DEVON’S season came to an unsatisfactory conclusion when the game against Berkshire fizzled out into a bore draw.
Devon, 13 for one when rain stopped play on day two, were all out for 160 second time round – a lead of 227. Zak Bess made 41 down the order to perk Devon up after they had wobbled from 62 for two to 82 for six.
Berkshire had a minimum of 58 overs left to knock off the runs – in fact it would have been 59 had the game gone the distance - which didn’t seem too taxing.
Something spooked Berkshire mid-chase, around about the time Richard Morris was fourth out on 70.
The game quickly declined into go-slow mode as Berkshire shut up shop. No one had told them they don’t have an early closing day in Exeter any more.
An asking rate the right side of four an over clearly held no attraction for the Berkshire batters, who flat batted for the draw.
Perhaps the weight of their long, unbeaten run was hanging heavy on them? The Western Division champions haven’t lost a game for three full seasons.
Going into the last hour and a guaranteed 17 overs to be bowled, Berkshire were 121 for five. Half-volleys were blocked, maidens played out and 14 overs later at 152 for five the game was called off as a draw.
Devon captain and paceman Josh Bess had three wickets for 47 runs and spinner Jamie Stephens took two for 38 from 23 overs.
For two and a half days either side of a rain break it was a positive game of cricket.
Devon showed they could live with the best in the division for most of the game, continuing the rebuilding process that began last season. Fourth place in the final table is a bit improvement on the wooden spoon in 2015.
To challenge next season the team needs three things: a regular opening partnership, an end to middle-order collapses and seam bowlers who don’t spend half the season on the injury list.
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) & 160 (Z G G Bess 41, M W Thompson 30; T M Nugent 4-66, C T Peploe 3-37), Berkshire 212 (O Wilkin 57, R K Morris 75; J A Stephens 3-72, M C Golding 3-21) & 152 (J C Morris 43no; J J Bess 3-47). Match draw. Devon 11pts, Berkshire 9.