Barton bolster batting for B Division top-of-table clash

BARTON and Filleigh square up at Cricketfield Road with the B Division leadership on the line.

Filleigh are 16 points clear of Barton at the top, which could change if they lose badly to the chasers.

Barton have been a bit hit-and-miss at times, but the manner of their six-wicket win at Ipplepen last time out suggests they are in business-like mode at the moment.

Filleigh beat Shobrooke Park in a close finish last time out, even though a clutch of players were at a wedding.

James Hill, Rob Collier and James Campbell all return however Harley Ashdown and James Marsh are away at a regatta.

Will Grainger, Simon Edwards, Matt Needham and Adam Last are back in for Barton, which strengthens their batting line-up.

Ben Morgan - Seaton's captainBoth captains are eyeing up the game with a mixture of anticipation and trepidation.

“Last year away at Barton we were about 20 for six before we recovered a bit and then it rained so are expecting a very tough game,” said Filleigh supremo Simon Prideaux. 

“We have had by far the best first half of a season I can remember and it would be great for it to continue with another win.”

Barton captain Adam Parker took a slightly more holistic view incorporating the season so far.

“Coming up to the half-way stage we are up there with a chance and in a good place,” said Parker.

“It is a massive game against a team having a good run so we will have to play to our full potential to get a positive result.”

Seaton captain Ben Morgan isn’t getting carried away by his side’s rise up the B Division table.

Seaton are third behind Filleigh and Barton going into tomorrow’s home game with Cullompton.

It’s great to be there, but eight games into the season it doesn’t mean much

“Despite sitting a lofty third, I am keeping my fete firmly on the ground,” said Morgan.

“We might be third – and incidentally we have also beaten the two teams above us, Filleigh and Barton - but, in a ridiculously close division.

“We are also just 20 points off the second bottom spot.

“What is clear is everybody is capable of beating everybody else and it will be the most consistent teams that end in the loftier slots come the end of August.

“As clichéd as it sounds, we must simply look for that consistency, ensure good availability and keep playing cricket with a smile on our faces. 

“If we do that then we will be okay and our season’s original target of staying in the division will be achieved.”

Cullompton skipper James Blackmore has been looking into what is needed to stay up.

Since the Devon League switched to win-lose cricket in 2013, abandoning points for a draw, not team with more than 191 points has finished in a relegation place.

Thorverton had 191 last season and were doomed to the drop before Lewdown spared them by asking to be go down instead.

The teams to go down from 2013 in ascending order are Alphington (176pts), Barnstaple & Pilton (169), Axminster (171) and South Devon (187). South Devon finished three places off the bottom, not two, but went down as part of the regionalisation process. Braunton (161) occupied what would normally have been drop-spot two.

Cully go into tomorrow’s game on 95 points, two points the right side of the drop line. With only 20 points between Seaton in third and Ipplepen in the second relegation place, the situation could change quickly.

Blackmore thinks it is going to take more than the theoretical mean of 175 points to survive in 2018.

“If we take a look at the league standings, 200 points might not be safe, so there is plenty of good cricket to play if we want to stay in the B div next season,” said Blackmore.

Babbacombe entertain Thorverton this Saturday in danger of being cast adrift at the bottom if they lose.

A 103-run defeat in the basement battle Cullompton last time out left Babbacombe 28 points away from safety approaching the halfway stage.

If Cullompton win at hit-and-miss Seaton this Saturday, Babbacombe could be 40-plus points in arrears unless they beat Thoverton.

Skipper Steve Broad is away, but batting all-rounder Steve Bowman is back, not a bad swap.

Tom Inch replaces Billy Alcock behind the stumps.

Elsewhere, Shobrooke host Plymstock and Tavistock are at home to Ipplepen.