Devon Under 16s

2003 Season's Report

Played 13 Won 3 Lost 9 Abandoned 1

Friendly Fixtures

v HEREFORDSHIRE at Seaton C.C. – Devon won by 76 runs

DEVON 234-7 (J.Horton 74; M.Cooke 46)

HEREFORDSHIRE 158-8 (A.Buckland 3-30)

v WALES at Seaton C.C. – Devon lost by 116 runs

WALES 243-9

DEVON 127 all out

v HABARDASHERS’ ASKE at Axminster C.C. – Devon won by 28 runs

DEVON 187 all out (T.Piper 45; J.Porter 32)

HABERDASHERS 159 all out (Z.Brown 3-31)

v SOMERSET at Seaton C.C. – Devon lost by 14 runs

SOMERSET 212 all out

DEVON 198 all out (J.Menheneott 45; J.Horton 45)

County Championship

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


DEVON 224-8 (M.Wigley 68; P.Garland 70))

v BERKSHIRE at Falkland C.C. – Devon lost by 95 runs

BERKSHIRE 219-8 (J.Fraser 3-5)

Devon 124-8 (J.Menheneott 33)

v OXFORDSHIRE at Banbury C.C. – Match Abandoned as a draw

DEVON 154 -3 (40 overs) (J.Menheneott 41; D.Price 53)

v ISLE OF WIGHT at Exmouth C.C. – Devon lost by 2 wickets

DEVON 202-9 (T.Piper 48)

ISLE OF WIGHT 203-8 (A.Buckland 3-24)

The Isle of Wight Festival

v GLOUCESTERSHIRE at Shanklin C.C. - Devon lost by 85 runs


DEVON 163 all out (J.Porter 35)

v OXFORDSHIRE at Ventnor C.C. - Devon won by 6 wickets

OXFORDSHIRE 114 all out (J.Porter 3-22)

DEVON 115-4 (J.Horton 39)

v HERTFORDSHIRE at Ryde C.C. - Devon lost by 71 runs


DEVON 123 -9 (M.Cooke 54)

v DERBYSHIRE at Shanklin C.C. – Devon lost by 9 runs

DERBYSHIRE 220 all out (D.Price 3-52; M.Cooke 4-41)

DEVON 211 all out (J.Fraser 35; J.Porter 34; J.Menheneott 38; M.Cooke 59)

v BERKSHIRE at Newport C.C – Devon lost by 70 runs


DEVON 201-9 (J.Menheneott 80)

The 2003 Squad

M.Wigley & T.Piper (Captains), R.Acton, D.Bowser, Z.Brown, A.Buckland, J.Carr, M.Cooke, R.Discombe, J.Fraser, P.Garland, J.Gingell, J.Horton, S.Martin, J.Medway, J.Menheneott, W.Palmer, J.Porter, D.Price, S.Sobczak, J.Yau

The 2003 season will be one that will be quickly forgotten but it is essential that several key lessons are learnt. So what caused the worst season statistically since 1995.

The manager will take a large share of the blame for being indecisive; decisions had been made in the winter but were not put into practice during the season. In 2004 I will endeavour to return to my more positive decision making mode!

Due to the success of the 15s, the involvement of this group was not as great as in previous seasons and, when they were finally available, they were tired both mentally and physically from a hard season. With the new structure of youth cricket and the increased emphasis on 15s, less importance must be placed on the younger age group players until their competitive season has been completed. Finally the quality of the under 16 squad in 2003 was not as high as in recent years. There is little that could be done about this provided they gave their all – which in the main the squad did. The side’s fortunes were not helped by our inability to win the toss, winning it just twice in thirteen attempts!

