DEVON’S prospects of winning Division Two of the ECB County Championship in its last season took a terminal tumble with back-to-back defeats over the Bank Holiday.
Essex defeated Devon by 67 runs at Billericay to knock them off the top of the table. It was Devon’s first defeat in the calendar year since losing to Wales last season.
Despite a skipper’s knock of 105 by Amara Carr against Middlesex, Devon were eight-wicket losers at Eastcote and dropped down to fourth in the table.
Devon can’t earn enough points in their final game against Somerset at Taunton to overhaul new leaders Berkshire, but can still make it into the top three.
Devon, who lost the toss and fielded at Billericay, made early inroads with Millie Squire and Emily Edgcombe taking a wicket each to reduce Essex to 23 for two.
When the impressive Charlie Phillips bowled Beth Harmer, Essex were potentially in a spot of bother at 53 for three. Cat Dalton and Madi Villiers steadied the ship adding 44 for the fourth wicket.
A smart catch by Steph Hutchins from the bowling of Phillips (3-30) removed Dalton. When Squire took the key wicket of Villiers, clean bowled for 42, Devon were back in the ascendency with Essex on 102 for five.
Jess Bird and Megan Janman frustrated Devon as they added 37 runs before Becca Silk and Edgcombe (3-41) came back well take out most of the lower order as Essex closed on 167 for nine.
Devon's reply was steady despite the early loss of Claire Varcoe on 35.
Essex took the pace off the ball as Anje Lague (4-23) and Villiers (2-28) spun away, strangling the Devon reply with their off-spin.
Ellie Mitchell battled gamely for 30 but, other than a brief respite when she was joined by Carr, wickets kept falling as Devon slipped from 79 for four to 102 all out.
Carr, who won the toss and batted first against Middlesex, found herself going in at 22 for two after Georgia Hennessy and Claire Varcoe fell in quick succession.
Carr and Emma Corney went about repairing the damage, sharing a 114-run partnership.
Having passed 50 for the first time in senior women's cricket, Corney (55) was bowled by Sonali Patel just as the pair were looking to accelerate.
The innings stalled as Edgcombe and Mitchell came and went, but the arrival of Olivia Churcher brought a chance in fortunes. A 60-run stand for the sixth wicket ended when Carr was run-out by a direct hit from her Western Storm team-mate Naomi Dattani.
Once Churcher went for a patient 22, Devon stuttered to a close at 220 for nine.
Devon’s management reckoned the total was 20-30 short of a challenging target and events proved them right.
An unusually ill disciplined opening spell from the normally reliable Squire and Edgcombe allowed Middlesex to get away to a fast start.
Middlesex openers Naomi Dattani and Cordelia Griffith punished some loose bowling as the hosts passed 50 inside 10 overs.
Devon worked hard to try and stem the flow of runs and Phillips again impressed with the only two wickets to fall.
Despite creating some decent half chances for run outs in the field, none were taken. Devon did well to keep Middlesex out there until the 44thover. Griffith fell for a blistering 65 from 66 balls, which included 10 fours and a six.
Dunkley adopted a more measured for her unbeaten 74 from 89 balls. Natasha Miles (37no) kept her company.