The Under 21 2008 Season

Southern Counties Champions









v Somerset IIs at Exmouth C.C. – Devon lost by 115 runs






(D.Hardy 95*; L.Gregory 35)




Southern Counties Competition

v Dorset at Dorchester C.C. – Devon won by 6 runs



(A.Trevarthen 73; C.Metters 42; J.Smith 58*)







v Isle of Wight at Ventnor C.C. – Devon won by 4 wickets






(D.Hardy 34; J.Burke 53; A.Trevarthen 32; C.Metters 48*)




v Isle of Wight at Axminster C.C. – Devon won by 5 wickets



(D.Bowser 4-22)



(J.Porter 30*)




v Cornwall at Truro C.C. – Devon won by 7 wickets



(D.Bowser 3-35)



(D.Hardy 45; J.Porter 44*; J.Smith 40*)




v Cornwall at Torquay C.C. – Devon lost by 60 runs



(J.Porter 3-34; D.Bowser 3-35)



(J.Porter 61)




v Wiltshire at Seaton C.C. – Devon won by 103 runs



(T.Piper 63; J.Yau 54)



(J.Porter 4-21; C.Metters 3-32)


The 2008 Squad

J.Porter (captain); J.Yau (vice captain); E.Acton; R.Acton; J.Bess; J.Burke; D.Bowser; G.Chappell; A.Dibble; L.Gregory; D.Hardy; J.Hyde; A.Kingdon; C.Metters; M.Orchard; T.Piper;.J.Smith; J.Thompson; A.Trevarthen.


After being so close to winning the title and sharing it in 2006, Devon at last got their just deserts with a win against their nearest rivals, Wiltshire, in the final game to clinch the title. This was another productive summer with some outstanding performances, the first two Southern Counties games spring immediately to mind with the development of some new players and the welcome return of others. Next summer the side lose just two players, Tim Piper and Alex Trevarthen, through age.

A new fixture was the early season friendly against the Somerset second team. Sunny Exmouth was a picture and the arrival at the Maer was an easy one without the normal school holiday crowds. This game could have been many things but it indeed ended up being a very meaningful one to the Devon squad. The team sheets revealed a great deal as did the confidence of Somerset’s captain, Andy Caddick, as he advised Devon’s new captain Jack Porter that the twenty pence coin would come down heads and Somerset would bat, it did and they did. Devon was fielding a side with an average age of just over eighteen and a half, Somerset a team with 72 test caps, 64 ODI appearances over 12,500 first class runs and 1,633 wickets. An interesting encounter it would be. Carl Gazzard and John Francis opened the batting and Adam Dibble bowled a maiden, all was right in the world. After another nine overs Somerset were 70-0. The fielding restrictions of the Southern Counties did not help the bowlers but 38 of the first 60 deliveries bowled by Dibble and Mark Orchard were dots interspersed with seven fours and three sixes, as the good were left or blocked and the bad despatched. The stats reveal that Devon bowled more good ones than bad! Ross Acton replaced Orchard at the pavilion end and second ball had Francis caught by Lewis Gregory. New batsman Wes Durston took the one run off Acton’s first over off his first ball. Adam Dibble then finished his six over spell, which had shown much promise but when pitching slightly shorter he tended to be deposited in the car park or café. In fact only three of the scoring shots off his bowling were not boundaries so he could be pleased with his performance. The captain came on at the sea end and Devon started to control the scoring rate with some first class keeping from Yau standing up to both, tight bowling and excellent fielding. After twenty the score was 102 and the next five overs added 18 runs, as Gazzard and Durston demonstrated how to bat on a typical Exmouth track that after all the recent rain amazingly had some bounce and carry. Chris Metters replaced Porter at the half way stage and his spell of ten overs 1-41 confirmed his promise. Ross Acton completed his ten overs with the excellent figures 1-37. Metters removed the second Somerset batsman, Wes Durston, in the thirty-third over when the captain held the catch. This brought to the wicket King’s under 17, Jos Buttler, who had been a key batsmen in the West of England’s win at the national festival the previous summer. His school average was approaching 200 for the season and his forty-eight minute stay at the crease revealed his immense potential and talent. He faced just 61 balls in reaching his 86, with his fifty coming off 44 - he was pure quality. The ball eluded fielders' vain attempts to catch him and perhaps, later in the season with more confidence, the catch would have been opted for on a couple of occasions instead of the run saving approach. Gazzard was holding down the other end as the pair put on 122 with Buttler given total freedom, which he gladly took. Joe Thompson was given his first county bowl and, after five overs averaging just under seven in the onslaught, was replaced by Devon’s shock bowler, Josh Bess, who, as the momentum was building, went for thirty off his three overs despite a confident appeal for a caught behind off Gazzard being turned down. Porter came back to stem the tide and Buttler unwisely picked out the seven foot nothing Adam Dibble, who plucked the ball out of the air as it was on target for the bowling green. Mark Orchard had returned to the attack and his final two overs went for nearly as many as his first five with Somerset rampant. Cornwall’s Carl Gazzard reached three figures and Buttler had been replaced by Banks who hit 15 off five including the one chance that went down all innings, when Hardy put him down at long off. Next ball Tim Piper gave Orchard his deserved wicket as he caught Gazzard. The final ball off the innings crossed the rope on the bounce and cottage pie was enjoyed in the knowledge that a run rate of just under 6 was needed against a reasonable attack! Rocks and hard places entered the mind. The fielding had stood up to the test with the arms of Bess and Porter ensuring that there were no threes in the innings. A conscious decision had been made in preparing for the summer that there was no room in the side for passengers in the field, there were none today – outstanding.

