George McEndoo batting for Barnstaple & Pilton

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.

James Lake, who is on the way from Barnstaple & Pilton to BrauntonSomerset’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.