NORTH Devon have asked young all-rounder Jack Moore to lead them next season… whatever division of the Tolchards Devon Cricket League they are playing in!

Moore, who was 22 shortly after the 2023 season ended, is taking over from outgoing skipper Tom Popham, who has called it a day after five years at the tiller.

North Devon finished bottom of the Premier Division last season which, in a normal year, would have meant relegation back into the A Division. The 2023 season was anything but normal.Jack Moore

With little more than a month of the season to go, A Division promotion chasers Torquay and Kilmington were told neither of them would not be eligible for promotion as runners-up due to a lack of necessary youth teams.

The England & Wales Cricket Board, which overseas Premier League competitions, tightened-up criteria regarding what clubs have to have in place to play top-flight cricket. Three hard-ball youth teams from under-15 level down is the one Kilmington (2nd) and Torquay (3rd) fell foul of.

Instead of offering promotion to fourth-placed Hatherleigh, who did not want it anyway, league officials ruled that only champions Exeter would step-up a level.

One-up, one-down appeared to offer second-from-bottom Bovey Tracey a reprieve from relegation. But neither their fate, or North Devon’s is cut and dried yet.

Bovey Tracey were warned midway through the season that Australian overseas player Alex Bevilaqua might have arrived in this country on an incorrect visa which impacted on his eligibility to play in the Devon League. He did not play a league game in the second half of the season.

The league, North Devon and Bovey Tracey are all in limbo waiting for the Home Office to determine whether Bevilaqua had the right visa or not?

If the Home Office determine the visa is incorrect, Bovey may be liable to have as many as 45 points deducted from their end-of-season total, which could put them below North Devon in an amended table.

More than two months after the season ended, there is no news from the Home Office on the suitability – or lack of it – of Bevilaqua’s visa.

Moore said all he and the players can do is wait and see which division they are placed in once the dust has settled.

“At the moment we are likely to be in the A Division next season – and if we are the aim will be to go straight back to the Premier,” said Moore.

Barney Huxtable –remains North Devon's youngest-ever captain“I would be more than happy if we don’t go down as last season was not representative of what the team is really capable of. We did not play at our best.

“We were top of the league for most of the 2022 season and finished fourth in the final table. I am confident we would hold our own if we stay up, especially as we have some of the best young players in the county.”

Moore will have most of the 2023 squad available in 2024, with the notable exception of all-rounder Ben Howe, who has moved to London with his job. In six summers at Instow he has played 78 games, scored 2,290 DCL runs and taken 48 wickets

Popham will carry on playing for North Devon alongside Moore. Mark Ansell, the North Devon chairman, said it was only right to acknowledge the hard work done by the outgoing skipper.

“It has been a real pleasure working with Tom and we are immensely grateful for the time and energy that he put into the role,” said Ansell. 

“Without doubt, Tom’s finest achievements were to lead the side to bounce straight back into the Premier Division in 2021 after just one season in the A Division and to lead the Premier Division for much of 2022

“Last season did not go to plan, but Tom’s hard work and commitment never faltered.”

Moore is one of North Devon 1st XI’s youngest post-war captains. Only Barney Huxtable, who was 21 when he took over in 2015 was younger on appointment.

Ansell has watched Moore grow as a cricketer throughout his teens and is eager to see what he brings to the role.

“I am much looking forward to working with Jack, in particular having got to know him pretty well ever since our time together when he was captain of the Devon under-15 tour to South Africa and I was the tour manager,” said Ansell.

“Jack has already demonstrated he is a real talent with a great cricket brain and we believe that the responsibility of 1st XI captaincy is the next step in his development into a fine, all-round cricketer.”