SANDFORD Cricket Club season got off to a very soggy start with downpour after downpour, which severely affected our early season preparations, both on and off the field of play.

The usual early season pre-League games were severely affected with only one half of a game against Taunton St Andrew’s even making a start, but being called off just after the Sandford innings had started in pursuit of the visitors modest total.

The first weekend in May saw all three teams’ first League games called off, as were most of the games in the Devon League. However, a few games, particularly in the Premier Division were played, and so this meant that we would be playing “catch up” in our hopes to go one better than last season, when the First team finished runners-up to Bradninch.

We eventually got underway on the second weekend. To say the least, things didn’t go well for the Firsts and Seconds as they both lost heavily. The Firsts were asked to bat on a soggy one at Bovey Tracey and unfortunately were skittled out for a paltry 46. Not the ideal start to say the least. They eventually lost by seven wickets. 

Following their promotion from the C Division East to the B Division last season, the Seconds were hoping for a good start in the higher division. However, due to the number of unavailable First and Second team players, their cause was not helped, especially as they were pitched against a very strong Cullompton side.

Cullompton rattled up an impressive 237 for nine in their 45 overs. Sandford were then bowled out for a meagre 74 in reply. The highlights for Sandford were an impressive 2-30 from seven overs by 14 year-old Ollie Knight making his Second XI debut, and 4-43 from the experienced Pete Steer.

Batting wise, it was Pete Steer again who finished on 35 not out. He eventually got us to the score we did. In fairness we were very under strength, to say the least, but Cullompton were very impressive.

The highlight of week two was that the Thirds, playing on the new second pitch at Creedy Park for the first time, had a resounding win. They played Barnstaple and Pilton Seconds and thrashed them by 142 runs.

Sandford amassed 220-8 in their 40 overs, mainly thanks to an impressive 90 from Jonno Hawley, and a late 30 not out from Danny Knight. Barnstaple found the going tough against Sandford’s wily veteran seamer Brizo Leach, and a couple of wickets each for Glyn Baker (2-18) and Emily Wilson (2-4), making her debut, before eventually being bowled out for 78. So a great start for the Thirds. Just as impressive was how the pitch played. Amazing considering two years ago it was still a field with cows grazing on it.

Week three saw Sandford Firsts entertain Sidmouth. What a game! Sidmouth batted first and scored 180 in only 38.3 overs. Having been 102 for two at one stage their collapse was quite remarkable, considering they had a last wicket stand of 31 to get to their eventual total. The star of the show for Sandford was an impressive 6-44 from 10 overs by Sandford’s overseas professional Dikshansu (Dikshu) Negi, supported by Harrison Jones (2-29) and Jack Ford (2-33).

Early order scores of 32 from new boy Dan Ward and 35 from Adam Small should have put Sandford in complete control of their chase of the modest Sidmouth total. However at 129-7 in reply the writing appeared to be on the wall.

Step forward new skipper Jackson Thompson and 18 year-old impressive newcomer Matt Jeacock. Jackson stroked his way to 54 (45 balls, 7 fours and a six) well supported by Matt who finished on 4 not out (27 balls).

They pushed the total to 177 before Jackson smashed the worst ball of the day to deep square leg, where he was subsequently caught. Thankfully despite losing another wicket in the same over, it was left to the veteran seamer Jamie Palmer to stroke a ball through the covers to win the match for Sandford by one wicket.

“A win is a win” as they say, but it was certainly “squeaky bum time” for the watching Sandford faithfuls.

The Seconds made the difficult journey to league leaders Bridestowe. Again with an under strength side. Despite an encouraging start when Bridestowe were 112-5, some late order hitting eventually saw them score 241-7 from their 45 overs. Tudor Morgan-Huggett 2-21 and Shaun Hawkings 2-55, were the only bowlers of any real note.

In reply Ciaran Gray (40) and skipper Chris Jelly (29 no) were the only batters to reach double figures, and Sandford were eventually bowled out for 128 in 35.2 overs.

The Thirds game against Bradninch and Kentisbeare’s Fourths was cancelled as the B and K Fourths couldn’t raise a team. Disappointing but at least the Thirds received maximum points.

Week four saw another victory for the Firsts with an impressive away win at Exmouth. Having bowled Exmouth out for 205 in 49.2 overs, Sandford strolled to victory in the 39th over by six wickets.

Matt Jeacock set the ball rolling with 3-32 supported by Jamie Palmer 2-28 and Jack Ford 3-37. If it hadn’t been for yet another last wicket stand of 41, Exmouth’s total would have been much less.

