Picture: Conrad Sutcliffe
A dramatic final-day collapse from Cambridgeshire, who were dismissed for just 72, handed victory to Devon in a low-scoring four-day minor counties championship final.
Chasing 242 to win in arguably the biggest non-first-class match of the season, Cambridgeshire were reduced to 59 for 5 at lunch and lost two quick wickets after the break to send them spiraling towards defeat.
Devon captain Chris Bradley said that his bowlers were spurred on by an incident in the morning session when Cambridgeshire batsman Jon Atkinson was given out lbw to Craig Overton only to have the decision reversed when he complained to the umpires that he had hit the ball onto his pad.
“We were pretty pumped up anyway with a match to win and that incident really fired our players up,” the acting skipper told devoncricket.co.uk. “Our bowlers were merciless after that and bowled as well as they have all season. I was surprised how easily they crumbled, but I think they knew at lunch the writing was on the wall and had nothing left to play for.”
Bowling allrounder Josh Bess, who took two wickets in the final innings, was named man of the match after his battling 54 rescued Devon’s second innings – and with it their chances of winning the match. Supported by Matt Thompson (26), Bess hauled the western division champions from 97 for 6 to 195 all out, meaning Cambridgeshire would have to make the highest total of the match to win.
Devon’s director of cricket, Roger Newman, told devoncricket.co.uk: “Josh is a talented cricketer. He’s not had a great season with the bat but he’s come to the party on the big occasion in the big match, he’s scored the big innings and got the big award.”
Devon and Cambridgeshire reached the play-off final after winning the Western and Eastern divisions respectively. The West country side have now won the Championship competition eight times, one triumph behind the overall leaders, Buckinghamshire.
Minor Counties Championship final 2011. September 4-7, March Town CC (full scorecard)
Cambridgeshire won the toss
Devon 228 (Robert Woodman 67; Paul McMahon 5-53)
Cambs 182 (Nicholas Ferraby 72; Craig Overton 3-21)
Devon 195 (Josh Bess 54; Thomas Mees 4-31)
Cambs 72 (Trevor Anning 3-7, Scott Barlow 3-4)
Devon beat Cambridgeshire by 169 runs