Devon off mark in Minor Counties Championship with eight-wicket win over Cheshire

Tom Ansell - 77 and 22 on his Devon debut
Tom Ansell - 77 and 22 on his Devon debut

Day One | Day Two | Scorecard

DEVON are off the mark in this season's Minor County Championship after beating Cheshire by eight wickets at Sidmouth.

Cheshire were bowled out in their second innings for 184, an overall lead of 77 in the match.

Devon dominated the first innings with Matt Thompson stroking 99 in a total of 358 for seven declared.

Cheshire had made 251 all out first time round and were 107 runs behind batting second.

Josh Bess - five wickets in Cheshire's second inningsDevon were always in the driving seat after reducing Cheshire to 33 for five then 67 for six in their second innings – Josh King and Josh Bess taking two wickets each.

Cheshire resumed 10 runs behind on day three, but hopes of an early finish were thwarted by Wayne Wright, who batted and batted and batted.

The ex-Lancs and Leicestershire all-rounder batted for 10 minutes more than four hours for an unbeaten 88 to keep Cheshire in the game.

Bess finally blasted out the tail enders, leaving Devon 78 to win. He took three for eight in his last spell to finish with five for 38 in the innings.

Tom Ansell (22) and Bovey Tracey's Matt Golding (16) were the not-out batsmen when Devon passed the finishing post. Ansell made 77 in the first innings on his debut, helping create a platform missing in the first two games.

Devon’s players know they should have won at Banbury two weeks ago when they needed 16 to win with five wickets in hand and a session and a half to go – and failed to get them.

The players also knew they owed the team and director of cricket Keith Donohue a performance. They delivered it.

Donohue said it was one of the best Devon performances in the five years he has been in charge.

Devon had a marginally stronger side out against Cheshire than the one beaten at Oxfordshire, which helped.

Donohue said the return of senior players such as Thompson and Liam Lewis to a young side paid dividends.

“Having a bit of extra experience in the side made us look a lot more polished over all three days,” said Donohue.

“Across three days we won most of the sessions and even when it wasn’t going our way we looked a determined and well-drilled unit.

“The hard work we put in on days one and two, bowling them out, building a hundred-run lead, enabled us to win on day three.

“It wasn’t an easy win – Cheshire are a strong side with proper cricketers – and we had to work to get them all out,

“That makes it even more satisfying for me. We beat a good side who are used to winning and got the big win we needed to move on from Banbury.”

Ansell, a last-minute selection for the team, seemed to solve a problem Devon have had this season of sorting out an opening partnership that works.

It helps to have proper opening batsmen who know what they are doing, something Ansell does for club side North Devon.

“Tom is used to opening and seems to have a simple approach to the job,” said Donohue.

“He kept calm, didn’t play too many shots at first and got us to 160-odd for one. That’s what you want from an up-top batter: someone who will occupy the crease.”

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) & 184 (W A White 88; J V King 2-20, J J Bess 5-38), Devon 358-7 (M W Thompson 99 T P P Ansell 77, J J Bess 60; J J Williams 3-104 & 78-2 (T P P Ansell 22no). Devon (24pts) bt Cheshire (5) by 8 wkts.