Being naturally a pessimist it was easy to see disaster on the horizon, inwardly you hoped that Somerset would not want to humiliate this young group but it never crossed the mind that Devon would lose only one more wicket than their opponents and this only due to a middle order collapse against spin and that at one time the captain would be setting a target of 200 plus for his batters. It was only two and a half for the first ten but no wickets as Caddick eased himself back in harness with Andrew Sutton, who had joined Somerset from the MCC Young Cricketers. Hardy tested second slip and gully but the general atmosphere in the pavilion was improving.  The openers had reached 43 off fifteen when Josh Bess took on Caddick but found his climb too steep and his attempted pull ended up down Craig Merchede’s throat for 21, he had been at the crease for a minute under the hour and looked in good form. With other priorities and hopefully a long run in the county team in front of him, this was his final appearance at this level. He has developed well over the years, to share the Player of the Year Award in 2007 and he has given much to Devon youth cricket.  Enter Lewis Gregory and, with Hardy now starting to feel at home in this company, the pair put on 79 in six minutes over the hour and off 107 balls. Gregory’s pedigree has never been in doubt but it would not have been a surprise if he did not have a couple of butterflies in his stomach as he was tested by some early short deliveries by the visitors' captain. The opening bowlers had now been replaced by Merschede and Philip Steffan Jones, who was a joy throughout the day, the hundred was reached in the twenty-eighth over and the home side captain’s horizons were starting to change. Both were batting beautifully with Gregory taking a liking to Lloyd Alley’s bowling. After seventy eight balls Dan Hardy scored his first county fifty since he took 62 off Gloucestershire in 2006. Now he is fully recovered from the injury problems that restricted his opportunities at this level in 2007, he was to become a key member of the side topping the batting averages.  Caddick turned to spin in the shape of Omari Banks and Jack Leach and Devon commenced the only really disappointing section of the day. First Gregory was leg before to the impressive under 17 Jack Leach for a splendid 35 (65 mins, 66 balls, six fours), Leach then had Joe Smith caught by Durston at slip off his quicker ball, Chris Metters faced 19 balls in 19 minutes for five to be Leach’s third and second leg before. Durston’s off spin replaced Leach (3-18 off six) at the pavilion end and Piper left his crease to be smartly stumped by Gazzard. From 120-1 Devon was now 169-5 with spin taking a tight hold. This spell reinforced concerns about our ability to play this type of bowling and the importance it plays in the competition. Meanwhile Hardy was approaching his maiden county ton. Our visitors decided he would not get it as they gave him one and then bowled at the other batter. With Caddick now in overdrive, Hardy, on 94 at the start of the last over bowled by Durston. Hardy, took a one first ball and it then proved impossible to get him back on strike, which was really disappointing as he deserved to go away with three figures to his name. Two batters in this game Gazzard and Hardy had been in for 99.9999% of the game one scoring a ton the other five short. Hardy will however be very pleased with his performance, the scorecard clearly shows how important it was to his side but let us hope he goes five better in the future.  Now for the competitive stuff.

