Max Finzel - pictured here batting for Devon against Somerset<br>credit: Conrad Sutcliffe - no re-use without copyright owner's consent

EARLY order batsman Max Finzel is a surprise inclusion in the Devon squad for the Durant Cricket National Counties Championship play-off game against Buckinghamshire.

Devon’s 14-man squad – 12 players, two travelling reserves – is due to set off for West Bromwich Dartmouth CC tomorrow (Saturday) for the four-day final that starts on Sunday (10.30am).

Finzel has not appeared in any of the Western Division One games Devon played to reach the final – or in any fixture other than the Showcase Game against Somerset at Bovey Tracey in late July.

A fluent opening stand of 74 against professional bowling between Elliot Hamilton and Finzel, who made 43, confirmed what team boss Dave Tall was already confident he knew.

And when a vacancy occurred in the cup-final team for an early order batsman, Tall knew exactly who to turn to.

“Over the past couple of seasons the top five or six batsmen have been pretty consistent run getters, which has meant limited opportunities to break into the team,” said Tall.

“Matt Thompson cannot play because he is on holiday – he did not think we would reach a final this year – and while we can cover his wicketkeeping we needed a batsman.Fin Hill – added to the play-off final squad

“James Horler keeps for Exmouth and will do it in the final. But it is a lot to ask of him to keep and open the batting, so Max comes in. Depending on the state of the game at the time we have Max to open if James needs a rest.

“Max has been a consistent run scorer for Cornwood in Premier cricket for the past two seasons and averages nearly 40. Having seen him bat he is free-scoring and also has lots of shots.”

Horler, Hamilton and Finzel’s Cornwood’s team-mate Ben Beaumont are also players who have shown Tall they have more than a couple of shots in their locker.

Devon’s resurgence in recent seasons, from bottom of Western Division Two to Western Division One champions in three summers, has been helped by a strong batting line-up.

Tall said something he had noticed was when the new generation of Devon batters reached three figures they generally keep going.

“It has been a common feature for the past two seasons that when Elliot or James gets to a hundred they turn them into big tons, which sets us apart from most other counties, judging from what I see on the scorecards,” said Tall.

“If we carry on playing the cricket we have been playing we are going to be very competitive in the final.”

Fin Hill, a batsman who bowls off-spin, has been brought into the 12 at the expense of Will Christophers, who is a travelling reserve..

“Fin played in the first two games but was not available for the next two as he was required elsewhere,” said Tall of the Somerset Academy scholar.

“Somerset are keen for him to play and Fin adds extra depth to the batting and can bowl a bit of off-spin.”

Devon (from): J A Stephens, J D Horler, M J D Finzel, B H Privett, C J Haggett, B A Beaumont, F J Hill, S O Read, MP Skeemer, M B Shepherd, K B Szymanski. Travelling reserves: J E B Walliker, W R Christophers.

Buckinghamshire: T R G Hampton, A J Woodland, E A J Cox, C J Marrow, A Sharma, A N  Kervezee, R A J Richardson, E W H Bragg, G  Harvey, C D R Parsons, T Fleming, C P W Haddow, T Weymes.