‘Bissy’ sixfer and Birley half-century as 2nd XI go down at all-conquering North Devon 2nds — but with 10 points to show for their efforts
If you are going to lose a Tolchards Devon League game then the ‘best case’ scenario is to bank 10 points (five bowling and five banking) and that is exactly what the Bradninch 2nd XI did when they visited Instow to take on a North Devon 2nd XI outfit that have now reached the halfway stag of the E Division league season with a perfect played nine and won nine record.
In what was a fine all-round show — though one of extraordinary ‘highs and lows’, the Bradninch fielding effort resulted in 40 wides being bowled and well over a dozen — yes, 12 — catches dropped.
Indeed, so charmed a life did the North Devon centurion batsman enjoy that he had eight let-offs.
Yep, he was dropped eight times before ending with an unbeaten 112! However, the undoubted ‘highs’ were a ‘sixfer’ for wicket-keeper Jordan Biss who pouched five catches and also bagged a stumping, and a terrific half-century from Will Birley — arguably, given the opposition — his best ‘Ninch’ knock to date!
After winning the toss, Bradninch skipper Connor Carthew opted to field first and he saw Ryan Shrewsberry strike in his first over thanks to a catch behind by Biss. A second wicket was claimed with the score on 28 — another Biss catch — this time off James Mills.
It was soon 65-2 and 69-3, both wickets taken by first change bowler Tom Hardy — one a Biss catch and the other him hitting the stumps.
The fifth wicket pairing took the game away from Bradninch — though had just one of as many as six catching opportunities not been spurned the pair would not have added 96 for the fifth wicket. However, they did until, during an over from the returning Mills, Tom Hardy provided the throw that made for a run-out.
The sixth wicket took the home total to 225 before a Biss stumping gave Rob Acton a wicket. Another 60 runs were added before a seventh wicket fell — this one yet another Biss catch, this time off the bowling of Birley.
That saw North Devon on 285-7 and the end came soon after as Shrewsberry returned for a second wicket and Birley bagged the last two with first Max Cooper and then Biss, holding catches and North Devon 2nds were all out for 301.
The bowling figures reflect a home score of 300 plus. Will Birley (3-52 from seven overs); Tom Hardy (2-37 from 4); Ryan Shrewsberry (2-54 from 9); Rob Acton (1-56 in 9) and James Mills (1-57 in nine), claimed the wickets and the only bowler not to get a wicket was Chris Acton with a return of 0-43 from eight and, when the experienced (and very good) bowler that he is goes for five an over, you know the opposition have chalked up a tidy score!
Chris Acton and Will Birley launched the run-chase and they had got 38 on the board midway through the 11th over, when the senior of the two openers — Acton — fell for two having faced 34 deliveries.
Birley was joined by Tom Hardy and he was at the non-strikers end as Birley reached his half-century off just 40 balls, hitting a six and seven fours. Shortly after reaching his 50, Birley fell to a caught and bowled — out for 55 with the score then 87-2.
A third batting point was banked just before the third wicket fell — Tom Hardy run-out by his skipper when he was on 29!
Ryan Shrewsberry fell for six for the score to then be 151-4 and it was soon 170-7 as Rob Sinden (1), Rob Acton (9) and James Mills (0) all fell.
The post-tea target had always been to look to get maximum batting points and, with Max Cooper trooping out to join his skipper, 200 and a fifth batting point was still some way off. However, the pair batted beautifully and guided the team to 205 before Cooper was out for a terrific 16. No runs were added as the skipper finally fell for 48 — a knock that saw him become the first Ninch 2nd XI batsman to reach 250 runs this season.
Last man Jonny Reed was the last wicket down, bowled without troubling the scorers and Bradninch were all out for 205 in 41.5 overs.
Defeated they might well have been, but this was a battling performance that deservedly saw them bank a full 10 points.
Just how important those 10 were shows at the halfway mark E Division table for Bradninch, though beaten at the table-toppers, hold onto third spot as the latest table shows:
North Devon 2nds 9 176
Sidmouth 3rds 9 162
Bradninch 2nds 9 116
Uplyme & L Regis 9 116
Topsham St James 9 108
Bideford 2nds 9 106