Our first game was at Exmouth against the Cornish. After having experienced a difficult start, Devon managed to get back into this game by tea time, playing themselves into a position where they could and should have won. It was some naive cricket from Devon and two truly outstanding catches by Cornwall that eventually finished Devon off and they lost by seven runs. Exmouth pulled out all the stops to ensure that the game started on time and in overcast conditions our visitors won the toss and batted on a typical Maer belter. It was all Cornwall for the first 75 minutes as they raced to 85 without loss and a score approaching 300 looked possible. Hockin was then bowled by a triumphant Mike Wigley for 53 and the side started to claw its way back. Andrew and Butler took the score to 132, being 110 at the half way stage when leg spinner Brown bowled Butler. The third wicket pairing took the score to 204 after 47 overs and the slowing down of the run rate was to the great credit of the Devon side, which despite not fielding to the standards required, still kept at it and Cornwall failed to accelerate. Buckland, Piper and Price all bowled well at the death and kept their opponents down below six an over for the last ten. Zach Brown was going at 3.75 until his last over and completed a useful spell. At tea Devon was reasonable satisfied as the players contemplated scoring at 4.62 an over on a now glass outfield. This grew to real confidence as the captain Wigley and Mount Wise’s debutant, Peter Garland, put on 109 for the first wicket, the fifth best under 16 opening partnership. Initially Wigley was the dominant party as he passed his 50 off 65 balls in 62 minutes. He was first out in the twenty-sixth over for an excellent 68 (85mins; 81 balls; 9 fours). It was to be nip and tuck most of the way with Devon on 106 after 25 overs. It was here that the home side started to lose its way with some careless cricket including the "sin of sins" running one short! Jack Horton, in scoring an attractive 19 ball 13, hit a big four over mid on and next ball decided to take on deep square leg and lost! Zach Brown was run out by 18 yards but by the 40th over Tim Piper and Garland had taken the score to 169 (Cornwall 174 at the same stage) and they were hopefully setting themselves up for the big finish. Garland fell in the 41st over after facing 117 balls and batting for 130 minutes, a memorable debut that included some outstanding shots in his seven fours. James Gingell joined Piper, dented a Mercedes with a huge six and then, much to the glee of the Cornish keeper who was standing back, wandered out of his crease as the keeper rushed up to take a bail off. From a comfortable position Devon was now 193-5 with 38 runs needed and 31 balls left. Piper then became the first of Griffiths wonder catches as he was again caught at short cover. Although he had middled it, Griffiths simply took off. 193-6 soon became 194-7 as Buckland chose his spot, the marquee roof, and was bowled third ball! Now 19 balls and 38 needed - game over. But the side’s second debutant Sandford’s under 15 Russell Discombe then showed his elders what to do as he scored a 13 ball 18 facing just two dots balls. Added to his splendid fielding and encouraging bowling, he should have been pleased with his first appearance for the county. With keeper Simon Martin, who earlier had dived full length to remove top scorer Andrew, the score advanced to 205 – wonder catch two from Griffiths took out Martin. Damien Price and Discombe then put on 19 in the correct manner for the ninth wicket but the game that had been there for the taking was gone. Cornwall marshalled their troops well, conceded only 12 extras to Devon’s 25 (those ten extra balls and runs proved critical).

Our first friendly was at Seaton where Herefordshire won the toss and invited Devon to bat and with the score on 13 Peter Garland was the first to fall when he was bowled. Debutant Will Palmer with Jack Horton then gradually took the score to 72, when after 62 minutes at the crease Palmer was caught for 21 (1 four; 56 balls). Matt Cooke and Jack Horton then started to accelerate as they put on 105 runs for the third wicket in 90 balls. The tempo was excellent and the two South African tourists showed the side how to play 50 over cricket. For some cricketers it is the nervous nineties but at this stage of the season for the multi-talented Cooke it was the infuriating forties as he once again succumbed on 46. He had batted beautifully, timing the ball to perfection, hitting 9 fours in his 47 balls when he became Dallow’s second victim to be bowled. Meanwhile Horton was batting in a similar vein and advancing towards the magical three figures as he passed his fifty in 83 minutes but, with the score on 190, he too missed a straight one for an excellent 74 (150 minutes; 110 balls; 9 fours). Horton showed the application and ability needed at this level and was rewarded with a place in the under 17 touring party. Justin Yau, Damian Price, Tim Piper, Mike Wigley and Russell Discombe helped advance the score to 234 after 50 overs. Adam Buckland uprooted Owens stump with the first ball of his second over and went on to complete a fine bowling performance of 3-30 off ten overs. Herefordshire were 81-5 after 30 overs with Harper brilliantly run out by Palmer at deep square leg, under 15 skipper, off spinner James Carr, taking 2-26 and Wigley bowling Bailey. However, Herefordshire’s sixth wicket partnership put up solid resistance as they took the score to 118 after 40 overs and the visitors finished on 158-8, with Buckland coming back into the attack at the end of their innings. Forthnam batted well for his undefeated 55 off 86 balls in 95 minutes and Panniers had earlier scored a 68 ball 33 before he was third out at 58. Devon’s other bowlers Cooke, Discombe and Palmer were effective with Cooke going for 22 off his ten overs. A reasonable all round performance built on a century partnership between Horton and Cooke, the fourth best third wicket partnership for the county at this level, with ample scope for development. The ground fielding, catching and over rate was an improvement on the first game of the season.