What was always going to be a hectic thirty-six hours in fact turned into a nail biting thirty-nine hours as the Under 21s were involved in two of the best games ever played in the Southern Counties competition. Dorchester was very warm in the sun but cold out of it so the players were to be involved in very sapping conditions as Jack Porter won the toss and batted. New opening pairing of Hardy and James Burke put on 29 in eleven when Burke was trapped leg before. Seb Benton had been called up again at short notice to play for Warwickshire and indeed was not to appear all summer, so Plympton’s Alex Trevarthen was drafted in at the eleventh hour to make his first county appearance since playing for Jon Mears at fourteens. He made an immediate impact as he despatched his second, fifth and ninth ball for four and then started clearing the boundary by such a distance that the passengers on the not so nearby railway line were in danger as he hit as big as anyone since Darren Cowley at Exmouth three years earlier. Forty-seven were put on for the second wicket when Hardy played an uncharacteristic shot to Smith’s first ball and was caught. Tim Piper then contributed eight of the highest third wicket partnership of the summer, 45 off ten, as Trevarthen carried on the carnage. Piper gave the Burfitt/Smith combination their second wicket and Devon were 126 for three after 31 overs. Three runs later the introduction of under 19 off spinner Malik removed Trevarthen first ball as he apparently lost the ball to be leg before. His 50 had come off 48 balls in forty-four minutes and he was out for an excellent 72 ball 73 which lasted two minutes over the hour and included ten fours and four sixes. However on this fine batting track there was still much to be done as Chris Metters and Joe Smith started the second phase. They failed to put on a three figure partnership by just three but this was to be 2008’s best fifth wicket partnership. It took them 87 balls and just 49 minutes as they ran beautifully and built up impetus. Smith started to demonstrate his full range of shots including the one over the keeper’s shoulder and Metters’ talent just continues to blossom. Metters hit two fours and two sixes and was bowled for 42 (53 balls, 46 minutes) trying to hit another. At 221 for 5 Devon had 25 balls remaining to finish the job. Acton died by the sword for a seven ball nine and Porter, continuing where he had left off the day before when he had scored his maiden league hundred, scored 17 off ten. The running was exceptional and there was real sympathy for the very able Dorset keeper, Tweedle, as they took byes to balls thudding into his gloves. It was a master class of running. The final score of 260 was considered very defendable, famous last thoughts! Joe Smith finished on an undefeated 58 (52 balls 5 fours and a six). Dorset provided a first class lunch, their county captain, who had been there all day assessing their talent, presented their 2007 under 21 player of the year with his award and there was a general air of confidence from both sides. Dorset had a number of players who had represented the full county side and all showed a real and necessary enthusiasm for this level of cricket. A characteristic that is also prevalent in the Cornwall and Wiltshire sides. The news that Chris Metters had been called up to play for Devon at Dean Park was very well received by his colleagues, who over his first three days of twenty-ones cricket this summer had seen a colossus developing.

