Topsham St James slip to defeat at Barnstaple and Pilton

PUBLISHED: 08:34 18 August 2017 | UPDATED: 08:34 18 August 2017

Picture: Matt Smart

Picture: Matt Smart

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Topsham St James went down by five wickets on their visit to Barnstaple and Pilton, writes Dan Armstrong.

What can 11 men and their dedicated scorer do with ten hours on a Saturday? There are probably many worthwhile pursuits, but these 12 individuals decided that their time would be best spent travelling to Barnstaple to play a cricket match!

The journey was long and slow, but eventually they arrived at the ground to find there were odd patches of the pitch which were waterlogged and so the start was delayed by an hour.

Barum won the toss and opted to field first. The Topsham openers, Aiden Pring and Ross Treleaven, batted wisely and patiently, building a platform for the rest of the team and reaching 50 without loss at drinks.

Pring was stumped after drinks for a resilient 17 off 62 balls and Dan Armstrong came and went for one.

Mark Phillips and Ross Treleaven added needed impetus to the innings, though conditions were always going to hamstring positive batting.

Treleaven fell for a gutsy 33 off 85 balls and Phillips made a run-a-ball 29. Matt Garner provided some firepower at the end with 22 not out off 31 balls, including a glorious six down the ground, whilst at the other end veteran Charlie Penn attempted an inventive approach to liven up the game, playing two reverse sweeps - making contact with neither - and then inventing a new shot, which can only be described as a one handed reverse slog sweep leave, that sadly bowled the batsman!

Debutant 14-year-old Alex Collins aided Garner in the final over to help Saints add a couple of extra runs, setting Barnstaple a target of 121. The Saints’ total only included five boundaries.

Topsham’s opening bowlers, Edd Kirby and Mark Phillips, started well, with both finding the edge of some rather unorthodox strokes by the batsmen.

Both bowlers were unlucky not to pick up a wicket. Treleaven and Armstrong came on first change and they resorted to bowling cutters.

Armstrong picked up the first wicket trapping Andrew Barton lbw for 25, before Treleaven had Adam Payne caught for nine by Aiden Pring.

The game then took an even more wearisome and lethargic turn as Barnstaple were unable to get the Topsham off-cutters off the square, though they did not lose any wickets.

The game trudged slowly along to the score board showing Nelson (111), when the returning Mark Phillips was too quick for the Barnstaple batsmen striking twice in successive deliveries to remove Jack Moore (35 off 48 balls) and George McEndoo (0 off 1 ball), both plumb leg before wicket!

Rahul Antony, on debut, also bowled well at the end, though it was all to no avail as Barnstaple won relatively comfortably by five wickets.

This Saturday (August 19), Topsham host an Axminster side that sit third bottom, one place and eight points below them in the D Division East table.

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