The 2011 Under 16 Season

The 2011 Under 16 Season






Won on 1st Inns




Lost on 1st innings





v Haberdashers’ Aske at Axminster C.C. – Devon lost by 31 runs






(H.Kerton 48)

v Somerset at Seaton C.C. – Devon lost by 4 wickets



(M.Penrice 38, J.Mailling 38)



(J.Mailling 3-24)

v Cornwall at St Minver C.C. – Devon won by 110 runs



(M.Penrice 69, J.Cherrington 42)



(H.Kerton 4-28, T.Dyer 3-15)

v Worcestershire (2 day) at Kidderminster C.C. – Devon lost on 1st innings






(J.Popham 5-60)

v Gloucestershire (2 day) at Newent CC. – Devon won on 1st innings


429-9 dec

(J.Mailling 36, O.Higgs 105, R.Davies 41, S.Wyatt-Haines 112, J.Cherrington 50*)



(J.Mailling 4-84)











343-9 dec

(M.Penrice 55, R.Rickard 74, S.Wyatt-Haines 102)

v Warwickshire(2 day) at Leamington Spa C.C. – Devon won on 1st innings


366-8 dec

(J.Mailling 94, O.Higgs 62, J.Cherrington 76*, D.Bess 30)



(J.Mailling 4-49, T.Dyer 3-56)

 The 2011 SquadT.Dyer and J.Mailling (captains); G.Abdol; D.Bess; J.Cherrington: C.Cload; A.Conway; J.Dart; R.Davies; P.Heard; O.Higgs; A.Hunt; H.Kerton; S.Loud; L.May; D.Penberthy; G.Penrice; M.Penrice; J.Popham; E.Rice; R.Rickard; S.Wyatt-Haines   

The 2011 season was a far more successful one than had been anticipated at the commencement of the summer. After our visit in late August to the Midlands there was a clear understanding as to what the under 17s would look like in 2012. This assumes that there will be no more key losses; Mawgan Penrice has already unfortunately fallen by the wayside, as seems to have happened over the last five summers! Indeed it was most encouraging that in this year’s sixteens programme three hundreds had been scored and a number of partnership records broken. The important average partnership for the side of 30 will hopefully be broken in 2012. The depth and variety of bowling looks promising (famous last words) although some work will still be needed on our spin attack. It did not help that the demands of the seventeen’s in 2011 resulted in ten members of the squad playing up for them. This was an above average number and although valuable experience was gained by the individual players it did result in them missing some of their own age group fixtures. There was the added benefit of looking at other players who have been involved in the county scene and some who have not. The end result was that there is a real belief that the seventeens should be able to compete in 2012, something that was not possible, at least most of the time by them, in 2011.

The season opened with the traditional friendly with Haberdaskers’ Aske’s at Axminster. The school have been winning too frequently recently and it was hoped the trend could be reversed. With the School at 114-6 off thirty overs it looked as if this objective would be achieved. Not for the first time an under 16 side did not turn the screw and the visitors scored another 114 runs off eighteen point four overs for their last four wickets. The start was good with seamers Paul Heard and Jack Popham reducing Haberdashers to 15-3, with both openers being bowled by Heard. Hallam Kerton’s direct hit ran out keeper Selvakumar, who last year had helped win the game for the Middlesex under seventeens. Captain Tom Dyer got another important wicket, trapping Tom Edrich in front, when Haberdashers were two runs past the hundred. Brown was the second run out and Sofat’s demise was identical to Edrich’s. Devon now lost the initiative as eighty-six were added for the seventh wicket although Settia and McCormack scored at less than a run a ball. Settia was Popham's first wicket, caught Higgs, and twenty runs later McCormack was his second, bowled. Devon then wound up the innings with Cherrington bowling Patni and Kerton and Popham running out Shah. The fielding showed promise, three run outs was encouraging. However disappointingly there were only another three run outs in the whole of the rest of the season so this aspect of our game did not improve. Only two bowlers, Popham and Cherrington, went for under five an over which was not good.

