TIER TWO REPORTS AND REACTIONS – MORE REPORTS AT BOTTOM OF PAGE
NEIL Hancock hit the latest century of a run-laden Devon League career in Ipplepen’s eight-run win over Torquay that clinched the Tier Two title, writes Conrad Sutcliffe
It was league ton number 25 for the Australian-born former Devon captain, who made a comeback with Ipplepen this season after a four-year break.
Ton number one was way, way back in 1997 for Buckfastleigh when the then 22 year old battered the Plymouth Civil Service bowling for 171.
With Hancock in full cry during his knock of 111 – 14 fours, five sixes, 80 balls from start to finish – and 70 for Callum Stanley, Pens added 137 for their fourth wicket.
Chip-ins from Sam Wakeham (28) and skipper Ashley Harvey (23) took the final tally up to 293 for six.
Some of the bowling figures got a little tatty towards the end, although there as nothing scruffy about the nine-over spells from Tom Drake (1-33) or Chris Kelmere (2-36).
Torquay’s young seam bowler James Tyler was on the receiving end when he bowled – and he dished out some stick of his own when Ipplepen bowled.
With veteran opener Tim Western making 80 at one end, and pinch-hitter Tyler lashing 12 fours at the other in his 84, Torquay reached 171 without loss.
“I was just happy to let James pull me along,” said Western later.
Hancock and Western were team-mates in the Torquay side that won the Premier title in 1996, but here was nothing fraternal about the full-pitched delivery the former gave the latter that had him caught by Marcus Green.
Tyler went soon afterwards and with three wickets falling getting from 211 to 216 the Torquay chase stalled. Reuben Stanley (3-33) did the damage.
Torquay were not out of it yet though and resumed the chase through Drake (28) and Noah Rider (17). At 265 for six with five overs to go it was game on. Then Green snared Drake lbw and the game swung Ipplepen’s way.
Mike Pugh literally kept going to the last, but Hancock (3-53) and a couple of run outs were whittling away the other end. Pugh was last man out in the final over with the score on 285.
Ashley Harvey, the Ipplepen captain, said although his side were cast as underdogs their organisation shone through.
The stand between Hancock and Stanley was a big part of winning the game.
“Callum batted really well and Neil just did what he does,” said Harvy,
“He may have bad knees, but he still bats like a 20 year old and that partnership meant myself and Sam Wakeham could give it a whack.”
Harvey felt 293 was an ‘above-par’ score but not necessarily a winning one.
“Torquay got off to a flier and at 171 for none we were worried,” said Harvey.
“Reuben Stanley came on and took three quick wickets, which changed the tempo of the game.
“With the old warhorses Green and Hancock bowling the last five overs we knew we still had a good chance.”