Devon's main aims at this year's ESCA Festival at King's College (5th - 9th August), Taunton was to be a much more competitive unit and break their duck in the competition. Both achievable targets for the this developing group of young cricketers.
Squad: Tobias Alsop (C), Basil Crosthwaite-Eyre, Joe Gillett, Joel Kopparambil (WK), Jack Martin, Alfie Mason, Rory Oram-Evennett, James Pugsley, Elijah Pyne, Archie Shawcross, Henry Squire (VC), Matt Whalley, Ed Wilson (WK), Harry Witcher (WK) and Freddie Wolfgang
Monday 5th - Cambridgeshire (Pitch 1)
Cambridgeshire won the toss and decided to bat first on what looked a good track.
All the Devon bowlers worked hard and remained patient as the Cambridgeshire openers posted a century opening stand in 23 overs. The breakthrough finally came in the 24th when Freddie Wolfgang struck. This was quickly followed by 3 more strikes as Wolfgang (5-0-19-2) struck again and Matt Whalley (8-2-20-2) joined the party with a double strike to leave the score at 111-4 after 28 overs. Another good partnership of 62 in 9 overs followed before further successes were achieved in the last 4 overs of the innings. Cambridgeshire finally posted 197-7 in their 40 overs. Special mention to the combative keeping of Ed Wilson for his tidy work and motivating chat to the fielders throughout.
Devon needed to start steady and build for a second half acceleration. This approach looked good for the first 3 overs, until Cambridgeshire's left-arm pace ace Hayward blew the top order away with Tobias Alsop, Alfie Mason and Jack Martin all bowled. This left the score at 25-3 after 8 overs. A rebuild job was necessary but the in-form Henry Squire (19) fell at 36 in the 12th over. Rory Oram-Evennett and Basil Crosthwaite-Eyre got the score to 58 in the 20th over before the middle order disappeared in another flurry of wickets. Devon were now 63-8 after 22 overs. The end came quickly as the last two wickets fell to leave the reply at 83, meaning a opening day defeat by 114 runs.
Yet again Devon had only performed in one half of the game. Frustrating for both the players and coaches.
Tuesday 6th - Gloucestershire (Pitch 2)
The second day provided the boys with familiar opposition and the chance to beat a team who had given them a heavy beating in the previous two meetings.
Gloucestershire won the toss and asked Devon to bat first on another good looking pitch for batting.
Another steady start was ended when Crosthwaite-Eyre was dismissed with the score on 8 after 6 overs. Squire and Alsop took Devon to the drinks break without further alarm (25-1 after 13 overs). Devon lost wickets at regular intervals over the next 16 overs as the middle order failed to fire (105-5 after 29 overs). However crucially opening bat Squire kept the scoreboard ticking over. Squire was dismissed in the 30th over for a excellent 59 (7 x 4s and 1 x 6), his first ever half century. The tail wagged with the help of a 26 run 10th wicket partnership by Mason (16) and Joe Gillett (17 no). Devon were finally dismissed for 141 in the 39th over. The score looked decent, but about 20 - 30 runs below par.
For the second game in a row the Devon bowlers started well as Whalley and Gillett reduced a strong Gloucestershire batting line-up to 34-2 after 6 overs. The next hour or so was a frustration for both teams as a number of rain breaks punctuated the flow of the game. Devon's change bowlers struggled badly with a wet ball and the scoreboard ticked over too quickly to read 96-2 after 15 overs. A further rain break allowed the coaches to get to work and the boys came out with renewed focus. Whalley and Gillett returned to the attack. Whalley (7.3-1-37-3) struck twice more but it was too late to retrieve the situation. Gloucestershire completed a 6 wicket win in the 25th over.
The consistent inconsistency of Devon's play continued to over shadow the team's growing confidence and improving performances.
Wednesday 7th - Worcestershire (Pitch 4)
Devon won the toss and elected to field first against the front runners in the competition.
