Two out of two for Devon as Wiltshire are beaten by six wickets
WHISPER it quietly but Devon’s fortunes seem to be on the rise if a six-wicket win over Wiltshire is any guide.
Skipper Josh Bess and younger brother Zak steered Devon to victory at Bemerton shortly after lunch on the third day.
Zak Bess had taken four wickets in Wiltshire’s second innings as they were bowled out for 199 – an overall lead of 281 in the match.
Devon had nearly four sessions to knock off the runs and when stumps were pulled on day two had knocked off 88 for the loss of Jamie Stephens and Matt Thompson.
Devon had a mini-wobble at the start of day three when overnight pair Matt Golding (19) and Tom Ansell (45) were dismissed by Joe King.
Devon needed 169 to win at that stage with four wickets down – and Jack Dart only going to bat if he had to due to a knee injury.
The Bess brothers took the worry out of winning the match by putting on 171 unbroken to do it.
Josh was not out 90 and Zak 75 not out when Devon clinched their second successive win.
It’s a while since Devon won two games in succession: 2014 to be precise when Dorset then Oxfordshire were dispatched, both with a day to spare.
Devon were winless wooden spoonists in 2015, but two wins last season was a step in the right direction.
Keith Donohue, Devon’s director of cricket, is far too canny to stick his neck out very far.
What Donohue can see is the right sort of fighting qualities emerging among the team, character traits he believes can make the difference between winning and losing.
“We ground Wiltshire’s bowling down for 40 overs and it seemed they ran out of ideas,” said Donohue.
“Tom Ansell has made a noticeable difference opening in is first two games, not just taking the shine of the ball and softening it up but helping us get starts.
“Once we had the first 100 or so out of the way it was time to be bold, which was where Josh and Zak excelled.
“Not only did they do it skillfully but showed their strength of their characters while they were doing it.”
Donohue said even when things were going wrong, such as being bowled out for 127 in the first innings, the players responded.
“Bowling Wiltshire out for less than 200 second time was quite an achievement,” said Donohue.
“It would have been easy to go flat, but we kept fighting and got them out for a total that gave us a chance to win the game.”
When the pats on the back were handed out the heartiest would have been for Zak and Josh Bess.
Hopefully there were a few left over for keeper Matt Thompson and off-spinner Toby Codd as well.
Thompson had six catches and two stumpings in the match –a county career best for the 25 year old.
Codd was drafted into the side at short notice and took the chance to impress by taking four wickets for 27 runs in the first innings.
Wiltshire 208 (W J Wade 69, B Cookson 33, M D Reynolds 33; T R J Codd 4-27, J J Bess 3-30) & 199 (W J Wade 33, J B Lintott 34, T G Afridi 32, E G C Young 30; Z G G Bess 4-25), Devon 127 (T P P Ansell 32; T G Afridi 4-50, J C W Arney 3-30) & 283-4 (T P P Ansell 44, J J Bess 90no, Z G G Bess 75no). Devon (20pts) bt Wiltshire (5) by 6 wkts.