Devon needed over four and a half an over which would be testing. At ten they were scoring at 2.5, at twenty 3.85 and at thirty and forty 3.7. They were never up with the run rate but the regular loss of wickets also put the side under additional pressure. The new opening partnership of Elliott Rice and Ryan Rickard put on 24, Rice and Mawgan Penrice 4. Devon were now 28-2 after 11 having lost two wickets in two overs breaking one of the more important team objectives. Penrice and Ollie Higgs put on 52 off sixty-two balls when Higgs was Sivarajah’s first wicket caught for 28. Cload had hit five off four before Sivarajah bowled him and Lawrence May, in his one appearance of the summer, was caught. The impressive Penrice became Sivarajah’s third victim for 27. Devon were now 109- 6 off twenty-eight overs. Tom Dyer dug in batting for sixteen minutes but was the seventh wicket with the score now only one run over fifty percent of the target. Hallam Kerton and Jack Cherrington gave the score respectability and actually transferred some pressure onto the fielding side. They put on the highest seventh wicket partnership of the summer scoring 73 off 91 balls. Kerton was in a typically belligerent mood and Cherrington was the perfect foil.  Two short of a deserved fifty, Kerton was well held by Edrich. The fielding side’s response to this dismissal clearly showed how important this victory was. Eight down with forty-three needed with just twenty-three balls left. Jack Cherrington, whose batting in 2011 in the lower middle order was critical to the side’s progress, fell in the same over and Jack Popham was last out with ten balls unused. Aaron Conway, who had demonstrated how to run between the wickets, was left undefeated. This was a disappointing batting performance giving much food for thought as to the future balance of the side.

There was an unusual delay before the second fixture of the summer which was played on the 1st August but in the interim a number of the squad had been involved with the under seventeens. As a result of their playing Worcestershire over the following three days they were to miss the next fixture with Somerset. Injury robbed Aaron Conway of a game and Kerton was resting so it was an interesting unit to take on Somerset. Seaton was wet and on winning the toss the visitors inserted Devon. Ryan Rickard fell with the score on 12 having contributed half the runs. Elliott Rice joined Mawgan Penrice and put on the best partnership of the innings. They took Devon up to 60 when Rice was old boy Dan Escott’s first wicket for a forty-one ball 23. Josh Mailling was playing to try and find some form and he and Penrice put on 25 when Penrice was caught by Brock again off Escott. Devon were now 94-3 off thirty-seven overs so it had been slow going scoring at two and a half an over. The inability to put the opposition under pressure by sensible running was the major disappointment but the conditions were difficult for the batsmen. The weather improved but not Devon’s lot as Jack Dart was run out second ball, 94-4. Then Cload whacked 24 off twenty-eight balls before Mailling was out for a top score of 38. In the same over Dyer was unluckily run out whilst backing up – Devon 139-6 with thirty balls left – in view of the circumstances the side’s revised target was reduced to 170. Unfortunately Devon did not utilise eleven vital deliveries as the side capitulated to 155 all out. In the process, in his two ball innings, Loud injured himself and was ruled out of the attack for the second half of the game. Seaton, as always, put on an excellent spread with a choice of main course and dessert.

With Rhys Davies playing up, Torquay’s under 14 Gareth Penrice filled the wicket-keeping vacancy and it was a baptism of fire, but his splendid performance on the following Friday fully justified his promotion. Somerset were one down in the second over when the elder Penrice caught Easton off Alex Hunt. Off the first ball of twelfth over Hunt also dismissed the second Somerset batsman when Callum Cload caught Vicary for 8. Somerset were now in some difficulty at 29-2. However they were then 38-2 at the end of the same over as Arney made his presence felt. A direct hit from Gareth Penrice gave him his first fantasy points and Devon were still in the game as Brock was back in the pavilion. The fourth wicket partnership of 66 between Arney and Richards took Somerset to within twenty-nine of their target when Mailling had Arney leg before for 38. Bartlett was Mailling’s second leg before with the score now on 138-5. This brought Escott to the crease, much to the delight of his mother, he and Richards took their team to within four of the target when Rice held Richards off Mailling for a match top score of 48. Escott’s four off the last ball of Dyer’s and the side’s thirty-sixth over won Somerset the game by four wickets. Even taking into account the difficult early conditions this was an unsatisfactory performance. On the plus side Penrice, Rice and Mailling played themselves in at the crease and provided signs that they would enjoy the two day game (in which Mailling had already proved his worth) and Josh Mailling took 3-24 off his ten overs. Seaton as is their wont could not have made us more welcome.

