Alphington pull 13 points clear ahead of top-of-table clash with Abbots

ALPHINGTON won by 151 runs at Babbacombe to stretch their lead at the top of the C Division West table.

Abbotskerswell were only a point behind going into the latest round of fixtures, but lost ground as their game at Chagford was rained off before halfway.

Abbots entertain Alphington this Saturday in the first-against-second clash at Two Mike Oak looking to do something about the 13-point deficit between the teams.

Only the champions go up automatically. The fate waiting for the runners-up is a play off against their East counterparts, which could be any one of Filleigh, Cullompton or Kilmington,

Alphas’ skipper Stuart Shaw moved Ashley Green up the order and he took the chance well by hitting 87 in a total of 247 for three.

Mark Hulse had 78 not out and there were useful contributions from Mark Porter 31 and Nick Hulse (23).

There wasn’t a lot for the Babbacombe bowlers to celebrate!

Green then completed a man-of-the-match performance with five wickets for 19 runs as Babbacombe were skittled out for 96 in reply.

Spinner Paul James (4-31) got most of the rest.

Babbacombe are away to Kingsbridge this Saturday afternoon.

IT’S crunch time for Abbotskerswell and Alphington on Saturday when the top two meet at Two Mike Oak in the C West title decider.

Alphington have had Abbots nipping at their heels since the halfway stage of the season, ever since Abbots beat Alphington at the Chronicles.

Abbots lost ground last Saturday as they were rained off at Chagford while Alphington were winning at Babbacombe.

The gap widened from one point to 13 in Alphington’s favour, which gives them a bit of comfort ahead of the big game.

Win and they are up as champions – lose and they could still be top of the table with Kingsbridge to play on the last day of the season with the title the prize.

Only one team goes up from the regionalised divisions by right – and that is the champions.

The second-placed team play the level four runners-up in the East, which could be Kilmington. Filleigh or Cullompton.

Charlie Hill, the Abbotskerswell captain, said he is comfortable with the situation.

“All the pressure on Alphington now as it is their division to lose,” said Hill.

“We look forward to seeing how they cope with it.”

Abbots were 106 for six when ran stopped play after 33 overs at Chagford – Del Lammonby taking a couple of wickets for the home side.

Richard Harmer top-scored for Abbots with 45.

Said Hill: “Not what we wanted out of the weekend, but we can't help the weather.

“We built our way to 106 for six on what was the worst pitch we have played on all year.

“Going on and off at regular intervals meant that any chance of finishing the game was unlikely.

“I felt confident Chagford wouldn't have chased the total down anyway but unfortunately we never got to find out.”

GARY Brenton made a top score of 55 in Chelston & Kingskerswell’s rain-affected game at Whitchurch.

Chelston & Kerswell, who only travelled with 10, were 38 for four when Mike Etherington was bowled by Josh Towl (2-40) without troubling the scorers.

Brenton and Vivek Kulkarni (44) piled up 103 for the fifth wicket to give Chelston & Kerswell a foothold in the match.

Brenton fell to Dan Poole (2-41), but Kulkarni and Mark Faulkner (18) kept the score moving to 186 all out.

Darren Sambells (3-35) was the pick of the home bowlers. Poole, Towl and Billy Barriball (2-21) played their part too.

Whitchurch didn’t get to bat as the game was called off after a downpour during the tea interval.

It remains cluttered at the foot of the table, where Chelston (129pts) aren’t down yet but remain favourites for one of the drop slots.

Any one of Plymouth CS&R (150pts), Whitchurch (155) or even Bridestowe (166) at a pinch could be going down.

The picture may be clearer after this Saturday as CS&R play Chelston. CS&R still have to play Bridestowe too so it may well go to the last game.

KINGSBRIDGE remain on course for a top-four finish after defeating Bridestowe by 75 runs in one of the few games to avoid a break for rain.

Will Dorey led the way for Kingsbridge with 46 off 53 balls in their total of 182 all out.

Captain James Westlake (31) and James Ford (27) gave Kings a 43-run start with Dorey anchoring the middle order.

Dorey went in at 85 for two and came out at 162 for seven after a job well done.

Alex Jopling topped the wicket-taking list for Bridestowe with three for 20. Tom Fogerty, Tim Shaw and Lee Jutson had two each.

Bridestowe got to 76 for two in reply – Fogerty making 33 0- then went into a nosedive.

Wickets tumbled to Bhanu deSilva – he had six for seven from seven overs – and Will Pike (2-26).

The last four wickets went for just six runs as Bridestowe were sent packing for 107 – 21 of which were extras.

STOKE Gabriel batsman Nathan Hicks has a thousand runs for the season in his sight after slamming 106 in the 172-run win over Plymouth CS&R.

Hicks’ second successive league ton, and his fifth overall, took him to 993 runs for the season so far. With three half-centuries and a 49, he has been brutally reliable.

Seven runs against Whitchurch this Saturday will bring up 1,000 – something seldom seen at level four in the Devon League.

It has only been done once since the Devon League switched from 22 to 18 games a season in 1999. The batsman was Heathcoat’s Ruan Nel, whose 1,478 runs at an average of 164.22 in 2004 is the best.

South African Nel went on to play a handful of games for Eastern Province the following season before dropping out of sight.

Hicks and skipper Jack Tolley did set a new batting record for the C Division West of 241 for the first wicket, bettering the 176 of Chagford pair James Fulner and Phil Holland against Kingsbridge last year.

The level four record from the pre-regionalisation days is 269 and belongs to Stoke Gabriel openers Steve Tolley (father of Jack) and Josh Dowling, who made it in 2004 against Ruan Nel’s Heathcoat  team.

Staying with record busting just for a moment, Stoke’s total of 374 for five against Civil is a record for the C West, which was formed last year, but not level four. Kentisbeare hold that with 380 against Barnstaple & Pilton in the East Division.

With Mike Meech making 41 and Mark Newman 30, Stoke had an impressive total after 45 overs.

A rain break trimmed the target for Civil down to 350 in 42 overs – and they got nowhere near it.

Rob Gaylard made 92 not out for Civil in a total of 179 for seven, Simon Light (27) chipped in.

Tolley – Jack not Steve – was the cream of the Stoke bowlers with three for 44.

Stoke’s penultimate game of the season is away to Whitchurch this Saturday.