A LAPSE in concentration cost Matt Thompson a century as Devon battled hard for runs against Western Division champs elect Berkshire at Exeter.
Thompson had been out there more than four and a half hours for 97 and looked odds-on to reach three figures.
Having got out on 99 against Cheshire earlier in the season, there was a certain circumspection about the way Thompson batted as three figures got closer.
Berkshire were a noisy bunch in the field – to be fair they have plenty to be chirpy about – and it may just be Thompson was distracted by some of the babble around him.
What isn’t a matter for conjecture is what happened next. Chris Peploe chucked one wide of the off stump, Thompson tried to flail it away behind point but only got enough bat on the ball to snick through to the keeper.
“I should have left it alone – it was virtually on the next strip,” said a rueful Thompson, who was Devon’s top scorer in an all-out total of 279.
Along the way Thompson put on 112 with Chris Read – the former England having a swansong with Devon before he retires from First Class cricket with Notts at the end of the season – and 57 with Josh Bess.
Read made 64 and never looked like getting out until he did – bowled by Berkshire left-arm spinner Ali Raja.
Raja’s action is a touch unorthodox, but his first ball was too good for Read.
“You don’t see bowling like that too often in First Class cricket, but it was a good ball that landed in the right place,” said Read, who helped it on its way to slip.
Read hit six fours and two sixes – one off Peploe ending up in a nearby block of flats.
Keith Donohue, Devon’s director of cricket, had Read’s six into the flats top of his short list for shot of the day.
Thompson – out at 232 for seven – was followed in and out in a hurry by Jamie Stephens and Josh King.
Last pair Codd (19) and Matt Golding (26) put on 33 in the final three overs as spinners Peploe and Oli Birts were given some harsh treatment.
Donohue had praise rather than sympathy for Thompson in his day one summing up.
“It was as good as a hundred and worth one in the context of the match,” said Donohue.
“Batting first was brave but an attempt to get on the front foot against a very good side. You can see why they are where they are.
“The ball was nipping about before lunch and our two most experienced batsmen weathered the storm for us.
“We could have done with better partnerships in the middle order, but 280 was a good total in the conditions.”
Berkshire were 71 for two from 21 overs at last night’s close of play.
Devon 280 (M W Thompson 97, C M W Read 64, J J Bess 31; C T Peploe 4-85, O D Birts 3-87), Berkshire 71-2 (O Wilkin 52no). Berkshire (4pts), Devon (3).