Dorset did not show an early indication of what was to prove to be a very tight finish, scoring 18 off five before Orchard had Elliott caught by Piper. They reached 59 in fourteen when Moxom was caught behind by Torquay’s captain Justin Yau to give his club colleague, Joe Thompson, his first county scalp. Thirty-four were added for the third wicket when Metters bowled Watkins, who was one of the names that appeared in the Dorset CCC 2007 Handbook. This left the home side 95-3 needing 165 off 153 balls. Evenly balanced but the Devonians in the large Sunday crowd were still breathing evenly. This was about to change as Canterbury kit was now evident at the crease with Baker, who was anchoring, and Arshand, who was not, put on 73 in 37 minutes off 57 balls. Metters only went for 2.4 off his ten so the runs were coming off the other end as Devon were run ragged. Burke was brought back to stem the tide with Yau taking a calculated gamble of standing up and the twenty-four wides, including two at five, were a massive hindrance. Burke yorked the very dangerous Arshand for a 35 ball 38 (6 fours). Baker continued with captain Tweedle as the pair advanced the score by 79 off 87 and Dorset approached the forty-eighth over on 241 with 18 balls to score twenty runs, thoughts had turned to being gracious in defeat. Metters then bowled a wicket maiden!!! Baker on 83 lofted the left armer down to long off, where Joe Thompson did not look like missing it as he caught the anchor with aplomb only to be rapidly flattened by his team mates. Porter, who had been going at eight up until then, bowled the penultimate over and second ball Metters confirmed his man of the match status when his direct hit removed Dan Belt, who tends to live up to his name, for a duck. Dorset now still needed 20 but now off eleven. It was to be 14 off six with reliable Ross Acton, fresh from his match winning fivefer the previous day, to bowl, having bowled so far for 3.22. To cut it short he went for 1, 2, 1, dot, 2, 1. as Devon won by 6 runs. It was evident that the result and playing for this side meant a lot to the 12 players as they celebrated. A late departure meant the scampi’s had to be pre ordered but Metters fluent Latvian astounded the squad. She was very attractive and completed a first class day for his side and him personally.

It was fortunate, despite the late end the previous night, that a 7.30am call was made for breakfast as the Little Chef adjoining the Travelodge was under staffed much to the scorer’s annoyance. She had to wait for a bacon bap on the ferry which luckily was reached on time. Not the clear crossing that has been so evocative in the past but it was evident that the 100 over contest would be competed for in more high temperatures. Ferry times were foolishly discussed, much to the annoyance of Tim Piper, and Ventnor gave the side their normal typical warm welcome. With the advent of a new purpose built ground at Newport, for the twenty-ones this might be the penultimate trip up the very attractive coastal route from Yarmouth. An easy warm up with some stiff limbs and it was uncertain whether Alex Trevarthen would be able to take part. It is a huge advantage to have your own qualified physiotherapist in your team but not so good when he makes his own diagnosis! For the second day he watched Devon in the field and then make a telling contribution with the bat. As always Piper was right, Porter called correctly and on winning the toss the Island side batted. The progress made by the Isle of Wight Cricket Board over the thirteen years that we have been visiting is striking. Their new centre has been the catalyst in this development, let us hope that the Devon Centre at Exeter University will have the similar effect of pushing forward Devon cricket.

A par score at this ground is around 240 so the home side was two below par despite a short boundary on the Botanical garden side. The first wicket put on 15 in seven when Orchard had Peak caught by Smith. The second wicket pairing of Hatt and skipper Morris put on 153 off 181, it was the Torquay Yau/Thompson combination that sent Hatt up the steep climb to the pavilion for a 130 ball 66. After 38 overs the home side was exceptionally well placed at 172-2. It had not been all plain sailing with a miss at slip and a stumping chance gone begging. The first was not too expensive, the second slightly more. The Island was on target for a total around 260 unless something was to happen. It did. The ever alert keeper’s direct hit ran out the home side captain for a personal Nelson 63 off 111. Thompson bowled West of England and Hampshire Under 17 prospect, Danny Briggs, and Friend was run out when he was out of the ground at the non strikers end when a hard drive ricocheted off Porter, whose “Chin up sparked a personal feud for the rest of the game. With forty-four overs gone the Island was past two hundred with six wickets in hand. Porter trapped Miller in front and Piper caught Turpin in front of the Pavilion rails off the captain as the visitors got themselves back into the game. Thompson, who bowled through his ten overs, and Porter picked up a brace and Orchard one. Once again the second half was approached with optimism needing 4.78 on a notoriously high scoring ground with a fast, if steep outfield.

