Friday, June 27, 2014
DEVON skipper Josh Bess said it is far too early to be talking about Western Division titles despite a racing start to the season, writes Conrad Sutcliffe.
Devon opened their campaign with an innings win over Dorset with a day to spare and made it two out of two by beating Oxfordshire by nine wickets inside two days.
Leaders Wiltshire haven’t dropped a point yet this season – they walloped Dorset in the latest round of fixtures - but Devon are only one behind them.
It is Devon’s best start since they last won the Western Division in 2011 and went on to lift the overall Minor Counties crown by beating East champions Cambridgeshire in a play-off.
Bess said his new- look side is gelling nicely – six of the side that finished last season didn’t play against Oxfordshire - but talk of titles will have to wait a bit longer.
“It’s going well so far, but we are two games into a six-game season and the four games left are tough,” said Bess.
“We have Cheshire next – they are the champions and we know how strong they are from last year – then Wiltshire who are top now.
“To finish we have Berkshire and Shropshire. There isn’t an easy game amongst them.
“Let’s see where we are after Cheshire and Wiltshire are out of the way before we start talking about anything.”
Devon’s win was set up by first-innings centurions Liam Lewis and Rob Holman, whose second-wicket stand of 220 underpinned a total of 380 for eight.
With a 128-run lead under their belts, Devon dismissed Oxfordshire for 140 second time around, Bess and Jack Popham taking three wickets each.
Devon needed 13 to win at the end of day two and got them in 16 balls.
“It was a tremendous team performance – everyone chipped in,” said Bess.
“Liam Lewis has been getting a pile of runs for Sidmouth in the league and Devon in the one-day games, but three-day cricket suits him even better.
“He knows his own game well enough to have worked out which balls to hit and which to leave alone. That’s the secret to batting a long time.
“That will be the first of many centuries for Devon, of that I am certain.
“Rob Holman has had to wait a long time for his maiden Devon ton, but it was a match-winner.
“The stand between him and Liam put us in a very strong position to win the match.”
Jack Popham’s match figures of five for 50 on his debut didn’t go un-noticed either.
“It was good to see him running in, bowling at pace and taking wickets,” said Bess.
Devon return to action in the Unicorns KO Cup when Cheshire visit Sidmouth on July 13 for a semi-final tie.