Ansell set for run in county side after promising debut as 11th-hour replacement

Tom Ansell and Liam Lewis going out to open the batting for Devon against Cheshire
Tom Ansell and Liam Lewis going out to open the batting for Devon against Cheshire

OPENING batsman Tom Ansell looks like getting a run in the county team after impressing as an 11th-hour replacement in the win over Cheshire.

Ansell, who is averaging 48 in the league for club side North Devon, was a late replacement for all-rounder James Burke.

Burke, dual-registered with Devon and Surrey, withdrew from the selected XI the day before the match due to a back problem.

Keith Donohue, Devon’s team chief, has been keen to get Ansell in the side for a while.

He was asked to play in a Development XI friendly against Gloucestershire 2nd XI last month, but had other commitments.

Devon have had problems finding specialist opening batsmen all season, hence their interest in Ansell.

When Burke dropped out Donohue and team captain Josh Bess redrew the batting order and sent Ansell in first with Sidmouth’s Liam Lewis.

Josh King - key wickets with new ball Ansell made 77 in the first innings and 22 not out in the second as Devon chased 78 to win on the third day.

Donohue liked what he saw of Ansell and hopes he is available for the last three games of the season.

“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.

“I have had a chat with Tom about his availability for the remaining games and it looks like he can play in all of them.”

Ansell’s Instow team-mate Josh King was recalled for the match and showed his value with tidy bowling spell in both innings.

“We were a bowler down in the second innings as Hugo Whitlock was injured so Josh took the new ball from one end,” said Donohue.

“We had Cheshire 33 for four and Josh had taken two of the wickets.

“That last session on the second day when we had them 70-odd for six at the end of it was crucial to winning the game and Josh had a lot to do with it.

“He is a wholehearted bowler who is a bit different to our other seamers as he bowls a different length and skids it through.

“I like having him in the field – he is awesome – and as a lower-order batsman has the potential to be destructive.”

Devon now have a 10-day break from three-day cricket before the Championship season resumes against Wiltshire at Bemerton on July 16,17, 18.