Nine-man Topsham St James 2nds beaten at Exwick

PUBLISHED: 09:22 24 July 2019 | UPDATED: 09:22 24 July 2019

A set of cricket stumps ahead of the start of play in a Tolchards Devon Cricket League match,. Picture STEVE BIRLEY

A set of cricket stumps ahead of the start of play in a Tolchards Devon Cricket League match,. Picture STEVE BIRLEY

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Topsham St James 2nd XI handicapped themselves by turning up for their mid-table clash at Exwick with only nine men, writes Mike Tracey.

Matters rapidly turned worse, when they were inserted on a damp and treacherous wicket and quickly found themselves 9-3.

Fortunately, Rev Bill Gates, on loan from Woodbury, was in fine form, and gritted things through until the wicket dried out into something a little less venomous, after which he demonstrated the power of his straight-driving and cruised to an untroubled 65, before momentarily, and fatally, losing concentration and running himself out!

During much of this time he was partnered by veteran opener Mike Tracey, dragged from the scorebox to make up the numbers, and demonstrating a total inability to get the ball off the square. It was the 17th over before he opened his account, and he was eventually out in the 31st for a grinding 20.

He had, however, seen off the worst of the wicket and the best of the bowling, and Mike Davison (21) making his season's debut, and Will Purchall (49 not out) took full advantage, with Purchall in particular playing some powerful shots as he flayed the late bowling. Topsham finished on 201-6, which was far more than had appeared possible early on.

The Exwick bowling was a thing of two parts. Openers Adam Harding (1-19) and Rudi Ellis (2-11) took full advantage of the early conditions, but nobody else went for fewer than five an over. The other wicket-takers were Derek Jenkins (1-47) and Jeremy Richardson (1-30).

Exwick initially found batting no easier than had the Topsham upper order, losing skipper Simon Hukku to the second ball of the innings and another three wickets in relatively quick succession. Unfortunately for Topsham, Rudi Ellis was, as usual, in top form against his former club, and despite occasional scares, largely the result of the still less than perfect wicket, he played some glorious shots, and saw his side home on 90 not out.

He was well-supported by Bhaski Bhaskharan (34) in a fifth wicket partnership which effectively won the match, enabling Exwick to finish on a comfortable 202-5.

The Topsham bowling was led by young Dan Thornhill, who turned in a tremendous performance to end with 1-24 from his eight overs.

Neil Shillabeer, who led the side by example, with some magnificent fielding, also bowled an excellent spell to take 2-27.

Bill Gates took two wickets at rather greater expense, and there were some good opening overs from Narender Dhayal.

Unfortunately, Topsham did not have a fifth bowler, and although Will Purchall and Neil Argyle tried gamely, they were never much of a threat to established batsmen.

In nightmare conditions for 'keeping, young Alex Collins again showed his skill and great potential.

Topsham St James will be hoping that Saturday's (July 27) home game against Countess Wear brings both a fuller side and a better result.

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