Ansell caps great week with hundred against Exmouth

Sandy Allen - in the runs against North Devon for Exmouth

JACK Popham may not be fit enough to play for the county yet, but he is getting there after taking three wickets in the 53-run win over Exmouth.

Popham limped out of Devon’s Minor County game against Dorset last month with a hamstring strain and hasn’t featured for county side since.

After a couple of weeks off Popham has been rehabilitating in North Devon’s 1st XI.

He has picked up a side strain now so wasn’t considered for the game against Wiltshire starting at Salisbury on Sunday.

Removing former county regulars Bob Dawson and Sandy Allen in the win over Exmouth showed Popham is getting closer to fitness all the time.

Tom Ansell ended a week that saw him mark his county debut with 77 against Cheshire by nailing Exmouth’s bowlers for a century.

Opener Ansell made 127 not out – 14 fours, 139 balls – in North Devon’s total of 298 for eight.

Ansell’s opening partner Tom Popham was caught behind off the first ball he faced, not that North Devon suffered too much.

Stef James (39) and Ansell put on 89 in 17 overs – and there were more runs where the came from.

Skipper Ed Yeo found some form after a quiet spell with 49 at run-a-ball rate in a stand of 82 with Ansell for the fifth wicket.

Rob Ayre (20) and Joe Kelly (24) all chipped in to the final product.

Exmouth’s bowlers struggled to keep the runs down. Left-armer Callum French (0-33) did well against his former club. Dan Pyle (2-34) and Billy Rudolph (3-38) were the leading wicket takers.

Exmouth went off smartly at seven-an-over speed with David Lye (31) leading the way.

James, Matt Westaway (2-48) and later on Alfie Huxtable (3-42) slowed Exmouth’s progress.

Allen (64) and French (39) chipped away at the target, but Westaway and Huxtable were whittling down the batting.

The game got away from Exmouth in the time it took them to slip from 175 for four to 194 for eight.

Fin Marks (23) and Alvin Pollard (19no) earned a bonus batting point for Exmouth in a total of 245 all out.

North Devon have been going up and down the table all season. Skipper Ed Yeo hopes the win over Exmouth represented a fresh start.

“A great start by the lads to the second half of the season - especially Tom Ansell,” said North Devon captain Ed Yeo.

“Tom carried his bat and made life easy for the rest of the team to bat around him.

“Steff James played well coming in at three to consolidate after losing Tom Popham early.

“Joe Kelly played an important knock to get us up to 298.”

Yeo knows all about Exmouth having had a spell at the Maer and knew chasing 300 would not faze them.

“I was always worried as with the top five they have they are more than capable of getting hundreds each,” said Yeo.

“We stuck at our guns and bowled and fielded well. I was very proud of the lads”

North Devon have the nearest thing to a derby this Saturday when the visit Heathcoat.

“We will be a couple missing which will make it tough game against a side that will see it as a must-win game,” said North Devon skipper Ed Yeo. “We will have to be at our best.”