Devon heading for heavy defeat against Berkshire at Falkland
DEVON are likely to lose and lose heavily against Berkshire at Newbury before lunchtime today after another batting collapse left them in the mire.
Devon managed to avoid being bowled out again before the end of day two, but with seven wickets down and a target of 325 to make to win, it isn’t hard to see which way the game is going.
When Devon were 54 for six at the close of play on day one – 370 behind on first innings – there was every chance of being obliged to follow on.
Devon got as far as 103 all out - Joe Hagan-Burt top scorer on17 not out – but it was no real surprise when Berkshire skipper James Morris decided to bat again.
Devon had wilted in the field on day one for 90 overs and Morris saw no reason to make his men sweat it out in the midday sun.
Berkshire extended their first innings lead of 321 to 505 by dashing along to 184 for eight declared.
Waqas Hussain followed his first innings knock of 192 with 70 more at run-a-ball rate.
Devon deployed medium pacer Joe Thompson as a partnership breaker on day one and it took him two balls to remove Waqas then.
Thompson was asked to have another go and only needed one ball this time. Zak Bess pouched the catch at point.
Berkshire played it in the style of a 50-over game – hit out or get out trying seemed to be the order of the day – and Devon’s fielders were kept busy taking catches on the boundary or elsewhere.
Bess took three catches – two of them in the rarely used position of leg-slip – and there were a couple of stumpings for Devon debutant George Allen.
Amid all the crashing, banging and walloping, there was a career best seven-for-58 wicket haul for Devon spinner Jamie Stephens, whose previous best was six for 92 against Cornwall last month.
“It probably helped that the Berkshire batsmen went at him hard, but you still have to hit the stumps, take the catches and make the stumpings to get people out,” said Devon team chief Keith Donohue.
Berkshire left Devon four-and-a-bit sessions – 160 overs, give or take one or two – to make 506 to win. It doesn’t sound at lot expressed as a fraction under four an over, but appearances can be deceptive.
Allen (44) and Josh Mailling (58) gave Devon a 98-run start before Chris Peploe spun them out one after the other.
Dan Pyle made 20 and appeared to have the power to out when he was run out when Peploe finger tipped a Josh Bess drive on to the stumps at the bowler’s end.
Peploe (4-54) and slow left-armer Ollie Birts (2-54) worked through the middle order to leave Devon 180 for seven at the close.
One more wicket would have given Berkshire the option of an extra half hour to finish things off. It probably won’t take them much longer than that today.
Amid the wreckage of what is likely to be one of Devon’s heaviest defeats since the switch to three-day cricket in 2001, there have been some bright spots.
the opening stand of 98 second time round for Allen and Mailling was one of them.
“Compared to day one when we were drained by 90 overs in the field in searing heat, we looked much more purposeful as a team today,” said Donohue.
“The lads fought hard in the field and took some superb catches.
“And our openers batted well in conditions that are getting trickier all the time as the ball really is starting to grip now.”
Berkshire 424-7(W Hussain 192, J C Morris 76, A Carter 53, J A J Rishton 40; J O Hagan-Burt 2-50) & 184-8 dec(W Hussain 70, J C Morris 31; J A Stephens 7-58), Devon 103(T M Nugent 4-24, C T Peploe 3-26) & 180-7(G B Allen 44, J H J Mailling 58; C T Peploe 4-59).