The day before we played Cornwall the under seventeens’ one day game with Worcestershire at Budleigh had been cancelled with the ground flooded so Devon was left with real doubts as to whether their third game of the summer would go ahead. The St Minver ground was visited the night before and it was really heartening to see work being undertaken and the signs were most encouraging. Next morning the B & B’s lawn was playable so Devon made their way down to play at another new ground in Cornwall and St Minver was most welcoming and hospitable. Conway and Loud were fit to play but Cload had departed for his cruise. However, critically for the rest of the summer, the Cherringtons shortened their family’s holiday for Jack to join the side. This commitment and Jack’s significant contribution cemented his place in the side and he became a vital cog. After his day off Hallam Kerton was available again but Dart and Mailling were rested, having had two outstanding days at Exmouth with the seventeens earlier in the week. Tom Dyer won the toss and batted but unfortunately Rickard’s season did not turn the corner and he was caught for 6. The opening partnership with Mawgan Penrice had yielded thirty-three runs in eleven overs. Elliott Rice joined Penrice and they forged a partnership that also developed well off the field. They had put on fifty-seven taking Devon up to ninety, two balls short of the half way point, before Futcher took his one wicket of the innings when he bowled Rice. Cherrington joined Penrice and eighty-seven were added off sixty balls, with Penrice reaching his maiden county fifty off one hundred and eight balls before he was third out in the forty-fourth over for an outstanding 69 (7 fours, 126 balls). Hallam Kerton was promoted to do what he does best and he had smacked three fours and a six in his nineteen ball 28 before he was out on 218 having helped put on forty-one off just thirty-three balls. Cherrington had demonstrated an adaptability that is vital to a batsman who bats in this important position. He was next out on the same score for forty-two (4 fours and a six), his illusive maiden county fifty still not achieved. Next ball captain Dyer was leg before. An application for the Primary Club was in the post. Gareth Penrice won the predicted score as Conway and Hunt took Devon up to double Nelson - 222 - which included five penalty runs. After the batting performance against Somerset this was a real morale booster. Our hosts provided an excellent tea and the conditions were now set fair. Devon hit the ground running, taking nine wickets for eighty-two in twenty-four overs, exciting stuff. Hallam Kerton continued where he left off the previous season, taking out both openers, leg before and bowled, Alex Hunt bowled Shrewsbury to reduce Cornwall to 13-3 and Gary Abdul caught May off Kerton – 31-4 off nine. Hunt took his second wicket in the final over of his spell caught behind by Gareth Penrice  – 47-4. The keeper did not put a foot wrong all afternoon. Tom Dyer took the next three wickets, Brownfield caught Kerton, Ridd caught and bowled, Rodda leg before –  82-8. On the same score Aaron Conway had Rowe well stumped by Penrice junior for a top score of 24. There was an annoying last wicket partnership of 30 before Kerton was brought back to take his fourth wicket with the last ball of his first over when he had Jasper caught by Loud. The atmosphere after Seaton had been depressing but now four days later it had changed totally, a tremendous all-round performance. 

The second stage of the summer – the two day programme got off to the worst of starts. There are good and bad days on and off the field. The first day of the two day game with Worcestershire was a disastrous twelve hours both on and off! Matt Wood, on his way down from Nottingham had car trouble, we were late getting to Thrifty who then tried to book us out on a fifteen seater. It didn’t get any better when we were then taken to an LDF 17 seater which had proved completely impractical in the past and the reason we always insist on a Ford Transit! It got even better as the battery was then found to be flat! After an exchange of batteries the mini-bus eventually arrived thirty-five minutes late at the Services. It proved impossible to make up any time but we made contact Worcestershire and advised them of our plight. The scorer and coach had arrived closer to the appointed start time and entered into negotiations and it was agreed that the game would start forty-five minutes late with intervals and close of play put back. We had enjoyed Kidderminster Cricket Club in 2010 and it was a welcome return to this well appointed and welcoming ground. However it did not extend to the cricket as, on winning the toss, Devon batted but were fielding at three twenty-five! At lunch they were 54-6. Mawgan Penrice had not bothered the scorer on his return to his family’s roots, Josh Mailling made two and Ollie Higgs was sent up the concrete steps leg before for three. Sam Wyatt-Haines had just reached double figures before he was fourth out and Elliott Rice had scored twenty out of his side’s thirty-five before he was dismissed. Davies fought his corner batting twenty-five balls for his ten but was out in the twenty-second and last over before the interval. A poor performance, even taking into account the circumstances and pressures that a flustered arrival can cause. This was the first time in the summer that the players who had been playing up with the seventeens had rejoined the team. In the twenty-six minutes after lunch, Devon scored twenty-six runs off the forty-five balls losing their last four wickets. With five more added, unfortunately the critical wicket of Jack Dart fell as he had been the most likely batsman to salvage something from this wreckage. Jack Cherrington watched from the non striker’s end as Dart, Dyer and Kerton all departed and then contributed all of the runs in the last wicket partnership with Popham. At ten past seven, with Worcestershire on 190-5, close of play was brought forward by heavy rain which also interrupted a very well supported colts evening. Devon had bowled 56 overs, more than twice the number they had faced. Paul Heard took two wickets, getting a leg before decision against Cordes and captain Turley caught behind by Davies. Jack Popham took his first wicket in the twentieth over, having Harris caught by Jack Dart. Elliott Rice caught Smith off Cherrington and the final wicket of the session fell at 174 when Rice took his second catch, this time off Hallam Kerton. At close the hosts were now 110 runs ahead with five wickets remaining, very much in the driving seat. The infuriating start to the day reinforced the need to travel up the day before for two day games. The down side is the additional cost on what is becoming an increasingly expensive game.

