THE first game for Sandford Cricket Club was played at the beginning of May, and to-date only one game so far has succumbed to the weather which plagued the beginning of the Cricket season in general.

The opening game saw last year’s newcomers, Crediton Milling, record an easy victory against the Sandford Dads and Lads team.

The Sandford guys batted first but could only muster 102 for five in their 100 balls, mainly thanks to 21 from 15-year-old Joe Hopkins.

In reply the Mill men strolled to their victory target in only 83 balls with “Man Mountain” Tom Gulley scoring a very patient 22 by his standards.

But all round support backed up by a quick fire 19 from Matt Holmes saw the Mill home with plenty of time to spare.

The following evening Sandford Football Club thrashed Graphic.

The footballers batted first, and with retirements from Joel Gebler (25), Steve “Tipper” Lyon (27) and Dean “I’ve named my house Cow Corner” Pidgeon (26) they amassed a formidable 138 for three from their 100 balls, including 32 extras.

Graphic were never in the running to win once skipper Andy Hookway departed first ball of their innings.

Without Shobrooke Park stalwart Ben Trenaman (31no) who originally had to retire after reaching 25, but then had to come back in again when all his teammates kept getting out, they would never have reached their eventual total of 99 all out.

Brad Elliot 4-12 and Ricky Turner 3-18 were the chief destroyers.

The “big match” the following week between probably two of the tournaments favourites, Crediton Rugby Club and the Three Little Pigs unfortunately fell victim to the weather, so both teams were awarded a point each.

The next match saw the Dads and Lads facing up to the Football Club, with Football Club skipper Nathan Keast taking bets for them to win the Barrie Sparham OBE Memorial Trophy for only the second time.

His confidence was not unfounded as his side won a good match with only five balls to spare.

The Dads and Lads got off to a good start with a couple of the dads, Marc Zieleninski (24) and Adrian Partridge (26 Retired) getting their side off to a good start.

However, the lads could not keep up the momentum, and it was left to old stager Keith Hopkins (20no) to push the score up to 116 from their 100 balls. Unlike in their previous game, the Footie Club gave themselves a mountain to climb, as Tipper Lyons, Deano Pidgeon and Rob “Nugget” Smith all departed for blobs, leaving the Football Club floundering at 3-3 in the second over of their innings.

Cool heads were called for, and the fightback was led by Aaron Carpanini (27), Stu Moss (25) and Adam Bilcock (25).

Eventually victory was achieved with five balls remaining and the “gobby” Sandford skipper at the crease.

The next game saw the Pigs up against the Mill.

Pigs looked very strong as their formidable batting line-up smashed their way to 152 from their 100 balls.

Josh Woodland (25), young Jack James (26), Chris Eaton (26) and Will House (25) all created mayhem for the Mill bowlers.

The men from the Mill gave it a go, and Tom Gulley played his cards very early thumping 21 in no time, but unfortunately the remaining batsman couldn’t keep up the momentum Tom had given them.

Dave Manning managed 27 before he had to retire, but he took forever to get them, and the innings finally subsided to 125 in their allotted 100 balls, which included a record 42 extras.

So the Pigs gained their first victory of the season.

It was then the turn of the Rugby Club to get their season up and running. They took on Graphic who batted first and made a respectable 119, by their standards.

Skipper Andy Hookway managed 27 before retiring, and later down the order Ben Trenaman again had to retire after cracking 28.

Despite 23 from Danny McCarthy their eventual total of 119 never really seemed to be enough against the Rugby Club’s “bully boy” batsmen.

So it proved.

Jay “David Bailey” Harris was the only batsman to score 25 and required to retire, but 28 extras didn’t help Graphics cause.

With only five batsmen required to bat the Rugby Club strolled home after only 69 balls.

Even Barny “Mr Sandford Orchards” Butterfield hit a six, and let everybody else know about it afterwards in the bar.

The Rugby Club were up and running and looking as though they meant business.

It’s not very often in cricket you get a tie, but that’s exactly what happened in the next game between the Dads and Lads and Graphic.

Batting first, the Dads and Lads batted well to amass 130 from their allotted balls. Fifteen-year-old Joe Hopkins (25), 14-year-old Ollie Knight (25) and veteran Jon Keast (27), together with another 36 extras saw the Dads and Lads rack up 130.

Remarkably with a much changed team, due to holidays and unavailabilities, stand-in opener Simon Cartlidge had to retire after reaching a solid, but slowish 27, but it was the evergreen Phil Greenslade who gave his side a lift with a rapid 27 before he too had to retire.

A further 27 extras saw Graphic requiring 14 from their final over to win, but with young Ollie Knight getting the prized wicket of former Sandford First XI captain Richard Foan, home on holiday for a couple of weeks from Australia, their “at bat” batsmen couldn’t get them over the line, although they did manage 13 runs, and so the game was tied on 130 each.

Rhys James had earlier bowled his three overs for 11 runs and taking three Graphic wickets, a good return from another 14-year-old Sandford boy.

Remarkably there was nearly a second tie in a week when the following evening the Football Club came up against the Pigs.

So with the Football Club “cock a hoop” having won their first two matches, they batted first and knocked up 123 with Deano Pidgeon and Louis Kinch having to retire on 26 and Tipper Lyons 21 being the main contributors.

The Pigs got off to a slowish start, but with Josh Davey cracking 27 and newcomer Will French caressing 25, the Pigs were always in with a shout of winning, and come the last over they required 10 to win.

It was left to Adam Bilcock to prevent the Pigs from winning, but a cheeky single off the last ball saw the Pigs home to maintain their unbeaten record, and in doing so saw the Ford Footie boys lose their first game.

So with one game still to be played in Round Three The Pigs are leading the way with five points from three games, Football Club four from three, Rugby Club three from two, Crediton Milling two from two and Dads and Lads and Graphic bringing up the rear with one point from three games each.

This week will have seen the game between Rugby Club and Crediton Milling finish off the Round Three program.

Phil Matten