far above their age, and, when you have players who think about their cricket as deeply as James Fulton and Andrew Bertram available to help, the side hardly missed a trick all season.

 For a second year, we visited the Midlands for our tour and were again looked after royally by our hosts and it is pleasing that we have now been able to return the complement to three of the sides we visit, who have now been entertained in Devon. Our first match was played in slightly depressing weather conditions and we contrived to get in and out of jail' on at least three occasions. Batting first, Devon were at one time 38-5, but a crucial sixth wicket partnership of 72 in 94 minutes between Nick Reed and Richard Goldring retrieved the situation, later Goldring, with the assistance of the tail, took the score on to 157 - 8. Nick Reed (7 fours) and Richard Goldring (11 fours) batted most intelligently, hitting the loose ball well. It was left to Damon Calland and Paul Glazier to put on a vital 16 for the last wicket to make the final score more respectable. Gloucestershire appeared to be cruising when they lost their first wicket in the thirtieth over at 99 and this was the result of the "think tanks" first major ploy. Captain Theedom put himself on to bowl and inserted a short leg - this pressure resulted in a chipped catch to mid wicket and Devon were .back in the game. Gloucestershire then only needed 3.7 an over, but Theedom impressed all with a fine spell aided by off spinner Calland and excellent fielding and keeping. The combined pressure was too much for the Gloucestershire batsmen and they finished 12 runs short. An ideal and exciting start to the season.

 On Tuesday the Devon batting overwhelmed Herefordshire, with Chris Read leading the way with a majestic 55 and Richard Goldring continuing where he left off the previous day with a marvellous 97 (86 mins, 74 balls, 13 fours, 3 sixes). His controlled hitting was a revelation and he put on 140 for the fifth wicket with Chris Hurell (49); both were unlucky to miss their own personal landmarks but this typified the unselfish attitude of the side. The final score of 305 was perhaps 80 too many to make a real game of it, but it gave the captain the opportunity of looking at all his bowlers and to experiment with some very attacking field settings. Left arm spinner Jonathan Youngs bowled an economical spell giving away only 2 an over and it was encouraging to see Nathan Evans bowling his leg spin, but Hurrell took the bowling honours to complete a fine all round performance.

 The Wednesday game against Worcestershire was washed out. However, it coincided with the first visit of the South West's National Coach, Gordon Lord, and he very kindly arranged for us to visit his old County Club, Worcestershire, at New Road, where they were playing a Nat West match, but that was also unfortunately rained off. It did however give Matthew Theedom a chance to sort out South Africa's Brian Mcmillan's problems, as he was also visiting the ground and Gordon Lord introduced him to the captain and other members of the party. As a county we are exceptionally fortunate in having Gordon Lord as the region's coach. Added to his winter sessions with the team, he comes to as many of our matches as possible at both Under 16 and Under 17 level and offers much needed help, advice and encouragement to the squad. Gordon managed to fit in two further visits on the tour.

We visited Edgbaston on Thursday morning and found it a great contrast to New Road, but with Goldring trying out Brian Lara's seat in the Dressing Room we hoped that some magic would rub offl We have yet to beat Warwickshire and, in hindsight, this year was one of our better opportunities, but the Manager made one of his rare interventions and asked to see one of our bowlers bowl and the rest is history. Warwickshire batted first and with Goldring and Warren in a particularly fiery mood were soon 20 for two, but our all rounder (Goldring not Warren!) then had toe trouble and the pressure was reduced. Despite tidy spells, Warwickshire were allowed to score 215 for 6. Playing at one of Birmingham's finest league grounds on a perfect summers afternoon the game was set up for an interesting post tea session and so it proved to be. We lost Evans, who had not faced a ball, run out in the first over and this set up the key partnership of captain and vice captain. Theedom and Read then proceeded to bat brilliantly putting on 93 in 91 minutes off 111 balls against a first class attack. Considering this was the fourth day of an exhausting week the batting was exhilarating. The ball was hit hard into spaces and the running between the wickets almost perfect. Theedom chipped once too often and, with his dismissal, much of the initiative and momentum was lost, when Read lost the strike and the side got slightly bogged down. Chris Read was bowled for an excellent 72 trying to lift the tempo and little cameos were played by Friend, Goldring, Bertram and Warren, who must have hit one of the biggest sixes seen at this age level, but the gallant side were 19 short in an excellent game against a county who deservedly were to reach the regional play-offs. The Manager cut out any future contributions!