The second day started on time and Devon did well to bowl their opponents out thirteen minutes before lunch taking the necessary five wickets for ninety-three runs in twenty-seven overs but not without a second new ball. This should not have been necessary as Worcestershire were reduced to 224-9 but yet another exasperating last wicket partnership annoyed everyone, putting on fifty-nine in an hour and seven minutes The main destroyer was Jack Popham who ended up with the outstanding figures of 5-60 off 14.1 overs which attracted the attention of the Worcestershire management and an invitation to travel up to New Road. Elliott Rice comfortably faced the one over before lunch which was a maiden.

The afternoon session was an opportunity for some reputations to be built or rebuilt and fortunately Devon took the game to close of play with their hosts still in the field. It was unlucky thirteen for Rice, Josh Mailling again did not bat on scoring 20 but Mawgan Penrice and Ollie Higgs took Devon up to tea 93 still in arrears. The third wicket fell after a partnership of fifty-four of which Higgs had contributed thirty and Wyatt-Haines fell in the next over. Devon were now 131-4 and Penrice’s fine effort ended in the forty-seventh over two short of another fifty. He had batted for one hundred and fifty-five minutes facing one hundred and seventeen balls. He was now viewed as an early name on the team list, thus making his long term winter rugby injury even more disappointing for both player and team. At this stage an innings defeat still looked a possibility with sixty-four still needed. Rhys Davies and Jack Dart had added thirty-five before the keeper left for a stubborn twenty-seven and five runs later Jack Cherrington made himself available for scoreboard duty with two dozen still needed. Captain Dyer and Dart avoided an innings defeat with Dart showing a liking to the Worcestershire attack, something he was to continue at Exmouth the following week. He was caught for a sixty-nine ball forty with Devon now 221-8. The home side were still very much in with a chance of a rare outright win in a two day game as they still had overs and time in hand. The captain succumbed after fifty-eight minutes at the crease with Devon now thirty-six ahead and potentially thirty-six balls remaining in the day. Hallam Kerton, who was then on 14, would have none of it , putting on an undefeated twenty-nine with Jack Popham before both sides decided to call it a day three overs early. Kerton was thirty-eight not out off thirty-one balls, a man for all situations with just one approach, if it is up hit it! It works and he allowed Jack Popham to complete a useful two days. The side manned the scoreboard expertly without objections, unsurprisingly Wyatt-Haines won the Like-off. The injured Paul Heard gained two new initials, AC, and worked the white board and the coach led an interesting discussion on Countdown which had more to do with a former Oxford mathematician than the actual programme. The side had recovered well and some reputations had been enhanced. There were still three more games and six days cricket for the others to shine. 

