Barrow, Burke and Green bolster Devon batting for basement battle with Dorset at Sidmouth

Alex Barrow - returns at the top of the Devon batting order
Alex Barrow - returns at the top of the Devon batting order

DEVON have shored-up the batting department for the game against Dorset starting on Sunday at Sidmouth (11am).

Devon were 54 for six in the first innings against Berkshire last time out, a position it is hard to even think about winning a game from.  They lost by 320 runs well before lunch on day three.

Into the top five come Exeter captain Alex Barrow, a former Somerset player, his County Ground team-mate Ben Green, a current Somerset all-rounder, and James Burke, who has been on the staff at Somerset and Surrey.

James Burke - adds batting firepower to Devon squadNine of the 11 defeated at Berkshire are retained – Joe Thompson and Dan Pyle are missing – and four players added to make a squad of 13.

Paignton seamer George Benton, ruled out by injury for much of the season, joins Burke, Barrow and Green in the squad, which will be whittled down on match day, or maybe before.

There is a doubt over the availability of Sidmouth all-rounder Zak Bess, who went straight from Devon’s defeat by Berkshire to play for Hampshire 2ndXI against Somerset.

“Given Zak’s exploits for us earlier in the season, Hampshire may want to have another look at him and we have to be ready for that,” said Devon team chief Keith Donohue.

Bess was scoring runs for fun at times playing for Devon and Sidmouth – and taking wickets before an injury slowed him down.

George Allen came in for the game against Berkshire last week as cover for work-tied keeper-batter Matt Thmpson.

Thompson, has to work again, ruling him out of a game on a ground where he has scored two of his three Minor Counties hundreds.

Although Devon were thrashed by 320 runs by Berkshire, Allen did more than enough with the bat and gloves to justify a second outing.

Donohue is giving nothing away ahead of the game about the final selection, which would be influenced by Hampshire asking Bess to play for them.

“There are three or four players competing for two places in the side and we have to consider the finals coming up the week after,” said Donohue.

Devon have a double date at Wormsley for the Unicorns T20 finals day on Sunday, followed by a return trip on Wednesday for the 50-over Unicorns Cup final.

Berkshire are the semi-final opposition in the T20 cup. The winners stay on to face either Norfolk or Cheshire in the final.

The 50-over final on Wednesday is a straight fight with Cheshire.

Players who have performed well in short-form cricket – Benton and Toby Codd are the obvious examples – have either not played in red-ball cricket or not shown-up well in the Championship.

Said Donohue: “What I don’t want to happen is to dent the confidence of players who are likely to be playing in the finals.”

Devon have yet to win a match this season and candidates for another wooden spoon, which they last ‘won’ in 2015.

Dorset’s record is not much better. They have only won once and are immediately above second bottom Devon in a table of 10. Wales are the side below them.

Devon (from): J J Bess (Sidmouth), G B Allen (Torquay), A W R Barrow, B G F Green (both Exeter), J H J Mailling (Bovey Tracey), J E Burke (Plymouth), Z G G Bess (Sidmouth), J O Hagan-Burt (Plymouth), D J Goodey (Plymouth), J A Stephens (Falmouth), G Benton (Paignton), M W Hancock (Sidmouth) T J R Codd (Bovey Tracey).

Dorset: B J Wells, J G Digby, L A Webb, A J Eckland, E J Ellis, J I McCoy, J K H Naik, C L Park, M A Wolstenholme, J Legg, E Bartlett, H Fisher.

Umpires: D Gower, R G B Allen.