The Under 21 2005 Season 










Friendly Fixtures

v Jersey at Sidmouth C.C. – Devon won by 96 runs


214 -8

(R.Foan 40, J.Toms 34, A.Parker 37, S.Priscott 36)


118 all out

(A.Parker 4-33)




v Devon League Overseas XI at Bovey Tracy C.C. – Devon lost by 109 runs


177- 8



69 all out





Southern Counties Competition

v Dorset at Dean Park, Bournemouth – Match abandoned




v Isle of Wight at Tavistock C.C. – Match abandoned




v Cornwall at Tavistock C.C. – Devon won by 6 wickets


139 all out

(G.Larcombe 3-12)


140 - 4

(N.Watkin 51*)




v Isle of Wight at Ventnor C.C. – Devon won by 9 wickets


124 all out

(W.Murray 3-26, N.Watkin 3-17)


127 - 1

(N.Watkin 38*, N.Bettiss 52*)




v Cornwall at Werrington C.C. – Devon won by 3 wickets


229 - 9

(N.Watkin 3-49, G.Larcombe 4-43)


230 - 7

(N.Bettiss 35, J.Toms 54, M.Bettiss 49, A.Parker 36)




v Dorset at Exmouth C.C. – Devon lost by 7 runs





153 - 8

(A.Williams 49, N.Bettiss 37)





The 2005 Squad

J.Gibson (captain), A.Williams (vice captain), T.Allin, N.Bettiss, M.Bettiss, D.Bowser, C.Bradley, D.Calland, R.Foan, S.George, G.Larcombe, D.Manning, W.Murray, A.Parker, J.Porter, S.Priscott, J.Toms, R.Tucker, N.Watkin


Despite the critical loss of the first two games against Dorset and the Isle of Wight and with them potentially two championship points, the season progressed to the final fixture at Exmouth in a most satisfactory manner, despite a hiding at the hands of Devon League Overseas XI. However the thunder and lightning in the final match took the gloss off the season. The main purpose of the 21s is to encourage those players who have progressed through the youth ranks and have yet to make a break through to the full county side. One of the new Key Performance Indicator’s to be introduced by the ECB will be for Counties to field teams within the MCCA Championship and Knock Out competitions with an average age no greater than 26 years 0 months. To the many young players that the county produce this should be an incentive to keep endeavouring to put pressure on the county selectors.

The season started with a friendly and took place, in these difficult financial times, thanks to the generosity of the host club - Sidmouth Cricket Club. It was a most useful work out on the May Bank Holiday Monday in excellent weather that transpired to be against the full Jersey side as opposed to the Development squad that initial negotiations had suggested. With the ground looking in immaculate condition and the sails glistening in the distance, James Gibson did his bit by winning the toss and batting. The Sandford pair of Richard Foan and Neil Bettiss, who had together passed Braunton's total the previous Saturday, set off as if on fire with Foan in particularly good form. He was fortunate in Horton's first over, when a chance behind was not accepted, but he did not look back and crashed 9 splendid fours in his 40 minutes at the crease scoring at a run a minute and facing only 34 balls. Some of his shots were imperial and he has come fully of age as a very talented batsman. At the other end his equally talented partner, Neil Bettiss, who was not in such good form but had fortunately returned to his best by the end of the season, played his part as the pair raced to 63 at over six an over. Bettiss was the first to fall caught by Sidmouth’s export to sports development in Jersey, Patidar, off Gough. His partner followed the next over and the first from Ryan Driver, the former Worcestershire and Lancashire cricketer, who struggled with three wides out of his first four balls but then bowled Foan with his fifth delivery. At 66-2 after 10 overs the complexion of the game changed as Dan Bowser and James Toms decided to stabilise the situation. Tight bowling from Driver and spinner Gough put the brakes on as Devon advanced to 112 after 28 overs. Toms then played across the line to be caught for a well constructed 60 ball 34 including 5 fours. For the second time in the innings Devon then promptly lost another wicket again in the following over, when Bowser was stumped off Jenner’s third ball. The lower middle order came and went with Richard Tucker, James Gibson and Marc Bettiss all leg before victims. At 128-7 after 35 overs Devon needed to spark a revival and so it was to be, as Adam Parker, who up to this game was averaging close to 70 in the Premier League, and Stuart Priscott then demonstrated the importance of shot selection as they advanced the score to 189 after 47 overs. Both batted sensibly and the running was excellent. Having steadied the ship they then set about raising a defendable total. The acceleration was well judged with Parker taking a particular liking to the returning opening bowler Horton as he took him for 12 off his first over. The pair put on a vital partnership of 61 off 77 balls and the side was approaching its first team target. Parker fell for the cause trying to cart the other opening bowler, Saralis, but his innings had been exceptional. He faced 39 balls for his 37, striking 3 fours yet he was still to play another telling part in the game. His partner Priscott continued the fine job he was doing and, in the company of the home club’s Will Murray, took the score up to an acceptable 214. Their 25 runs came off just 16 deliveries. Priscott had spent three minutes under the hour at the crease facing 51 balls hitting 2 fours and a long six into the car park where he should have parked. Murray scored at a run a ball and the splendid Sidmouth tea was eaten in a more relaxed manner than it might have been.

