James Mills produced a stunning spell with the ball, claiming seven wickets as Bradninch 2nds all but guaranteed their survival in the Tolchards Devon League ‘E’ Division East with a 161-run win over hosts Upottery.
At the East Devon villagers’ superbly appointed sports ground — cricket and football live side by side — Bradninch 2nds skipper Will Greig, stepping into the role after injury led to the withdrawal of regular skipper Connor Carthew, lost the toss and was asked to send his openers out to bat.
Will Birley and Paul Nott launched the innings and Birley rifled the first delivery of the match to the cover boundary — passing 400 league runs in a season for the first time in the process.
However, when on 14, Birley was superbly caught to leave Bradninch 27-1.
Ryan Shrewsberry joined Nott and the pair took the score to 91, adding 64 for the second wicket before ‘Shrew’ fell for a 46-ball 21.
Chris Acton then joined his brother-in-law and the pair took the total to 145 when Nott fell just 14 runs short of a century.
The experienced campaigner faced 109 balls and hit seven fours and four sixes in his 86.
Just three runs were added before Will Greig fell for a fourth-ball duck.
Max Cooper, batting at six, then joined Acton and the pair gave the innings some real momentum, adding 78 in just nine overs before Acton fell for 43.
He faced 52 balls, scoring five fours and his wicket was the penultimate wicket to go down with the final wicket being that of Nick Acton, bowled first ball leaving James Mills to score three not-out from the two balls he faced while the other not-out batsman was Max Cooper who ended with a season’s best 31 not-out, scored from 28 balls with three fours as Bradninch closed on 228-6 after 45 overs.
Post-tea, the contest was dominated by seamer James Mills.
Prior to the Glebe Park outing the all-rounder, who joined the club at the start of the season and has proved himself to be a key part of the 2nd XI — had taken 10 wickets in as many games.
However, at stumps, with Bradninch emphatic winners, Mills had taken his wicket tally to 17!
He got the ball to swing superbly claiming wickets in his second, third, sixth, seventh and eighth overs. Indeed, at the start of his ninth and final over he was sporting figures of 7-15, but a tired final over saw him go for one five wide delivery and two other wides as he finished with terrific figures of 7-23.
Four of his seven wickets were clean-bowled, two more were caught behind by wicket-keeper Jordan Biss and one more was a leg-before decision.
Mills got all but two of the wickets that 10-man Upottery 2nds lost — Nick Acton got one of the other wickets thanks to another stunning catch in the gully by Will Birley and Rob Acton also claimed a wicket thanks to a smart catch by Ryan Shrewsberry.
Upottery were bowled out for 67 in 20.5 overs with 37 of the home total being extras — 29 of them wides which, for the record, were sent down by:
Nick Acton, bowled 15 wides in his figures of 1-15 from three overs; James Mills bowled 12 wides in his 7-23 from nine overs and Max Cooper bowled two wides (0-4 from one over) and the only bowlers not to bowl a wide were Will Greig who 27 successive dot balls in his spell of (0-2 from five overs) and Rob Acton (1-15 from 1.5 overs)