SANDFORD Cricket Club’s First XI’s good start to the season continued last Saturday, May 11, with an excellent win over bogey side Sidmouth by three wickets.

Following-on from last week’s initial victory this season over Exmouth, this has set Sandford up well to defend the Devon League Premier Division title they won last season.

With both victories against two teams who themselves may well have fancied taking the title this year, this stands Sandford in good stead at this early stage.

Things didn’t start well for the home side, even though Sandford skipper Jackson Thompson won the toss yet again and asked the opposition to bat first. Young Matt Jeacock sent the first ball of the day down, the batsman Sam Elstone got an outside edge which flew to second slip where Aryan Lakra juggled it to first slip Harrison Jones who promptly appeared to down a “sitter”. It was to prove an expensive miss.

Within another couple of overs, Lakra also put Charlie Gaywood, the other opener, down. The two Sidmouth batsmen subsequently started to penalise Sandford for these lapses, and together they put on 60 runs for the first wicket, before Gaywood departed for 14 from 45 balls (three fours).

Elstone was then joined by his Sidmouth captain Luke Bess. Together they smacked the ball to all parts of Creedy Park, sharing a stand of 89, before Bess was on his way back to the hutch for 36 from 46 balls, (three sixes and two fours).

Bess’s departure brought South African Overseas player Luke Beaufort to the crease. The scoreboard continued to revolve, and with the score on 175 Elstone smacked a straight ball back to Sandford’s Northants bowler Raphael Weatherall, and had to depart for an excellent 96. In fairness he deserved a century, having had his bit of luck first ball of the game. He had batted for 109 balls, including 14 fours.

However, his departure saw a flurry of wickets, with Sandford spinners skipper Jackson Thompson 3-46 from 10 overs, Aryan Lakra 2-39 (9) and Jack Ford 1-36 (6) restricting Sidmouth to 240 for eight in their 50 overs.

With Beaufort being one of the wickets to fall - 34 from 30 balls (two sixes and two fours), it looked as though Sidmouth would be pushing towards 270, so 240 was a bonus for the home team. Ben Way chipped in with 26 (four fours) down the order to even give 240 some respectability.

In response Sandford openers Adam Small and Harrison Jones looked very assured, as they put together an opening stand of 45, before Jones, looking to slog to the vacant mid wicket boundary, was bowled by Sidmouth veteran Will Murray for 23 (three fours).

With two young Devon batsmen at the crease, Small was joined by Lawrence Walker, runs started to flow as they both found the boundary with regularity.

So it was quite a surprise when they both departed with a couple of balls of each other. Smally got an edge off Murray for an excellent 54 (seven fours), and then “Lozzer” duly followed for 38 (one six and five fours) with the score still on 119.

Aryan Lakra was joined by new Devon Lions captain Jack Ford, and another quick wicket could have caused some consternation in the Sandford ranks. However, with the scoring rate being up with the required rate, this gave both batsmen time to consolidate. The score reached 149 when Lakra smashed a full toss straight down long on’s throat, and he was on his way for 18.

This brought former Sandford youth player, and now Somerset County Academy player, 17 year-old James Theedom to the crease. Theeds made everything look so easy as he took the lead and starting smashing the ball to all parts of the ground.

This gave Fordy the confidence to play his shots as well. Together they put Sandford on the verge of victory, before unexpectedly Fordy hit a catch to cover point with the score on 228, and he was out for an excellent 42 from 63 balls which included five fours.

Theedom guided his team home after 45.4 overs, despite another couple of quick wickets falling cheaply, to a three wicket win. He finished unbeaten on 56 from only 46 balls with four sixes and three fours.

One of his sixes wiped out one of Sandford’s loyal supporters and a club sponsor Paul Steer (Devondale). With blood spitting out from a serious mouth injury, which subsequently required 15 stitches to put his lip back together and an ambulance had to be called. It didn’t stop him talking, but his drinking has had to be put on hold for a week or so. Thankfully Steery is ok allegedly, or at least he was when I spoke to him on Sunday morning.

For Sidmouth, Ben Way weighed in with 3-66 from 10 overs, Will Murray 2-31 (10) and Charlie Gaywood 2-54 (10). Sandford took 19 points from their victory, with Sidmouth gaining seven.

The Seconds travelled to Ivybridge for their C Division West match. A tale of dropped catches – again – didn’t help their cause apparently, with at least half a dozen being spilt.

As a result the home side were able to rack up a formidable total of 261 for eight in their 45 overs, with opener Adam Huxtable 62 (three sixes and six fours) from 68 balls, overseas Cebo Tshiki smacking 67 from only 45 balls (five sixes and two fours), opener Harvey Jonson 32 – 51 balls (two sixes, two fours) and tailender Arthur Johnson 31 from only 21 balls (three sixes, two fours) doing most of the damage.

