Sidmouth crowned 2012 champions
Sidmouth picked up the bonus points they needed from a four-wicket defeat by Exmouth to lift the Francis Clark Devon Premier Division title for the fourth time in five years.
Only two teams could win the title going into the final round of fixtures – and as fate had it they were playing each other.
Exmouth had it all to do as Sidmouth’s target was eight points, irrespective of how the game panned out.
Sidmouth made 223 for four with Anthony Griffiths making 66, Josh Bess 53 and Luke Bess 45.
Exmouth missed out on three potential bowing bonus points by only taking four wickets and from then on knew what was coming.
By the time Exmouth went out to bat Sidmouth only needed two wickets for one more bonus point and the title was theirs.
And when Miles Dalton dismissed Exmouth opener Barney Huxtable for 50, leaving the home side 136 for two, it was mission accomplished.
David Lye went on to hit 96 before Will Murray got him out with the target down to 21 to win.
Andy Buzza (13 not out) and Max Curtis got Exmouth over the finishing line, although it was a hollow victory and both sides knew it.
“We would have liked to win the game and the title with it, but it wasn’t to be,” said Sidmouth skipper Will Murray.
"It wasn’t a conscious decision to lose the game but deny Exmouth the chance to win the league in the process of stopping them winning points.
“If we had wanted to do that, we would have come off at 200 for three, as they couldn’t have caught us then.
“Probably we could have scored a few more runs, but going past 225 would only have benefited Exmouth as that was another bonus for them to aim for and there was no real benefit for us.”
Having already beaten Bovey Tracey to win the Devon Cup, Sidmouth can now claim the double.
Murray said what his side had achieved in the second half of a soggy season was ‘truly remarkable’.
“Halfway through the season Bovey were top and we were 35 points behind them in fifth place,” said Murray.
“Everyone was saying then it was Bovey’s to lose as no one was going to catch them, but that’s exactly what we did.
“And to finish with the double was truly remarkable.
“It is the second time we have won the double and that has only been done once before.”
Sidmouth are definitely in a pretty exclusive club as only Barton (1987-1989) have done the league and cup double twice. Sidmouth’s other double was in 2009.
Bradninch ensured their survival in the Premier Division for another summer when they walloped Sandford by seven wickets.
Both sides knew the losers would be going down so here was everything to play for at Creedy Park.
Bradninch pacer Dan Milligan struck early to nip out Adrian Small and Scott Tremain, then followed up with Neil Bettis (23) and George Greed as Sandford wobbled to 33 for four.
What Milligan started was finished off by spinner Gary Chappell, whose five-for-20 haul had Sandford all out for 89 early in the 32nd over.
Only Dave Dredge with 23 put up much of a fight until he was eighth out at 76. Ryan Glass and Jamie Palmer didn’t detain Chappell for long.
Ross Acton (46) and Tim Piper (25) soon made a 72 –run hole in the deficit.
A three-wicket burst from Sandford captain Matt Theedom (3-27) only delayed the inevitable as Chappell and Paul Tweddle wrapped up victory with nearly 30 overs to spare.
Going down with Sandford are Heathcoat, who made Bovey Tracey work all the way for a two-wicket win in a low-scoring affair.
Joe Smith top scored for Heathcoat with 47 off 92 balls with just one six and four fours in a total of 113 all out.
Opener Smith saw seven batters score six runs between them as Heathcoat collapsed to 38 for seven under pressure from Matt Kidd (3-35) and Charlie Hill (3-14).
Tom Drake (31) came in at number 10 and helped Smith add 58 for the ninth wicket while Bovey spent 21 overs trying to get them out.
Smith was ninth out with Hague finally winkled out by the returning Peter Bradley (2-17).
Bovey didn’t find runs much easier to come by and without a patient 50 from Sam Wyatt-Haines may have come off worst.
Wyatt-Haines held it together after Bradley, Charlie Carter and former Devon captain Neil Hancock went reaching 54 for three.
James Drew (2-19) got Wyatt-Haines out and the tension grew as Bovey dipped to 95 for seven.
Kidd with 17 not out saw Bovey over the hump.
Skipper Chris Barr said a fond farewell to Plymouth after steering the city side to a 49-run win over Budleigh Salterton in his last game at the helm.
Barr, 30, came back over from his Western Australia home one more time to play for Plymouth having been part of the side in 2007 and 2008 then midway through the season, found himself installed as captain after Callum Whittaker dropped himself to the second team due to a lack of form with the bat.
Plymouth totted up 220 for eight in their 50 overs, led there by Chris Barr (39), Harry Stephenson (63) and Bryant (440.
A stand of 92 between Stephenson and Bryant took Plymouth from 106 for four to 198 for five.
Joel Murphy (3-37) and Worcestershire-bound Charlie Morris (3-51) were the pick of the Budleigh bowlers.
Budleigh were all out for 171 in reply – Barr (3-12) finishing them off once Matt Hooper (2-50) finally removed opener James Hudson.
Opener Hudson top scored with 76 and was still going strong at 145 for four when he had swing at Hooper and was caught on the boundary.
It was downhill all the way after that as Budleigh lost their next five wickets for 24 runs in the way to 171 all out.
Last man out was Neil Murrin, the second scalp for Rob Bennett (2-32).
Budleigh finished with a 13-point safety cushion, not that skipper Joel Murphy was too concerned going into the final round of fixtures.
Budleigh’s ground problems have attracted more attention than their cricket this season – hardly surprising when pictures of their pavilion flooded out to rooftop level were published.
Budleigh lost more games than any other Premier side to bad weather, which left Murphy reflecting on what might have been
“We were as good as the best when we played them, but didn’t play enough,” said Murphy, who is planning to have surgery on a knee injury this winter.
"Sidmouth only defeated us by three runs and we didn’t play either of our games games against Heathcoat.
“Had we played more then to three or four was realistic for us.”