Our next opponents were Wales, again at Seaton. The pre-match discussion revolved around whether the side had sufficient bowlers in this batsman laden team but the post-match discussion revolved around how well the side had battled in the field but had lost their way totally with the bat! Wales won the toss and batted with the knowledge that their England under 15 cricketer Wright had scored a big ton the previous day against the Cornish. Left-hand opener Bragg looked what he was, a Glamorgan second team opener oozing class, when suddenly Price took out his off stump – 44-1 off 9.4 overs. Williams, Millichip and Wright all looked accomplished cricketers but lost their wickets when faced with Wigley, Horton and Cooke taking wickets and at 167-7 after 37 overs, the final score predictions were interesting with 226 the highest. Naïve thinking for Wales is a reasonable side and, although Devon took two more wickets, Wales advanced by a further 76 runs. Two wickets apiece for Wigley, Cooke and Horton. At lunch we were still optimistic as Devon was that day a batting side. The encouraging start, as Wigley and Peter Garland scored at five runs an over, disappointingly did not last. Once again it was proved that cricket matches are not played on paper as the home side was suddenly in all kinds of trouble at 86-7 with only Peter Garland coming out with any credit, although he was still reminded of his earlier fielding lapses. He batted for 92 minutes, facing 76 balls and hitting 2 fours in his 34. The record books were checked, the lowest ever under 16 score was passed and fortunately the tail wagged with Devon eventually all out in the forty-second over for 127, 116 runs short. The reluctant Menheneott scored 20 and, along with Wigley’s 12, Mat Medway (12) and Zach Brown (18) were the only batsmen to reach double figures. Medway completed a good day’s work with some previous useful glove work. A really disappointing performance where Devon struggled against the useful spinner Shaw (4-14 off 10). As James Gibson succinctly put it after the game, it is PARTNERSHIPS that win matches and our highest was just 30 (Menheneott and Brown) for the eighth.

Having lost our friendly fixture with Haberdashers’ Aske for the last three years due to rain it was reassuring to arrive at Axminster to see the sun shining. Haberdashers' won the toss and elected to field and Devon made a sedate start scoring their first fifty runs off 123 balls with Michael Wigley, an early casualty, putting on 39 with Jack Menheneott who fell ten runs later. Jack Horton (20) and skipper Tim Piper advanced the score to 97, putting on 49 for the third wicket. The visitor’s spinners created problems with their variety and it was a good contest. With 20 overs left the score stood at 89 and the revised game plan was to score at five an over for the remainder of the innings. James Gingell scored a neat 13 falling at 126 and six runs later Piper followed for an excellent 45 (71 mins; 68 balls; 3 fours). Jack Porter then took up his outstanding South African batting form with a run-a-ball 32. Helped by Ross Acton the tempo was increased and the objective nearly achieved. Porter unselfishly running himself out on the last ball going for a tight second run. He batted with great confidence, skill and authority. The final score of 187 appeared more than sufficient as Devon bowled well, reducing Haberdashers to 72-7 with leg spinner Zack Brown taking 3-17 off eight and then 3-31 off nine! He was also involved in the unfortunate run out of Pandya backing up without facing a ball as his partner’s straight drive was deflected. However, the eighth wicket pairing of Vieira, an outstanding talent from South Africa, and Fitzgerald put on 43. Acton then took two in two but a last wicket partnership of 44 started to take its toll on the spectators as Pemasundaram gave outstanding support. The captain came back for a telling spell to remove Vieira middle stump with the first ball of the 46th over and this excellent game of cricket was over.

