Pre-season snippets from the C East and the D Divisions
C DIVISION EAST
BRAUNTON’S luck ran out last season when they were relegated from the B Division along with South Devon and Dartington & Totnes.
Braunton thought they had been relegated in 2015 when they finished third from bottom, but were reprieved when Uplyme were denied promotion for an eligibility offence relating to their play-off win over Plymouth CS&R
Having only just stayed up in 2014, the writing had been on the wall for Braunton.
Jon Baglow has called it a day after a second stint as captain, but the good news for new skipper Dan Brierley is the former Devon left-armer is bowling on for Braunton.
Not only is he bowling, Baglow made a half-century in a pre-season game against Barnstaple & Pilton.
Gone from last season are Rob Collier (Filleigh), Alfie Huxtable (North Devon) and Neil Bettis (Sandford).
Arrivals include batter Paddy Dartnoll (Bratton Fleming) and seam-bowling all-rounder Phil Steward from Newton Tracey.
Callum Mitchell resisted an enquiry from Filleigh to stay put. Watch out for the Whittaker brothers – Jack and Bob – making the step-up from youth cricket this season.
The target is to stay out of the bottom three and avoid relegation.
A confident Brierley said: “With the players we have got we should hold our own.”
ALPHINGTON missed out on the consolation prize last year when they lost to Filleigh in the West play off.
The Alphas had been shunted from East to West to balance numbers and are back in the East again for 2017. Their season opens tomorrow with the short trip to Clyst St George.
Having been second last season and third the one before, Alphington feel the time is right to go up.
Skipper Stuart Shaw has postponed his retirement for one more season, hoping to lead the Alphas to promotion.
“No iffs or buts, this season we have to win it as there is no other way,” said Shaw.
Gone from last season are Dave Haysom, already rattling up the runs for Honiton, and Neil Murrin, who has returned to Budleigh Salterton.
Callum Hogan, British-born but Sydney educated, has signed. He bats and bowls.
Matt Taylor will play more often thanks to a job change and spinner Lee Rowe will be available more often too.
The overseas player at the Chronicles is Josiah Grzyb, a 19-year-old medium-quick bowler playing second grade cricket in Adelaide.
D DIVISION EAST
JUST staying put is the best Barnstaple & Pilton can hope for this season – and that will be a challenge.
Relegation into the D Division East plunged B&P down to a level of cricket they have not played in since 1994.
Looming reorganisation of the league means no promotion from either D Division this season. The top three teams retain their places and the rest drop down into a proposed new E Division East populated partly by 2nd XIs.
That’s not an attractive proposition for a team playing B Division cricket as recently as 2014.
Relegation prompted the departures of Tom Popham – 399 runs last season – and James Thomas to North Devon.
Incoming are Jason Smith and Adam Page, a batter and bowler respectively from NDL side Bratton Fleming, and the return of keeper-batter Andy Barton after a break from the game.
B&P should get a full season out of off-spinner George McEndoo, who was worked tied for part of last season.
Captain Steve Moore can see a tough summer ahead, which he will be tackling with a young side.
Moore’s son Jack, just back from skippering Devon U15s in South Africa, will be handed an early slot in the batting order with a brief to accumulate runs.
KENN are a club who want to go places in the Devon League – but they won’t be going anywhere this year.
The proposed all-through league coming into play in 2018 means massive reshuffling at the lowest levels of the competition.
In both D Divisions – East and West – there are no promotion places this season.
To stay at the same level next season, which will include second teams from the Premier and A Divisions, Kenn have to finish in the top three.
Having assembled a side for a promotion push with some canny winter signings, among them ex-Devon U16 bowler Jack Thomas, batter Arren de Young and seamer Hugh Stronge, the emphasis should have changed.
Kenn can’t go up, but skipper James Mason will be aiming to finish as high as possible.
“I think it's an exciting season in prospect for Kenn with five experienced and talented first-team players being signed and added to an already strong side,” said Mason.
“I expect Kenn to start their push for greater things to start this season and the talent to live out its potential.”
Kenn are at home to Exwick on Saturday.