EXMOUTH put their Devon T20 title on the line today in the Pool Four qualifiers on the Mount Wise ground in Plymouth.
Exmouth won the Servicemaster Clean-sponsored competition by beating Plymouth in the semi the North Devon in the final on play-off day at Budleigh Salterton.
Plymouth will be aiming to avenge their six-wicket defeat in last season’s semi-final in today’s three-parter on their own ground.
The action starts at 10am when Plymouth face Sidmouth in game one. Plymouth stay on for the lunchtime rematch with Exmouth, who then play Sidmouth in late afternoon.
The six pool winners from the qualifying round will go through automatically to the last county last eight. Two runners-up with the best records will join the six winners.
Exmouth have suffered an upheaval since the end of last season with a string of players bidding farewell to the club.
It has not been one-way traffic out of the Maer though as skipper Andy Buzza has been in recruitment mode since Christmas.
Signed and sealed are Matt Armstrong, a South African student at the University of Exeter, early order batsman Alex Hammond (ex-Alton CC and England Disability XI) and opening bowler Jacob Robinson, who has come over from Sydney Grade cricket.
From closer to home left-arm seamer Sid Fereday has made the short switch from Budleigh Salterton in search of regular 1stXI cricket.
And Buzza has a commitment from former Warwickshire and Devon all-rounder Chris Metters to play regularly this season after several summers being a part-timer.
“Chris has gone back to bowling left-arm seam instead of spin because of his injured shoulder, and is looking very sharp,” said Buzza.
With Combined Services all-rounder Pete Turnbull set to play the majority of games this season, Exmouth are not the basket cases one of two Premier rivals may have mistaken them for.
Sidmouth have had issues getting a side out for the trip to Plymouth and are going to go with what they have got.
“Five or six of the 1stXI regulars cannot make it so we will give some 2ndand 3rdXI players an opportunity,” said skipper Nick Gingell.
Plymouth have had to remodel their squad during the close season due to clutch of comings and goings.
Hal Kerton (Plymstock) and Dan Robotham (Tideford) are gone for good and the availability of James Burke, Henry Ramsden and James Toms will be patchy at best.
“We have not made concrete plans for having them around but expect they will feature from time to time,” said Plymouth captain Jon Varcoe.
Keeper Robotham’s departure means an extended opportunity for youngster Ollie Parsons to make the 1stXI gloves his own.
“Ollie has come all the way through our youth system and, after a good 2018 in the 2ndXI, deserves his chance,” said Varcoe.
Joe Hagan-Burt, who returned home early from Australia after sustaining a head injury during net practice, has been batting and bowling in the nets for a month and is set to play in the T20.
New to Mount Wise is Max Romer-Lee, a free-scoring Southern Premier Division batsman studying at the University of Plymouth who was recommended by former Plymouth skipper Matt Hooper, who is now captain at Andover, where Romer-Lee plays.
Liam Winn, a left-hand bat from New Zealand studying in the city, is another new signing added to the roster.
Faizan Riaz, who topped 1,100 runs for Plymouth last summer, has been re-engaged for a third season and arrives on Tuesday to prepare for next Saturday’s Premier curtain-raiser against Paignton.