Wiltshire cruise to four-wicket win over Devon with time to spare

Wiltshire

By CONRAD SUTCLIFFE

HAPHAZARD batting got the blame from Devon team boss Dave Tall as the inquest opened into the four-wicket defeat by Wiltshire at Sandford.

Devon, 44 runs ahead on first innings, were bowled out second time around for 207 before lunch on day three, which left Wiltshire the rest of the day to make 252 to win.

Zak Bess had progressed from 32 overnight to 51 not out, scoring the majority of the runs that took Devon from 178 for six to 207 all out.

It looked like a cakewalk for Wiltshire when they were 193 for two on the chase. Opener Jake Goodwin had not long gone to Toby Codd for 86 and Uzair Qureshi was unbeaten on 66.

Devon’s bowlers burst into life to take three wickets for 23 runs scored – Qureshi among them for 74 – and when Wiltshire were 216 for five there was a glimmer of hope. It did not last long.

By the time the sixth wicket fell to Wayne White (3-64), Wiltshire needed six runs to win and it was all over bar the polite round of applause and mumbled congratulations and commiserations between adversaries that are traditional at close of play.

Matt Skeemer - a useful addition down the order for DevonTall said if the game was won and lost anywhere it was in the final session on day two, when too many of Devon’s batters under performed.

“We did not bat all sensibly and to lose six wickets in that period was unnecessary,” said Tall.

“It would not have mattered had we scored fewer runs for fewer wickets lost.

“What we lost was control of the declaration and the chance to put pressure on Wiltshire.

“Instead of us calling the shots, they only had to keep bowling, knowing they were going to have a long time to chase not very many.”

Over three days there were some bright spots in the game, which included Matt Thompson’s career-best knock of 132, match-bowling figures of 10 for 128 for Wayne White and confirmation that batting Matt Skeemer at number nine can bring a tail-end dividend. He was involved in stands of 112 and 59 in the match.

For Tall the brightest of the highlights was seeing 16-year-old batsman Ben Beaumont put a first innings duck behind him to score a maiden half-century on day two.

“Ben showed a lot of character to come back from his first innings and impressed me by the way he went about his task,” said Tall.

“I could see his confidence growing when he was batting with Alex Barrow and when Alex got out he carried on unfazed.”

Devon are now sixth in the Western Division table of 10, below the top-five target to avoid being placed in a new second division next season.

The season resumes against Cheshire at Alderley Edge in a fortnight.

Devon 337-8 (M W Thompson 132, W A White 62, M P Skeemer 46no) & 207 (B A Beaumont 51, Z G G Bess 51no, J A Stephens 29; T G Afridi 5-63, J M King 3-42), Wiltshire 293 (U A Qureshi 81, E G C Young 42, B C Dawson 42; W A White 7-62) & 253-6 (J Goodwin 86, U A Qureshi 74, N J Clark 35; W A White 3-64). Wiltshire (22pts) bt Devon (8) by 4 wkts.

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