Hardy and Burke put on a season’s best opening stand of 69 when Nelson struck again as on their one hundredth and eleventh ball Hardy failed to make his ground to be run out for a 61 ball 34. It was a past and present Plymouth College pairing that advanced the score by 52, when, after thirty-eight minutes at the crease, Trevarthen again took on leg spinner Gordon but this time was bowled. The Isle of Wight was now exerting the break with highly rated left arm spinner Danny Briggs and leggies Miller and Gordon all bowling well. Smith decided to sweep the leg spin and was caught at backward, Kingdon tried to lift the tempo with two fours but was caught behind and Burke after 140 minutes at the crease was Miller’s third victim caught and bowled for an innings top score of 53. After 42 overs Devon was 164-5 looking at 9.25, the pressure was building! For the second day Acton fell on his weapon, 183-6 with 56 needed off 36 with the notoriously miserly Briggs back for the last three from the road end and opener Friend from the sea. From certain defeat came an amazing victory carved out by Chris Metters and captain Jack Porter. Briggs first over went for 10 plus a leg bye, doubling his runs against, Metters swotted him into the Pavilion plate glass. The forty-sixth went for five as the pair was demonstrating how to bat in a tight situation to perfection. Incredible eighteen were scored off Briggs next over including a full toss no ball put into the gardens by Metters for a net 8. It took just another ten balls to seal a second remarkable win, this time with eight balls to spare. Ten off the forty-eighth, then, in the forty-ninth and Briggs last, Porter took one off the first to take his tally up to 142 without being dismissed for his long weekend efforts, Metters stroked Briggs for a classical four and then a straight six to end six better off than the previous day but two short of his first 50 at this level. Briggs went on to gain a place in the England squad with James Burke. This had been another remarkable finale and the completion of two strenuous days with two excellent results. The 8.00pm ferry was missed by minutes, resulting in a post midnight arrival at Exeter, so in future all ferry talk will be banned, which will be part of Piper’s legacy. The singing was exceptional with Metters Worzels selection a popular addition to all the old favourites, this could be the last group to enjoy Westlife, Robbie and Take That. At nine thirty, Andy Murray made it three miraculous recoveries in twenty-four hours.

Devon had played their first three games on three of the better days of 2008 and the worst summer for cricket then started to take its toll on the twenty-ones. The forecast for the Isle of Wight’s under 21 return game at Axminster was not showers but persistent rain coming in mid-afternoon and the feel of the day with heavy cloud cover was not good. With the need to get the game completed (at least twenty overs in the second innings) Jack Porter inserted and his side bowled out the Island with 15 balls to spare. The captain made the initial breakthrough in the eleventh over when he bowled Hatt with the score on 33. It advanced by another 24 when the other opener was superbly run out by a direct hit from Andy Kingdon. Kingdon’s fielding has really improved, as a stunning catch later in the innings was to confirm. Devon was now employing left armers at both ends with the Bradninch pair of Ross Acton and Gary Chappell taking control. Chappell picked up Morris (caught Orchard) and Friend (bowled) as the Isle of Wight reached 73-4 off twenty-nine overs. Acton was replaced at the pavilion end by Dan Bowser’s left arm spin and he took the next three wickets to fall with another catch from Orchard, a brilliant diving caught and bowled and a bowled. The last two wickets had fallen on 102 after Brixham’s Joe Hyde had entered the under 21 scene. He had already demonstrated the progress he has made on his fielding but it is also evident that his bowling has come a long way, as with his height he was achieving good bounce and carry. Without an addition to the score he had Taylor caught behind, twenty-nine were added for the ninth wicket when Kingdon took his catch and Bowser (4-22) took his fourth and the final wicket with Yau stumping Hose.

