DEVON’S team management won’t be holding a lengthy post-mortem into the failure to beat Wales in the Unicorns Championship curtain-raiser at Sandford.
Wales, who were 34 for six on at the end of day one in reply to Devon’s 476 for nine, spent the first two days on the back foot.
Perhaps there was just a hint of things to come when Wales’ seventh-wicket pair Chris Matthews and Sam Pearce put on 145 to put a respectable first innings total of 182 on the board. From 34 for six that was quite an achievement.
Two Tom Lammonby centuries – one in either innings – plus another by Zak Bess gave Devon a lead of 563 in the match with Wales to bat last.
Devon opted against asking Wales to follow-on, figuring they could spend the best part of two days fielding in 80-degree heat if they did.
The other option was Wales knocking off 564 to win, which when they were 110 for none on at the start of day three, wasn’t as far fetched as it sounded.
Lunch came and went at 204 for two with Umar Malik six runs short of a century. He finished with 105.
Brad Wadlan, the Wales captain, was not out on 95 at tea, which was reached with the score on 362 for five.
The target was 202 to win in the last session and as long as Wadlan stayed in Wales had a chance of snatching an unlikely victory. Both sides knew that.
Wadlan’s demise at 391 for six for 118, ended Welsh hopes of victory. Both sides knew that too.
While the previously limpet-like messers Matthews and Pearce remained, Devon had lots to do to win the game.
Zak Bess had Matthews caught at slip for nine, but Pearce soldiered on, shepherding the tail almost to the end.
After three days of totally absorbing cricket, it all came down to the final over from Devon spinner Toby Codd. Wales were 456 for eight. Could they hold on?
Pearce lasted three balls before Codd bowled him. Last man Ben Roberts survived the final three deliveries. Match drawn.
Keith Donohue, Devon’s director of cricket, maintained afterwards the decision not to make Wales follow-on was the right one.
“The way it panned out they probably would have batted on past our total and we could have been chasing batting last after six strength-sapping sessions in the field,” said Donohue.
“We saw how they struggled with on the first day after 90 overs; imagine what it might have been like for us after a day and a half?
“We were one wicket away from winning a remarkable game of cricket. Strong opposition and a good wicket combined to thwart us.”
Devon 476-9 (T A Lammonby 102, Z G G Bess 116, J E Burke 58, E T Yeo 32; R Walker 3-84, R D Edwards 3-94) & 269-4 (T P Ansell 5,0, J H J Mailling 40, T A Lammonby 100no), Wales 182 (C D Matthews 68, S Pearce 79no; J E Burke (3-32) & 456-9 (J H Voke 72, U Malik 105, B L Wadlan 118, S J Pearce 63, T F Smith 43). Match drawn. Devon (12pts), Wales (8)