By CONRAD SUTCLIFFE at SIDMOUTH
CALUM Haggett promised Devon a century against Shropshire after receiving his county cap during the day two lunch break and was as good as his word.
Devon, 30 runs behind overnight, built a lead of 212 thanks to Haggett taking Shropshire for 109 in a total of 242 all out.
Neil Gamble, the Devon chairman, presented Haggett with his cap during the lunch interval for his consistent performances with bat and ball since joining the county at the start of the season.
The former Somerset and Kent all-rounder responded with the quip ‘I had better go on and get a hundred now’ and duly delivered one.
It was a knock that started the process of putting Devon back into a game that was threatening to drift away from them.
Devon were 138 for seven at one stage – effectively 108 for seven when the first innings deficit was factored in – and in jeopardy of losing a three-day game inside two of them.
Haggett, aided and abetted by Ed Middleton with 24 in a stand of 77 for the eighth wicket, built on early runs made by James Horler to remind Shropshire they were still in a game.
“We batted sensibly to reach a good total that was competitive in the context of the game,” said Devon team manager Dave Tall. "What can I say about Calum's knock other than it was a proper hundred?"
“The way we fought back with bat and ball is something we have not always been able to do and was a massive step forward for the current group of players.
“That is the beauty of the three-day game: it is proper cricket and the ebbs and flows of it are interesting and exciting.”
Haggett, dropped on 99 at long-off, reached his ton with a swatted four through fine-leg. He hit 12 fours and five sixes among the 115 runs he faced and was involved in stands totalling 173 runs.
Shropshire went out to bat for a second time with a target of 213 to win and four full sessions plus some odd minutes to get them in. At last night’s close the Salopians were 155 for six with day-one centurion Graham Wagg in and out for 36.
Wagg had flogged Devon all around the Fortfield ground and out of it on his way to a mercurial 109 off 69 balls that entertained a sizeable crowd and had passing pedestrians wondering what was going on?
Matt Skeemer, enjoying his best game for Devon by a distance, dynamited the former Warwickshire and Glamorgan all-rounder’s stumps with a yorker that was a bit too straight, too full and too quick for him.
Both sides will go into the third and final day thinking the game is there to be won. Devon need four wickets and Shropshire require 58 runs. It won’t be a long day’s play, but it will be high-octane while it lasts!
For Tall the overall performance will overshadow the outcome.
“Whatever the result we know we have competed well,” said Tall.
Devon 148 (C J Haggett 47, M W Thompson 39; G G Wagg 5-16, B Parker 3-37) & 242 (J D Horler 31, C J Haggett 109; M T Stanley 3-38, J Shaw 2-38), Shropshire 178 (G G Wagg 109; M P Skeemer 4-25, C J Haggett 4-51) & 155-6 (G G Wagg 36,S M Gregory 30, R X Clarke 30; M P Skeemer 2-28, E WO Middleton 2-55). Bonus points: Devon (4), Shropshire (5).