A whistle stop two day tour of Berkshire and Oxfordshire followed and, after an early start, we arrived at the Falklands ground which looked good with a slight slope on the short boundary. Devon again had no success at winning the toss and fielded. The weather forecast looked better for the Tuesday so it was decided that James Fraser, who was subject to the fast bowling restrictions, would have his longer spell the next day. Devon actually started well with Damian Price and Fraser bowling well and Berkshire 8 for 1, Simon Martin holding a good leg side chance off the left armer. After their opening spell Fraser’s figures were 5-2-4-1 whilst Price’s were 6-3-13-0. Berkshire was 42-2 after 16 overs, with Michael Wigley holding a caught and bowled off Buckland at mid off! After 20 overs it was 52-2 and Devon was well on top. However, their number three was settling in and the visitors were slowly losing control, with the home side running the first run fast and regularly making twos out of ones their running between the wickets became exceptionally good. This was Devon’s first experience of the Berkshire captain Chaloner, who was to be thorn in their side in 2003. What was obvious was that the balance of our mid-innings attack was not right. The third wicket pairing put on 134 off 163 balls, with Chaloner passing his fifty (90mins; 76balls) and now heading, no charging, towards his hundred, which came in 141 minutes off 126 balls. Fraser then came back into the game when he took a fine catch at deep square leg off Price to remove the dangerous Chaloner for 106. He had batted really well, starting slowly with 18 off 54 balls and giving a chance at 36 off Discombe but then building up the momentum. His partner Sadler should also take some credit as he gave Chaloner the strike. It was vital that Devon learnt from the way Berkshire ran – they simply pushed and pushed us and we just did not respond. As a unit Devon fielded as badly as I can remember, being simply pedestrian, and should have saved 40 runs. Another vital lesson had to be taken from this game was that Devon had to improve its fielding. Fortunately Berkshire did not build on the great platform their third wicket pairing had provided and fell away from 178-3 after 43 to 219-8 after 50. Price (2-38) bowled Sadler, a good run out between Menheneott and Martin ran out Dexter, Piper pitched one up to bowl Waldron. Fraser came back for his sixth and final over to bowl the 49th over and took two in two – a miscued catch to Menheneott and bowling Layt neck and crop. His hat trick ball was quick and straight and it just missed, 3-5 off six. At tea with no sign of the forecasted rain 219 seemed a realistic target although there would be at least ten overs of reasonable spin from Trewby who had destroyed last year’s under 16s in the Isle of Wight the previous year. Devon experienced a terrible start with the score at 43 for 5 after twenty-six overs with Tim Piper and Jack Menheneott at the crease. Thirty runs later Piper was caught again and Devon was 73 for 6 with thirty-five overs bowled. Another lesson - Devon needed to score at 4.32 an over throughout the innings and at no time did it exceed 2.5, in the field at least 40 too many runs were conceded (that would have brought it down to 3.58) and not one of the batsmen got close to scoring at a run a ball. Devon faced over 250 balls without scoring (50x6=300), played out 18 maidens and, even though they were always on the back foot, the batsmen never tried to dictate, let alone take the pressure off themselves and finished on 124-8 due only to the partnerships of 30 between Piper and Menheneott, who then put on 32 for the seventh wicket with Russell Discombe. Berkshire used eight bowlers and their captain was confident enough to bowl the last over himself – a feat he was to repeat in the Isle of Wight. It was game, set and match to Berkshire.

The next day we were at Banbury C.C. a maturing ground which in a few years will be an exceptional one. We arrived early James Gibson organised another good warm up and we hoped to have put the previous day behind us. James Fraser could bowl nine overs today but the forecast had changed and we were now advised that we would not finish the game as heavy rain was on its way up from Devon! We started badly -twelve for one when the promoted Damian Price joined Jack Menheneott and they put on 109 in 195 balls the third best under 16 second wicket partnership. Price completed his maiden county fifty. Menheneott was run out at 121 to his obvious annoyance! Twelve runs later Price, due to fatigue after batting for 105 minutes was caught. Horton and Wigley started to accelerate and then it rained. Tea was taken, but at four o’clock the game was abandoned.

