By CONRAD SUTCLIFFE
DEVON’S cricketers are poised to return to the scene of a record-busting performance in next summer’s National Counties Cricket Association Championship.
Fixtures for all forms of the game – three-day, one-day and 20-over – have been completed ready for the resumption of competitive cricket. The first three-day game is against Herefordshire at Brockhampton. Click here to see the full fixture list.
The last time Devon played Herefordshire at The Parks was back in 1994 when they were on the way to winning the old Minor Counties Championship
Nick Gaywood and Julian Wyatt, who opened up for Devon in the second innings of the two-day game, put on 266 for the first wicket as Devon amassed 291 for one in a hurry.
It was a record first-wicket partnership then and more than 26 years later remains the Devon best for an opening pair. The previous record of 233, set by Jack Carroll (105) and Robert Clark (119) had been compiled 74 years earlier in 1920 against Wiltshire on the Mount Wise ground in Plymouth.
Herefordshire have not invited Devon back to Brockhampton since. But when the NCCA Championship opens in 2021 that’s where the two counties will meet in the first round of fixtures.
Gaywood and Wyatt are long retired from Minor Counties cricket, but the game at Brockhampton remains a vivid memory for both of them.
Herefordshire were left around 70 overs to make 301 to win the match, but only got as far as 231 for seven on the chase and the game ended drawn.
Gaywood played more than 160 games for Devon during a 19-year career and admits details of many are a bit vague. Not this one.
“In the first innings I scored 61 in less than 12 overs and eventually got out caught off a tree a long-off,” said Gaywood, who hit exactly 50 in boundaries from 47 balls faced.
“I thought the laws were it had to be a six if you hit a tree overhanging the ground, but you can’t argue with the umpire so off I went.
“Day two was an amazingly beautiful day. I remember getting up early and spending a good 15 minutes in the hotel garden enjoying the view up the valley.
“The wicket was very flat and our only chance of winning it was to score runs quickly and leave enough time to bowl Herefordshire out. We managed the first part but not the second.”
While Gaywood was making 139 not out at one end, Wyatt wasn’t far behind at the other. He reached 123 before his dismissal ended the partnership.
Wyatt said both openers knew what was wanted of them and did their best to provide it.
“It was a warm day, the pitch was flat and it was a case of getting a big lead quickly,” said Wyatt.
“I kept telling Gapes (Gaywood) not to do anything stupid – and then I holed out to deep mid-wicket!
“It was a shame our stand did not contribute to a win, but the pitch was lifeless.”
Although the game finished in a draw, Devon went on to win the Western Division title that season, piping Herefordshire and Cheshire in a three-way fight.
Devon went on to beat Eastern champs Cambridgeshire at Worcester in a rain-affected final to win the overall Minor Counties Championship.
It was the first of four successive Championship triumphs for Devon under their late skipper Peter Roebuck.
And in a season to remember Devon went to Lord’s in the final of the MCC Trophy and defeated Lincolnshire by 18 runs to complete the Minor Counties double. Gaywood scored a hundred in that match.
Devon have two warm-up fixtures in early April – Gloucestershire and Somerset 2ndXIs – prior to starting the T20 group programme with a double-header against Wiltshire at South Wilts CC.
Knockout Trophy action commences at North Devon CC on May 30 when Herefordshire are the visitors.
Devon failed to qualify for the new Western Division One at the end of the 2019 season and have been placed in Division Two for 2021.
The July 11-13 opener is followed by Wales at Sandford (July 25-27), Cornwall away (August 1-3) and Shropshire at Sidmouth on August 22-24.
APRIL: 4: Gloucestershire 2nd XI (North Devon CC), (F); 11: Somerset 2nd XI (Sidmouth CC), (F); 18: Wiltshire CCC (South Wilts CC), T20; 25: Dorset CCC (Exeter CC), T20.
MAY: 2: Herefordshire (Away TBC), T20; 23: Cornwall (Bovey Tracey CC), T20; 30: Herefordshire (North Devon CC) KO.
JUNE: 20th: Cornwall (Away TBC), KO; 24: T20 finals day, T20; 27: Wiltshire CCC (Sidmouth), KO.
JULY:4: Dorset (Away TBC) KO; 11-13: Herefordshire (Brockhampton CC) (Champ); 18: KO Trophy quarter-final, KO; 25-27: Wales MC (Sandford CC), (Champ).
AUGUST: 1-3: Cornwall (Away TBC), (Champ); 8: KO Trophy semi-final (Sidmouth), KO; 22-24: Shropshire CCC, (Sidmouth), (Champ).
SEPTEMBER:2: KO Trophy final (Tring CC), (TBC), KO.