Tim Piper – saw Bradninch home against Heathcoat<br>credit: Mark Lockett


BRADNINCH skipper Gary Chappell was happy to escape from Knightshayes with a three-wicket win from the Premier Division derby date against Heathcoat.

Chappell took three Heathcoat wickets at a cost of just nine runs as the defending Premier champions were dismissed for 98. Liam Lewis made 19, Jamie Drew made 18 and no one else made more than 12.

With two wickets each for Josh Farley, Ross Acton and Mitch Pugh, it might seem Bradninch had done the hard bit. They hadn’t.

Heathcoat reduced Bradninch to 49 for five in reply – Mitch Pugh had been in and out for 19 by then – and there was plenty for the bottom half of the order to do.

Tim Piper has dealt with a few tough situations on the pitch during a long career in the DCL and got his head down for a match-winning 20 not out.

Chappell said it was like batting on a ‘cabbage patch’ adding: “Length balls were going past your head.”

Chappell also clainmed the standard of pitch preparation in the Premier Division is not what it should be.

“A week of wet weather doesn't help matters when preparing pitches but, in my view, not the first time this season, we've played on an under-prepared pitch,” said Chappell.

“I would say in most of our away games this season it has been a similar story and that just makes for an average game and I don't think anyone learns anything from.

“Bowlers get away with average bowling and the best way to score runs is to slog.”

Chappell would like to see the league’s bonus point system changed to promote better pitch preparation. Reward higher scores with bonus points to encourage playing surfaces with more runs in them.

“What do players actually learn from playing on doctored or poorly prepared wickets?” he said.

“It's not very exciting to play in, let alone watch, and is setting players up to fail when they come to play on a better wicket or at a higher standard, such as National Counties cricket.

“We want to play cricket that is more challenging and enjoyable than 150 plays 120.”

Pete Randerson, the Heathcoat captain, agreed it was a ‘poor pitch’ but felt his side did well to make Bradninch sweat the way they did.

“It wasn't a good toss to loose and batting first on a poor pitch was always going to be tough,” said Randerson.

“It was a pretty decent effort to get Bradninch seven down, but they played well and deserved to win.”

Randerson has targeted a third successive Premier title this summer but having lost three of the last four games his team (121pts) has dropped to third behind Sandford (135) and North Devon (139)

“We move on and can't afford to lose many more if we want to be at the top come the end of the summer,” said Randerson.