Without doubt the end of the Under 17 2017 season matched the most anti-climatic ever. It says a lot as these included last days of the Under 16 Isle of White Festivals where tail ends of American hurricanes brought premature ends and early ferries to Lymington. It was an awful way to end a summer where so much effort had been put in by the players and perhaps even worse the game only yielded eight points as Devon did not have the opportunity to bat. The only saving grace was that a number of the players will meet up as part of Devon’s Development squad to play Surrey at Heathcoat. It was evident, from the persistent and heavy rainfall on the second day that the likelihood of play on the third day was extremely remote but it was disappointing of the programmed 305 overs only ninety-seven were bowled. During the season over 36% of the potential overs had been lost to the weather. For the record:-
For the final three day Under 17 game of the summer against Gloucestershire at Exmouth it was predicted some time in advance that the second day would be a total wash-out and so it proved to be however such was the volume of water the ground was also unplayable on the third day and it too was lost. The infamous Jet Stream was again located south of the British Isles and as in the past it had caused havoc with the seventeen’s programme. The last time the Stream had a major impact on the cricket programme was in 2005, the year of the Boscastle flood.The rain on the second day far exceeded the combined rainfall at Totton, Stourport and Exeter. The squad were present in time to commence their pre match work but the heavy rainfall of the previous three days resulted in a delayed start and lunch. Exmouth’s Steve Horler worked tirelessly in drying the wet ends and patches and was exceptionally conscientious over all three days. After more consideration than normal Devon decided to field when Jack Gibbs again won the toss. Lasagne and Eton Mess was a most agreeable lunch and play started at fifteen minutes to two with the day being extended to 8.00pm. This resulted in a loss of nine overs but Devon’s improved over rate only meant a loss of seven. The consequence of the revised timings was two long sessions which was all the team needed after their marathon effort at Stourport the previous week. It was therefore a relief that only two of the side had fielded the one hundred and nineteen overs over more than seven hours on Sunday and Monday. From the performance at the fielding drills this side looked a decent fielding unit but it still had to manufacture fourteen wicket taking opportunities to take eight wickets. This in itself was the major disappointment of the day’s play as a lack of concentration caused three of the missed chances. On decent pitches a side at this level should take a large percentage of the chances offered particularly when one considers the number of catches, of varying difficulty, taken in practice over their time together. Only three catches were taken and at least five shelled which in itself created real difficulties. The visitors Charlesworth rode his luck early in his innings when a relatively easy slip catch, at an ideal height, was put down and he went on the score 137 and share in stands totalling two hundred of eighty-seven –catches win…………………..
Devon got off to the ideal start when the captain took out both openers. Fourth ball Webb left another straight delivery and was bowled. Gibbs has the nack of deceiving decent batsman in this way. Twenty-six balls later Harry Ward held his first fine slip catch after initially being deceived in the flight. This sent the free scoring Milo Ayres back to the pavilion. This had been the perfect start but the third wicket pairing of Charlesworth and Allen added sixty-one in twenty-one overs. Devon were subject to five penalty runs when Sargent held the ball in one of Taylor's gloves. A neat leg side stumping by Taylor off Hancock removed Allen seven short of fifty. Charlesworth had been missed at slip and it proved to a costly mistake as one hundred and thirty were added for the fourth wicket. It was important that Devon kept themselves in the game as they were not helping themselves by not accepting reasonable chances. Reassuringly over the course of four overs Devon dismissed the visitors middle order as first Woodcock bowled the dangerous Gloucestershire captain, Price senior, for sixty-one, Ward then held an exceptional catch off Adams to dismiss Naish for a duck and the bowler caught Hankins off Woodcock for 6. Add on three from 225-3 Gloucestershire had fallen away to 241-6 an excellent spell from the home side. Adams has been an unsung introduction this year and has not only fitted in well but is a major asset. Charlesworth was still there holding his side together, one past his hundred as the sixth wicket fell. Fifty-two were added for the seventh wicket taking Gloucestershire within seven runs of their fourth and final batting point. Charlesworth was out before this was achieved leg before to Ashley Causey, another important wicket for the Bovey seamer. Charlesworth had scored a decent one hundred and thirty-seven but it could have been a totally different story if he had gone early. Devon secured an eighth wicket before the batting point was picked up. Their final wicket of the innings was Dryell bowled by Causey. The fourth point was finally achieved but Devon did not pick up their fourth bowling point which was the first one dropped all season, At close Gloucestershire had reached 314 and their tactics had been interesting. Many sides would have increased the tempo as they approached the final point and with the forecast for the second day had a bowl before close to pick up a wicket or two. In fact it took them 183 balls to advance from 100 to 150 and the three subsequent fifties took 104/79/78 balls indicating either some caution in their approach or outstanding bowling.
Rain on the second day started early with potential gale force winds. It was obvious from the outset that there would be no play, the potatoes were packed away for the next day replaced by bacon baps, chips and sandwiches enjoyed by the visitors if not the home side who had disappeared into the hemisphere. Talk of declarations and forfeitures were in the air but Devon suggested that perhaps discussions should wait to see the condition of the ground on the third day. Exmouth was in fact left with real concerns for the third day as the areas covered by surface water were increasing by the minute. At least is was raining at Basingstoke for the final day of the Hampshire and Worcestershire game. The potatoes were enjoyed on the third day with an excellent summer pudding and it surprised no one after a final 2.00pm inspection hands were shaken. At best (in fact highly unlikely as the ground was simply not drying) a limited number of overs might have been fitted in which was likely to cause more damage and certainly not increase either sides points haul. This was a dreadful way to end the season and say goodbye to some very decent people who had given their all for the side. It had been an extremely difficult season particularly in getting the balance right but hopefully by the end it had nearly been achieved.