Our hostelry for the next two nights was an old world village pub, the Littledean House Hotel, run by a young couple with ambition who made us most welcome There was only a limited menu available on the first night but the burgers went down well. The post meal white board session was invaluable with the newly appointed Assistant Coach leading the way. The August riots seemed to be following us around, in Birmingham the previous night and now Gloucester was to be affected, hopefully it was a pure coincidence. The game with Gloucestershire at the very attractive Newent ground, a known high scoring venue, was record breaking. The most difficult conversation in cricket management was held before the toss and Tom Dyer, whose own bowling performances had appeared to have been affected by the captaincy, stood down for Josh Mailling to take over the reins. It was cold and overcast to start as Mailling won his first toss of the summer and batted. The captain opened with Mawgan Penrice and they put on a respectable sixty-seven which with two other partnerships in the innings were to be the best of the summer. The first wicket fell in the thirteenth over when Penrice was bowled for twenty-nine having been in for four minutes short of the hour. The decision to avoid losing wickets in pairs was forgotten as Devon now lost three in five overs bringing out the white board for an early appearance. Mailling, who should know better, fell at seventy-one and so did Rice. The old maxim to add on two wickets came out but fortunately not taken up by the AC. We needed a decent partnership and got a reasonable one of fifty-nine between Ollie Higgs and Jack Dart. Somewhat surprisingly this was the best fourth wicket partnership of the under sixteen summer. It was known that Higgs enjoyed playing against Gloucestershire, he had taken their fifteens for a match winning undefeated ninety-six a month earlier in extremely difficult personal circumstances. Dart fell at one hundred and thirty having contributed twenty-one. Jack Dart is another batter who will be fundamental to any success in 2012. He is well organised and can counter attack. Perhaps the side’s best counter attacker, Rhys Davies, was in next and the result was the second best fifth wicket partnership of the summer. Higgs contributed sixty-eight, passing his fifty in sixty-seven balls. He reached his hundred in two hours six minutes off only one hundred and fourteen balls – a brilliant knock. Higgs’ hundred was received with much emotion both on and off the field but unfortunately he did not bat on and was fifth out for the 105. Ollie’s hundred should not detract from Davies’s major contribution. Off soon to the Channel Isles and relatives flying in from New Zealand, this was to be final appearance in Devon colours in 2011. He has the ability to be one of the side’s most accomplished and vital performers but currently appears content with cameos. This was a more than decent cameo as he helped Devon reach 244 in sixty overs. This was a vital recovery but much ground had still to be made up. Rhys Davies was bowled sixteen runs later and Devon was still below par at 260-6 but vitally this had been scored at over four an over. At 3.22pm enter Jack Cherrington to join Sam Wyatt-Haines. They completed a record breaking seventh wicket partnership of 163, beating the previous one by fifty-nine. The previous record had been achieved in 2004, unbroken, by the current Torquay captain, Justin Yau, and a former under 16 coach, Jack Porter, against the Isle of Wight. The record breakers batted for only ninety-six minutes, facing one hundred and fifty-five balls, with Wyatt-Haines going from 5 to 107. His fifty was off sixty-three balls and his hundred came off only eighty-nine, one of the quickest at this age. At the fall of Wyatt-Haines for 112, Cherrington was still five short of a maiden county fifty. The partnership had been exhilarating, youth cricket at its best, as they took a tired Gloucestershire attack apart. They went past 300, then the previous record under 16 score (327-6 in 2004), they took Devon over 350 and then past 400! They then beat the best ever under 17 score (411 all out) and were within 27 of the highest ever youth score  (the under 19s’ 450-5, ten years earlier, against Berkshire) when Wyatt-Haines was out. The coach was now under pressure to advise Mailling to let Cherrington get his half century and to then call them in. Matt Wood, as it transpired wisely did not recommend a declaration. He knew the side were a bowler short with the AC still lame and his instructions to Dyer and Kerton was to get on with it. Cherrington reached his deserved fifty (98-minutes, 76–balls seven fours) but neither Dyer nor Kerton troubled the scorers. Jack Popham was not exposed and Devon declared on 428 off 89.5 overs at 4.76. The bowlers then completed the best possible day’s play, reducing their hosts to 59-4 off twelve overs – simply incredible! It was 6-3, captain Carson bowled captain Mailling, Smith bowled Popham, Whincup caught Rice (one of the safest pair of hands in the side) bowled Mailling. Forty-seven were added for the fourth wicket when Popham had Dannam leg before. This had been a truly memorable day’s play with some exceptional performances but more importantly real unity in the ranks. We had our own dining room, the meal was enjoyable until a message came through from Cornwall calling of our last one day game of the season due to be held at Cornwood the following week. This was bad enough as it would deprive some of the squad another opportunity to shine but this was also the third time in two years that we would have to advise Cornwood we would not be playing at their attractive ground. They are jinxed as they are the only club to experience such a problem in twenty-two years and they are wonderfully accommodating. The white board came out with more pluses than minuses. It was extremely unfortunate that Paul Heard's county season had come to an end. He was missed as he is unassuming but skilled, articulate but forthright, indeed he had been invaluable at both age groups and he was going to be difficult to replace as was clearly shown on the second day.