There had been moisture in the air for some time and the cloud cover was getting lower it was decided that a charge was needed so Alex Trevarthen was promoted to open with Hardy. They put on 40 in nine overs when Trevarthen was bowled for an 18 ball 21. Hardy was caught and bowled two balls later and Joe Smith fell with the score on 56. Fifteen of the necessary overs had been bowled with Devon scoring at 3.73 with a rate in excess 2.64 needed. Bowser was bowled at 69, Kingdon struck a 6 ball 12 but was out in the twentieth over with the score on 83. The threat of rain was increasing but the skipper completed his amazing week with the bat being undefeated on 30 as the total was reached on the last ball of the twenty-fifth over with no further mishap. In the difficult circumstances the side had done all they were asked and the promised, prolonged rain arrived at 6.05pm just 28 minutes after close. Axminster had been their normal outstanding hosts.

The 2008 summer then had its say with a vengeance as the home game with Dorset at Exmouth and the away game with Wiltshire at Devises, planned on successive days, were lost without travelling to either.

With both sides’ selections restricted by county call ups, Devon completed their first away win against the Cornish in three years in a most workmanlike manner. Truro was in fine order, although no umpires had been appointed and there were no fielding circles, as Cornwall’s captain Joe Crane won the toss and batted. The captain and Devine opened against Jack Porter and Joe Hyde and in the eighth over Kingdon caught Devine to give Hyde a deserved wicket. Next over Porter trapped his opposite number in front to leave Cornwall 22-2. The opening bowlers bowled fourteen and Cornwall had scored at 3.35 when Ross Acton replaced Porter at the Cathedral end and Gary Chappell took over from Hyde. The Bradninch pair conceded just twelve runs in their first twelve overs with Chappell bowling Edwards in his first over and Hughes in his second, both maidens. At the end of their twenty over spell Cornwall was 89-4 with sixteen overs remaining to be bowled by two more left armers, Dan Bowser and Chris Metters. Cornwall’s fifth wicket partnership of Snell and Davis, who had played for Somerset IIs earlier in the season against Devon, put on their side’s best partnership of 46 off 108 balls in seven minutes under the hour. Dan Bowser broke it in his first over when he combined with Dan Hardy to remove Snell. This was the first of two very fine catches by Hardy who took both with amazing confidence and skill. The pair then removed Davis, who was approaching his fifty but fell four short. Forty-four overs gone and Cornwall was 122-6. Twenty-two runs later Metters trapped Stephens in front and, after a further seventeen were added for the eighth wicket, Bowser struck again to bowl Roberts. Cornwall completed their fifty overs having scored at 3.14 with Bowser taking 3-35 off eight and Chappell 2-17 off ten – Smeeth-like figures.

Bowser and Hardy batted twenty-one overs reducing the target to 104 off 29 when Devon lost two wickets for three runs. Bone had Dan Bowser leg before and Davis bowled Trevarthen first ball. Alex was caught unaware with a large travelling supporter base. Hardy and the captain advanced the score to 91 off thirty-three when Hardy was unexpectedly bowled by Roberts for the side’s top score of 45. He had batted 98 minutes and confirmed what an asset he has become. Joe Smith then increased the tempo scoring an undefeated forty-two ball 40. The captain completed his hundred runs for the season undefeated and had only two innings to get an average. Devon had reached their target with four overs to spare.

Torquay Cricket Club pulled out all the stops to ensure the second game with Cornwall was staged, as heavy overnight rain compounded the problems that earlier rain during the week had caused. It was a great tribute to Ian and Tim Western, Edward Thompson and the club captain, Justin Yau, that the hours they put into preparing the ground were worthwhile as a full game was achieved. Unfortunately the depression that had caused the poor weather was still evident as the players left for the captain’s birthday barbecue thoroughly miserable. The destiny of the Southern Counties title no longer lay in their own destiny, as the dropping of these two vital points added to the two already lost to the rain now opened up the competition to both Cornwall and Wiltshire. Cornwall fully deserved this win with a fine team performance. The only extenuating circumstances for the home side was a difficult twenty minute six over spell in the field when the heavy drizzle was not sufficient to end play but the dampness did greatly reduce the ability of the bowlers to grip the ball as Cornwall scored at sevens. The rain did eventually result in an early tea.