The openers put on 92 for the first wicket, to put Sandford on the back foot right from the start, and with the score on 212 for three with the overseas going well, in the end to keep the hosts down to 261 from their 45 overs was probably acceptable.

For Sandford, skipper Shaun Hawkins tried his best to stop the deluge of runs by taking four for 38 from eight overs. Next best was our Second XI overseas Praison Alias with 2-42 (9).

With such a large total to chase, it was essential Sandford made a good start. However 71 for seven was not what the Sandford boys were looking for, as the early order disappeared with regular continuity.

In the end the rot was stopped, to a large degree, when debutant Tom Maidment got stuck in and stroked his way to 88 from only 73 balls, including four sixes and 10 fours. Together with Archie Osborne they added 83 for the eighth wicket. Archie departed for a useful 24 –29 balls and three fours, but this left the tail open.

Veteran Brian Leach held up one end for a while whilst Maidment carried on regardless, but on 180 Brizo’s luck ran out. Soon afterwards it was all over. All out for 180 in 40.1 overs. Disappointing, but with Ivybridge expected to be amongst the frontrunners in this division, the eight points gained may prove to be useful.

The Thirds also managed their second victory in two games with an away win at Exwick Seconds. Apparently the outfield was more suitable for haymaking than playing cricket on, and this subsequently made scoring runs along the deck difficult.

Winning the toss, Exwick elected to bat first and at 75 for two this decision may have seemed a good one. However, once opener Daniel Pooley departed for 36 from 77 balls (four fours), everything started to go pear shaped for the home side. Ellie Bishop had started to weave her evil web, and the Exwick innings fell apart with the last wicket falling at 104 after only 33.5 overs.

Following on from her last week’s “five-for”, Devon ladies player Ellie was at it again, with another five for 41 from her eight overs. Two wickets apiece from young 15 year-old Tom Harding (2-21 (eight) and Liam “the Hairdresser” Gardner 2-11 (5.5) helped see the home side’s innings disintegrate to give Sandford a hint of victory.

However, nothing is easy on such a pitch. Again it was Ellie Bishop opening the innings who held the early order together. Last week’s hero Steve Lyon came and went quickly. He smacked his second ball for a six, and despite hitting another four he was soon back in the hutch for 13 in double quick time.

Jason Matten then joined Ellie, and they added 30 useful runs before he departed for 19-23 balls, one six and two fours. It was then left to Rob “Nugget” Smith to stroke a useful 19–22 balls - two fours - but unfortunately for him, Ellie was dismissed just before him for a valiant 22 from a patient 71 balls – one four. With Nugget’s departure the outcome was on a knife-edge at 78 for six. Dan Knight was then joined by Liam Gardner. Together they pushed the score to 95 before Liam was out.

As like last week, Danny then guided his team home with a patient 16 not out from 22 balls – one six. The victory by three wickets in 29.2 overs, earned the Thirds a gallant 18 points to go with the 20 from last week, and leaves them second in the table. But having achieved promotion last season, life in G Division East may be a season of consolidation, as there are at least a couple of other teams – Devon Medics and Filleigh to name but two – who I suspect will be challenging at the top of the table at the end of the year.

On Sunday Sandford entertained Bristol CC at Creedy Park in the National Club Cup competition. Unfortunately availability was to say the least sporadic, with only four of Saturday’s team available to play on Sunday, of which Jack James was one, and he’d been pulled into the Firsts on Saturday only because of illness.

As such the game as a spectacle was very one-sided with Bristol smashing 292 for nine in their 40 overs.

Main run-getter was opener Nic Halstead-Cleak with a boisterous 123 from only 92 balls – four sixes and 10 fours – although I understand he was dropped on at least three occasions. For Sandford the main wicket takers were Jack James who claimed 3-42 (5) and Byron Knowles 2-53 (8).

In response wickets fell with steady regularity and Sandford were all out for 133 in only 31.1 overs, with skipper Jackson Thompson notching 28 and Praison Alias 26.

This coming Saturday will see the Firsts travel to Paignton for a 12.30pm start, the Seconds are at home to Plymouth Seconds and the Thirds at home to Filleigh, both with 1pm starts.

There is also a T20 match at Creedy Park on Sunday when the Firsts entertain Bradninch and Kentisbeare Firsts – 2pm start. Ironically the Seconds of each club are also due to play another T20 in the Seconds teams competition the following Wednesday, May 22, with a 6pm start. 

Phil Matten