BABBACOMBE are cast-iron favourites for promotion from the C Division West as champions after walloping second-placed Ashburton by eight wickets.
Only one side goes up this year – the play-off between East and West runners-up are in abeyance while a league re-organisation takes place – and before last Saturday it was neck and neck between Babbacombe (233pts) and Asburton (226). Not any more!
Ashburton were spun to a turn by Paul Bates, whose five for 24 off nine overs ripped the heart out of the batting.
If Bates didn’t get them Dean Peall did. He had four for 19.
Ashes were 36 for six before Matt Churchill (15) and Dom Durman (10) showed some stickability. Once they went it was downhill fast to 78 all out.
Babbacombe skipper Steve Broad was probably a bit nervous when his side were nine for two in reply, but Jacob Hand (35) and Andy Kingdon (43) ensured no further mishaps.
With two games to go – Dartington & Totnes then Chagford to finish - Babbacombe are 23 points clear of Ashburton at the top.
Favourites they may be, but Broad insists the celebrations will have to wait a bit longer.
“One more win to be certain with two difficult games left,” said Broad.
“I am happy we are clear but funny things can happen and I don’t like counting chickens to early.”
Ashburton have two of the bottom three to play – Shaldon and doomed Plymouth CS&R – which is why Broad is a little cautious.
On the win over Ashburton, Broad said: “The boys were excellent when it really mattered.
“We've probably only played to our potential twice this season and both times against Ashburton.”
ASHBURTON heaped more relegation pressure on Shaldon when they beat them by 122 runs.
Plymouth Civil Service are down already and two from Stoke Gabriel (169pts), South Devon (157) and Shaldon (158) will be going with them after this Saturday’s final round of fixtures.
Shaldon face Bridestowe (3rd), Stoke are at Dartington (6th) and South Devon are at home to Kingsbridge (5th).
Lloyd White (77) and Tom Durman (41) put on 91 for Ashes’ second wicket and with Tristan Wakefield (63) and Ash Berry (33) chipping in a total of 290 for six was posted.
Shaldon had it all to do at 91 for five – Steve Arkell in and out for 33 by then – and the best they could manage was 40 from Carl Woolnough in a total of 168 all out.
Matt Churchill was the leading Ashburton bowler with four for 35.
Reports courtesy of Conrad Sutcliffe.
2nd XI vs Tavistock
The second team travelled to Second placed Tavistock this week fielding 6 U16s. The youth were supported by some experienced members of the club but found things hard going at times with Tavi wracking up 280-6. Rob Lambert 3-46 was the pick of the Bowlers with Tom Higgs bowling with aggression and control unfortunate to be wicketless. A good spell from Tom Fursdon on debut and a first league wicket for Ashton West were also bright moments for the Chargers who worked hard and never gave up in the field.
At Tea the call was for some fight and some spirit. To go and bat with strength and resilience and that is exactly what the top order did. Kev Cock (30) and skipper Marcus West (61) putting on 87 for the first wicket and frustrating a Tavi bowling attack who had expected to run through the Ashes batting line up. Nick Yabsley (41) and Jack Churchill (28no) kept the momentum going with Ashburton claiming all 5 batting points and finishing on 202-3.
A superb effort and a show of mental strength and team spirit from the Chargers. As the teams left the field you would have been forgiven for thinking it was Ashburton who had won the game with spirits high and deserved sense of achievement in the dressing room.