Topsham St James put Axminster to the sword in Bonfire Field mauling

PUBLISHED: 08:47 24 August 2017 | UPDATED: 08:47 24 August 2017

Cricket

Cricket

Archant

Topsham St James came into their game on Saturday without a win in over a month, writes Dan Armstrong.

Rain and a couple of close defeats had denied them the success and points they deserved.

The visitors this week were Axminster, the sides being separated by just eight points in the table.

Skipper Edd Kirby won the toss and elected to bowl on a slightly damp looking Topsham wicket. Sam Warren and Brian Jeary opened the bowling and started promisingly, though some good drives from opening batsman Matt Pile kept the score ticking over. Jeary deservedly struck with the score on 21, the wily fox aptly mastering the conditions, using the strong wind to bamboozle and trap opener Neil Fuzzard lbw for five.

Axminster continued slowly, but surely, though just before drinks first change bowler Karim struck twice, having Paul Miller adjudged lbw for five and then, courtesy of an unbelievable one-handed catch by Warren in the gully, claimed the crucial wicket of Pile for 25. These crucial break-throughs meant that Axminster reached drinks at 62-3.

Jack Purchall and Dan Armstrong were now the bowlers and both had looked slightly erratic before the drinks break, their radars slightly off.

Obviously there was something in the water that cured this fault as after drinks a collapse ensued equal to that of the Berlin Wall in 1989 or the Ottoman Empire in 1920. Seven wickets fell for the cost of just eight runs.

Armstrong claimed the first, bowling a persistent off-stump line to Bradley Conway, bowling him with the final ball of his over that cut back to hit the top of off-stump.

Purchall then struck twice in the following over having David Field caught by Warren, now fielding with a Conor McGregor like swagger at gully. Something even more spectacular followed four balls later as Peter Kiy looked to drive over the top.

Purchall leapt like a Salmon taking an acrobatic catch over his head much to his team-mates astonishment.

Armstrong then struck again bowling Sam Farrow for 0, which Purchall followed up by bowling Dominic Goodhew. Armstrong then mopped up, having Dave Hayball caught for 0 by skipper Kirby before trapping Alex Wraight lbw for a duck. Axminster had completely imploded from 62-3 to 70 all out, only one man had made double figures, the scorecard included five ducks and there were 24 extras.

Topsham’s reply started with a wobble as opener Aiden Pring and first drop Armstrong both fell early, giving Axminster a glimpse at 6-2.

The result, however, was never in doubt as opener Matt Garner and number four Charlie Penn steadied the ship in the only way they know possible: attack is the best form of defence. Garner was busy, spring-like at the crease, knocking the ball into the gaps and lofting a flat six down the ground. Penn was similarly aggressive, a batsman who likes to deal in boundaries, who had learnt from his experience the previous week that conventional shots are more productive than reverse sweeps. Garner fell with the score on 49, bowled for 22 and Penn was joined by skipper Edd Kirby.

The pair guided Topsham within touching distance of victory when Penn perished for a sumptuous 29 with the score on 68. Rather comically the last ball was a wide with Kirby and Ryan Miszka running the extra two to give Saints their fifth victory of the season.

Topsham St James therefore took 19 points, with Axminster only gaining three, thus increasing the gap between the two sides locked in seventh and eighth places in the D Division (East) table.

On Saturday (August 26), the Saints host Tiverton and will look to continue their good form at fortress Bonfire Field.

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