Calum Haggett - reported feeling unwell and only bowled two overs in the day<br>credit: Conrad Sutcliffe - no re-use without copyright owner's consent



DEVON had their backs to the wall against Buckinghamshire at the end of day two in the Durant Cricket National Counties Championship final against Devon at West Bromwich Dartmouth. 

A composed century by teenage prospect Aadi Sharma’s – his first for the county put Buckinghamshire totally in charge of the game.

The 17-year-old, who is on Northamptonshire’s Academy, made 115 from 153 balls in an innings of class and maturity that helped Buckinghamshire turn a handy first innings lead of 67 into an imposing one of 393 by the end of the second day. 

Sharma fell four short of a century on his Buckinghamshire debut against Hertfordshire last season which was his only Championship appearance before the final but reached three figures for the first time for Buckinghamshire in just his third innings in the competition. 

He was the first batter in the match to reach 50 and arrived in excellent form having made centuries for Northamptonshire Under-18s and Second XI in recent weeks.

Devon showed great spirit in the field for over after over, which included spells when skipper Jamie Stephens could not bowl due to injury and seamer Calum Haggett was being checked over in hospital after reporting that he felt unwell. 

Sharma made the most of easier batting conditions as the pitch had lost much of its green tinge under a baking sun and it had also lost much of its first-day pace following the application of the heavy roller between innings. 

Sharma struck six sixes - one into the rush hour traffic on the Birmingham Road - and eight fours before he was bowled sweeping Stephens after three-and-a-half hours at the crease. He shared consecutive half-century partnerships of 74 for the second wicket with Alex Woodland (44), 61 for the third with Alexei Kervezee (37) and 72 for the fourth with Ross Richardson. 

Richardson reached a valuable half-century just before the close and added 72 in an unbroken fifth-wicket partnership with Ed Bragg. 

Their resistance meant that Devon had to take the second new ball after off-spinner Stephens had shared the first with paceman Kaz Szymanski. 

Stephens used eight different bowlers with varying degrees of success with seamer Matt Skeemer making the first breakthrough when he ended a solid opening partnership of 47 between Ewan Cox (25) and Woodland when he bowled Cox with a beauty just before lunch. 

Earlier Buckinghamshire took just 40 minutes to take the three wickets they needed to wrap up Devon’s first innings. 

Skeemer was well taken by Kervezee at first slip which gave slow left-armer Conner Haddow his third wicket and seamer Tom Weymes swiftly disposed of Stephens and Kaz Szymanski. 

The rest of the day was dominated by Sharma who tightened Buckinghamshire’s grip on a first Championship title since 2009 and increased the probability of the competition being won by an Eastern Division side for the first time since 2015. 

Dave Tall, Devon’s director of cricket, said it might have been a gruelling day but there were learning gains too.

“It was a good lesson in what you do when you have a team down: you have to be ruthless and keep them there,” said Tall. 

“Losing Jamie and Cal from the attack at different times did not help us, but I thought our bowlers stuck at it well.

“We dropped four or five catches – a couple were stiff chances – but given how well we have fielded this season the boys would have disappointed with themselves.”