Next Devon played the Isle of Wight at Exmouth, reaching the nadir of the season as the visitors recorded their first win in this competition and at this age level. They were deserved winners as none of the lessons from the game against Berkshire appeared to have been learnt. On paper Devon again had a reasonable and certainly better balanced side but Price was unfit and his all round contribution was missed. The next lesson that must be learnt to win a 50 over game of cricket is that it is necessary to score at around 4, 4.5, or 5 an over. To achieve this the batsmen must run well and be positive in every aspect of the game; there must be players who can score at a run a ball as well as those who are can bat at the non strikers end and run (Berkshire’s number 4 was a prime example) and batsmen who can bat on. In addition everyone must field to a high standard, so that the opposition is put under continuous pressure from the first ball, partnerships must be formed – both batting and in the field. There must be more tactical acumen in the side, particularly when things are not going well. It is essential to be able to change a team’s own fortune, and to play as a very tight unit and so on and on. It really is not too late to develop and there is still 2004 to get this right. By the time this game had been lost, the side suddenly discovered what had been needed from the outset. The last ten overs of the IOW innings demonstrated that this side has many of the attributes needed. The toss was won for only the second time this year and Devon batted on another excellent Exmouth track. Devon was 31-1 after 11 (2.82); 48-2 after 18 (2.67); 85-3 after 24 (3.54); 96-4 after 26 (3.69); 140-5 after 36 (3.88); 161-6 after 41 overs (3.92) and then three wickets fall for 12 - scoring rate 3.84 an over, nowhere near the tempo required. It was only an undefeated tenth wicket partnership of 33 in six overs between Discombe, who has now shown regularly the ability needed at the death, and Buckland, who had a number of points to prove, that increased the scoring rate to 4.04. There were just three partnerships over 30 during the innings and only Cooke, 27 off 25, and Piper, 48 off 55, scored at a reasonable rate. Piper again got himself out in the forties. He has the undoubted ability but he must learn to bat on. He was out at 163 when the sided needed him to stay in and take the score well past the 200. The IOW batsman, Wells, who went on to win the game for them batted on for an excellent 84, the Berkshire captain batted on for two tons. Piper and others in this side can bat on and it was reassuring that Menheneott demonstrated in the Isle of Wight what is needed. For the two day game next year we need big individual scores. We again lost our way in the field, once again we seemed initially in control 26-1 after 9 and then a Berkshire replay. Wells, who prefers surf to turf, batted beautifully and, with Augustus in a low key role, put on 108 in 163 – a partnership. Up to now the rate was below or on par with us throughout the innings but they got in front during the thirty-sixth over, 36 runs for the third wicket took the score to 169 after 40 overs. Ten overs left 34 runs needed – Devon dead and buried, but no. For the first time since the first game against Cornwall we looked and sounded like a team, words of encouragement were echoing around the Maer, we were chasing, it appeared we wanted to win but it was all too late. We took our second run out and then our third, Buckland came back and again proved he can bowl at the death, Horton stood up to be counted and bowled the last two from the Pavilion end and the IOW won on the last ball. The critical period was 30-40 overs, 77 runs (yes 7.7 an over) and only one wicket. As in Berkshire we had lost the plot and the game. Come on the lessons must be learnt NOW. Inter County played 4, lost 3, abandoned 1, points 1 - another record but one we could do without! Time for hard thinking.

The original objective of the two day game against Cornwall was to give an opportunity to next year’s under 17 squad to play a two day game together. This plan was scuppered by the success of the 15s who were due to play their final ECB Championship play off match on the first day. Thanks to the outstanding co-operation of Somerset the match was altered to a one day affair. In hindsight it was perhaps a match too far, but did give many of the Isle of Wight squad an opportunity of playing together for the first time before visiting the Island on the following Sunday. As expected Devon lost the toss and Somerset batted with Fear and Lewis putting on 46 for the first wicket at just over 4 an over. Damian Price removed Lewis, who had scored heavily against the 17s earlier in the week and Jack Porter and Michael Wigley clawed Devon back into the game as Somerset lost three more wickets before the hundred was posted. This score was reached in the 29th over. The two under 15 off spinners Matthew Cooke and James Carr continued the good work as Somerset reverted to four an over for the last ten overs as they were bowled out off the penultimate ball. Devon started badly with Garland falling fourth ball but debutant Daniel Bowser and Jack Menheneott took the score to 50 after 17. Bowser fell for 17 allowing Jack Horton to join Menheneott. A further 37 runs were added in ten overs. Menheneott was caught five short of his deserved 50 and next year he will need to bat on. At 87-3 after 28 overs Devon were behind the clock having scored at 3.1 and now needed to score at 5.72 which would put pressure on the lower middle order. A second partnership of 37 between Horton and Cooke took the home side up to 124-4 off 37 (3.34 an over) and the required rate now up to 6.85. Any rate over six for a prolonged period tends to be difficult and now the rate was up to nearly seven. Horton was run out for 45 in thirty-ninth over at 132 and it was now a case for some sacrificial lambs. The side duly tried with Carr and Price putting on 32 off 24 for the ninth wicket but the game was over as early as the 46th over when ten an over was required with just two wickets left. An ability to pace an innings is essential for this squad, which cannot win a toss and invariably ends up batting second.

