Devon beat Wales twice in a day to book place in Unicorns T20 play-off at Wormsley
DEVON are on their way to finals day in the new Unicorns T20 Trophy after beating Wales twice to clinch the qualifying spot in their pool.
Going into the last round of matches any one of Devon, Dorset, Cornwall or Wales could win the group and clinch a place in the last four.
Devon knew if they won both games results elsewhere were meaningless. They saved competition administrators the complication of working out run rates to three decimal places by doing exactly what was needed.
Devon won game number one by 14 runs. They accelerated from a hesitant start – they were 40 for four in the eight over with James Burke in and out for 21 – to reach 155 for six.
Man of the moment was left-hander Zak Bess, who hit 73 not out off 43 balls with four fours and five sixes to help Devon reach 155 for six.
Stands of 32 with Josh Bess, 28 with Joe Thompson and 55 unbroken with Ed Yeo got Devon motoring again.
Wales were always slightly behind the near eight-an-over asking rate, despite the efforts of Oskar Kolk (36) and Darren Thomas (30) to catch up.
Zak Bess (3-14), Josh Bess (1-17) and Toby Codd (1-16) kept Wales behind the clock.
Wales got down to the last over from Zak Bess needing 19 to win and only managed four.
Devon had to chase for victory in game two and what looked like a done deal approaching half way turned into a tense affair.
Wales were restricted to 122 for nine after 20 overs, Adam Keane (39) and Kazi Szymanski (20no) the main run getters.
Josh Bess (1-18) and spinner Gary Chappell (2-19) were meanest of Devon’s bowlers.
After Chappell (28) and James Burke (30) got Devon away to a 64-run start, optimism was running high in the Devon camp. Wickets change everything in cricket, especially the shorter formats, and losing five of them adding 12 runs to the total had Devon wobbling.
Thompson went in at fifth wicket down and, after a couple of sighters, took 14 off an over from Greg Holmes to calm Devon jitters.
Zak Bess, dropped on one, got his head down for 24 not out while Thompson reeled off five fours in an unbeaten 27 that helped take Devon to victory.
Keith Donohue, Devon’s director of cricket, said the game could easily have got away after those five wickets tumbled.
“When the scoreboard is whirring round and the overs going down, it is easy to take your eye of the ball and in this format that can be fatal,” said Donohue.
“You have to react quickly when things go wrong, which is what Zak and Joe did. They had the nerve and the nous to see us home.”
Finals day is at Wormsley on August 26. Already through are Berkshire and Norfolk with one place left to fill.
Devon 155-6 (Z G G Bess 73, J E Burke 21; R D Edwards 2-24), Wales 141-9 (O M D Kolk 36, S D Thomas 30; Z G G Bess 3-14). Devon (2pts) bt Wales (0) by 14 runs.
Wales 122-9 (A Keane 39, K B Szymanski 20; J A Stephens 2-11, G R Chappell 2-19), Devon 125-5 (G R Chappell 28, J E Burke 30, J E Thompson 27no, Z G G Bess 24no; G C Holmes 3-25). Devon (2pts) bt Wales (0) by 5 wkts.