Devon took the first wicket on the penultimate ball of the seventh over, when Gough became the first of Marc Bettiss's four victims as he took a neat catch off Murray. Dewhurst, the second opener was next to fall off Parker's first ball when he was brilliantly stumped down the leg side, there are certain advantages to playing age group cricket year in year out with the same keeper. 26-2 became 30-3 as the visitor’s captain Meeku Patidar was bowled by the Barton all rounder. Twelve runs were added when Priscott moved his long off into a very precise position and Jenner then put the next ball down Murray's throat, who did not have to move an inch as he held a good catch. Two wickets fell at 74 as Silva was digging in and Adam Parker then took two in two, both caught behind. His first victim was the key wicket of the innings as he dismissed Cornwall's Ryan Driver, now teaching in Jersey. On his last visit to the county, Driver had taken a ton off the County side at Exmouth in his home county’s 419-6. The leg before appeal the next ball received no sympathy from the umpire but Parker should be more than satisfied with his return of 4-33 off ten. Jersey lost two more wickets in reaching 80 as Foan bowled Minty and the retuning Stephen George trapped Gorman in front. Thirty eight annoying runs were added by the last two partnerships as Silva advanced towards a much deserved half century. Sadly he was to be left high and dry six runs short after 108 minutes at the crease and facing 118 balls with 5 fours. He lost his side’s opening bowlers who had given him solid support with Priscott bowling Horton and the side’s third left armer, Bowser, bowling Saralis. All of Devon’s bowlers had bowled telling and economical spells and the keeping and fielding was up to the standards required. The middle order would need some time at the crease over the next month before the season started in earnest in July. This useful start to the season, only marred by a parking ticket for the CDO!

Unfortunately the weather intervened as both the away game against Dorset at Dean Park and the home fixture with the Isle of Wight were cancelled without a ball being bowled. Devon did not travel but the Island were in a log cabin on Dartmoor when their game was called off! The weather relented to enable Devon to start their involvement in the new Southern Counties competition but the drizzle that started shortly before the conclusion of their innings changed to heavy rain almost immediately they completed their six wicket win over Cornwall at Tavistock. The visitors won the toss and batted and seemed in no difficulty as they advanced to 61 without loss after fourteen overs. Jack Porter took over from his under 17 colleague Tom Allin, who had made an impressive debut, striking in his first and second overs. First he had Chris Martin caught behind for 26 and six balls later had Cornwall’s captain Tunnadine well held by Gary Larcombe. Twenty-five runs later Murray picked up opener Hockin, who had earlier been dropped off Parker and should also have been run out two balls earlier, Marc Bettiss atoning for his lapse with a smart catch. An excellent caught and bowled, on his knees, from Murray removed Barber and left Cornwall 96-5 A run later they lost their sixth wicket as Porter and Bettiss combined to run out Hodgson for a 47 ball 15. It was single figures for the remaining Cornish batsmen as the Axminster off spinner, Gary Larcombe, tied them up taking 3-12 off ten. He bowled Bray-Smith and two fine stumpings from Marc Bettiss removed the under 17 duo Snell and Libby. The visitor’s final pairing put on 19 in 32 balls but the home side should have been satisfied with the end product of dismissing their opponents in 45.5 overs for 139 with all of the bowlers making important contributions and keeper Marc Bettiss involved in five of the dismissals.

