Sparkes leads Topsham St James to draw with Exeter Civil Service.

PUBLISHED: 09:44 16 June 2011

Rodney Bowden in action for Barnstaple and Pilton against Cornwood 111. (Pic www.platinumimages.uk.com)

Rodney Bowden in action for Barnstaple and Pilton against Cornwood 111. (Pic www.platinumimages.uk.com)

copyright Kelvin Parsons, Platinum Images

TOPSHAM St James rallied in a frustrating match against Exeter Civil Service to earn a hard fought losing Draw.

Bowling first looked to be the good option for the Saints when Alex Sparkes took a great return catch diving across the square, leaving Civil 4–1. The home team regrouped though with some aerial drives evading fielders much to the Saints frustration. The next wicket fell when Jibu Varghese had a batsman well caught by Matt Williams at Point, using all of his body to keep the ball from hitting the ground. It was then Adrian Miller’s turn for a superb return catch. With the umpire fleeing the scene, wary of his safety, Miller got his hands to the ball and it stuck - and stung. However, still Murphy avoided the Topsham fielders until a tight spell from Miller left the batsman trying to manufacture a shot that just wasn’t there and kindly passed the ball to Beauchamp behind the stumps. Sparkes, delivering a ball that was straight and quick, left Calderhead contemplating his castled stumps. Sparkes was now being used in short ferocious spells as the Saints tried in vain to find another wicket. but Civil Service batted with luck and judgement and crept beyond 200 eventually finishing on 208, a par score for the wicket.

Lee Solway, opening for Topsham, was well cheered after recovering from a nasty knock on his hand after trying to catch a ball that could have been mistaken for a cruise missile. Lee looked to take the attack to the opposition hitting several 4s as he settled in, but, sadly, he was out for 19. Joe Thomlinson was unlucky to be caught in the deep when it looked the fielder had given up, and Tom Richardson, gloving the ball to the keeper, was unfortunate as he too looked like he was on his way. Alex Sparkes now took on the role of mature batsman as Miller and Treleaven also let him down, showing the Saints that the wicket was good to bat on, it was just a waiting game. Waiting for the bad ball, Sparkes despatched several over the pavilion and then out of the ground, but would then regroup and wait for the next bad ball. Daniel Williams accompanied him well, playing straight and keeping to low risk shots they took Topsham from 59-6 to 116-7 when Sparkes was adjudged LBW. Topsham now had a fight on their hands to get through the overs without losing any more wickets - but who could you want more in this situation than Brian Jeary, facing 60 balls for 14 runs he was the epitome of patience and team spirit. Along with Dan Williams, who looked to punish the bad ball, they boosted the Saints score earning valuable points along the way; Williams facing 68 balls for his 21 runs. These two finished unbeaten and thus earned Topsham a gritty Losing Draw.

“Full credit to Alex Sparkes, Dan Williams and Brian Jeary who showed the rest of the batsmen what we had to do. Sadly, a lot of the top order were out to loose shots - myself in particular. This discipline is something we all need to work on, because winning totals are not brought about by flash shots and stupid risks; they are earned through time at the crease and accumulation. Sparkes batted brilliantly, taking the bad ball on but judging which ones to throw the bat at and which ones to watch carefully. Williams and Jeary showed great tenacity as well, holding back attacking shots for the good of the team.

Points on the board, but if we want promotion we have to earn it.”

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