NORTH Devon’s close-season recruiting is under way as skipper Tom Popham starts plotting a course back to the Premier Division after relegation last summer.
First on the list is Popham’s former Barnstaple & Pilton team-mate George McEndoo, who will be making the short trip along the A39 to Instow.
McEndoo (27) has stuck with Barnstaple & Pilton through thick and thin since his colts days, when he played through the age groups for Devon.
Somerset’s Lewis Gregory, now in New Zealand with England’s T20 squad, Hampshire’s Ryan Stevenson and future Devon players Matt Thompson, Luke Bess and Barney Huxtable were all age-group team-mates of McEndoo’s on his way through the county system.
McEndoo, who bats and bowls spin, was one of the few Barnstaple & Pilton players to maintain any sort of form last season in the side relegated from the C Division East. He made 501 league runs – including a ton against Shobrooke Park - and took 14 wickets.
A player returning to North Devon after a brief spell with Barnstaple & Pilton is young all-rounder Archie Popham, who is a cousin of the captain.
Archie, who went through the youth system at Instow, left North Devon a month into the 2019 season looking for regular cricket and played 13 times for his club.
A third player on the way out of Barnstaple & Pilton is seam bowler James Lake, who has joined Braunton.
Lake was B&P’s leading wicket taker in league cricket last season with 16 at 16.81 runs each.
Barnstaple & Pilton will have a new chairman next season as Peter Cleave will replace Matt Jarvis in the hot seat.
Among other changes at Taw Meadow is a change of scenery for the 2nd XI, which is pulling out of the Tolchards Devon League and joining the North Devon League.
Barnstaple & Pilton 2nd XI did well to finish fourth in a table of nine in last season’s G Division East. Getting sides out was an issue for both teams due to close-season and other defections.
With North Devon 3rd XI and Braunton 2nd XI both promoted from the G Division East, the shortest trip of the season for B&P would have been to Cheriton Fitzpaine.
And with longer journeys to Exmouth, Feniton, Kilmington, Sidbury and Whimple this season, the decision was made to join a league with less travelling.