Gillett and Wolfgang produced a good new- ball opening spell of 10 overs to leave Worcestershire 29-1. Wolfgang with the early success. The back-up bowlers failed to build on this early pressure as too many 4-balls and miss fields allowed the Worcestershire batsman to accelerate through the remaining overs to post 222-8. The only bowlers to have any success or control were Squire (7-0-34-2), Wolfgang (7-1-19-2) and Elijah Pyne (7-1-36-0). The mixed fielding display included 3 run outs from Rory Oram-Evennett, Pyne and Squire.
Devon's reply started too slowly as the Worcestershire bowlers mixed good line and lengths with some testing short-pitched deliveries. At the first drinks break the score stood at 34-1 off 13 overs. The focus for the next 27 overs was to forget winning the game, but pick up the rate to achieve 147 at least and secure the 3 bonus points for a losing draw. Lack of meaningful partnerships and individual scores meant that Devon closed their 40 overs on 120-9. The highlight of the innings was a gutsy 8th wicket partnership of 34 between Ed Wilson (24 no) and Harry Witcher (13) in 8 overs.
A below par performance at key times meant another review of what could of been achieved with a little more composure.
Thursday 8th - Cheshire (Pitch 5)
Devon won the toss for the second day running and once again elected to field first against opponents that were sitting in 2nd place.
Pitch 5 is a quick scoring ground and so it proved as Cheshire raced away. A 123 first wicket partnership in 22 overs was ended by Whalley. The second drinks break at 26 overs brought the team some respite and the change for the coaches to introduce a new game plan for the final overs. Oram-Evennett was introduced into the attack for a rare bowl and what a impact he made. At the end of the 40 overs Cheshire had posted 216-7 with Oram-Evennett finishing with a superb 5-0-35-5 - straight into the Festival Hall of Fame for 2019 (click HERE). Other highlights were two good catches behind by Joel Kopparambil.
217 to win was out of Devon's range, but the losing draw score of 144 was not. A familiar story unfolded in Devon's reply as a number of batsman looked in control before a loose shot or poor judgment slowed the progress. Whalley (17), Wilson (16) and Mason (15) made early contributions. The scoreboard showed 99-7 after 33 overs, so a minimum of 45 was required off 7 overs to get the bonus points. Some exciting cricket, if a little high risk at times, by Alsop (32 no), Kopparamabil (10) and Oram-Evennett (17) got the score to 142-9 with one over left. Alsop and Shawcross took a couple of quick singles off the first two deliveries and then Alsop blocked out the last four balls.
A very hard fought effort by all the team against a very strong opponents. This performance really showed what could be achieved with much more application and determination.
Friday 9th - Nottinghamshire (Pitch 2)
The overnight thunderstorms left the Organisers and Ground staff were some difficult decisions to make on whether any play would be possible. With a strong wind and a mixed rain forecast for the next few hours it was agreed that a delayed start until 11 AM and reduced over contest of 20 overs would be possible.
The players made their way to the pitches but further persistent light rain and detoriating pitch condititions meant all matches were abandoned at 11.30 AM.
The Festival presentation took place in the Sports Hall were all players received their medals and Kent and Worcestershire received the Champions Shields from Giles Ashman, who used to coach within the Devon Age-Group pathway for over 10 years.
Devon may have finished winless and bottom of their group, but they can be proud of the way that dug deep to make their opponents work very hard for their victories. Success for this group is not just on winning games, it is also about they are progressing as young cricketers and this is definitely a upward curve this season.
Man of the Match awards were made to Ed Wilson (Cambridgeshire), Henry Squire (Gloucestershire), Freddie Wolfgang (Worcestershire) and Rory Oram-Evennett (Cheshire). The Player of the Week Award ,based on the players ratings awarded by the Coaches each day, went to Rory Oram-Evennett. Henry Squire and Ed Wilson were next up in the standings.
The boys season continues with a T20 'double header' with Somerset on Sunday 18th at Millfield Preparatory School and concludes with a 40-over match against Gwent at Llanarth CC on Thursday 22nd August.