Rob Ayre keeping wicket for North Devon

VETERAN batsman Rob Ayre is keen to play on in the North Devon first team just as long as skipper Ed Yeo wants him.

Ayre knows all about the trials and tribulations of being 1st XI skipper having had a couple of cracks at the job himself.

Ayre was the captain who won North Devon’s first Premier Division title in 2007, a prize that had eluded skipper after skipper since the club belatedly joined the Devon League back in 1978.

No one understands the need to have strength in depth better than Ayre, which is why he is happy to step up from the 2nd XI whenever he is needed.

Rob AyreAyre filled a gap in the middle order against Heathcoat last Saturday and chipped in with 44 towards at winning total of 324 for six.

Ayre, 46, has had a long career in the Devon League. He started out with North Devon in 1986 and stayed until 1998 when work took him down the Link Road for a two-year stay at Heathcoat.

He returned to the Sandhills in 2000 and has been there ever since.

Ayre is still as keen as ever and in no rush to drop back into the 2nd XI any time soon.

“You want to play to the best level you can and for me that is North Devon 1st team,” said Ayre.

“Last season I was mostly in the second team, batting a bit higher and thoroughly enjoying it.

“Things have changed this season as we have lost a couple of batters and there was an opportunity to come up.

“You hope you still have something to offer – and I hope I showed that.

“If a good youngster comes along and there is a fight for the spot I wouldn’t want to keep them out if I wasn’t worth my place.

“I would be disappointed not being in the first team, but will always play where I am needed.”

That will certainly be in the 1st XI for the home game with Bradninch this Saturday.

Bradninch welcome back all-rounder Ross Acton, who missed the game against Sidmouth, but are without Dan Hardy for a month while he trains to compete in a triathlon.

After successive defeats by Torquay and Sidmouth, skipper Gary Chappell is looking for a win to kick start the season.

“The guys are positive and confident after last week,” said Chappell. “Looking forward to the game against a decent side.”