IT’S all or nothing for Devon against Cornwall on the third and final day at Exeter as their season comes to an exciting crescendo.
Devon’s sights are set on a top-five place in the Unicorns Championship Western Division to secure a place in next season’s new Division One.
A win over Cornwall will guarantee the spot they want. Any other outcome will mean starting next season in Division Two.
Victory will put Devon on 85 points in the final table. Looking at results already in, and likely outcomes of games in progress, that will be enough.
If Devon chase to win in the fourth innings, which is the likely though not certain outcome, they will finish on 85 points. The provisional top six is Berkshire (102pts), Cheshire (91), Devon (85), Wiltshire (82), Oxfordshire (81) and Dorset (79).
Cornwall are resigned to finishing below the line as they have to beat Devon and rely on favourable results elsewhere. Stranger things have been known than Cornwall winning from their current position – 85 runs ahead with four wickets intact.
Godfrey Furse, the Cornwall team manager, said the aim is to make it as hard as possible for Devon to win the game.
“If we can get 150-160 ahead then there is a game on,” said Furse.
“That would be a gettable target in Devon’s eyes, but it is a defendable total for a side bowling on a third-day pitch that’s starting to wear.”
As Cornwall’s last three pairs added 95 in the first innings, Furse’s statement is not ambitious as it sounds.
Devon, 106 for two overnight, reached 352 for seven in the 90 overs allowed for their first innings.
Opener Mitch Pugh, 56 not out overnight, reached 78 before he was caught behind off Tom Dinnis (3-122).
Peter Trego moved on to 72 and looked good for a third Devon ton of the season before he was bowled sweeping left-armer Andrew Libby.
James Burke, a former Somerset team-mate of Trego’s, hit seven fours and two sixes reaching 65 off 63 balls. He was caught on the extra-over boundary going after Dinnis.
Highlight of the final 10 overs was the rumbustious batting of Dan Goodey – 28 off 25 balls – and some big hitting from Matt Thompson, His 65 off 63 deliveries included 20 off the final over from Dinnis.
“Matt Thompson showed what a versatile player he is in all forms,” said Devon team boss Dave Tall.
“He can show studious concentration to score big hundreds on difficult pitches, or change technique to up tempo at the right time.”
Cornwall, 100 runs behind on first innings, lost four wickets before they drew level.
Matt Robins, in at 36 for three, dropped anchor and was unbeaten on 52 in a close-of-play total of 185 for six.
Christian Purchase flogged the Devon bowlers for 57 off 32 balls and was going for a fifth six when caught at long-leg by Pugh off Toby Codd.
Cornwall 252 (G M Smith 48, J R Turpin 42, C D Lello 43; J E Burke 3-34, D J Goodey 3-46) & 185-6 (M L Robins 52no, C B F Purchase 57; J E Burke 2-25, H M Whitlock 2-53), Devon 352-7 (M Pugh 78, P D Trego 72, J E Burke 55, M W Thompson 65no; T J Dinnis 3-122).