In view of the weather forecast (the English Riviera was on the edge of the radar rain belt), the damp outfield and the relevance of the result, after consultation Jack Porter decided to field on winning the toss. The Cornwall openers scored in fours putting on 35 in nine overs when Lewis Gregory took a smart catch at gully to remove Crane and to give the captain his first wicket. Gregory replaced Joe Hyde at the pavilion end as Cornwall  proceeded to the halfway stage only to immediately lose two wickets, Hyde throwing out Williams at the bowlers end with Chappell taking the return and the bowler then having Rowe caught behind for 47. The visitors were 101-3 and Devon was still in the contest despite that it was not one of their better fielding performance of the summer with Williams having been dropped at cover off Gregory.  Chappell took his second wicket in his penultimate over when he caught county regular, Matt Robins, who had lost patience and skied a return catch. Dan Bowser took over from Ross Acton and at 130 had Hughes stumped by Yau, Hardy caught Davis on 148 and five runs later the keeper caught Roberts. At 153-7 off forty overs Devon should have been reasonably pleased but it was then that the drizzle started and Bowser’s last over went for 17 with the bowler shrugging his shoulders. After forty-six overs, with Smeeth and Libby making the most of the situation and taking the score up to 202, the umpires took them off for an early tea. After the early enforced tea Cornwall had four overs and three wickets to capitalise on the situation. Eleven balls later they were all out as Smeeth was stumped off Porter, Porter/Yau ran out Stephens and Kendall was trapped in front by Porter off his first ball. Devon would need to score at 4.22.

In fact at their best they were scoring at 3.42 but by then they had lost eight wickets. It was a disastrous start, Hardy was caught at gully, Trevarthen completed one of the more improbably king pairs as nine days earlier he had been dismissed in an identical manner. It is hoped that Mrs Trevarthen enjoyed FlashDance. Bowser played on, leaving Devon 11-3 off ten with Davis having taken 3-4 off five. Gregory fell at nineteen and, despite a resolute partnership from Jack Porter and Joe Smith of 66 in 17 overs, the last rites were being prepared. On a spin friendly track Stephens’ off cutters were proving difficult and he disposed of Smith for a valiant 55 ball 28. At 117 Metters was Smeeth's second catch and Libby’s sole victim. The captain despatched Smeeth’s first over across and over the leg side boundary but was bowled third ball of his next. He at least now had a season’s average of 175 as he had scored an eighty-six ball 61. Yau was caught and bowled by Rowe, Acton was bowled by Smeeth and Thompson called Chappell for his fifth but improbable county run with Gary not even in the frame. A poor performance against Cornwall now seems to be an annual event on the calendar and this year’s twenty ones did not buck the trend. A nasty collision in the adjacent road did not help the atmosphere as one of the drivers had to be despatched by ambulance to Torquay Hospital. Although there was no fan base to match those who supported Matt at last year’s under 16 game, it was good to welcome so many past and present under 21s to the game. It was just a shame the performance did not truly reflect the true ability of the side.