And so to the Isle of Wight. Despite the good weather forecast, the Festival started in overcast and cloudy conditions, Wigley again stuck to heads and Devon fielded. After ten overs Gloucester was 58 -0 as the ball kept crossing the boundary rope. Despite an expensive first over from Jack Porter, he and Michael Wigley applied the brake and our opponents were 83-2 after 20. The clouds had twice off-loaded some drizzle, lunch had been taken early and the game had been reduced to 48 overs a side. The spinners Cooke and Carr removed both openers, who had demonstrated the tempo that we were to try to achieve for the rest of the Festival. The break pads started to wear thin as Devon was taken for 248 -5 after 48 (5.16). Porter was sent in to make his skipper run and the pair put on 34 off 39, a major improvement. Wigley was run out going for a third and the initiative lost, never to be regained. Porter showed what he can do with the bat and we already knew that Piper and Menheneott could play batting cameos. 163 all out off 42 a bitter disappointment as spinners Mohamed took 3-58 and Johnston 3-44 both off 12 overs. Not the start we needed and it was again evident that Devon was still susceptible to good spinners.

The weather took a turn for the better as Devon made a return to Ventnor after two years absence. What has taken place in these twenty four months is quite staggering. A magnificent three lane cricket centre incorporated in a new pavilion with splendid dressing rooms, first floor balcony and first class facilities. The best track on the Island, a good toss to win – we lost. Oxfordshire, who had won our regional group and came third in the national finals, batted first and Devon exerted pressure from ball one. The county produced its best performance of the season by a mile, bowling Oxford out in 46 overs for 114. A truly outstanding team performance that demonstrated the true potential of the side. In the absence of Buckland, Porter opened the bowling splendidly with 3-22 off 13. Between them Cooke and Carr bowled 18 overs for 39 taking two and Wigley went for under two off twelve. Throw in two run outs and 2004 looked promising for the first time in the season. When Devon batted James Fraser and Jack Horton just took the game away from its opponents, scoring a brilliant stroke filled 77 off 79 balls for the first wicket. Somewhat annoyingly Devon lost four wickets in passing the total in 22 overs. Neutrals complemented the team and for the first time in 2003 the lion could be worn with pride.

Street wise Hertfordshire were too much for the rural Devon side and won by 71 runs in perhaps the season’s second worst performance up to that point. No need to discuss the toss, Hertfordshire batted and Justin Yau was off to hospital before noon. Adam Buckland took a wicket with his thirteenth ball but Devon then had to watch as 135 runs were put on in 34 overs. James Carr and Jack Horton bravely shared the keeping duties but extras were second highest scorer. Matt Cooke bowled a fine spell of 15 overs, took a stunning catch and scored a 65 ball fifty but can be the only Devonian to be really satisfied with his performance. Although Porter bowled well (2-25 off 12) and was the only other player to reach double figures. Even the extras only just sneaked into double figures, another valuable lesson to be learnt there. The wretched horn that sounded every boundary went off far too often when Hertfordshire was batting and sadly Charlie could not get his teeth into it, despite his valiant attempts. Devon’s batting was distinctly disappointing with eight batsmen scoring only 44 runs between them. Yau returned with the diagnosis of a badly bruised thumb but did not bat. Although American Pie did brighten up the evening and the horn blower had his come-uppance later in the week.

