Reasons to be cheerful

PUBLISHED: 10:00 07 May 2008 | UPDATED: 21:48 15 June 2010

The Francis Clark Devon Cricket League began a new season on Saturday and it was a good opening day for Axminster and Seaton who both started with wins.

The Francis Clark Devon Cricket League began a new season on Saturday and it was a good opening day for Axminster and Seaton who both started with wins. Whilst Feniton and Kilmington couldn't quite match that level, all four sides have reasons to be very confident about the season ahead.Axminster made a winning start to their B Division campaign leaving skipper Danny Larcombe to suggest: "This can be a very good season for us. There are undoubtedly some strong sides in the section but I am very confident, indeed my biggest problem is going to be getting the batting order right because when I look through the side I see strength in all areas."Bideford batted first and were restricted to 135-8, this after they were 40-1 inside the first 10 overs! Keith Rockett and Joel Seaward both picked up two wickets and, in the Axminster reply, after the early loss of Gary Larcombe (2), Robbie Prior steadied things with 24 before David Murnane (28no) joined debutant Raul East (36no) and the pair saw their side to a comfortable six wicket win.Larcombe is delighted to have East on board this season saying: " He is the sort of person I feel can do a similar job to that that Mark Richards did for the cub season by season. Raul can hit the ball hard but as we saw against Bideford he can also apply discipline at the crease too, I am excited about this side, all the stronger for the presence of the likes of Raul."The C Division of the Francis Clark League has a real East Devon 'flavour' about it this season with Kilmington, Seaton and Feniton amongst the 10 sides in the section.Kilmington began with a defeat against Ivybridge but skipper Ian Gooding is not too concerned: "I stuck them in, as I gather they'd have done if they'd won the toss, but, as it happened, the cloud cover post tea made for really bowler friendly conditions."Ivybridge closed on 182-9, two wickets falling to the Cook brothers of spinner Hal and medium pacer Ralph but only Andy Long (31no) was able to master the conditions after tea. The 'best of the rest' was the 14 runs from Steve Allsop and the Kilmington reply was completed on 94.Kilmington are boosted this coming weekend with the availability of former Axminster player Tristan Wakeley. Gooding says: "He's a quality bat and will certainly be an asset in our top order." Gooding's options this season are further boosted with the return to the club of Roland Stonex, who was playing elsewhere last season, and they also have a fully fit Ben Noble who was kept out of almost the entire campaign last summer through injury. "There's little doubt that we are well equipped for this season," said an enthusiastic Gooding.Seaton skipper Mike Wheeler declared himself highly satisfied with his side's opening day win and 19 point haul against Chagford. "It was a green wicket and our seam attack made the most of it. The ultra positive point about the game is that we have started the season with 19 more points than we launched last term's effort. "All the lads played their part, it was a good all round effort and, if we can find consistency, then we'll be okay." Greg Foxwell led the run-getting with a fine unbeaten 67 as he and David Cottam (50no combined to take the innings to a close of 197-2. This was after earlier runs from Matt Hewer (31) and Steve Pritchard (22). Then the seam attack went to work with 16-year-old Joe Berry's right arm medium pace earning him an opening day 'fivefer' Berry's figures of 5-21 were outstanding and he got good support from Ben Morgan and Ben Copp who both bagged a couple of wickets.Feniton's season got off to a poor start as they fell to a 64 run defeat at Stoke Gabriel but skipper Mark Kingdom was upbeat at stumps saying: "We have got players to come in yet and I like the look of our XI. We were unfortunate at two key stages of the game. First we looked set to get them for less than 175, and then we lost early wickets at the start of the reply but a big plus was the debut knock of Mick (Robertson). He'll get runs this summer for sure." Robertson has arrived from playing cricket in Western Australia and the 23-year-old wicketkeeper-batsmen made an instant impression with a couple of catches, a smart stumping and the side's highest score of 38. The hosts found serious momentum to their innings through the last 15 overs to close on 200-8 despite three wickets falling to Russell Whitton and two to Jonathan Pyle. The early departure of both Dave Haysom and Adrian Pullen was a setback from which Feniton never really recovered and, despite some late resistance from Stuart Bright (18) and Jamie Easterbrook (18no), the reply closed on 136.On Saturday Station Road stages its first league game of the season with the visit of Clyst Hydon."They generally have an overseas player who is a dominant factor but I am hopeful we will have a couple of other players available after footballing commitments kept them away on the opening day," said Kingdom.Whimple got their D Division season off to a good start with a 50 run win in a low-scoring game at Dawlish where skipper Simon Van Grudgings top scored with 37 in a total of 125.That was far too many for the home side who were bowled out for just 75 thanks to the magnificent efforts of Phil Hope, who took 4-5 in just 19 deliveries, to help his side to a 17 point opening day haul.Ottery St Mary's campaign began with defeat at Hatherleigh where the home side scored an imposing 229-7 and then bowled the Otters out for 154 despite John Tierney's 42 and Robert Bradshaw-Smith who scored 25.There was also a decent all round effort from Bill O'Brien with a couple of wickets and 23 with the bat.Uplyme & Lyme Regis made a good start with a win at Lewdown where they posted a total of 146-9 thanks to Jed Whittington's 49 and Phil Norris's 25. Then Steve Batey claimed 4-18 and Nick Price 3-11 to see the hosts bowled out for just 78.The G Division began with Yarcombe & Stockland enjoying a maximum point haul at Newton St Cyres where Simon Hovell was in great form with both ball and bat, first taking 2-32 as the Mid Devon side were bowled out for 149 and then top scoring with 72, leading his side to a four wicket win.Upottery made a fabulous start to their season with a nine-wicket mauling of Chardstock and skipper Stuart Drew was not sure quite how to view the end result for, had his side's catching been better, he might have had an awful lot more than the three wickets he did get. Mind you, the other way of looking at it is that the poor catching saved the skipper having to buy a post match 'jug of ale'!Drew (3-38) and Gary Kennard (3-30) combined to restrict Chardstock to 173-8. Thomas Wyatt and Seamus Machin got their side's reply off to a great start and, when Wyatt departed for 41, Gary Kennard joined Machin and the pair took their side to a nine-wicket opening day win. Machin was unbeaten on 74 and Kennard, who had a fine all round game, was not out 30. Skipper Drew said: "It was an excellent first afternoon's work but that catching needs sprucing up, it was woeful!

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