Thursday, September 5, 2013
Mission accomplished! Exmouth took the final steps towards lifting the Premier Division title when they defeated Cornwood by 47 runs, writes Conrad Sutcliffe.
Exmouth dominated the Premier Division in the 1990s – winning eight titles in ten years – but haven’t had their hands on the title since 1999.
Since then Exmouth have been relegated out of the Premier Division twice – the last time in 2008 – and those dark days have been a spur this season.
“When we were down there in the A Division we set ourselves a target to get back in the Premier and win it within five years,” said Exmouth captain Richard Baggs.
“By my reckoning that’s job done – and for the next few weeks we are going to savour it.
“I can guarantee that Bovey Tracey, Sidmouth and North Devon will all want to strengthen during the winter as they want to take the title of us.
“It may be we have to look at our own side, but now isn’t the time for that.”
Exmouth were second last season and needed a little strengthening to get that extra yard.
Baggs signed a clutch of players during the last close season – Sandy Allen (Budleigh), Seb Benton (Paignton), Gary Chappell (Bradninch) and Mark Orchard (Brixham) – who made the difference.
“The players who joined us have made us stronger, but it is the lads who have been with us since those A Division days – the Tappers, Buzzas, Dave Lye and Trevor Anning – who I feel most pleased for,” said Baggs.
Baggs top scored with 86 as Exmouth put 255 for eight on the board at Oak Park.
The cornerstone of the innings was a stand of 92 between Baggs and Benton (36) which took the tally up to 142 for three.
After Baggs was fourth out on 165, the baton passed to Anning and Chris Metters.
Metters, recently released by Warwickshire after three years on the staff, made 52 and Anning 32 in a brisk stand of 82 for the fifth wicket.
In a busy last over from Cornwood captain Jason Hall, Metters was out first ball, Anning went to the next and Buzza then Lawrence Greenway went in succession to balls five and six.
Hall went from none for 26 to four for 34 as the wickets tumbled.
Cornwood went into the game needing eight points to be safe from relegation – and were halfway there at tea thanks to bowling bonus points.
Getting the other four just to be on the safe side in case Bradninch defeated Bovey Tracey, proved less than straightforward.
Toby Ingham (2-28) led the way as Cornwood dipped to 57 for four and alarm bells started clanging.
Cornwood needed a partnership to stop the rot and it was supplied by Mark Horwell and Hall, who put in 69.
Hall was first out for 26, but Cornwood had used up time and got into bonus point territory by then.
Baggs rotated his bowlers looking for another breakthrough, but wit h limited success.
By the time Horwell was ninth out at 191 for a gutsy 66 there was only an over and a half to go and Cornwood were safe as news of Bradninch’s defeat had already filtered through.