Still laughing at the end of a tough week!!

The boys concluded their first season of representative cricket at the ESCA Festival at Kings College, Taunton. The playing squad of 15 for the 4 matches at the festival was as follows:

Matthew Whalley (Capt), Henry Squire (Vice Capt), Alfie Mason (WK), Edward Wilson (WK), Tobias Alsop, Cooper Catley, Artie Evans, Tom Hellewell, Jack Martin, Rory Oram-Evennett, Archie Shawcross, James Talbot, Freddie Wolfgang, Jules Hughes and James Pugsley.

Sunday 19th August - T20 v. Lancashire (Friendly)

Although the T20 match is not part of the Under 10 competition, we expected nothing else but a full on competitive game and so it proved.

Devon won the toss and invited Lancashire to bat first. Lancashire,s game plan was a simple but very effective one of quick singles, strike rotation and hit the bad ball to the boundary. Devon's bowlers and fielders put in a good shift to try and contain their opponents but in the end they posted a mighty 148-4. Pick of the Devon bowlers were Wolfgang (1-15), Hellewell (1-14) and Martin (1-13).

The Devon reply started horribly as a clutch of early wickets put the skids under any plan to get close to the required target. After 5 overs the score was 7-4. The 6th over brought 25 runs, but then three more quick wickets left the boys at 39-7 in the 8th over. The lower order dug in and we managed to post 77-8 in the end. Batting credits go to Evans (16), Mason (13) and Alsop (18 no). 

Not the best start to the week to lose by 71 runs, but it certainly gave the players and coaches plenty to think about for competition proper.

Devon's Man of the Match was Freddie Wolfgang for his excellent bowling effort (3-0-15-1).

Monday 20th August - Lancashire (Match 1 - 45 overs per side)

Lancashire called correctly and asked us to bat first this time. The game plan was a simple one, just do the basics well and we will be in with a shout.

Devon started well and at the first drinks break the score stood at 56-2 off 15 overs with Squire and Martin looking good. Heardy's message was a easy one of "keeping doing the same good things".

Lancashire had others ideas as their spinners took control. The next 15 overs was a precision of batters as no one showed the right approach for long enough. The second drinks break provided relief, but the scoreboard showed 105-8. The run rate was decent, but with only two wickets left we were in trouble.

The end of innings came quickly and we were bowled out for a 'below par' 106 in the 33rd over. Batting successes were Oram-Evennett (18), Squire (23) and Evans (18).

A 'pumped' fielding display was needed and Devon achieved a early success when a calling mix up left a easy run out chance which Pugsley/Wilson executed. 0-1 after 1 over. Unfortunately that was the only bright moment as the same Lancashire game plan took full effect to leave them 50-1 of 12 overs at lunch.

Devon needed to up the efforts after lunch and make Lancashire fight for every run. The bowlers tried hard but as the fielding became more ragged as the overs ticked by they easily reached their target in the 25th over without losing any more wickets. Whalley was the most impressive with the ball as he posted 7-3-16-0.

Devon's Man of the Match was Artie Evans for his battling innings of 18. A good effort for a player who likes to biff it!

Tuesday 21st August - Berkshire (Match 2 - 45 overs per side)

The matches at the Festival are never easy and we expected another tough game against a Berkshire who had hammered Cornwall the day before by 120 runs after being 17-5 at one stage.

Devon won the toss and decided to field first. The boys got off to a great start as Squire and Hellewell reduced Berkshire to 16-3 after 4 overs - was this to be our day?. The Berkshire middle order fought back for the second day running as their batsman took a firm control of proceedings.

The score raced to 91-4 after 15 overs, 204-4 after 30 overs and finally reached 284-7 in the 42nd over when they declared - batsman scores of 33, 77 and 102 along with 42 extras supported this impressive effort. Devon's bowling and fielding standards wilted under the pressure and some harsh lessons were learnt for sure. In the midst of the carnage Hellewell (3-35) and Pugsley (2-58) stood tall in the bowling.

Devon's approach was based on forget about winning, but a good team performance with the bat would build confidence and all secure a well earned draw. The boys started well as Mason (10) and Alsop (31) put on 41 for the 1st wicket in 7 overs. But that was about as good as it got.

The lack of any further meaningful partnerships meant the great start counted for nothing as Devon were bowled out for a disappointing 103 in the 22nd over. The cause was not helped by 3 run out gifts!!

A thumping defeat by 181 runs left us bottom of the table but with Cornwall losing to Lancashire by 10 wickets, there would be 1st/2nd and 3rd/4th place deciders on the last day.

Devon's Man of the Match was decided by a player vote that evening with Tobias Alsop pipping Tom Hellewell by one vote. Congratulations to both though for stand out efforts.

Wednesday 22nd August - Cornwall (Match 3 - 40 over per side)

Nothing like a local derby to bring the best out of both sides and this game certainly had it all!!

Cornwall won the toss and chose to bat first. Both sides fought hard for early supremacy and at the first drinks break the score stood at 61-1 after 13 overs. The standard of cricket was good by both sides and a healthy crowd of parents were being entertained after two tough days for both sides.

Cornwall continued their steady approach and reached 103-4 at the 26 over drinks break. Devon's spin attack of Martin (1-26) and Pugsley (3-29) were keeping the run rate in check and also chipping away at the wicket column. The game shifted once the spinners finished and Cornwall finally posted 180-7 after 40 overs. A challenging but achievable target.

The Devon reply started well as the top order got us to 42-3 at the first break. Evans (36) was leading the way with his new found watchful approach being dividends. The middle period was a struggle as Cornwall upped their fielding effort to leave us 97-6 at the second break - still in the game....just.

The lower order batting with first Evans and the Catley (27) lifted the spirits of players and the noise level of the Devon parents as the runs required reduced quickly with a flurry of boundaries. The fun was spoiled when a couple of debatable Umpiring dismissals finished the innings at 162 with 3 overs to go. Credit must go to both sides for the spirit the game.   

So a 18 run defeat left us with the 'wooden spoon' and also a 3-0 defeat in the 'Jam and Cream derby' series.

Berkshire completed a narrow 12 run victory over Lancashire to claim the Trophy.

Devon's Man of the Match was Cooper Catley for his 'box office' batting that nearly led Devon to victory.

After the main presentation of medals and Trophy we held our own 'mini' awards ceremony where the 'on field' efforts, season reflections and 'off field' craziness of all players were praised by the management team of Heardy and Bricey.

The 'Champagne Moment' trophy went to Cooper Catley for his stunning catch against Cornwall, even though it was off a 'free hit' it was a ripper and certainly left Cooper with a stinging hand for a while. The 'Player of the Week' trophy was awarded to 'Legspinner' James Pugsley for his excellent bowling (4-0-20-0, 9-0-58-2 and 8-2-29-3).                      

With all the presentations over it was time to depart and for everybody involved whether playing, coaching or supporting to get some well deserved rest and recovery time.