The sun was shining, Newent were again fantastic hosts, the crumbles in particular were unbelievable and the game was already won, it would just be a matter of time! In fact at a quarter to five Devon were on the edge of a most unexpected defeat with Gloucestershire needing just nine runs with two wickets in hand! Earlier in the day the fifth wicket had fallen at Nelson, Tom Dyer caught Grieshaber for a vital sixty-four to give Kerton his wicket. Would the follow on be enforced? Things started to go wrong when Higgs damaged a finger in dropping a catch. It could have been a break so as a precaution he went off to Gloucester Hospital. He was speedily attended to by a charming female Scottish doctor who had two rugby mad teenage sons but was not into cricket. Fortunately nothing serious was diagnosed which was a huge relief as even Ollie Higgs would have been of more use in the field than the AC standing at slip and struggling to walk the twenty-two yards every six balls. Not reading text messages meant that Higgs and his driver were oblivious to what was taking place at Newent, which was fortunate as the driving might have been affected. Devon took wicket six at one hundred and fifty-four when Cherrington’s direct hit ran out Bradley. Never has a family’s decision to foreshorten a holiday been more worthwhile! However the seventh wicket put on a staggering one hundred and ninety-eight in two hours ten, off one hundred and thirty balls. Gloucestershire had reached 352 when Sam Wyatt-Haines caught Willoughby off Tom Dyer for seventy-five. At this stage his partner, Golding was seven short of his 150! . The eighth wicket took their side up to 391, thirty-eight still needed for the last two wickets. Could this be an “out of the jaws of victory” event? Golding was still at the crease so anything was possible. The scorer’s new chauffer, the Board’s Chairman, arrived in the coach’s, now repaired automobile. Matt's expectant wife had not been well and here was his side keeping him away from his loved one! Twenty nine were added for the ninth wicket, the boundary was being paced, the dogs kicked and how were we going to keep the side positive when the massive 428 was passed. Paul Heard had really been missed as the other seamers had to put in some real graft and both spinners had gone for over five an over. The captain was in his seventh and final over of his spell when he worked some real magic. The first two balls had gone for five, nine needed with time to spare when Mailling bowled Cafearo and next ball did exactly the same taking out Roberts – one of the most memorable moments in twenty-two years – really exciting cricket. This had been a MAGNIFICENT game of cricket. The debrief was left to the coach and his assistant but I doubt if anyone who took part in this epic game will ever forget it. Golding was left stranded on 173 an epic innings. The chairmen took us home through Wales, revisiting the haunts that the seventeen’s and the West of England captain had attended recently and the trip went surprising quickly and even the music seemed less grating.  

The last week of the summer was approached on a high, Thrifty supplied us with a seventeen seater Transit and, despite an unexpected number of cry-offs, the squad arrived at Exeter for the annual trip up to the Midlands. We had reversed the fixtures in 2011 so we travelled up to Rugeley on Sunday afternoon. The Ash Tree provided some good fayre and we learnt of Callum Cload's cruise exploits, which sounded some alarm bells! Morrisons provided a decent breakfast and we travelled across Cannock Chase to another attractive modern ground. The selected keeper was making sounds that he was not keen and he had lined up Penrice to fill the void. This was not accepted and the gauntlets returned but a dislocation occurred in the warm up. Apparently this was a common occurrence and arrangements were made for an X-ray but declined and the decision was made that, despite a willingness to bat at six, Cload should return home to Plymouth. The time table was checked, his kit recovered from the Travelodge and he was on his way by mid afternoon. So for the second game running we were down to the bare eleven. A birthday party foiled our attempt to bring in another keeper so Penrice would keep for both games. He was soon in the game as the home side won the toss and batted. Sidmouth’s under 14 off spinner Dominic Bess was making his debut and he made a huge impact both on and off the field over the four days. The stand in keeper held a good catch off Alex Hunt to remove Lewis with the score on two. Two wickets fell on ten, when with the first ball of his fourth over Popham removed the second opener with another short ball caught  by Rickard and with the last ball of the over Tom Dyer caught Moores. Lally and Shau had added sixty-nine for the fourth wicket before Dyer took his second catch, this time off his fellow spinner Jack Cherrington. Staffordshire  were 84-4 at lunch with Devon having delivered an excellent thirty-three overs and Dominic Bess having his first bowl. Eleven runs after lunch the hosts lost their fifth wicket, their captain, giving Bess his first under 16 wicket, caught Hunt. Devon were on top but keeper Lally was in resolute form unbeaten on 44. He was to pass his half century in the next partnership. This pairing took Staffordshire up to one hundred and twelve before Bess did it again, bowling Jupp. After fifty-two overs it was 125-7 as Bess now returned the complement catching Shah off his captain, Mailling. The initiative was lost over the next eighteen overs as a vital sixty-one were added and Staffordshire took tea at 169-7 off sixty-six overs. Bess had completed one of the best debut spells with the excellent figures of 25-5-50-2, an exceptional start and the longest spell of his brief career. It was anticipated he would sleep well! Cload by now had added Stafford Central to his list of railway stations visited. The stand was broken in the seventieth over when Sam Wyatt-Haines and keeper Penrice ran out Cooper, who had batted nearly an hour for his 20, with Lally now two runs past his hundred. It had taken him two hundred and thirty-six minutes and he had faced one hundred and ninety-seven balls. He was next out for 122 having scored over 50% of his side’s total. Tom Dyer trapped him leg before with Staffordshire now 229-9 off seventy-nine overs. One over later Cherrington took his second wicket with Warrender’s pad stopping the ball hitting the stumps. Devon now had a tricky session of twenty-two overs before it was time for the Ash Tree. The pub was visited in excellent heart as Penrice and Mailling put on sixty-two off sixty-four balls before the captain was caught. Penrice was testing a new personal approach to batting - the long handle. This he did amazingly effectively and was fifty-one not out overnight and, with Rickard looking secure, Devon were well placed on 113-1 off twenty-two overs.

