Dixon delights with fivefer as Honiton stay top

Honiton II continued with their hold on top spot in the D Division East 2nd XI of the Francis Clark Devon League.

In a top versus bottom encounter, high-flying Honiton II hosted strugglers Axminster on a grey and muggy Saturday, knowing that a win would keep them in top spot, while any slip-ups could open up a gap into which any one of four teams in the pursuing pack might sneak.

With the Axemen batting first, Bicknell set off like a man in a hurry, carving Brinsford and Wright round the park as the score raced to 28-0 off three overs! Both he and opening partner Chennery proceeded to ride their luck as several edges and mis-cues punctuated the authentic fare, dropping between fielders and generally out of harm’s way.

Rampaul just failed to hold on to what would have been a remarkable catch off Bicknell’s skewed slice, running diagonally in reverse at deep point, and was left to reflect on whether the captain’s instruction to “drop a couple” had perhaps been a tad ambiguous.

With 55 on the board in no time, it was Wright who made the breakthrough by taking a smart return catch to remove Bicknell for 43. He followed up by having Chennery expertly taken behind the stumps by Sluman and, with a single ball of his six over spell remaining, produced one that was too fast and straight for the potentially dangerous Enticott to make it 76-3 from 12 overs.

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Axminster’s plan seemed to be based more on rapidity of scoring than any attempt to bat out the overs as Perry took on the role of thumper-in-chief to keep the scorers busy. The bowlers however, were sniffing the start of a very long tail and Dixon was soon able to put one in the corridor of uncertainty to clean up the solid Broad.

Craig Lapping pulled off the old three card trick, tempting Perry into taking on the man at long-on. This he did with gay abandon but was soon wending his way back for a boisterous 40 as Brinsford held on to a fine catch to make it 100-5.

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Thereafter, the area of uncertainty became less of a corridor and more of a six lane autobahn as the remaining batsmen queued up to be clean bowled to oblivion in rapid succession by the pitiless, steel eyed, wicket hungry Dixon.

In the space of six overs, the remaining batters were all back in the hutch, Axminster having crumbled to 128 all out, Dixon leaving the bottom half of the scoresheet in tatters by taking 5-19. Wright finished with a handy 3-40, Craig Lapping 1-20 and the two best bowlers in the side, Kelly and Hill, were left with nothing much to do beyond offering helpful observations concerning the shameful bunny harassment which they had just been forced to witness.

Honiton’s reply started disastrously, with Beighton edging Perry’s straight full toss onto his stumps from the first delivery of the innings.

Rampaul played himself in and hit several venomous pulls in an innings of 23 before, a touch unwisely, trying a forehand overhead smash to Bicknell’s ballooning long-hop, lobbing a simple catch up to mid off.

Two of Dixon’s earlier victims combined to have their revenge when he was caught Broad, bowled Farrow for 9 and Honiton wobbled at 41-3. Pulman played a couple of big shots to reach eight, but, the leg spinning Farrow, was smart enough to play the percentage game, ensuring Pulman proceeded no further.

A total of 49-4 didn’t exactly represent a position of commanding invincibility and a couple more quick wickets would have the potential to put Honiton in a humiliating position.

As it was, skipper Andrew “gut feel” Lapping carefully played himself in, by wooshing mightily at thin air to his first three balls. Sluman found things tricky and, frustrated, aimed a yahoo (other internet portals are available) befitting any village green towards cow corner, losing his middle stump in the process.

Luckily, Honiton were able to call on the class of Craig Lapping at 70-5. With the skipper now finding the middle of the bat and the edge of the park, the score raced ahead, thankfully with few further alarms. Craig Lapping was able to find the gaps in the field while cousin Andrew Lapping pulverised anything loose and a lot more besides, the pair taking the game away from Axminster and the skipper reaching a powerful half century.

With ten needed to win the skipper thick edged a simple catch to backward point to depart for 53, but with the resourceful Brinsford (3no) employing the square leg shovel and keeping Craig Lapping (28no) company Honiton eased home to complete victory inside 24 overs.

Proceedings were all done and dusted by 4:45pm, leaving spectators and players alike feeling slightly robbed, but the 19 points earned ensure that Honiton stay at the top of the league, with no game next week and the big showdown with Whimple to follow.

Skipper Lapping said: “This was a big game to win for us we could of quite easily taken Axminster for granted just because of their league position, and, after five overs this looked as if that could of been the case, as they got off to a flyer, but we stuck to our guns and got the result we needed. Six weeks ago we had a 45 point gap to make up with the leaders, look at us now, on the verge of a very special season. There remains work to be done but I am sure we are up to it.”

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