Devon chasing 245 to win at Banbury on final day
DEVON have a challenge on their hands to win on the chase at Banbury on the third and final day of the game against Oxfordshire.
After dismissing Oxfordshire for 205 the second time around – seamer Hugo Whitlock taking a Minors best four for 23 – Devon need 245 to win the match.
With all day to bat and 24 knocked off last night, Devon appear to be in with a shout. Appearances can be deceptive.
The challenge is Devon need to score more in the final innings on a wearing pitch to win the game than either side has managed in three previous attempts in the game.
Oxfordshire were all out for 219 in their first innings, to which Devon faded after a promising start to 180 all out.
Devon were 87 for two overnight, but lost their way when three wickets fell in a hurry and were bowled out before lunch.
Oxfordshire went off smartly second time round, led by openers Luke Sabin (59) and Tom Condon (20).
Miles Hammond made a patient 76 off 127 balls and at 188 for five Oxfordshire were the team on top.
Wickets change everything and Whitlock took two in row – Hammond was caught behind and Jack Wilkin was bowled – then followed up with Harry Ward as 188 for five became 199 for eight.
Knocking over the tail was a formality for pacer Josh Bess (3-27) and spinner Jamie Stephens (2-57).
Had Devon batted better first time round the vibes from the camp may be a little more upbeat.
The target is gettable, but only if Devon can avoid the pitfalls of their first innings.
James Burke dabbed at a ball he knew he should have left to get out caught at slip for 27. These things happen.
Devon’s composure seemed to be dented Matt Golding was run out after a mix-up with Josh Bess, who followed seven runs later to Bradley Taylor. A promising 106 for two was now 115 for five.
Zak Bess chugged along to 40 slightly quicker than run a ball, putting on 46 with Tom Lammonby in Devon’s best stand of the innings.
Harvey Eltham (3-59) accounted for Zak Bess leaving returning pacer Leo Bethell to knock over the tail on his way to figures of four for 32.
Devon’s last five wickets went for 19 runs, hardly inspiring for a fourth innings chase.
The portents don’t bode well for Devon as they lost three wickets in 15 overs batting time last night.
Keith Donohue, Devon’s director of cricket, felt the side bowled better than it batted.
“Our enthusiasm and resolve in the field can’t be faulted,” said Donohue.
“For the second time in the match we turned the game through sheer hard work. This time it was Hugo Whitlock and Josh Bess.
“If I am honest we were short of runs first innings and that could hurt us.
“It seems we are lacking an experienced head or two when we bat to see us through when things don’t go our way.”
Oxfordshire 219 (J A Cater 99, J L N Garrett 51, H D Ward 28; J A Stephens 3-50) & 205 (L M Sabin 59, M A H Hammond 76; H M Whitlock 4-23, J J Bess 3-37), Devon 180 (Z G G Bess 40, R A Mawdsley 37; L M Bethell 4-32, E Eltham 3-59). & 24-3 (Bonus points: Devon (5), Oxfordshire (5).