In reply Sandford got off to a quick start, but soon found themselves at an awkward 83-4. Dan Ward 21 and Dikshu Negi 32 made early headway, but then it was left to young Lawrence Walker 69 no (76 balls, 10 fours) and Harrison Jones 34 no (82 balls, one four) to guide the boys home with plenty of time to spare.

The Seconds also got off the mark, with an impressive win at home against Barton by four wickets. Batting first Barton were restricted to 197 all out. This was somewhat disappointing from their prospective as they were 152 for three at one stage. However, tight bowling in their mid-innings, mainly from the impressive Ollie Knight 2-26 and Chris Jelley 2-24 kept things in check, and with 15 year-old Somerset Academy player James Theedom finishing off the tail by weighing in with 3-38 Barton were undone as their innings subsided.

In reply veteran Jon James set the Sandford reply rolling with 28 form only 22 balls. Skipper Jelley batting at three got his head down and batted sensibly scoring 40 from 86 balls, well supported by Shaun Hawkins 23 and Man of the Match James Theedom 46 no to guide Sandford to an easy victory.

The Thirds game against Exmouth Thirds was again called off due to Exmouth Thirds not being able to raise a team. So for the second week running they were gifted 20 points, and although they sit proudly at the top of their division, it’s not ideal as they’ve only played one game so far, with lots of players having not had any cricket.

From the Club’s point of view the fourth week saw a maximum 60 points achieved across all three teams for the very first time.

Other games that have been played so far this season saw the Firsts travel to Plymouth for a T20 game, with a very weak side. Despite losing, Plymouth apparently played an illegible player and so the Firsts are still in the competition.

On the day Plymouth scored 122 from the 20 overs, with Jack Ford 3-8 well supported by skipper Jackson Thompson 3-15, Ollie Knight 1-10 and Jake Griffiths 1-11.

In response only skipper Jackson Thompson made any headway batting-wise notching 30 as Sandford were bowled out for 91. But hey! we kept within the rules and are still in with a shout.

The Seconds travelled to Cullompton for their T20 game a few days after their previous heavy defeat, and came away with another walloping, so the less said about that the better! Details not to-hand I’m afraid – honest.

The Firsts also played a National Cup match against Penzance at Creedy Park, and with Penzance putting out a full strength first team and us not, the result was always going to be inevitable. The end result was a loss by 127 runs 254-127. Jake Griffiths 2-61, Matt Jeacock 2-38 and Pete Steer 3-41 at least gave the Ford some credibility in bowling the opposition out within their 40 overs.

In reply Sandford’s top scorer was young schoolboy Elliott Butterfield who smashed 32 including three fours and a big six. Tom Gidney with 21 was the only other batsman to pass 20.

Sandford Cricket Club Community League shock

THE biggest shock in the 10-year history of Sandford Cricket Club’s Community League competition happened recently at Creedy Park.

Three time winners Crediton Rugby Club suffered a shock loss to last year’s newcomers Crediton Milling, in an exciting game in which the Mill men scored their highest ever total to win the game.

Batting first the Rugby Club made steady progress with all their batsmen getting into double figures, and then getting out at vital stages.

It was left to, of all people, Barny Butterfield to whack 27 at the end of the innings to give the Rugger boys a decent total to defend – 138.

Barny’s knock of 27 included two sixes, and an unbelievable three, which included two lots of buzzers (overthrows), and saw both batsman and numerous fielders running and falling in all directions.

It concluded with Barny eventually having to retire by passing the obligatory 25. It was like watching running in custard.

The Mill’s response did not start well, with a wicket off the first delivery, and soon they were 24 for three in the third over.

However, Louie Gulley held his own and with Will White (28) the scoreboard started to tick over.

Following their retirements at 25 each, the remaining batters came and went, but it was Mark Gulley who gave them a chance of winning the game with a late surge and another retirement at 25.

Luckily Louie Gully was able to return to the crease to hopefully finish the game, which he duly did, and with only three required to win he smashed his first ball for a six to push the score to 142, and a momentous victory was achieved with six balls remaining.

This result has left the league table wide open, and with all teams now having finished their first three games, the current positions are: Three Little Pigs five points, Sandford Football Club and Crediton Milling on four points each, Crediton Rugby Club on three points, with Sandford Dads/Lads and Graphic on one point each.

Games in Round four saw Dads and Lads v Rugby Club on June 13, Crediton Milling v Football Club on Wednesday, June 14 with Pigs v Graphic to be played on Tuesday, June 20.

The Final round of games will see the remaining matches being played on Finals Day, which this year will be on Sunday, July 2, starting at 11am, 1.15pm and 3.30pm approximately, and ending with the Final itself between the top two teams at 6pm.

Phil Matten