 On the Friday, despite overtures the previous night from a Canadian Girls Choir at the Hotel, it was back to business with another very professional performance. Chris Read's keeping and batting all week had been exceptional and against Avon he scored a well deserved century in 108 balls, hitting 9 fours. Chris was to be the side's leading batsman in 1994 and his loyalty and commitment to the team were extraordinary and were much appreciated by his colleagues. With the skipper again batting well, the side scored at nearly five an over and Shaun Friend found his feet at County level for the first time. Nigel Cane bowled well and with Chris Hurrell made life very difficult for the Avon batsmen. The tour had been a great success and achieved its main object of getting the side together to blend and learn, the team spirit formed this week was to take the side through any difficult times that were to follow.

 We fitted in two friendlies between the tour and the Texaco competition, winning one and losing the second. The game against Worcestershire at Tiverton Heathcoat was the epitome of cricket at its best. This is a beautiful ground where it was obvious that a great deal of work had been put in by the Club for our first appearance there. We had a bonus of a perfect summers afternoon and a good crowd who were rewarded by a splendid win by 97 runs. James Lewis grasped the opportunity of opening the innings with both hands and was to prove to be a most competent and reliable opening bat for the remainder of the season, but the real batting star was James Fulton who scored a most magnificent, unselfish and unbeaten 100. He took 154 minutes and faced 125 balls, hitting 11 fours, but the way he approached the innings was a lesson in itself - his placement of the ball, timing and running between the wickets were exceptional. It was unfortunate that, due to his Under 19 commitments, we did not have this competitive cricketer for the majority of the matches. With Nick Reed, playing on his home ground, also batting well, the pair put on 83 off 112 balls. The Devon score, which had been made against a good attack, was considered more than sufficient and so it proved to be. With Chris Hurrell again bowling his off breaks well and all the men around the bat towards the end of the Worcester innings, the team looked a first rate unit and one which looked likely to break fresh ground for the county.

 The second friendly was against Haberdashers' Aske School, who tour the area annually under the management of the former Devon stalwart and Life Member Doug Yeabsley. In the main, the school side gave the Under 16's two years age difference and they were certainly not prepared to lose to their juniors, but in turn were hopefully impressed by the ability of the Devon side. Batting first, Devon scored 214 for 8 with Fulton scoring 58 and with opener Lewis (35) putting on 72 for the second wicket. All the other batsmen contributed and Andrew Bertram was not out 21 at the end of the fiftieth over. The main difference in the age groups was perhaps that the Haberdashers' side hit the ball consistently harder and they also chased the target well, losing only four wickets. It was an ideal opportunity to watch the side in the field under pressure and vital lessons were learnt - the side look for revenge next year as Under 17's!

 We faced Cornwall in our first Texaco match and, although it seemed to be raining in all parts of Devon, it was not in Bovey Tracey and a full game was played. The pitch covering was excellent and Devon batted first, with Theedom leading from the front with a splendid 84 (82 mins, 83 balls, 15 fours, 1 six). He was first out having put on 120 with the impressive James Lewis. At 149 for 2 at the end of the thirty-first over, the side looked set for a large target, but Cornwall's off spinner Tom Sharp bowled well and at the end of their allocation of overs Devon were 226 for 8, with Warren hitting two more large sixes and being unbeaten on 23. Cornwall made a bad start, but a partnership of 105 for the third wicket improved the situation and our visitors made steady progress until the captain brought back the opening bowlers, Chris Knapman and Paul Warren, earlier than he would have liked, but they performed the task perfectly. Bowling well, they put their opponents under pressure, resulting in three run outs and three wickets apiece. Their bowling in tandem was a vital ingredient in the side's success this season. Cornwall were bowled out with overs to spare.

