Premier Division Previews looking ahead to round 12
PAIGNTON captain George Benton is confident his side will avoid a third straight defeat when Sandford visit Queen’s Park.
Second-placed Paignton have had two last-ball finishes one after the other and lost them both, to Plymouth then leaders Heathcoat.
Heathcoat (185pts) now hold a 16-point lead over Paignton (169), who can feel Sidmouth (166) breathing on their collars.
Benton was away last Saturday but accepts Sandford are on the back of a big win over Torquay and won’t be short of confidence.
“We can't be too down about the to previous games, which were last-ball finishes in both,” said Benton.
“We've got to get back to winning. Although Sanford has a very good result last week, we still back ourselves to get a win
Benton and Connor Bryan return to the team. Sam Woodcock and Charlie Ward revert back to the 2nd XI.
Sandford will look stronger in both areas thanks to the reappearances of Harrison Jones and Chris Simpson.
The win over Torquay has certainly given Sandford a lift.
“Delighted with the overall performance we put in last week,” said captain R J Foan.
“Confidence is high and we will be taking the game to them as they did to us earlier in the year
“Paignton are, in my opinion the best overall team in the division and have most bases covered.
“We will have to put in a solid performance and match there intensity if are to get something from the game.”
Third plays fourth on the Fortfield where Sidmouth entertain Plymouth.
Sidmouth won at Plymouth first time round this season, but it was Plymouth who triumphed in the corresponding fixture on the sea front road last year.
Although Sidmouth are the defending champions, club captain Nick Gingell believes retaining the title will be harder than winning it.
Sidmouth are 19 points behind Heathcoat and are about to run into week-on-week availability issues.
“Every game is must win for us now and nothing else will suffice,” said Gingell.
Plymouth are the form side in the division and carry obvious threats with bat and ball.
“We are certainly expecting a tougher game than our comprehensive victory in the reverse fixture.”
Former county captain Josh Bess is not available and skipper Gingell plays in this one then misses a month’s worth of games.
Gingell said selection included an element of forward planning.
“Rory Thomas is going to have a hit in the 2nd XI,” said Gingell.
“Due to the amount of batting our top order have done in recent weeks, Rory has had very few overs to bat and so gives him a chance to spend some time in the middle and hit some balls.
“Rory is likely to play a huge role in the side for the remaining fixtures so we want him back at full tilt.”
Plymouth, going for four in a row, bring in John Kerridge for Jack Hughes.
“We know Sidmouth will be tough, as we found out earlier in the season but we are looking forward to the challenge,” said Plymouth skipper Jon Varcoe.
“We have good memories from last year up at Sidmouth so hoping for a repeat of that.”
Top plays bottom at Instow where lowly North Devon host Heathcoat.
Joe Kelly’s second-team ton against Ottery earns him promotion into the 1st XI at the expense of Jay Rothery.
Fred King, who had runs and wickets in the same 2nd XI game, is recalled for the absent Jack Popham.
Tom Popham said Heathcoat will be a far tougher nut to crack than Bovey but he has high hopes.
“It will be a great test to play a team consistently challenging for the league title,” said the captain.
“Not many will give us a chance but there’s belief and fighting spirit within the group to win the game and as the league has shown anyone can beat anyone.”
Exeter are without Tom Lammonby for the tussle with Torquay on the County Ground. Somerset have taken their young staffman away for the current round of T20 fixtures.
Ben Green, another Somerset staffer, is also unavailable.
Tom Richardson is fit to bat despite stubbing his toe badly on a dressing room door.
Exeter lost by 132 runs to Plymouth last Saturday after being skittled for 134, prompting skipper Tom Pedel to observe: “Hopeful we will put in a more complete performance this week.”
Exmouth host Bovey Tracey in a basement clash both will target as winnable.
Bovey have lost four in a row now while Exmouth won three on the spin before losing to Sidmouth.
“Another week of must-win cricket which makes it feel certain fixtures are becoming cup finals,” said Exmouth captain Andrew Buzza.
“The weather stopped a tough battle earlier in the season, here's hoping for a full fair game this Saturday.”
Exmouth are missing Alex Craib and Chris Metters and are bringing in Bobby Dawson and Sean Day.
“Both players have a wealth of experience and I feel they are perfectly suited for a high-pressure game,” said Buzza.
Bovey skipper Toby Codd admitted he was struggling to explain what had been going wrong during the recent losing spell.
“We feel we haven't done much different in the last four games, which we have lost, than we did the five before in which we won,” said Codd.
“Winning is a habit and we are looking for one to get our season running again.”
All-rounder Taylor Ingham-Hill is named by Bovey now he is free from school cricket commitments.
“He's an exciting young player who will have plenty of opportunities with bat and ball between now and the end of the season,” said Codd.