Westaway back for third spell as North Devon captain

Matt Westaway - seen here bowling against Exmouth - who has agreed to a third term as North Devon captain

NORTH Devon have turned to Matt Westaway for a third time as their 1st XI captain.

Westaway, 37, was skipper for the first time in 2008 when he took over from Premier-winning captain Rob Ayre.

During Westaway’s first term as captain – he only did one year - North Devon were inaugural winners of the Devon T20 Cup.

After a break from cricket to polish up his golf, Westaway returned in 2010 and resumed his place in the seam bowling attack, taking 37 wickets.

Westaway did a second stint as skipper in 2014, taking over from Matt Dart for one season only

Ex-NDCC skipper Barney HuxtableNorth Devon have got through a few captains in recent seasons. Barney Huxtable was skipper in 2015 and 2016, followed by Ed Yeo last summer.

Although Yeo did a respectable job in 2017, he didn’t want to continue as he felt all the running around that goes with being captain was affecting his game.

Westaway was approached by the committee to act as captain again – and agreed.

“Being 1st XI captain of any club entails a huge amount of work, not just on the pitch but off it,” said Westaway.

“Mark Ansell as chairman gets through a huge workload behind the scenes, such as finding an overseas player.

“Matt Dart does a tremendous job organising teams, transport arrangements and many of the details that go into running the playing side of the club.

“With people like Mark and Matt in place, my job as captain is made that much easier.”

North Devon finished fifth out of ten in the Premier Division last season, but were mathematically closer to second bottom Torquay than runners-up Bradninch.

North Devon have made no significant signings so far. Other than an overseas replacement for batsman Callum Hotham, there are unlikely to be too many changes of personnel at Instow this summer.

Westaway hopes to have a settled side of players who know their roles and responsibilities.

“If we can harness the potential among the players we will have a chance of being competitive,” said Westaway.

Jack Popham - fit for the season aheadBatter Dan Bowser should be available more regularly in the season ahead having missed chunks of 2017 to play for the England Disability XI.

Bigger things are expected of early order batsman Tom Popham, who stepped up from lower-league cricket with Barnstaple & Pilton in 2016 to make nearly 400 league runs in his debut Premier Division season.

Westaway is hoping a fully fit Jack Popham will kick-on from last season’s 23 wickets at around 23 runs each.

Popham spent much of the season getting over an injury that stopped him bowling at full tilt.

Said Westaway: “Jack needs to be managed correctly this season as when he is physicaly fit he has all the right attributes to be a real handful for Premier batsmen.”