North Devon v Belstone
Hotham's 99 not out is the difference
Under a baking sun on a true flat pitch with fast outfield at Instow it was surprising that both North Devon and Belstone – meeting in Division One of the North Devon League – lost all ten wickets well within their 40 overs for a combined total of only 300 runs. North Devon looked to be on course for a 250 plus score when they reached 80 for one in the fifteenth over but then a diving catch at midwicket by Ryan Dennis off Harry Bushin (8-0-45-2) sent back Josh King for a run-a-minute 20. From then on Belstone’s catching was top drawer as no other incoming North Devon batsman reached double figures. Somerset and England star Jamie Overton was next in, playing for his home club while recovering from injury but – luckily for Belstone – not allowed to bowl. He lasted just three balls before giving bragging rights to Alex Jopling and Harry Bushin by crashing a full toss from Alex straight down Harry's throat at long-off. Matt Knapman soon followed when Dan Fogerty’s split second change of mind about which end to throw to ran him out for a duck. Jopling picked up three more wickets and James Ewen pocketed three catches as North Devon were reduced to 127 for eight. All the while however opener Callum Hotham was keeping one end secure and now, as he began to run out of partners, he expertly pushed the score on and kept the strike with early-over boundaries and fifth or last ball singles. 33 was added for the ninth wicket with Archie Popham whose contribution was five runs; then another ten for the last wicket before last man David Rothery was leg before to Fogerty; agonisingly for Hotham this left him carrying his bat one short of a century, his 99 not out coming off 101 balls with 11 boundaries and 2 sixes.
Whereas eight of the North Devon batsmen were caught and none bowled, Belstone’s reply was noticeably different in that six were clean bowled and only one caught. King broke through early on, his pace causing James Ewen to drag one on to the stumps as he tried to leave the ball, then spectacularly shattering the stumps to dismiss the other opener Phil Woods for 13. Jay Rothery got through Dennis’s usually solid defences and with Popham bowling Pat Ewen for a duck and Fogerty for a solid 23 made in 53 minutes, Belstone were struggling at 53 for five. Jopling (14) hit three consecutive boundaries to briefly spoil King’s figures while adding 45 with skipper Richard Drake, but the game turned in favour of the home side when Popham (8-2-25-4) bowled consecutive wicket maidens including a very low caught and bowled to dismiss Drake for 31. Chris Walpole (4 not out off 28 balls) occupied the crease while Bushin made 20 at the other end to secure a few more League points but the game was over when Jonny Green picked up the last two wickets in four balls to give North Devon a 40-run win.