Title win a testament to Sidmouth's resilience says Luke Bess

Luke Bess - led Sidmouth to the Premier crown

SIDMOUTH skipper Luke Bess believes his side’s Premier Division title win said a lot about the strength in depth at the club.

Sidmouth beat Exmouth by 80 runs to snatch the Premier Division title on the final day of the season.

Overall the club has won two divisional titles – Premier and the 3rd XI in the F Division East – while Anthony Griffiths’ 2nd XI only lost twice en-route to second spot in the C Division East.

Sidmouth have had resources in depth to cope with losing opening batsman Liam Lewis back to Heathcoat midway through the season, seeing South African star Aviwe Migjima return home with five games to go and get through their overs despite losing Zak Bess as a bowler for the second half of the season.

There was a twist in the tail on the last day against Exmouth when Josh Bess was unfit to take the new ball, which meant some more reshuffling.

“It's been a really close season all the way through and we've had to work hard,” said Luke Bess.

“To come out the other side with the title is a really good effort from the whole squad and everyone at the club.

“It is not lost on us that we got a bit lucky. Heathcoat and Exeter have both had really good seasons and it's been nip and tuck the whole way. Hopefully it's the same again next year.”

It was a three-horse race going into the final round of games with Heathcoat out in front, followed by Sidmouth then Exeter in third.

Sidmouth knew a win at Exmouth on its own would not be enough to win the title: they needed relegation worriers Sandford to do themselves a favour by winning at Heathcoat.

Sandford chased down 218 to win at Heathcoat – skipper Richard Foan stroking a match- turning century – which was the favour needed for Sidmouth to grab the title.

Devon captain Josh Bess cracked a run-a-ball 134 as Sidmouth hoisted 288 for seven on the Maer Ground.

Bess senior was involved in stands of 50 with younger brother Luke (26), 46 with Matt Cooke (23), 48 with Henry Gater (29) and 123 with Nick Gingell (54).

Exmouth were in an interesting position at 198 for five thanks to Dan Pyle (81), Sandy Allen (30) and Bob Dawson (28).

A combination of Will Murray (3-51), Cooke (2-49) and Max Hancock (3-41) unravelled the lower order as Exmouth tumbled to 218 all out.

Said title-winning skipper Bess: “Josh and Nick Gingell batted really well, then all the bowlers did what was asked of them, especially Cookie who went from probably not bowling to having to bowl 10 when josh couldn't bowl.” 

Had things panned out differently for Exmouth, who topped the table for the first four weeks of the season, the celebrations may have come from the home dressing room.

Callum French, who finished the season as Exmouth captain, said: “We played well first half and showed one our day we can give anyone in the division a good, tough game.

“The second half was tough once we were out of the hunt.

“Unfortunately we were not where we wanted to be at the end of the season but that was due to our own demise losing games we could have won.”

French picked out batters Dan Pyle and Miles Lenygon for praise, but with retirements looming for Bob Dawson and Richard Baggs there are gaps to plug.

“We've got a lot of work to do in the winter with recruitment and building a Squad for the future,” said French.