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Champions beaten in Exeter thriller

Defending champions Cornwall kicked off their 2013 Minor Counties Championship campaign with a dramatic final-over defeat to neighbours Devon at Exeter.In an intriguing encounter that saw the two teams separated by just a run on first innings, Devon were set 248 to win in 65 overs.They reached the target with five balls to spare - and five wickets in hand - thanks to an unbeaten stand of 74 between Joshua Bess, who top-scored with 68, and Matthew Golding.David Lye and Seb Benton had earlier contributed 48 and 50 respectively, while Trevor Anning’s six-wicket haul was central to Cornwall being dismissed for 246 in their second innings.Elsewhere in the Western Division, there were comprehensive wins for Berkshire and Wales Minor Counties.Harry Stephens, with 153, and Richard Logan, who contributed 63 not out and six first-innings wickets, helped Berkshire to an innings-and-38-run triumph over Dorset at Henley-on-Thames.Wales Minor Counties defeated Herefordshire by 10 wickets at Pontarddulais Park, a target of 10 being knocked off in five balls after Keiran Bull had claimed match figures of 8-124. Rhodri Evans hit 168 in the hosts’ first innings.Adam Syddall and Daniel Woods combined to dismiss Oxfordshire for 54 at Great Tew, giving Cheshire victory by 135 runs. The result was harsh on Luke Ryan, whose 10 match wickets proved in vain.Michael Coles was another star performer to end up on the losing side. His unbeaten 227 failed to prevent Wiltshire losing to Shropshire, for whom Bilal Shafayat made a second-innings 97 at almost a-run-a-ball, by seven wickets at Salisbury.Last year’s Eastern Division champions Buckinghamshire were involved in a high-scoring draw with Bedfordshire at Ampthill Park that featured four centuries. Martin Weightman and George Thurstance reached three figures for Bedfordshire either side of Rob White and Michael Payne striking hundreds in Buckinghamshire’s mammoth 518 for four.Lincolnshire and Suffolk also drew at Sleaford, while Cumberland were one wicket away from forcing victory over Staffordshire at Hem Heath.Harry Bush’s 148 was not enough for Norfolk as they went down to Cambridgeshire by eight wickets at Wisbech.In the week’s other game at Jesmond, Herefordshire - aided by Ed Ballard’s second-innings 133 and nine match scalps for Usman Arif - beat Northumberland by 159 runs.

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