Devon have to rethink top six after making three changes for Oxfordshire game

Max Curtis - back in the Devon team to open up against Oxfordshire

DEVON have to rework their top-six batting slots for the Minor Counties Championship game against Oxfordshire starting tomorrow.

There was a makeshift feel to the batting order against Dorset two weeks ago, caused by injuries on day one that hampered Matt Golding and Dan Pyle.

Pyle isn’t going to Banbury tomorrow, nor is opener Reid Mawdsley or Jack Dart, who batted at six.

Pyle remains injured, Dart has exams and Mawdsley wasn’t selected.

In come James Burke, released for the game by Surrey, Max Curtis and Tom Lammomby, although who bats where and with whom remains undecided.

James Burke - one of the opening options available to DevonCurtis opened in five of six games last season and looks likely to slot back into his old role.

Any one of Burke, Lammonby or Alex Barrow may open with Curtis, if the team management decide not to stick with Luke Bess.

Bess, a debutant against Dorset at Sherborne, was one of the cheap casualties first time round when Devon were skittled for 106 and made to follow-on.

Second time round Bess batted two hours and five minutes for 16 not out as Devon salvaged a draw and showed a degree of stickability required of an opener.

What Devon don’t really have apart from Curtis is an out and out opener, although Burke has done it before and Barrow is doing it for club side Exeter.

Lammonby, a Somerset Academy scholar, may get the job, which would give Devon a left-right combination, something new-ball seamers are none-too keen to bowl to.

Keith Donohue, Devon’s director of cricket, a final decision would wait until the morning of the match on who would open up.

“We don’t have an obvious opener but we have players who have done it or players who are capable of growing into the role,” said Donohue.

One decision already made is to give Paignton quick bowler George Benton his Devon debut.

Benton was brought into the 12 as cover for Jack Popham, who pulled a hamstring running down the hill to bowl against Dorset at Sherborne School.

Donohue said he has been a fan of Benton’s for a while and is looking forward to seeing what he can do at the next level up.

“We were keen to look at George before he went to Australia for 18 months as he was doing a lot of the right things then,” said Donohue.

“What I like about George is he is a competitor and those are the people you want in the team.

“With Jack Popham injured and Ben Green unavailable to us due to Somerset commitments, it is a chance for George to show what he can do.”

Playing for Devon runs in the Benton family as brother Seb (2008-12), dad Keith (1978-88) and great uncle Norman Keith (1959-51) have been there before.

The option for Donohue and captain Josh Bess will be which spinner to play – incumbent Jamie Stephens or challenger Toby Codd – or whether to play two and dispense with a seamer.

“That is another decision to make on the morning of the game, when we see the pitch and what it might or might not offer,” said Donohue.

Oxfordshire: L M Sabin (Banbury), T P W Condon (Aston Rowant), H D Ward (Horspath), J L N Garrett (Great & Little Tew), J A Cater, (Buckingham Town), M A H Hammond (Aston Rowant), R I Kaufman (Old Northamptonians), J A Wilkins (Banbury), H E Eltham (Oxford), L M Bethell (Aston Rowant), B F D Taylor (Banbury).

Devon (from): J J Bess (Sidmouth), A W R Barrow (Exeter), M H Curtis (Clevedon), L F O Bess (Sidmouth), J E Burke (Surrey), M C Golding (Bovey Tracey), Z G G Bess (Sidmouth), T A Lammonby (Exeter) J A Stephens (Falmouth), H M Whitlock, T R J Codd (both Bovey), G Benton (Paignton).

Umpires: D N Pedley & A Hicks