 The next day we made our first visit to the Sandford Ground, the wicket had suffered from overnight rain and Theedom changed his policy and invited Dorset to bat. Warren and Knapman then demonstrated the art of good seam bowling on a slightly wet wicket and destroyed the cream of the highly fancied Dorset batting. Paul Warren's return was a very just reward for all his determination and hard work and, with a partner of Knapman's quality at the other end, the Devon pace attack was formidable. Theedom and Bertram also bowled useful spells and, with another fine fielding performance, Dorset were bowled out for 125 in forty-three overs. With Chris Read unavailable, we were lucky to be able to welcome the Under 15 keeper - batsman Jeremy Williams, who immediately fitted into the team and had a splendid game behind the stumps. With the wicket still wet, Theedom opted for Shaun Friend to open with Lewis and to see how it went for the first ten overs. This is exactly what they did and the pair blunted the Dorset new ball attack. Friend carried out his job to perfection and was out playing shots, but Lewis and the captain proceeded to put on an unbroken second wicket partnership of 101. Lewis played one of the most disciplined innings seen all season and the way he batted against the more than useful Dorset attack was a perfect demonstration of the opening batsman's technique - an excellent individual performance. Theedom made another important contribution with the bat and this very comprehensive victory against one of the group favourites gave the side a major psychological boost, particularly as we had not been at full strength.

 Three games on successive days is very tiring, particularly when there is a long journey involved on the third day. It was going to be interesting to see how the side performed, as a win would almost certainly guarantee us a place in the next round for the first time. The weather had taken a turn for the better and the sun shone on the attractive Wiltshire County Ground. Devon lost the toss and were invited to field in hot conditions. The opening bowlers contained well and at twenty overs Wiltshire were 74 for 2, but their middle order batted well and they reached 226 for 8, with Chris Knapman bowling tightly and with pressure fielding creating two run outs; the game was there to be won. The tired side were faced with a target of four and a half an over on a large ground and the Manager was not, inwardly, too optimistic. The early loss of Theedom was a big blow, but Lewis and Read put on 49 for the second wicket and then Read was joined by Richard Goldring, who had limped off earlier after his bowling spell. This pair proceeded to bat without an apparent care in the world and put on 94 magnificent runs displaying a tremendous range of stroke play. Unfortunately both were dismissed within the space of three overs and the pressure was then on the later batsman. Needing just over three and a half an over off the last thirteen and with the Wiltshire spinners bowling well it was not going to be easy, but 'cometh the hour, cometh the man' and enter fifteen year old Jeremy Williams, on loan from Devon Schools. His temperament and technique were both excellent and, after an initial first ball frightener, all was well. He remained undefeated with a match winning 35 off 39 balls to ease the side home, in the company of Damon Calland, to another memorable victory with three wickets in hand and thirteen balls to spare.

 The final group game was a slight anti - climax, as, with the full side together again for the last time, we were denied the opportunity of beating Somerset due to the inclement weather. The captain inserted Somerset and then proceeded to run out their key opening bat with a direct throw from the long on boundary - what an inspirational captain he is! Warren and Knapman then displayed their class and rocked Somerset back to 41 for 4 off nineteen overs, we would have liked to have had the opportunity of finishing them off, but the rain came. Despite not completing this game, we ended clear group winners.

