The new cricket season is here

Action from Exmouth Cricket Club playing an inter-club T20 Competition. Picture: Sam Cooper

The cricket season is here - Credit: Sam Cooper

More than 2,000 players, umpires, scorers, tea ladies (and gents) and support staff are poised to throw themselves into the 2021Tolchards Devon Cricket League season which opens on Saturday. 
The Covid-ruined 2020 campaign was restricted to a six-week late summer tournament, with no promotion or relegation, so everyone is raring to go for a full season. 
The reigning Premier Division champions are still 2019 winners Tiverton Heathcoat, who are at home to Sidmouth this weekend - that's a tasty opener. 
Sidmouth and old rivals Exmouth have both had encouraging build-ups to the serious stuff, but it looks as competitive as ever in the top-flight. 
Last year's tournament was deliberately built around local round-robin groups, to keep travelling to a minimum in the face of the pandemic, and everyone enjoyed them because of it. 
But regionalisation of the lower divisions generally has had a hugely beneficial effect, and they are packed with sparky local derbies. 
The pressure of putting out full XIs throughout the season has proved too much for some smaller clubs in the past, but hopefully most of the 148 teams lining up on Saturday will be able to keep punching their weight right to the end...  
The first-day fixtures for East Devon clubs are: Premier - Tiverton Heathcoat v Sidmouth, Exmouth v Plymouth, Exeter v Sandford; A Division - Bradninch v Budleigh Salterton, North Devon v Seaton; C East - Shobrooke Park v Braunton, Sandford II v Whimple, Ottery St Mary - Exeter II, Clyst St George v Upottery, Sidmouth II v Exmouth II; D East - Sidmouth III v Uplyme/Lyme Regis. 
E East - Topsham St James v Axminster T, Budleigh II v Bideford, Honiton v Ottery St M II, Woodbury/Newton St Cyres v Clyst St G II; F East - Exeter III v Sampford Peverell/Tiverton II, Whimple II v Honiton II, Seaton II v Cullompton II, Upottery II v Exwick; G East - Alphington/Countess Wear II v Exmouth III, Kentisbeare II v Sidbury, Feniton II v Shobrooke Park II, Kilmington II v Woodbury/Newton St C II; H East - Axminster II v Filleigh II. 

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