THE weekend of Saturday, June 17 saw Sandford Cricket Club’s First XI travel to Plympton hoping to maintain their four match winning streak.

After an awkward start, which saw the Plympton openers put on 62 for the first wicket, James Theedom made the initial breakthrough, and having done so, wickets then began to fall steadily.

Soon 62 for 0 became 85-7, and eventually 147 all out. Quite a remarkable turn around instigated by the introduction of the 16-year old young prospective!

James decimated Plympton’s early order with a spell of 4-23 from only seven overs, which changed the whole course of events. Backed up by Harrsion Jones 2-53 (10) and Dikshu Negi 2-11 (10), Plympton had no answer to the youngster as he rattled out their top order.

In reply, despite losing an early wicket, Ryan Glass (21) and Adam Small (14) started to repair the damage. But with both gone by the time the score reached 70, things could have been dodgy.

Enter Sandford’s overseas player Dikshu Negi. Suddenly the game changed in Sandford’s favour once again.

Rattling off fours like they were easy pickings he eased himself to a quickfire 77 not out off of only 44 balls – 13 fours and one six – and together with Harrison Jones with a steady, but unspectacular 27 not out – five fours - from 52 balls, they guided Sandford to victory at 148 for four in only 25.2 overs, and a welcomed further 20 points plus their fifth win in a row.

With leaders Cornwood surprisingly slipping up against bottom side North Devon, the gap to Sandford in third place, has now closed to six points, with Tiverton Heathcoat a point behind the leaders.

The Seconds were home to Chudleigh, hoping to continue their good run of three straight wins, which had taken them to fourth in the league.

Against an indifferent Chudleigh side and batting first, things did not go well from the start. Both openers were out very early as the Sandford innings slumped to one for two. However, Ricky Hopwood (14), playing his first game of the season, and Ciaran Gray (55) started to repair the damage. 

With Shaun Hawkins also playing sensibly in a fine knock of 32, it looked like Sandford would make a decent fist of it after all. However, at 129 for six backs were against the wall again. A seventh wicket partnership of 64 between skipper Chris Jelley and under-rated all-rounder Archie Osborne (38 no) pushed the eventual Sandford total up to 198 for eight from their 45 overs. Although below par, at least it was a score to bowl at.

Chudleigh’s skipper Adam Kent had other ideas though, and took to the Sandford bowling. He smashed his way to 67 from 61 balls including 12 fours, but his departure with the score on 111-3 caused a mini collapse to 129-6, and Sandford could smell an improbable victory.

Adam Sercombe (46 no) and Rob Clarke (28 no) soon snuffed out any chance of the home team winning though, as Chudleigh galloped to victory in the 41st over. In the bowling stakes it was again Shaun Hawkins who created a moment or two of mayhem in the Chudleigh ranks, together with two suicidal run outs, but no-one else was really able to get to grips with the Chudleigh batting.

So Sandford had to settle for seven points in a game, to be fair, they probably never deserved to win, and didn’t. In doing so they dropped back down to seventh in the league, but with only 18 points separating third place and ninth place, it looks like it could be a very open division this year. Even more so as the bottom team Ipplepen beat the top team Cullompton going into that weekend’s games.

The Thirds didn’t have a league game as it was their turn to miss out – nine teams in their league so one team has an occasional bye week - and so they were able to re-arrange a friendly against Plymstock Thirds who were prepared to travel to Creedy Park and play on the second ground, which we were very grateful for.

Batting first our boys racked up 179, and in reply they bowled Plymstock out for 164. In doing so they achieved yet another win to remain unbeaten, but more importantly, an extra 22 people managed to get a game of cricket, which they otherwise may not have done.

On the Sunday our Firsts were due to play Exmouth in the Devon T20 Wombat Cup competition, but on the morning of the game Exmouth contacted us to say that they couldn’t raise a side, and so conceded the game. The outcome of this is that our lads now progress to the Finals Day, at which they were Runners-Up last year.

Phil Matten