Morrisons were now expecting us and Ollie Higgs was joined at his table by a mature admirer although little conversation took place. The day started with another good warm up, the coach has provided a consistency to these sessions and this has proved to be most beneficial. The onslaught did not continue past the fifth over of the second day when Penrice was caught for a tone setting fifty-five which had included forty-four runs in fours. Ollie Higgs was soon looking for legal representation for his disciplinary hearing as he was adjudged leg before and uncharacteristically he reacted. Considering the pressure he had been under all summer it was a surprise he had kept his feelings in for so long The Travelodge received another unplanned visit to retrieve a new bat that had been left under a bed! From 121-1 Devon were now not so well placed at 121-3 off twenty-seven. Fortunately Ryan Rickard was at last showing his worth to the side and the potential he sometimes hides. Jack Dart plundered a quick fire twenty-two and fell at 157 with his team still seventy short of the first inning’s points. These were never in doubt as one hundred and forty-three were added for the fifth wicket by Rickard and Wyatt-Haines. This took their side up to the potential fourth batting point. The previous best fifth wicket partnership took place in 1994 at Eastnor Castle when Richard Goldring and Chris Hurrell had taken Herefordshire for 140. This was on the old one day Midland tour when the side was based at the Cheltenham Race Course when fixtures were played against Gloucestershire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Avon. Tea was taken still seventeen runs behind but their opponent’s score was passed in the fifth-eighth over. Both batsman reached a half century – Rickard off one hundred and thirteen balls and Wyatt-Haines off fifty-four. It was Sam who was out first at 300, two past his second ton of the season. He reached it in eighty-eight balls, hitting thirteen fours and two sixes, another special performance. Rickard could not continue without his partner, which was unfortunate because there had been a hundred in the offering for the Cornwood batsman, and he was out for an admirable seventy-four. All-rounders Cherrington and Dyer put on thirty-nine before Cherrington fell and perhaps that was the time to declare as both Dyer and Hunt fell on the same score of 343. Devon had looked a very well balanced two day side and there had been sufficient indicators to hope that 2012 might not be too bad a season. Forty-two overs remained in the day and it was agreed after eighty-two minutes and twenty-two overs to call it a day with the home side on 90-3. Staffordshire had lost two wickets in reaching twenty-eight with wickets to Popham and Bess. It was Bess who removed Lally at 81 caught by the captain and nine runs later it was a shake of hands all round. The Devon eleven had done really well, now for Warwickshire. The M6 Toll was a new venture for many and the Leamington Holiday Inn as welcoming as ever. It was good to be back at Leek Wooton’s Anchor, even if the coach missed the turning.

The season ended on a high. Leamington Spa, which is becoming more of a home than an away venue, were once again  their normal brilliant selves but inner gloves for the keeper necessitated a trip into the attractive town centre of Warwick. Josh Mailling won the last toss of the summer and batted. He repeated his opener’s role but lost keeper batsman Mawgan Penrice for a rare failure at fifteen. West Devon’s Ryan Rickard did not build on his outstanding innings the previous day and Devon were two down two short of the fifty. Ollie Higgs, now over the disappointment of Monday’s LBW decision, shared in a partnership of one hundred and thirty-eight, the third highest partnership of the summer and the best for the third wicket. Lunch was taken at 134-2 off thirty-two overs, above par. Warwickshire took their third wicket at twelve minutes past two when the captain infuriated once again. He was bowled six short of a hundred, he should have gone on and scored a big hundred not fall short of one. He had been in total control of the situation. He had been at the crease for over two hours and had faced one hundred and twelve balls hitting ten fours and five sixes. Everyone was disappointed at his dismissal and the need for members of the top order to bat a long time and take responsibility is a key message for 2012. Higgs was now past his fifty and had hit his only six of the summer. Again the set batsman did not bat on and Ollie was next out eleven runs later with his side three short of a second bonus point. A clear message for the winter will be scores of 350 plus must always be the side’s initial target and the top order has to sow the seeds to allow the others to blossom. Devon were 264-5 at tea after sixty-eight overs with Jack Dart the fifth batsman out. The post tea session was interrupted by rain but close of play was reached after eighty-eight overs with Devon interestingly placed on 318-8 with Jack Cherrington and Dominic Bess at the crease. The sixth wicket had fallen at 251 when Wyatt-Haines was caught, Cherrington and Dyer had added forty before Tom Dyer was the fifth Warwickshire catch of the innings. The two Jacks (Cherrington and Popham) had put on 15 when Popham gave the sixth catch of the innings and discussions revolved around whether Devon had scored enough runs. Our last meal together was a pleasant affair.

