Adrian Miller marked his final game for the Saints with his best performance in a Topsham shirt.

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Simply put, without his bowling display Topsham St James would have been facing relegation.

Losing the toss and being put on an a damp but solid track, the Saints knew a big performance was required and Nicko Horne and Joe Thomlinson set off well. Both leaving confidently but taking opportunities when they were there, they got Topsham to 42 when Joe was undone by a sharp yorker. Tom Richardson entered the fray and looked to push the scoring rate on as the pitch was proving good to bat on. Both batsmen looked untroubled as boundaries were easy to come by on the picturesque ‘Hazeldown Oval’. They took Topsham past the first 2 batting points and looked set for big scores until Richardson was caught in the outfield with Horne falling in the same over. Richardson left on a fluent 42 off 50 balls. Horne a patient and measured innings of 64 off 105 deliveries including seven boundaries. The Saints had gone from 137–1 to 137–3 losing both set batsmen.

Amit Kartikeyan was out shortly after to leave Topsham reeling on 139-4. Alex Sparkes then played with great maturity to rebuild the innings and install some confidence. Ross Treleaven and Sparkes looked to kick on and started to find the fence in a bid to get over 200. Sparkes, after almost prematurely ending a bowler’s life when he drilled a shot back at him, was well caught in the deep. Theo Miller then smashed his first ball for 4, but played the next straight into gully’s grateful hands. Enter Adrian Miller in his last outing in a Topsham St James shirtt. Taking his sighter for 4, he looked good from the off and smashed a massive 6 out of the ground. Spare ball please! Treleaven then enjoyed some last over fun as Topsham finished on 234–6; the best innings they had put together all season. Miller ended on an unbeaten 18 and Treleaven scraped his 51 not out with 14 runs off the last 3 balls.

The Saints had done half the job and they knew a big effort in the field would be required to beat a strong Shaldon side. Ross Treleaven and Nick Horne opened up, but found little assistance and Shaldon progressed to an unflustered 44. Aaron Clarke provided some inspiration when the openers set off for a quick single and fizzed the ball straight into Adrian Miller’s hands to complete the run out. Miller struck shortly after when he bowled Tufnell after a big deflection off the bat. Tom Richardson then claimed a great catch off Miller’s bowling and Shaldon were under pressure at 50–3. Sparkes, not to be left out of the action, responded to a half chance and drove forward brilliantly getting his hands under the ball to remove McKenna.

Miller at the other end was getting the ball to swing. Cutting square off the track proved too much for Boss and Greenwood as their stumps lay shattered behind them. Miller then removed the dangerous Blackburn, who had scored a quick fire 39 off 25 balls. Day and Moore of Shaldon then staged a comeback. Miller required a rest and Topsham struggled for wickets. Tom Richardson bowled well without reward and Horne and Sparkes bowled with great heart to try and make the breakthrough, but it was not forthcoming.

Miller returned and proved the catalyst again, trapping Moore leg before and having Day caught at slip. There was one more wicket to get. With Miller’s tail up there was an inevitability when Whitehead played and missed at his first ball. The next one glancing off stump to keep the Saints up in the E Division by the skin of their teeth. The inspirational Miller finished on 8–43 and a run out.

“The win was built on a fantastic innings by Nicko Horne who returned to form with the bat at just the right time. Tom Richardson as well was unlucky not to get more and has shown again how important his contributions with the bat are. Alex Sparkes also helped rebuild the innings for the fun at the end. However, the day belonged to Adrian Miller; taking 8 wickets is a massive achievement and he has done this twice for the Saints and his bowling and company will certainly be missed when he returns to New Zealand.

The boys have shown great character by pulling that win out of the bag and will hope to carry that sort of form to next season.”

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