Needing under 3 an over Devon lost opener Neil Bettiss at 6 and ten runs later Shorten held a stunning caught and bowled to remove the side’s vice captain and Barton leader Aaron Williams. Fortunately his club colleagues, Nick Watkin and James Toms, stabilised the situation putting on 58 off 108 balls when they disagreed on a run and Toms was on his way home for a useful 24 off 61 balls. Devon was now back on course with Watkin playing a typical innings. Enter the captain, James Gibson, who rolled back the years to remind everyone that throughout his age group, if not his club, career he was a leading batter as he stroked a 29 ball 22. He then played a rash shot to give the keeper a skier. Marc Bettiss then saw the side home testing his mathematical skills as he ensured that Watkin reached his 50. Watkin had held the innings together and batted for two hours twenty-four minutes hitting 4 fours. Tavistock looked after both sides well and the squad now had three more fixtures to make up the lost ground the poor weather had created.

In planning the season, dates had become increasingly difficult to agree so a mini-tour combining the two Devon away games seemed, at the time, a sensible and logical solution to the problem. When this mini-tour in 48 hours actually took the players through Devon, Dorset, Hampshire, the Island, Hampshire, Dorset, Devon, Cornwall and finally Devon again it turned out to be a mini marathon! We will heed the scorer’s advice next time and combine the Island with Dorset. Virtually all of the squad had played on the Island before, hopefully with happy memories, and an early wake up call took the party to a ferry crossing in idyllic conditions with clear air, the sun building its heat and a light sea breeze. This was further enhanced when on the Island Devon took the Freshwater to Ventnor coastal drive for the first time. This beautiful approach was of course totally lost on the players but the magnificent improvements to Ventnor were not. The Island won the toss and batted, Lloyd could have gone first ball when he edged the unlucky Allin to second slip whose mind was probably still on the boat. Allin went on to bowl yet another excellent spell. Bevan and Lloyd put on 35 in 50 balls when Lloyd fell to the old three card trick exploited over the years by Adam Parker and Marc Bettiss - another smart leg side stumping. Nineteen were added for the second with Bevan looking a class act. Murray swung one away took Russell's edge and now with Parker at second slip it was well held. It was Devon all the way from then on with their bowlers and fielders in charge. Gary Larcombe bowled another fine spell getting Whitfield caught behind. Murray picked up another couple of wickets bowling one and Marc Bettiss taking his third victim. Nick Watkin came on to bowl 3.4 overs finishing it off taking 3-17. Two run outs, one a ping pong affair ending with a direct hit from Larcombe, left the Island all out for 124 in 39.4 overs. Bevan was undefeated on 58 off 109 balls. Devon had to bat before lunch and lost Williams just before lunch for 28. Neil Bettiss’s first scoring shot completed his hundred runs at the ground; he had been run out on 99 on his last visit. Nick Watkin continued his fine form and completed his third undefeated innings in succession scoring 38 and allowing Bettiss to complete his 50. The target was reached in 23.2 overs, shades of the under 16 victory over Oxfordshire at Ventnor in 2003. Time for a swim, the min-bus and passengers got on the earlier ferry but the scorer and dogs missed it as they weren’t allowed on! Some navigation from Williams got the players to the pub and the scorer eventually caught us up. The Island hosted the game splendidly and we expressed our disappointment that for the second year running the under 16s were not having a game at Ventnor.

