The destination of the top honour in the North Devon Cricket League is going to be away from its North Devon home for only the second time in the 24 years of the competition’s existence. This comes at the completion of week 23 fixtures.
The penultimate weekend of the 2008 campaign saw North Devon miss out on the chance to seal a 4th title success and the double-header win for Bradninch coupled with Sandford’s Creedy Park win over Lynton & Lynmouth, sets things up beautifully for a dramatic final match – a ‘winner takes all’ contest with Bradninch facing Sandford at Kensham Park next Sunday (September 21st) with the winners of the match being crowned FIRST DIVISION CHAMPIONS.
The week 23 Bradninch victories came as a result of major contributions from players at opposite ends of the age spectrum. First, the Saturday win over North Devon who had travelled to Mid Devon knowing that if they won they’d be crowned Champions for the 5th time.
The home side were put in with six men back in the home pavilion and just 89 runs on the board it looked as if the visitors would be cracking the champagne in Mid Devon. But then teenage all-rounder Eliot Acton (49no) and Saturday 1st XI skipper Joel Murphy (28no), got together for the hosts and the pair took their team to a healthy 171-6 at the close of their 45 overs.
This still looked a total well within the capabilities of a side that included the talented Stuart Rhodes and Rob Gear, but three wickets fell before double figures were on the Mid Devon side’s score board and despite a fine partnership between Rhodes (33) and Gear (35), once both were out – Rhodes trapped lbw by Murphy and Gear run out it spelt the beginning of the end for the visitors and their innings, and with it their title aspirations, closed on 129-9, with the match-winning contribution being that unbeaten knock from young Acton.
A day later and Bradninch were battling to get a side together for the game with Bideford. Club stalwart, 62 year old Les Kent was clearing his Westfield home shed out in the village when he got a late Sunday morning call to report for duty with his whites and he turned in a match winning 4-19 from eight overs as the visitors, who won the toss and chose to bat, were bundled out for just 97. It took the home batsmen a delivery shy of twenty overs to complete an emphatic nine wicket win and set up that grand ‘winner takes all’ confrontation next Sunday afternoon at Bradninch.
Ross Acton cracked a top score of 36 and the two not out men when the winning runs were scored were Dan Hardy (29) and Chris Acton (24).