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Devon cruise to MCCA title

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Devon secured their eighth Minor County Championship title after some superb bowling in the second innings saw them crush Cambridgeshire by 169 runs at March Town.

The clash was wide open after the first innings, which saw Devon register 228 before bowling out Cambridgeshire for 182, but Josh Bess’ all-round contribution in the second-innings proved the difference.

Devon had started poorly second time around but Bess’ valuable 54, along with Matt Thompson’s 26 rescued the visitors from 97 for six to 195 all out, leaving Cambridgeshire needing 242 to win the title on the final day.

Bess opened Devon’s bowling, but got off to a terrible start when his first over went for 17 runs as Cambridgeshire started confidently.

But Bess, inspired by his heroic batting display, bounced back and picked up two quick wickets when Thompson caught opener Peter Richter and Nick Ferraby was bowled.

Bess caught Alan Burton in the slips off Trevor Anning before Jon Atkinson was given lbw, but the batsman was given a reprieve after the umpire had changed his mind.

Despite their batting collapsing, Cambridgeshire still battled on to try and save a draw to share the title, but Devon’s ferocious bowlers made short work of their opponents’ downfall.

Cambridgeshire were 59 for five at lunch but collapsed completely to 72 all out soon afterwards, as Scott Barlow took three wickets and caught last man Tom Mees off Chris Bradley to help Devon claim their first MCCA title since 2004.

Captain Bradley told This is Devon: “Our bowlers were merciless and they bowled as well as they have done all season. I was surprised at how easily they crumbled, but I think after lunch they knew the writing was on the wall and they had nothing to play for.”

Roger Newman, Devon’s director of cricket, claimed Bess’ performance in the second innings was vital to his side’s victory.

He said: ”Josh’s knock with Matt Thompson in the second innings was absolutely crucial as we were in danger of not having enough to put scoreboard pressure on Cambridgeshire. He is a big match player and he really delivered when the chips were down”.

The win puts Devon just one title behind Buckinghamshire, who hold the record for most MCCA wins, while Cambridgeshire’s search for a first championship since 1963 goes on.