Donohue confident Devon will see benefits from another tough season

DEVON team chief Keith Donohue insists the state of cricket in the county is healthy despite another tough season in the Minor Counties Championship.

Devon could finish bottom of the Western Division table for the second season running if they fail to beat Cornwall in the last game of the season.

Cornwall arrive at Sidmouth tomorrow for the final round of three-day games in hot pursuit of Berkshire at the top of the table.

Although Devon are three off the bottom of the table, Wiltshire and Oxfordshire can go past them if they beat Shropshire and Cheshire respectively.

For a side that won the overall title as recently as 2011, that would be quite a fall in status.

At least Devon have won a game this season – Wiltshire were beaten at Sandford – which they could not manage in 2015.

Ever present so far - Josh KingConsistency of selection has been a real issue for Devon, who have used 22 players getting through five games so far. Only Josh King and Matt Golding have played in every match.

The side that beat Wiltshire showed eight changes from the one that tied with Herefordshire two weeks earlier.

What may seem like a hindrance to the outsider, is nothing of the sort as far as Donohue is concerned.

Donohue feels many talented, young cricketers have been given opportunities to improve and overall the outcomes have been positive.

“A number of lads have come in this season and have shown they can make careers at this level,” said Donohue.

“Not everyone is going to make it first time, but we are getting a core of 15-20 players whom we can go forward with in seasons to come.

“Players like Toby Codd keep producing in the league regularly and are going to feature in the seasons ahead.

“Luke Besss has had a good season for Sidmouth in the league and is unlucky not to have got a game this year.

“Compared to where we were this time last year we have come on massively.

“Let’s hope we make more improvements next season.”

Among the players Donohue highlights as improvers is 17-year-old Plymouth all-rounder Joe Hagan-Burt, who played against Herefordshire and is in the 12 to play Cornwall.

“We have known about Joe for a while and watched him get better and better over the last 12-18 months,” said Donohue.

“Going forward we need players to fill key roles, players like Joe who bat and bowl to the standard we need.

“I would like to find a few more like him to increase the options we have.”

Liam Lewis has been unable to win his place back in the side after missing the game against Oxfordshire two weeks ago due to a injury that has now cleared.

Devon: M W Thompson (St Fagans), M H Curtis (North Devon), D J Wolf (Paignton), D R Pyle (Exmouth), J J Bess (Sidmouth), M C Golding (Bovey), J F S Dart (Heathcoat), J O Hagan-Burt (Plymouth), Z G G Bess (Sidmouth), J R Popham (North Devon), J V King (North Devon), J A Stephens (Falmouth).

Cornwall: M L Robins, (Grampound Rd), M H Rowe (Henley-on-Thames), B L Wadlan (Penzance), C B F Purchase (Penzance), A D Angove (Penzance), P S Smith (Werrington), J R Turpin (St Austell), S A Harvey (wk) (Truro), A C Libby (St Austell), J C J Stephens (St Just), C J Miles (Truro).

Umpires: A Hicks & D Gower.