Devon’s first game against Derby and no surprise the opposition batted. Devon had learnt from the Monday game on this ground and sweepers were posted from the start on the short boundary. Tim Piper was now behind the stumps and until, not surprisingly, he tired towards the end did a truly outstanding job. His first contribution, with the score on 5, was to take a fine catch swinging away from him off Buckland. Midland player Needham and McGonial put on 55 with some exceptionally timed drives. Needham was dropped at mid-on as Porter and Wigley again slowed up our opponents but the Derby umpire, intervened and restricted their overs. The Derby side batted as a unit with important contributions from most of their batsmen. Matt Cooke bowled another telling spell and Damian Price, his best of the season. Derbyshire started to up the tempo and despite some good catches 220 was the score to be chased. Devon got off to an exceptional start with Fraser firing on all cylinders, putting on 44 out of 52 with Porter before he miscued. Another 29 runs were put on for the loss of Horton and Porter then Jack Menheneott and Matt Cooke put on a telling 90 for the fourth wicket in 20 overs. Menheneott was exceptionally unfortunate to be run out for 38 (was this Essex 2001 revisited – sadly yes) and his partner fell 13 runs later for another 50. Time for the sacrificial lambs and hopefully lessons learnt would be implemented. A key factor, and this is not an excuse but a fact, was the change in policy by the umpire with regard to medium pacers as Thomas from the Derby umpires end bowled 10 on the reel (perhaps the worst reel in of the week) and finished with 6-62 off 15 (The umpire offered no excuse after the game). The lambs, with the exception of Piper, were sacrificed and were unable to contribute the required 5.7 an over at 40 overs that had increased to 7.6 by the 46th. A final irony was the dismissal of Russell Discombe, when the keeper, now standing back for Thomas’s final overs, caught a skier that he would not have had a prayer of catching standing up to the wicket. Despite a straight six from our keeper, Devon fell nine runs short with six balls in hand; sadly some of the shot selection, to put it politely, was naïve, as six wickets were lost chasing 57. As the coach so subtlety put it Devon was beaten by overthrows! In fact this was a much improved performance with Derbyshire concerned most of the way and, with a little luck and consistent umpiring, the match might easily have gone Devon’s way.

The season’s final fixture against Berkshire was the one when Devon suffered the revenge for many of their own outstanding batting performances over the years. It was the first time that an opposing side had included a batsman of the quality and aggression of a David Lye. It was Pieman revisited and hopefully we will be able to understand the opponents woes next time he let's fly. For the fifth time this week and the eleventh time this season heads were called and it came down tails. Buckland removed Dexter at 3 and Raj was run out at 47. The next wicket fell at 214 a partnership of 167 off 26 overs and it was a repeat of the 134 run partnership between Challoner and Sadler at Falkland C.C. 25 days earlier. Sadler reached his half century this time and Challoner reached his second hundred of the season against Devon, surely a record. Sadler was run out at 214 but this only let Challoner lose. He finished undefeated on 182 off 147 balls with 22 fours and 6 sixes. He simply murdered Devon and, as Fraser described later, it was an exceptional individual performance. Berkshire went from 202 to 271 in five overs. Devon was dead and buried. In fact it was not all over as, in a performance full of character, Devon got within two runs of the bonus point and was the last side on the Island at the crease on the final day. Jack Menheneott came fully of age and it is rumoured that he nearly smiled!! He batted beautifully to fall 20 short of a maiden county hundred. Hopefully that will come next year. The side reached 200 for the fifth time at all age groups, four this season, and hopefully will build on the experience in 2004 when 350 plus will be needed.

Real food for thought. The unsuccessful 1995 under 16 squad, which was the last 16s to experience a similar season, went on to reach the National Under 19 finals three years later so there is always hope! Competition for both the 16s and 17s next season will be intense with a strong 14s coming through, this year’s younger players will be fresher having only to concentrate on two age groups so perhaps the season has not been as disappointing as it appears at present and Devon might be more successful with the toss!

The annual thanks to Seaton, Axminster and Exmouth Cricket Clubs, John Gauler and all our umpires – particularly of course our Festival umpire Percy Govier. Our appreciation to the team captain Michael Wigley and his stand in Tim Piper, James Gibson who more than filled the void created by the loss of his brother – he too is an outstanding coach, and our travel manager and scorer, Elizabeth Webb.

The Cecil Wensley Player of the Year Cup was awarded to Tim Piper for his all round contribution to the side both on and off the field.