Donohue sets out Devon aims for Championship campaign

Hugo Whitlock - not considered for the game against Wales after pulling up injured last Saturday for club side Bovey Tracey

KEEPING bowlers fit and healthy is going to be key to Devon’s prospects in this season’s Minor Counties Championship.

The three-day element of Devon’s season gets under way tomorrow (Sunday) when Wales arrive at Sandford (11am).

Devon have been going great guns in short-form cricket this season – they are already in the last four of the 20-over and 50-over Unicorns competitions – but three-day cricket is a different beast.

Selections are different – availability and suitability differ between formats – which manifests itself on the team sheet.

Six players who were in the 13 that beat Wales twice at Instow on Sunday in the T20 Cup, are not in the latest 13.

And then there is the year-on-year churn of players whose circumstances, form or inclination to play changes.

Looking back to Devon’s final game last season, when they drew with Berkshire at Exeter, only Tom Ansell, skipper Josh Bess, Toby Codd, Jamie Stephens, Zak Bess and Josh King remain for one reason or another. That’s quite a churn!

A significant stat from last season is that Devon used 23 players in six games. Seven of them were genuine opening or first-change bowlers, and a couple more were hardly shabby in pace terms.

Ed Yeo - keeps his place in the sideThe seamers fell like flies last season and with three out before the current campaign gets going, it’s easy to see why Donohue is concerned.

“These are long days in the field – 90 overs or more – and to bowl a lot of overs you need bowlers who stay fit,” said Donohue.

“We didn’t have a lot of luck last season with the seamers and for this game we are missing Whitlock (side), Benton (shins) and Popham (groin). I am hoping none of them will out for too long.

“It means chances for others, such as Joe Hagan-Burt, to show what they can do. If they take the place of someone who isn’t available, that’s the way it should be.”

Devon have been fifth for the past two seasons, a far cry from the wooden spoon of 2015.

Devon competed with the best last season – two-time champs Berkshire could not beat them – and Donohue is optimistic looking ahead.

“The experiences of three years ago when we finished bottom have made the players who survived stronger and we now have a very competent team on paper,” said Donohue.

“A realistic expectations is to be competitive in every game and turn in the performances the side should be capable of.

“You need a bit of luck and it will help if the seamers stay fit.”

Exeter’s Miles Lenygon, a batter, and keeper-batter Ed Yeo are set to make their three-day debuts against Wales.

Yeo keeps his place after coming in at short notice for the T20 game against Wales. Lenygon has not played for Devon since under-17 level.

Devon (from): T P P Ansell (North Devon), J H J Mailling (Bovey Tracey), J E Burke (Plymouth), J J Bess, Z G G Bess (both Sidmouth), D R Pyle, T A Lammonby (both Exeter), M F Lenygon (Exmouth), J O Hagan-Burt (Plymouth), T J R Codd (Bovey Tracey), J A Stephens (Falmouth), J V King, E T Yeo (both North Devon).

Wales: J H Voke, U Malik, T F Smith, B L Wadlan, C L Herring, S J Pearce, C D Matthews, M Ilyas, R Walker, R D Edwards, B J Roberts.

Umpires: N E Piddock & A J Wheeler.