Acton action and Bunker catching guide 2nd XI ever closer to a historic top spot
Bradninch 2nd XI became only the second team to inflict a defeat on Sidmouth III when they beat the visiting side by 23-runs in a thrilling Tolchards Devon League F Division East.
The win – a sixth straight success for the side, means that a win next week at Braunton 2nds and they will sit top of the table at the halfway stage of the season and that would be quite an achievement. Indeed, at stumps after the win over Sidmouth all the talk was about when the last time – if indeed there had been one, that the club’s often much-maligned 2nd XI had the chance to stand top of their division at the midway point of a campaign.
This win over table-topping Sidmouth came from another terrific all-round show. Chris Acton hit a splendid century, Ross Acton and Will Squire both hit half-centuries and then Will Birley took another three wickets and Thom Bunker held two superb catches in the deep and also bagged a run out with a direct hit!
Bradninch batted first and got off to a super start thanks to a century opening stand between Ross Acton and Chris Acton, with ‘Roscoe’ following up his 140 from seven days before with a run-a-ball 50, before he was the first man down, caught for 52 with eight fours and a six.
Thom Bunker joined Chris Acton and they took the score to 139 when, in the 25th over, Bunker fell to a catch after a cameo knock that saw him face just 22 balls for his 27 – slamming four fours and a six.
Will Squire joined Chris Acton and they took the total to 242 before the Acton knock was ended after he had reached 101 from 100 deliveries. Squire was the fourth and final wicket to fall, hitting a 41-ball half century before he was out for 56. Connor Carthew was not out six and Kalann Nessling, who did not face a delivery, was the other not out batsman as Bradninch closed on 259-4 after their 40 overs.
The Sidmouth reply got off to a flyer as they hit 48 off the first six overs send down by Kalann Nessling and Will Squire. However, Nessling struck with the third ball of his fourth over, bagging a leg before decision and, after the second wicket pair had added 69, with the score on 118, Thom Bunker struck, hitting then stumps in his second over. It was soon 125-3 as Ross Acton got a leg before shout in his favour and a first wicket of the game for Will Birley – a clean bowled – left Sidmouth on 146-4. However, they still had opener Dan Powell there and he was looking in ominous form. A fifth wicket was claimed with Chris Acton the successful bowler – aided by a wonderful catch in the deep held by Thom Bunker.
The very next over, Bunker was again the star as he held a superb catch off Will Birley to end the innings of Powell – out for 95 – and Sidmouth were wobbling on 176-6. It was soon 184-7 with a third wicket for Birley –his second clean-bowled and Sidmouth looked all in. However, number eight batsman Lee Clayden had other ideas and, 16 runs were scored off the seventh Chris Acton over to give them hope, but back came Ross Acton, after a run-out inspired by a direct hit from Thom Bunker and a straight ball that hit the stumps, the final wicket fell when a Birley throw to Connor Carthew saw the glovesman remove the bails with Clayden out and Sidmouth were all out for 237 with eight balls remaining.
Those all-important bowling figures were topped by Will Birley, with a 3-28 return from six overs and he now has 13 wickets this season. Ross Acton’s return was 2-24 from 6.4 overs and there were single wickets for Kalann Nessling (1-50 from eight), Thom Bunker (1-20 from three) and Chris Acton (1-54 from seven). Will Squire (0-41 from eight) was the other bowler used.
It is worth mentioning that the batsman who scored 95 was dropped four times – on 42, 46, 57 and 76 – with two of the ‘drops’ coming off the Kalann Nessling bowling.