Thompson one short of ton as Devon put Cheshire under the cosh at Sidmouth
MATT Thompson missed out on a century by a whisker as Devon put Cheshire under the cosh on day two at Sidmouth.
Cheshire, 107 runs behind on first innings, collapsed to 33 for five in reply and at one stage an innings defeat in two days looked possible.
Wayne White, the former Lancashire and Leicestershire all-rounder, ground out 30 not out from 111 balls to stave off total collapse after Josh Bess (2-24) and Josh King (2-18) had caused panic in the ranks.
Devon, 176 runs behind overnight, totted up 358 for seven in the maximum 90 overs, thanks to an old-fashioned batting display.
The top order compiled runs steadily without too much fuss, leaving the middle order bashers to get on with it.
Thompson, 24 not out overnight, and surviving opener Tom Ansell moved the score along from 75 for one to 166 before Cheshire made a breakthrough.
Ansell was first to go for 77 – a great debut knock for the young batsman from North Devon – but Thompson kept going on a ground he seems to love.
Thompson has scored three previous Minor Counties tons for Devon, two of them on the Fortfield.
He was one run short of a third ton when spinner Jack Williams got Thompson to snick the ball on to a pad and the ball lopped over his head to Cheshire keeper Will Evans.
Matt Golding missed out – he came and went for 15 – but Josh and Zak Bess quickly tucked into the bowling.
Devon skipper Josh lashed 60 off 67 balls and Zak thumped 29 off 32 balls with four fours.
Josh biffed four sixes, one of which made a very satisfying ‘bong’ as it hit the front drum of the heavy roller and ricocheted round the mudguard.
Getting rid of the Besses didn’t slow things much as Devon had another Bess to come – Luke – and Tom Lammonby.
As the 90-over cut-off point approached it was shot-a-ball stuff from Luke Bess (20no) and Lammonby (21).
Spinner Williams bore the brunt of the bowling burden, sending down 24 overs for figures of four for 103.
It was easily Devon’s best batting performance of the season, a point director of cricket Keith Donohue was quick to talk about.
“A lot of the hard work was done on the first evening when Tom Ansell and Matt Thompson stayed calm and chewed up the pressure from Cheshire’s bowlers,” said Donohue.
“Today we approached out task in the right way, biding out time and wearing the Cheshire bowlers down, not going along in full flow at four-five an over.
“With that job done the hitters came in with wickets in hand and played their shots.
“Josh and Zak are strong hitters and took the game to Cheshire when they were starting to tire.”
Devon will want to wrap up the game quickly today, but Donohue is taking nothing for granted.
“Most Minor Counties bat a fair way down so we still have some work to do,” said Donohue.
Cheshire 251 (C Rowe 75, W A White 38, W J Evans 47, J J Williams 28; J A Stephens 4-86, Z G G Bess 2-17) & 97-6 (W A White 30; J V King 2-18, J J Bess 2-30), Devon 358-7 (M W Thompson 99 T P P Ansell 77, J J Bess 60; J J Williams 3-104). Bonus points: Devon 8, Cheshire (5).