Arriving at Okehampton just past midnight, after being on the road for 6 and a half hours and 16 hours after the party left the Lyndhurst Travelodge, was not the best preparation for a game with Cornwall. It was no surprise that the journey to Okehampton was one of the quieter ones with snores louder than the music. The highlight of the journey to the attractive Werrington ground was the scorer chasing and failing to catch the wrong mini bus with the right one having being instructed to slow down thus delaying our arrival at this attractive country ground. Gibbo won the toss and inserted on a ground where you always bat first – Cornwall was happy. They opened with their latest batting discovery 15 year old Matt Robbins and Dan Jarman who put on 46 when Watkin now promoted to first change bowler removed Jarman held by Adam Parker. At 76 Watkin enticed Robbins to drive and he was well caught above his head by the tall James Toms. The second partnership of the innings of 30 ended when Neil Bettiss took the third catch of the day to remove Tunnadin, who was Gary Larcombe’s first victim. A run out from Toms and Parker dismissed Churcher, leaving the home side 131 after 220 balls. Devon was now controlling the game and a final product under 200 seemed likely. Larcombe took the next three wickets as Cornwall was reduced to 187-7 as he had Hodgson stumped by Bettiss, who had another amazing season behind the stumps, bowled Martin and the keeper Horwell caught by Murray. The younger Smeeth was Watkin’s third wicket and Devon was very satisfied at 189-8 with 23 balls remaining and an alleged rabbit at 11. The opposition’s captain Ben Smeeth had other ideas and, with the under 17 opening bowler Kelvin Snell, a further 40 runs were added. Smeeth was undefeated on 53 off only 35 balls with 6 fours and a six. The opposition scorer was satisfied with the final score of 229 with Snell run out on the last ball - well you always bat first at Werrington. Devon’s fielding performance reflected the previous exacting 36 hours with seven missed opportunities; it was hoped that it would now not be reflected in the batting. No runs were scored by the opening partnership as Williams went third ball flicking Snell to square leg. Watkins looked regal and hoped to continue the exceptional form that he has shown over recent weeks hitting 4 fours in his ten ball 18. However he followed the example of his club captain and flicked leg side to be caught at mid wicket, his return to the old Watco in needing an escort when he showed his disappointment as he had also considered himself  in very good nick. Two key members of the 2000 national under 16 championship side were now together, as Neil Bettiss and James Toms put on 53 taking the side up to 79 after 123 balls, when left arm spinner Ivamy enticed Bettiss to drive and he was caught. Toms was now entrenched in one of his worst ever innings - his thoughts not the writer’s - and with the younger Bettiss put on 66 off 95. Toms’ self criticism revolved around the number of dots balls he faced and he felt he was placing his side under undue pressure – pure unadulterated rubbish. Under the circumstances it was vital that partnerships were built and although he was disappointed that he had actually only scored off 17 of his 94 balls, four of them were hit for six and another four also crossed the rope. Tom’s 54 was not only the highest score of the match but a vital one for his county. He was fourth out at 145 off 36 overs becoming young Robbins first wicket. The side had 82 balls to score 85 – what was the problem James? The Sandford pair of Marc Bettiss, who was on 24, and captain, James Gibson, took the total up to 173 and the countdown was now 57 off 46 as the rate started climbing. Bettiss put the ball in with the sheep but then next ball missed a straight one bowled by Robbins for an exciting 64 ball 49. The ask was now 40 balls and 51 needed. Murray was stumped after a vital 31 run partnership with Adam Parker who was striking the ball cleanly. Twenty needed, 19 balls left. The Barton boys Parker and Porter did it in 16 with Parker hitting a 22 ball 36 with 4 fours and two sixes. This was an excellent result taking into account the previous exhausting 48 hours. The final game against Dorset at Exmouth was likely to decide the inaugural Southern Counties Competition. So it proved.

