DEVON have hit to the top of their pool in the Unicorns T20 Cup after chalking-up back-to-back wins over Wiltshire at Bemerton.
Dorset were one win ahead at the top of the Pool Four table going into round three, but suffered a setback against Wales at Wimborne, where they won one game and lost the other.
Run-rate has given Devon a slender lead at the top of the table with two games to play against Wales in the final round. The exact margin is 0.0506 of a run, which could not be much finer!
Nothing is decided yet as Wales and Cornwall have two games in hand, in which to wipe out the four-point gap between them and Devon and Dorset.
For Keith Donohue, Devon’s director of cricket, it was mission accomplished despite a delayed start at the South Wilts CC ground.
“We had to match or better what Dorset did against Wales to stay in contention and have done that,” said Donohue.
“”We don’t play next weekend, when Cornwall and Wales will have the opportunity to gain on us – and if Dorset beat Cornwall in one of both of their games they will get ahead of us.
“The last round of games is the following week and when we play Wales at Instow we will know exactly what we need to do to qualify.”
Plymouth spinner Matt Petherbridge was called into the Devon XII late on Saturday night when Paignton’s George Benton dropped out with a shin injury and had an eight-wicket day against Wiltshire.
Overnight storms meant a delayed start to game one, which was trimmed down to 12 overs each.
Wiltshire chose to bat first and, with Petherbridge wheedling out five batters for eight runs in two overs, were held to 79 for seven. Tom Morton made 40.
Liam Lewis (21) and skipper Josh Bess (15) took Devon to the brink of victory, despite Brad Dawson’s four-for 13 haul.
Eight to win off the last of the 12 overs was done with a ball to spare by Joe Thompson (10no) and Josh King.
Game two was scheduled to go the full distance, but ended early in a comfortable nine-wicket win for Devon.
Petherbridge took three more wickets, this time for 12 runs scored, to finish off Wiltshire for a paltry 53.
Zac Bess (2-10), Gary Chappell (2-5) and Toby Codd (2-12) had done the softening up before Petherbridge got on.
Liam Lewis (30no) and Alex Barrow (17no) had Devon home and hosed in exactly 12 overs after the early loss of Chappell.
Said Donohue: “We arrived to find a used wicket had been re-prepared and a Wiltshire side with five spinners in, so I think we knew what their preferred tactics were.
“I was really pleased for Matt Petherbridge as he came in with virtually no warning and totally unprepared and took eight for 20 in the matches.
“I felt we bowled really well in the second game to get them all our for 53. Although it worked out fine for us, I would not have wanted to chase 100-odd in the conditions we were faced with.”
Wiltshire 79-7 (T I Morton 40; M J Petherbridge 5-8, J J Bess 2-11), Devon 80-7 (L J Lewis 21; B C Dawson 4-13). Devon (2pts) bt Wiltshire (0) by 3 wkts.
Wiltshire 53 (M J Petherbridge 3-12, T R J Codd 2-12, Z G G Bess 2-10, G R Chappell 2-5), Devon 54-1 (L J Lewis 30no). Devon (2pts) bt Wiltshire (0) by 9 wkts