It was a good journey up to Bristol, returning to the Arnos Manor after two years, now apparently haunted. The Marston's Fox and Goose were light on a couple of popular choices, the second time this summer but overall was acceptable. A nine am leave for the twenty minutes to the Bristol Grammar Sports complex, the breakfast was not as good as in 2015 but provided a sufficient base for the day. The ground was not dog friendly but the groundsman came up with a very fair compromise with the scorer which had not been the case previously at the Clifton and the University grounds. The ground was certainly a long way above sea level and they experience a micro climate, today it was annoying misty rain which ultimately became prolonged and delayed the start until twenty to one. It was a professional warm up but not at the pace of the one against Haberdashers later in the week. The home side won the toss and batted which fitted in with the wishes of the visitors. Miles Ayres aka Mileo opened with Tryfonos. Ayres has been making an impact in the ECB Under 17 Cup competition all summer going hard from ball one. Gloucestershire had played Middlesex in the quarter final the previous Sunday and he had again launched his side very successfully. Michael Atherton's son had seen the London side home. Devon opened with Adams and Onley-Gregson who went for sixes. Under fifteens Sam Read and Max Hancock replaced the openers in the ninth and tenth over. With his first delivery Hancock deceived Tryfonos with his flight and bowled him. The openers had put on sixty-four of which Mileo had contributed thirty-seven and the outgoing batsmen twenty-six. Hancock weaved his magic twenty-five balls and five runs later when he removed the dangerous Ayres well held by Onley-Gregson on the rope. This was a critical blow as some normality was brought into the home sides batting. The volume from the balcony of shot Mileo also fell away but was to return with even greater intensity on the second day. They were now sixty-nine for two. Lunch was taken after nineteen overs and after a further five runs had been added. The two young spinners were bowling exceptionally and the bowling of all the spin bowlers was a highlight. Quiche , meat and salad followed by a chocolate cake.
The spinners continued post lunch and Sam Woodcock replaced Hancock in the twenty-seventh over with Gloucestershire having advanced to ninety-seven. The Pagination leg spinner took his wicket in the thirty-first over thanks to a catch from Elliott Adams. The home side were one hundred and five for three. The fourth wicket added thirty-five when Hancock took his third with a second catch from Adams. The outgoing batsman was Dryell who was the home sides top scorer with fifty-one. Eight balls later Hancock took his fourth wicket thanks to a caught behind by Morison. Gloucestershire had advanced to One hundred and forty-four. James Degg joined the attack in the thirty-eighth over and impressed taking a wicket in his sixth over with the under fifteen captain Jack Moore taking the catch. Gloucester had added one run to their total. This had been an excellent recovery and seven wickets were down in the fiftieth over with Woodcock catching Ahmed to give the Sidmouth left armer his fifth. Keeper Morison held Horne two runs later giving Hancock a sixth. Abraham Kopparambil took the final wicket to fall with Onley-Gregson taking another neat boundary catch. Nine wickets were down with one hundred and eighty-four on the board. Devon lost their way as the last wicket added thirty-eight and after sixty-five overs Gloucestershire declared on two hundred an fourteen. In the minus column was a very high number of missed chances and for a side that prided their fielding this performance was not of the highest order. Hancock finished with figures of 6-47 off twenty-three and the last pairing had dented them somewhat. This was the ninth best return at sixteens.
Devon would face thirty-two overs before close of play. This was not a very productive period as they lost seven wickets in reaching one hundred and twenty-eight. A very naive passage of play as all the batsman seemed not to understand what is required for the longer format. This in itself was a major concern. Devon were three down for forty-tw0, Read fell in the seventh over, Kopparambil in the tenth and Degg in the twelfth. Twenty-five were added for the fourth when Moore departed and by Sapiecha and Knowles the only decent partnership of the innings - 53 - was put on for the sixth. Both batsmen should have been looking to bat through to close. They did not, the Exeter batsman tried one big shot too many and fell six short of a fifty confirming his reputation for not batting on. Max Hancock who has aspirations to bat higher in all his age group teams came in as night watchman. He had run a two off the last ball of the twenty-ninth over exposing his partner Knowles who fell five balls carelessly caught by Senior. Two balls later the night-watchman played an injudicious shot himself and gave Curtis another wicket. Instead of batting for the close D
Devon had lost three wickets in nine balls - awful cricket Devon ended the day eighty-six runs short with 8,9,10 and 11 to score them. The sun came out as the day progressed there was end of term fever from members of the Junior School who the Coach ran an impromptu Britain Got Talent audition and the afternoon sports of various type and standard took place on the playing fields.
A larger selection at the Fox but no lasagne ordered and fish had been caught. The think tank rushed into action and we would bat for an hour. The nun did not appear and inwardly the question was asked what if we cannot bat for an hour? The home side thought we were going to declare, we were introduced to an new umpire and in pockets fingers were crossed. It was a beautiful morning as the deficit was reduced by eighteen and Devon batted for sixteen minutes. These situations tend to go two ways and this one went the wrong way. It was obvious that the Gloucester leg spinner Curtis would play an important part in the game and he removed Morison first ball of the day caught behind by Mileo. Adams and Taylor added all of the morning runs but Adams departed stumped Mileo bowled Curtis and finally James Onley-Gregson was run out, ask both batsman and you get a different view. What is really important is that we quickly learn how to bat in games of a longer format. The Somerset game will be the first opportunity for the message to be relayed as Devon were bowled out in thirty-overs later in the day.
However it was now Mile0 time and despite starting half an hour late he scored a pre lunch hundred. Fifty years ago a rarity but not now so unlikely, with the new intent to batting, now a real possibility with luck and the right approach. In fairness the batsman offered chanced but he was way past his hundred! The object of this fixture is development and it is important that lessons are learnt bowl one side of the wicket, bowl to your field, pressure is just as important in this format as any other, take most of the opportunities offered and do not believe your own publicity. With regard the last if you believe you are a top fielding side you have to do it every game, every minute the ball is in play. In this match the fielding was simply not what had been expected by the standards, albeit in a confined area, set in the winter. In brief James Degg removed Tryfonos stumped Morision, an outstanding over from the Plympton all-rounder who had missed a caught and bowled earlier in the over. Hancock took his seventh wicket of the game getting an LBW after at least three shouts and Degg picked up a second when Kopparambil held another good catch to remove Mileo and the declaration. Ayres innings had been special three short of one-fifty off one hundred and two balls a strike rate of 141.35, seventeen fours and six sixes. We will try and include some footage in our promo on SKY for the seventeens game at Exmouth next month.
Devon needed two hundred and eighty or to bat possibly fifty overs. The home side seamers had swung the ball and Curtis had played some second team cricket it would be an interesting three hours. Devon were on the road early all out in thirty overs scoring another one hundred and twenty-six runs and losing by a massive one hundred and fifty-four. Ayres had scored one hundred and eighty-eight runs and the Devon batsman had scored thirty-five more. A really important message here that must be absorbed and the white board has to be applied individually and collectively, it is not just a coaching aid. Devon were four wickets down for three runs, five batsmen reached double figures, four partnerships in double figures, the last wicket pairing took Devon from eighty-five to one hundred and twenty-six and we start again next week. There were some positives and the first ball of the summer to be mounted. We now need some scorecards to be framed. The two days will have been worthwhile if we start implementing - soon.