Before that the side had an appointment with the League Overseas eleven. On a glorious day the Development team arrived at Bovey Tracey Cricket Club in an important week as the team was playing Dorset two days later. The overseas side won the toss and elected to bat with some hesitation, having had their top order ripped out by a Craig Miles hat-trick and been comprehensively beaten the previous year. Their fears were confirmed when Tom Allin bowled a superb spell of 1-5 off six, well assisted by fellow new ball bowler Adam Parker. The ball had been doing plenty, which had left the opposition reeling at 27-3 including the loss of their star batter, Cornwood’s, Salman. It could have been worse as a ball was hit at some pace to the right of Jack Porter who swooped, picked up cleanly and threw down the stumps – it was certainly close but would have needed a television replay. This, added to a remarkable catch by Barton captain Aaron Williams, provided an example of how well this young team fielded, giving a superb exhibition with keeper Manning taking two catches and stumpings and not conceding a bye. However it was Allin’s team mate, South African, Rasool who steadied the ship holding the innings together with a patient and well-comprised 51 off 82 balls. The Bideford all rounder’s innings allowed the later batters to go after the bowling at the death and, despite almost all the Devon bowlers bowling reasonable spells, the question at tea was would 177 be too many to chase on today’s pitch? Devon was left feeling that perhaps they had eased off the throttle to ensure they created a spectacle for the crowd. How wrong this would prove to be!

A wonderful tea brought about a comment from Allin that registered slight concern with the Devon team, he had been the only Devon bowler to really hit the deck - when congratulated on his bowling he modestly suggested that he was just bowling “good areas and the ball did the rest”… It was going to be Interesting to watch Devon bat against a faster, taller opening attack. Their innings began in fine fashion when the Barton pairing of Williams and Nick Watkin got off to an excellent start but after playing some superb shots and looking in prime form Williams thought he was faster than he actually was and was run out going for a second by a throw from the boundary. Once the wickets started they fell like dominoes, as a fired up Stephenson 6-30 and a disciplined Sutherland 3-20 blasted through the top order. Toms nicked one behind, Watkin was trapped leg before, Gibson was caught at short leg, Larcombe, Parker and Murray were all caught behind and after 22 balls resistance the experienced David Manning was bowled. Only the Bovey captain, Chris Bradley, used his local knowledge to deal with the ball darting around and in the end Devon were bowled out for a woeful 69, not good preparation for Wednesday.

Despite this set back the Maer Ground was approached with some real optimism in bright sunlight, although a trip to the bank had delayed the arrival and there was no feeling of apprehension until walking into the ground and then there was a pronounced change in atmosphere. Was it the build up in cloud over Dawlish? This was certainly disconcerting as the forecast was thunder later in the day – no the reason became obvious when the team sheets were handed over. Dorset had paid the current leaders in the Southern Counties competition the greatest compliment possible, instead of selecting a promising player on the verge of their County side as one of their over age players they were playing Darren Cowley. He is an established Minor County match winner – well known to Devon’s squad from his exploits over the years at Barton – game on. It subsequently transpired that the home side was not only to experience thunder and lightning from the elements but also from the former Barton star. Devon was simply outclassed by a scintillating solo performance of the highest quality from Cowley but let’s start at the very beginning, a very good……....

