NINE minutes on the third morning was all the time it took Berkshire to complete a 320-run win over Devon in the Unicorns Championship match at Newbury.
In 18 seasons of three-day cricket – Minor Counties games lasted two days until 2000 – Devon have not lost by so many when batting last.
Previously, the worst defeat was in 2001 when Herefordshire inflicted a 172-run hiding on Devon at Luctonians.
Before a ball was bowled or a catch taken, winless Devon were always long-odds to beat the defending Minor Counties champions, who are going for a third successive title this season.
By the end of day one when Devon were 54 for six in reply to the hosts’ 424 for seven in 90 overs, the game was only going one way.
Devon were bowled out first time round for 103 – a deficit of 321 which became 505 after Berkshire batted again.
Torquay’s George Allen (44) and Bovey Tracey’s Josh Mailling (58) put on 98 for Devon’s first wicket in the second innings, fuelling brief thoughts of salvaging a draw.
Those thoughts didn’t last long. Devon plunged from 98 for nine to 190 for seven by close of play on day two.
Two balls into the morning session Devon’s Joe Thompson fell lbw to Ollie Birts (4-55) and within 14 balls it was all over.
Highlights were pretty hard to find in the debris surrounding this defeat, Devon’s third in four games this season.
Mailling, although out cheaply in the first innings, got runs in the second and is starting to look like the answer to Devon’s long-standing problem finding openers who understand there is more to three-day cricket than pretty 20s-30s.
Allen, knocking on the door for selection for a while, did his future prospects no harm either.
Bowling-wise the success story was Jamie Stephens with a career-best second-innings haul of seven for 58. That certainly helped balance the books after he was none for 105 in the first innings!
With availability and injury issues to grapple with beforehand, Devon team boss Keith Donohue knew it was going to be a tough game.
“Had we won the toss and batted first we would have been more competitive, but it was clear very early Berkshire were a lot stronger than us,” said Donohue.
“It was hard for us from ball one and I was pleased the way the team never relented, despite searing heat and superior opposition.
“I thought George Allen had a good debut, not just with the bat, but behind the stumps. And Josh Mailling looks more at home with every game.”
Devon have nearly two weeks off before they resume Minor Counties action against Dorset at Sidmouth.
Berkshire 424-7 (W Hussain 192, J C Morris 76, A Carter 53, J A J Rishton 40; J O Hagan-Burt 2-50) & 184-8 dec (W Hussain 70, J C Morris 31; J A Stephens 7-58), Devon 103 (T M Nugent 4-24, C T Peploe 3-26) & 185 (G B Allen 44, J H J Mailling 58; C T Peploe 5-63, O D W Birts 4-55). Berkshire (24pts) bt Devon (3) by 320 runs.