Devon fight back to ‘play like champions we are’, says Newman
Devon showed they have no intention of giving up their Minor Counties Championship title without a fight after storming back against Shrophire at Whitchurch.
The defending champions – Devon defeated Cambridgeshire in the West versus East play-off last season – knew they could not retain the title going into the final match.
Shropshire are one of three counties in the running to take the Western Division – Cornwall and Wiltshire are the others – and proved they meant business by skittling Devon for 156.
Devon’s last seven wickets went down for 17 runs as Richard Oliver (five for 11), and Ed Barnard (four for eight) scythed through them.
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Devon’s retaliation was not long coming. Trevor Anning and Josh Bess took two wickets each as Shropshire dipped to 21 for four.
Anning (five for 16) then took three in a row and was on a hat-trick to boot as 21 for four became 28 for seven.
When debutant Mark Orchard had Barnard well caught in the slips by Rob Holman, the pretenders to the crown were 35 for eight. Five of the casualties were either caught behind or in the slips.
While wickets were falling at one end, Shropshire skipper and opener Ed Foster was shacked up at the other.
There is always a fightback in these situations and Foster did his best to create one.
In a stand of 42 with Elliot Green (16 not out), Foster (36 not out) took the score to 77 for eight at the close.
The game was halted twice by rain while Devon were batting, and in damp overcast conditions the seamers were always going to prosper.
Rob Woodman (49) and Holman (38) got runs while the going was good, but only Bess (22) made headway once the slide started.
Devon’s director of cricket Roger Newman was not too surprised at the turn of events. “Until both sides have batted, it is very hard to get a true idea what the par score was in the conditions,” he said.
“It didn’t look good that we lost seven wickets for 17 runs, but that was after the second break for rain when it was dull and overcast.
“Only one of dismissals was down to rank bad batting. The rest were down to good bowling by their seamers and some good catching.
“You see the mettle of a side when their backs are against the wall and how they respond to adversity. No one has beaten us yet this season – only the weather has beaten us – and we played like the champions we are.”