Dorset won the toss and batted, Tom Allin opened the bowling and Booth hit his second and third balls for four and nicked his fifth behind. The second pairing of the under 17 House and visitor’s captain Laws took the score up to 47, when Jack Porter joined the attack and, with the last ball of his first and the side’s thirteenth over, tempted the captain into giving his opposite number a catch at cover. The clouds were building up but in typical Exmouth fashion were going down the estuary. At the halfway stage Devon was more than satisfied with Dorset’s 77-2, although the threat was now padded up and the cloud getting darker. At 82 Dorset’s Watkins became Damian Calland’s first wicket, when Toms caught him for a 38 ball 8. In came Cowley and it was now getting very dark, on the last ball of Calland’s third over he caught House off his own bowling. He was out one short of his 50 off 99 balls. It was good to have Damian back in the fold as an over-age player and his three overs had cost 8 runs for two wickets. With lightening and thunder now over the town centre and the ground staff, with their local knowledge, standing by the covers, the umpires called the players off. It did thunder, lightning flickered over the ground and it did pour, did it pour! Tea was taken and over two hours later play was again possible. The game was reduced to 34 overs a side, leaving Dorset another five overs or 30 balls to build on their 97-4. This was a huge bonus to the home side as to date Cowley had hit seven off the two balls received, so the maximum he could face would be 32. In fact he faced 27 in all and scored an undefeated 66 now this was real thunder and lightning! Five of his balls were dots but the rest included 4 sixes and 7 fours, an amazing onslaught. His new partner, Dicker, did his job from the non striker’s end scoring 4 off six. Tom Allin and Nick Watkin had their figures ruined. The 63 partnership came off the 30 balls and from a reasonable target Devon now needed 4.70 an over – still within their range. The light was unlikely to be too good towards the end of the innings but all things seemed bright as Williams and Watkin put on 76 off 95 balls in 16 overs leaving the side to score 84 off 108 balls. The key was that Williams was trapped leg before off the last ball of slow left armer Cowley’s first over and the Dorset all rounder would now be able to bowl his spell through to the end of the innings. Williams was the second batter in the game to fall one short of the 50, he had faced only 51 balls and should have added to his tally of county 50s. Two runs later his partner Watkin was bowled by Dorset’s under 16 opening bowler Armstrong, who had now embarked on a critical spell in tandem with Cowley bowling his six overs for just 8 runs. Two new batsman at the crease and it was getting darker. Neil Bettiss was on his way out of his own personal batting nightmare season, which was to finish on the following Saturday when he took the Barton attack for 116. The third wicket put on 33 in 55 balls and the clock was now starting to tick loudly as James Toms was Cowley’s second victim – caught. Forty-eight balls left 59 runs needed, the pressure was mounting, the mist was now circling and a couple of big overs were now needed. Cowley took his third wicket when he bowled James Gibson at 139 and his fourth at 141 with the younger Bettiss bowled second ball. At 145 the elder Bettiss broke the sequence when he was bowled in the gloom by Belt for a 47 ball 37. The odds were now heavily stacked against Devon and it became a major struggle as Cowley took his fifth and sixth wickets. With intelligent field settings and tight bowling, the visitor’s side went eight overs without conceding a boundary and the run rate just kept creeping up and up with an impossible 14 needed off the last over. Murray did find the boundary but the side eventually fell 7 short with the street lights now shining brightly. Sadly after the expectation at the beginning of the day this defeat, by a genuinely brilliant one man show, was incredibly disappointing. The feeling of anticlimax was not helped by the autumnal weather of mists and mellow fruitfulness nor that this was not only the last youth game of the 2005 season but the last county game for some very loyal and committed Devonians. Exmouth, as always coped with the exceptional weather as did the two experienced umpires.

So the season ended with a sense of real disappointment but should there have been? Most of the objectives had been achieved, some of the fine young Devon players had played some more County cricket and most had confirmed what fine players they were. The defeat against the Overseas eleven was a disappointment but it did not deserve the unfair criticism received. Our hosts both home and away were outstanding; Tavistock, Bovey and Exmouth were outstanding. Devon are fortunate to have some high quality umpires and we were happy that some of them have been assigned to our matches. The splendid captain and some of his age group colleagues now face new challenges in life and hopefully they will look back at their involvement in Devon cricket with genuine pleasure. They certainly have provided many hours of true pleasure to the writer and scorer. Hopefully others will progress into the county set up; they have undoubtedly the talent to do so.