THE Bess bros took centre stage in Sidmouth’s six-wicket win over Bradninch on the Fortfield.
Bradninch captain Gary Chappell must have been quietly confident his side had enough on the board after Matt Foster struck 177 to help them post 328 for seven.
When Sidmouth opener Matt Cooke was bowled first ball after tea, he shouldered arms to Ross Acton, Bradninch hopes must have soared. That was as good as it got.
Devon captain Josh Bess and brother Luke, the Sidmouth skipper, put on 70 in 11 overs as the defending Premier champions set off in hot pursuit.
Luke fell lbw to Foster, but there was no respite for Bradninch as Zak Bess took up the cudgels on Sidmouth’s behalf.
Josh Bess had a 23-run head start on brother Zak when the pair came together – then the carnage really started.
The Bess brothers put on 215 for the third wicket with Josh slamming 12 fours and four sixes on his way to 120 off 106 balls.
The stand ended when Bradninch seamer Matt Parker stuck out a limb to stop a Zak Bess drive and deflected the ball on to the stumps with Josh out of his ground.
Sidmouth still had work to do – 44 to win in eight overs - so Zak Bess rolled up his sleeves and got on with it. Literally.
Former captain Anthony Griffiths was left to shore up one end while Zak blazed way at the other.
In a stand of 40 for the fourth wicket Bess scored 36 and Griffiths nothing. The other four runs were extras!
When Griffiths got out the target was four to win and there were five overs remaining.
The Bess brothers made it look comfortable in the end, although out in the middle it felt different.
“Until the last couple of overs, I wasn’t sure we were going to do it,” said Zak.
“When Josh got out we still needed something like six an over - and I knew I couldn’t afford to get out.
“When I started hitting the sixes, I didn’t watch them all the way over the line.
“When I knew they were going over I turned and looked the other way to avoid getting caught up in the excitement.”
It may have been a tough defeat to swallow, but Bradninch skipper Chappell still had his sense of humour intact afterwards.
“Fair play to the Bess brothers – they showed real class,” said Chappell.
“Thank goodness their parents (Graham and Viv) stopped at three. Otherwise, no one would ever beat Sidmouth.”
“We had a few chances, but I don’t want to take anything away from anyone.”
The game will always be remembered for the Bess brothers’ hitting, but Chappell said it would be unfair on Foster to overlook his contribution.
“It was a day of high-class batting,” said Chappell. “Matt’s innings as on of the best I have seen in a club game.”
Foster went in when Bradninch were 13 for two and was last out in the 48th over with the score on 309 for seven. He shared stands of 67 with Dan Hardy (19), 118 with Charlie Walker (56) and 55 with Ross Acton (19).
Foster batted for six minutes short of three hours, but didn’t always get a fair share of the strike. He made up lost time by clouting 19 fours and eight sixes from the 128 balls he faced.