Devon need win over Berkshire to stay in contention for last eight

DEVON are under pressure to beat Berkshire at Exmouth tomorrow (11am) to keep their Unicorns KO Cup hopes alive.

Devon are fourth of five in the table on two points, but have a game in hand on Berkshire and Cornwall above them.

If group leaders Dorset defeat bottom side Oxfordshire at Chesterton in the latest round of fixtures, they will be guaranteed a top-two spot and qualification for the last-eight KO stages.

The second place is wide open between Cup holders Cornwall – they beat Northumberland in last season’s final – Berkshire and Devon.

The game between Cornwall and Berkshire at Truro was washed out two weeks ago, which appears to make the pool a little more open than usual.

Appearances can be deceptive though, according to Devon’s director of cricket Keith Donohue.

“If everyone plays the same number of games it is possible to qualify from the group with two wins if you have a good net run rate,” said Donohue.

“Generally, one team is clear at the top with three jostling behind them with a couple of wins each.

“Cornwall and Berkshire not playing when everyone else did means it is harder for us to qualify if we only have two wins. Either one of them will finish ahead of us if they win their last game.

“Realistically, we have to beat Berkshire then win away to Dorset next week. If we lose to Berkshire, that’s us done.”

Devon have made one late change to their 12 for the game, bringing on North Devon seamer Josh King for young all-rounder Tom Lammonby.

Lammonby has exam revision to get in and playing for Exeter, Somerset 2nd XI and Devon too means something has to give.

The originally selected 12 had Dom Bess (pictured), another Somerset 2nd XI performer, in for Charlie Miles, who was 12th man in Devon’s first two games. Bess adds a batting option as well as bowling off-spin.

Early order batsman Max Curtis isn’t available, but Hampshire have released Ryan Stevenson to play for his home county.

Stevenson bowls quick and hits it when he bats, which is why Hampshire moved in for him last term after he had impressed in handful of games for Devon.

A vertebral stress fracture has limited Stevenson’s bowling activities this season, but after making 97 against Surrey 2nd XI two weeks ago Devon are happy to have him in for his batting.

“Ryan has been bowling a bit for Hampshire and is close to being fully fit, but they don’t want to rush him back and we understand that,” said Donohue.

“If Ryan does bowl that is a bonus.”

Devon (from): R J Woodman (Taunton Deane), M W Thompson (St Fagans), D J Wolf (Paignton), L J Lewis (Sidmouth), M C Golding (Bovey Tracey), B G F Green, D M Bess (both Exeter), R A Stevenson (Torquay), T S Anning (Exmouth), J R Popham (Brislington), Z G G Bess (Sidmouth), J V King (Exeter).

Berkshire: M D T Roberts, W Hussain, R K Morris, J C Morris, J A J Rishton, E Woods, W J Rogers, C T Peploe, S R Davison (wkt), M T Carter, T M Nugent, A A Raja.

Umpires: S E Lavis & R C Hampshire.