MITCH Pugh set the tone for what Devon have to do on day two by grinding out a maiden half-century in the must-win game against Cornwall at Exeter.
Both teams are chasing a place in the top five of this season’s Western Division to secure a place in next season’s Division One. Sixth or below means Division Two Cricket in a new promotion-and-relegation structure.
Devon are only two points shy of the promised land. Cornwall have to make up eight points if they want to sample the milk and honey next season.
Runs were not been easy to come by on day one and the side with the first innings lead is going to have an obvious advantage.
Pugh made 56 not out as his adopted county set about whittling away at Cornwall’s 252-run first innings lead. It was a grueling knock against Cornwall’s three-man pace attack of Wells, Dinnis and Wyatt, who beat the bat regularly and varied their length to good effect.
Devon ended day one on 106 for two with 47 overs left to do something about the remaining 147 runs needed to put them ahead.
Dave Tall, Devon’s director of cricket, said runs on the board mean more than anything at this stage of the game.
He added: “We are less than 150 behind with eight wickets left and can put ourselves into a decent position if we bat sensibly for the rest of the first innings.”
Cornwall, who won the toss and batted, used 62.3 of the maximum 90 overs available making their 252 all out.
Skipper Scott Harvey (26) and Charlie Kent (26) opened with 43 and Greg Smith made 48 as the innings meandered to 105 for five.
Devon seamers James Burke (3-34) and Dan Goodey (3-46) bowled enough good lines to pressure the Cornwall batters and sticky fingered catching, in particular by Peter Trego in the slips, saw wickets fall.
At 156 for seven Devon were on top, but Cornwall were not about to roll over easily. The last three pairs put on 96, mostly scored by James Turpin (42) and last-man out Dan Lello (43).
Godfrey Furse, Cornwall’s team manager, said: “With the exception of Turpin and Lello we did not bat well enough, but that has been the story of our season.
“If we are roughly equal at the end of the first innings then we won’t be in a bad position.”
Tall saw it slightly differently.
“Cornwall batted okay, but probably scored 40-50 runs more than they should have done because we did not bowl with enough discipline,” said Tall
“It was disappointing to have bowled with concentration and discipline before lunch to have Cornwall 109 for five then seven down, only for them to score another hundred.”
Cornwall 252 (G M Smith 48, J R Turpin 42, C D Lello 43; J E Burke 3-34, D J Goodey 3-46), Devon 106-2 (M Pugh 56no).