We left the Holiday Inn on time, sadly only one night scheduled there in 2012. The coach infuriated our opponents by batting on, a declaration had been anticipated and he nearly brought our relationship with the Bear and Ragged Staff to a premature termination. Results seemed satisfactory as Cherrington and Bess batted with total aplomb. They passed the previous highest ninth wicket partnership, completed against Gloucestershire by Adam Parker and Craig Miles at the Isle of Wight Festival in 2002. After eleven overs and forty-eight runs Matt Wood recommended to Mailling that he called his side in with 366 on the board. Jack Cherrington was unbeaten on another personal best and Dominic Bess proving he might actually be an all round asset. It looked a sensible declaration as the Warwickshire openers put on eighty-eight off twenty-eight overs before Mailling broke the partnership with a neat catch from Jack Dart. This was off the last ball of the captain’s first spell. To their credit Devon kept nagging away, a critical virtue as they reduced Warwickshire to 157-7 off fifty-two overs. Tom Dyer was bowling his best spell of the summer which was encouraging for everyone. He trapped opener Marney leg before (109-2), Penrice held a brilliant catch to remove Best off the off spinner (129-3). At the same score Wyatt-Haines, one of the safest slip fielders we have had for a long time, held another slip catch off the captain. The fifth, sixth and seven wickets fell in four overs with Mailling picking up two bowled and a leg before and a third for Dyer caught Cherrington. At 153-7 off fifty-two overs, it was now critical to finish the opposition off. Forty-four were added for the eighth wicket, thirty-seven for the ninth and sixteen for the last wicket. This was not what had been envisaged. The management started to tour the boundary, a bench seat or two were taken up. Three short of two hundred Cherrington took his wicket bowling Newis. The immortal words “get this sorted” to Jack Popham were imparted at six o’clock and in his next over he bowled Sajid one short of a personal fifty and finally at 6.30 Alex Hunt pitched one short for Ollie Higgs to complete the win with a catch right in front of the bench. It had taken Devon seventy-three overs to bowl their opponents out for 250 to end the season in the ideal frame of mind.

We visited our last services, coffee for the coach, burgers for the players and the scorer would have to start driving again. Both on and off the field Matt Wood had made a marked impression. It is hoped the players realise how fortunate they are to work with him. Sam Wyatt-Haines topped the batting averages with a more than respectable average, unfortunately 0.60 below a season’s average of 50. The depth of batting was considered a real strength with Penrice and Cherrington taking their opportunities to the full and becoming key members of the side. The others all made important contributions and only on one occasion, against Somerset, did nobody come off. The bowling is varied, the seam attack allows for injury and loss of form. Alex Hunt topped the averages and was another to establish himself. He was followed by Jack Popham and Josh Mailling both taking thirteen wickets at 19.69. Dominic Bess was a real asset on the Midland Tour and hopefully will be able to join the seventeens on a regular basis in 2012. Because of the demands from the seventeens, availability and injury the side did not have an established keeper but fortunately the Penrice brothers bailed us out and both performed with credit. The fielding still needs some attention but the side has far more safe pairs of hands than not which is a huge asset. Our thanks to Axminster and Seaton for the expert manner they hosted our two home games. It is an unfortunate sign of the times that to get a reasonable fixture list we have to travel which substantially increases the financial burden on families. In 2012 we are at least hosting Gloucestershire. We offer our real apologies for having to call off the Cornwall game, which was an all-round embarrassment and a disappointment to the players who were due to be selected for one final opportunity to display their ability. Our umpires and scorer were efficient and are a vital element in every game. The travel manager did well, not one dud meal and even if they were not all used everyone had a bed. The captaincy was shared between Tom Dyer and Josh Mailling, both are to be congratulated but when in charge  the latter’s performance not being as seriously affected as the former. Wyatt Haines was the batsman of the Year, Popham and Mailling shared the bowler award. Josh Mailling was the Player of the Year but has much to do in 2012 to fulfil his full potential.

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