On an overcast final day of the summer all did not seem to be going to plan as our outstanding hosts, Seaton, thought it was a 1.00pm start and so did the umpires!. On returning home the resignation was delayed as all the correspondence indicated that the correct time had been indicated and in bold red. One of the virtues of this competition is that the title always tends to come down to the last game and somehow Devon always seems to be involved. The captain and vice captain had intended that the title would have been decided well in advance this year but the two critical rain offs in two days and the poor performance at Torquay resulted in this game being the decider. Wiltshire won the toss and Devon batted. Dan Bowser was run out on eleven, thirty-eight were added by Hardy and Andy Kingdon, who had introduced a simpler approach to batting - block or whack, novel! After thirty-nine minutes at the crease Hardy was bowled by Webb for seven, six runs later Kingdon was caught for a thirty ball nineteen and on 63 the captain was dismissed for the second time in the season. The conditions, in this wet summer, were not easy and Devon was very precariously placed at 79-6 when both Smith and Metters departed both being caught off Webb. Gloom was descending on the dressing room as the skies outside brightened up and Tim Piper and Justin Yau started to rebuild. Piper had not been well for three years now, having been flown back from Australia the previous winter in a very sorry condition (indeed this winter he had to undergo emergency surgery). Because of this he has not been a regular in the side in this, his last, summer but the selection committee agreed to a man that, as this was likely to be his last opportunity to play for the county, he should be the first name on the sheet. How right they were, he has never let Devon down from his first game for the 16s at Perranarworthal, his hundred at Sandford in a game that also featured a ton from the current Middlesex star, Eoin Morgan, his leadership, abilty and loyalty were all evident in his eighty-four minutes at the crease. His partner could not have been a better one in a fight. Torquay were odds on favourites to go down in 2008 and there was no way that they should have stayed up. They did so because of a superbly competitive captain, who had his team one hundred percent behind him – Justin Yau. Yau may well have had a couple of seasons when he was finding his true self but everyone who has been involved with him knew he was an outstanding character and was a true fighter. He holds the record for the highest youth tenth wicket stand of 117 with Gary Chappell. Yau had only scored one county fifty in his eight year’s loyal service but he now made it two. They put on the highest seventh wicket stand of 121 in 150 balls when Piper, who had already turned red, became puce and gave his partner the nod that he would not last much longer. On the two hundredth run of the innings he failed to make the twenty-two yards by around twenty as he was run out for 63. His fifty had come up off 79 balls. He with Yau had given Devon a chance and some of those who clapped him off, including his loyal and magnificent mother who had brought him back from Australia in the winter, did so with some real emotion for one of the real good guys. Yau was out for 54 off eighty balls, Acton for 5, Gary Chappell, another player of exceptional ability, who had fortunately returned this year from the other side, and Joe Thompson were undefeated as Devon set a target of 4.58.

Seaton put on a tremendous tea that because of the confusion of times had to be rushed but was up amongst the best of the summer. After twenty-four overs Wiltshire had scored at 2.04 losing four wickets, with Young leg before to Porter, prodigy Quresh bowled by Ross Acton, captain and keeper, Miles, trapped in front by Chappell and Pittman the first of three Metters’ dismissals leg before. Fifty-eight were added for the fifth when Smith caught Rowson off Metters for a Wiltshire top score of 36. On 119 Porter caught Bowler off Metters and then Bowser bowled Adams. Within another six balls it was all over as, in his first over back, it was dot, two, bowled Porter, dot, leg before Porter, caught Smith bowled Porter. It had been a rather anticlimactic end to a season of endurance and hard work that had started on the twenty-third of June at Exmouth against a very strong Somerset twos. Porter had been an exceptional captain keeping his side behind him when others might have not, although he might blush in future when passing the Dorchester McDonalds. He was well supported by all his squad, particularly his vice captain Justin Yau.

It had been a most enjoyable season to watch, congratulations to them all. The batting was consistent with five batters (Hardy, Smith, Piper, Metters and Trevarthen) averaging over 25 with Hardy scoring 223 runs in over 8 hours at the crease. Jack Porter was also a vital contributor, batting for over six hours for his 177 runs. The bowling in the main revolved around the left arm spin of Bowser, Chappell and Metters but the leading wicket taker was again the captain with 13 at 20. The fielding was generally of a very high standard and Yau was an impressive and inspirational keeper. The umpires were fair and reliable and our hosts Exmouth, Axminster, Torquay and Seaton their normal hospitable selves.