Devon skipper Bess looking to mark milestone of 50 appearances with a win

Josh Bess batting for Devon against Berkshire last season

DEVON captain Josh Bess will reach a notable landmark in the Unicorns Championship game against Berkshire.

When Bess leads the side out at Falkland CC, Newbury on Sudnay it will the start of ihs  50th Championship appearance for Devon, quite an achievement for the all-rounder from Sidmouth.

Devon only play six games a season now – seven if they reach the Championship final – so the days of players amassing 100 or more games in a nine or ten match season are probably over. 

Bess made his Devon debut in 2007 in a rain-ruined game against Oxfordshire at Exmouth, and appeared intermittently for the following two seasons while still attending to his studies.

From the 2010 season onwards Bess has been a virtual ever-present in the side, other than during the 2015 season, which he spent living and working in Australia.

Grace and pace - Josh Bess bowling for DevonBess took over as Devon captain from Chris Bradley midway through the 2013 season. He relinquished the role between 2015-16 to Matt Thompson, but resumed it last season.

In his 49 Championship games to date, Bess has scored three centuries and 18 scores of 50 or more while compiling 2,658 runs at an average of 40.27.

When Bess bowled Tim Cummins in Devon’s last Championship outing against Herefordshire, it was his 100th wicket for Devon in three-day cricket.

Bess confessed he had no idea a milestone game was looming, but he knows how he would like to mark it.

“Playing against Berkshire is always tough, as they are one of the best sides around, so it would be brilliant if we can put together a complete performance and the get the result,” said Bess.

On reaching 50 not out for his county, Bess said: “Playing for Devon is something I have loved doing, and reaching 50 games is a nice moment.

“The opportunity to play in the longer format at this level is something I am very grateful for. As result, I feel my cricket has developed a lot more than it would otherwise.” 

All three Bess brothers are in Devon’s 12-man squad for the match at Falkland CC.

Luke Bess joins brothers and clubmates Zak and Josh in the team again. All three played together in a handful of games last season: against Dorset, Oxfordshire and Cheshire.

North Devon paceman Jack Popham has also dropped out of the original 12 and is replaced by batting all-rounder Joe Thompson.

Three spinners have been retained - Bovey’s Toby Codd, Falmouth’s Jamie Stephens and Sidmouth’s Max Hancock – although whether all three play will depend on the pitch at Falkland CC.

“I am told it is a true and sound surface so it may be we need the extra seamer for this one,” said Donohue.

Left-arm spinner Hancock had a tough debut against Herefordshire in Devon’s last match, taking two wickets at a cost of 99 runs across both innings.

Donohue believes in giving young players opportunities and is standing by Hancock.

“Don’t forget he is only 16 and it is a tough ask stepping up to this level of cricket,” said Donohue.

“There are very few players available to us who do what he does – turn the ball away from the right-hander – and we want him to improve. 

“This is an opportunity for him to gain more of the experience he needs.”

Nine of the 11 who lost to Herefordshire at Plymouth last week are retained, which means no recall for North Devon’s Josh King, who was in the 12 but failed to make the starting side. 

There is a change behind the stumps where Matt Thompson has work commitments. George Allen, whose form for Torquay has been impressive this summer, is in for his Devon debut.

Devon have yet to win in this season’s Championship having drawn with Wales first out and lost to Cornwall and Wales since.

Berkshire, the defending champions, are unbeaten at the top of the table and bidding for a third successive Unicorns crown.

Devon (from): J J Bess (Sidmouth), G B Allen (Torquay), L F O Bess (Sidmouth), J H J Mailling (Bovey Tracey), D R Pyle (Exmouth), Z G G Bess (Sidmouth), J O Hagan-Burt (Plymouth), J A Stephens (Falmouth), D J Goodey (Plymouth), M W Hancock (Sidmouth), T J R Codd (Bovey Tracey), J E Thompson (Congresbury).

Berkshire: W.Hussain, A.Carter, J A J Rishton, J C Morris, D J Lincoln, J Thomas, S R Davison, C T Peploe, T M Nugent, O D W Birts, A Raja, R K Morris.

Umpires: D Browne, G I Callway.