DEVON returned to the Basingstoke Country Hotel after four years as the U17s’ competitive programme and got off to a reasonable start when they defeated Hampshire at Basingstoke.
Devon has happy memories of this ground, that has hosted the first class game, their record youth partnership, by Gary Chappell and James Fletcher, was achieved there and their seamers destroyed Hampshire in with one of the finest sessions of seam bowling by a Devon youth side four summers ago.
This was the home side’s third match in a week in their cup programme and Hampshire won the toss and batted first.
Tom Lammonby, fresh from his success the previous day with the Somerset Academy in two T20 games against their Hampshire counterparts, opened the bowling with Kazi Szymanski.
Hampshire scored 37 off their first ten overs with under-15 Max Hancock having been introduced in the seventh.
It was the Sidmouth all-rounder who broke the opening partnership when with the second ball of his third over he bowled the home sides keeper- captain Kantolinna making it 37-1.
This brought Tony Middleton's son to the crease. He had shown his potential in the 2016 three-day game at Sandford.
Sixteen runs later it was Middleton who was dismissed well held by keeper Ben Phillips standing up to Tom Williams.
Another 30 runs were added for the third wicket taking Hampshire up to eighty-three when Hancock struck again bowling the second opener Metzgner.
It was very much Devon at this stage as they were bowling and fielding to a high standard.
At the half way stage Hampshire were 88-3 and the visitors preparing the charge that was needed to post a score in excess of 250.
The captain had different ideas as he suddenly changed length from the first class hard length to pitching it up. The immediate result was:
dot w dot w w dot. All three victims clean bowled.
It is not as if this was a first as this is one of the real skills of the captain.
Following over thirty Hampshire were 112-6 and Devon apparently in the driving seat.
The seventh wicket pairing of Mead and Holly put on forty-nine, their sides best partnership, putting the home team in an improved position.
In over forty-one Szymanski tested the dangerous Meads pulling power and had him well caught by Harvey Sargent.
Devon did not take the opportunity of finishing off the home side as the last two wickets added another sixty-seven most annoying runs.
The long handle was out and the three hours plus in the field was starting to have its effect on the players.
The fielding did deteriorate and the captain who had manipulated his attack brilliantly got into a pickle when none of his chosen bowlers were able to bowl the forty-ninth over.
The ninth wicket added twenty-two off 19 balls when Gibbs hit the stumps again! Hampshire had yet to break the two hundred but this changed as 21 were taken off the penultimate over.
Eleven came off the final six balls but included a second catch for Phillips and a first wicket for Lammonby.
The miserly Hancock had bowled a most impressive ten overs taking 2-13 and the captain should be pleased with his ten taking out the middle order for forty-seven runs.
Tea was taken and the conversation, during a circuit with the dogs, of the opposition parents was amazingly positive, their boys had a defendable score of 231.
When Devon had finished batting the coach ticked off almost all his batting points.
Despite a sound performance in the field a number of Devon's objectives in that area were not achieved.
Three fifties, an opening partnership of sixty-five and a century fourth wicket partnership were all big pluses.
It was disappointing that Devon lost two wickets in getting over the line as a seven-wicket win would have indicated more accurately the way that victory was achieved.
Ashley Causey and Harvey Sargent interspersed attack and defence in their twenty-two overs together and it was a surprise when Sargent was leg before off leg spinner Holly for twenty-one.
The pair had batted for 52 minutes and had not offered a chance.
Devon then lost the key wicket of Tom Lammonby.
His cross batted cut off again Holly ended in the hands of Organ to the obvious delight of the home side.
Add on two, Devon from 65-0 were now 68-2 and rebuilding was necessary.
Causey reached his deserved fifty with a six but added only another five when in almost identical fashion to Lammonby he cut Holly this time slightly straighter to the hands of extra cover Currie.
He had batted seventy-one minutes facing eighty-two balls and striking a very special six and eight fours.
Jamie Khan and Ben Phillips then set up the win with a partnership of one hundred and twenty nine taking Devon from the twenty-second over to the forty-seventh.
They matched each other blow for blow showing a welcome appetite to take on the opposition.
Hampshire were forced to bring their strike bowler Cambell back into the attack in the thirty-third over and sensibly both batsmen treated him with the respect that he deserved, but neither looked in any difficulty against the bowler who had torn Worcestershire apart.
Once he had completed his ten both batsman immediately passed their 50s.
In the forty-second over they were both two short.
Khan got their first with a four and Phillips with a six.
Ben Phillips whose last under 17 innings had also been a fifty then was out, disappointingly, caught at long on - he should have ended with a red inker as his partner.
Both contributed sixty-eight match-winning runs.