 Each year we have Sandford Cricket Club on standby for the regional group play - offs and to date had never had to use this facility, but not this year. Another superb effort from our hosts got the game started on time after more overnight rain and with a forecast of storms coming in during the afternoon, we were slightly apprehensive of finishing the game. Our luck held out, although it did start to rain hard virtually as soon as the match was completed and, as it rained nearly everywhere else in the county, it appeared that someone was looking after this side. Gloucestershire were invited to bat and, in the words of their coach and former first class cricketer Paul Romaines, Devon produced the best opening spell of bowling seen at this level. Knapman and Warren were virtually unplayable and the "think tank" remembered well the earlier game and set attacking fields including a short leg. After 20 overs Gloucestershire were 27 for 2 and after 24 overs, 40 for two, when the captain rested the opening bowlers. Theedom and Calland filled in for another twelve overs conceding 58 runs and taking two more vital wickets, when the skipper bravely brought back his openers. It was necessary for the visitors to attack and they partially achieved their objective, but the bowlers and fielders made life very difficult for them and Knapman finished with his personal best county figures of the season. He thinks very deeply about his bowling and deserves his success. Damon Calland gave an outstanding performance in the field, winning plaudits from both sides and neutrals alike. Devon faced a quandary, with rain a very real danger they had to attain a run rate of 3.43 an over after the initial ten overs and in turn they did not want to lose wickets. The ploy first used successfully against Dorset was employed and Friend was asked to open with Lewis. At the end of the tenth over Devon was severely behind the clock with drizzle in the air. Lewis uncharacteristically but unselfishly gave the slow bowlers 'the charge' and was stumped for a sound 22 out of a first wicket partnership of 46 off eighteen overs. This brought Chris Read to the wicket, he was commuting from the Under 19 Festival at Oxford this week and he proceeded to play an astonishing innings. Shaun Friend gave his wicket up in the quest of quick runs for a useful 27 and this once again brought together the captain and vice captain. Theedom proceeded to bat in a most agricultural way, not a pretty sight, but very effectively hitting a run a ball and achieving the object of increasing the run rate. Meanwhile Read was playing an innings of the highest calibre, his placement and timing was quite exceptional and he destroyed the Gloucester attack. He took only 82 balls to score his 75 not out, hitting 9 fours including five off seven balls. Goldring, Reed and Bertram all assisted and the side won with seven overs to spare - an amazing result under real pressure.

 Back to Sandford on the Thursday, from the chairman down this Club has been exceptional in the assistance to the side and to stage three matches for us, with three teas and three wickets to prepare, is a major undertaking for any club, but we all appreciated the assistance they have given to Devon Youth cricket in 1994. For the first time there was slight apprehension in the air as the magnitude of the side's achievements was sinking in; they were a game away from the national finals and three days cricket against the cream of the country. It was not to be. We gave Kenway an early chance and never really seemed in total control as Hampshire batted well, although Andrew Bertram found his top form with the ball and our two spinners Hurrell and Calland bowled very effectively. Richard Goldring put in a very hostile spell and showed what we had been missing due to his back injury. Under normal circumstances a target of 213 would not worry this side, but they lost vital early wickets and, although Lewis played with his customary coolness, it was left to the late middle order to somehow bring the side back into the game. Hurell led the way with Friend (17), Bertram (24), Calland (15) and Warren (28) putting up stiff resistance, but we knew all was up when we saw Knapman padded up and for the one and only time this season display his batting ability - a sad end to a triumphant season.It is unfair, in what is a very special team, to mention individuals but the captain Matthew Theedom does deserve special attention, he is a credit to his family and Club and typifies all that is good about a young Devon cricketer who are a breed apart.

 This season there has been a major financial input from the Devon County Cricket Club who subsidised the tour and winter coaching, they are owed a great debt of gratitude. The Devon Cricket Association also direct money into what is now a very expensive exercise, far more than the grants from Lords provide and it is hoped that their faith have been repaid by the side's success. As always we must thank the host clubs, Tiverton, Axminster, Bovey and Sandford for the excellent way the side was looked after. The hospitality of all the Devon Clubs is really second to none, the excellent wickets, superb teas and friendly welcome really make it a pleasure to be involved. To Gordon Lord for all his time and advice, to Barry Warren for his immaculate scoring in the later rounds and to the excellent umpires a huge thank you. That just leaves the parents who gave magnificent support, with Geoff Read leading the way getting his son to and from Oxford, and our perennial twelfth man Nigel Cane - thank you all for your support and understanding. The final thank you must go to the scorer who is now more like the assistant manager, for without her support very little of the above would have been possible.

 


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