House makes chances count in close run encounter

PUBLISHED: 12:41 13 June 2018

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Newton Poppleford hosted Topsham St James at the Riverside Oval on Sunday.

The two teams played their first fixture last year at the Topsham ground. It was a close affair then, and the home side expected another close run game in this meeting.

Popplelford suffered a blow just 10 minutes before the start of the match with the loss of swashbuckling batsmen Anning.

Captain Isaac Thomas took the toss and duly elected to bat. A warm Mediterranean wind blew across the Oval and a fine, hard, Whitehall -prepared wicket promised runs.

Usual opener Thomas was accompanied by House, playing only his second 40-Over game of the season.

When the third ball of the opening over cannoned into Thomas’s leg stump there was an audible intake of breath.

The first failure of this year for Thomas couldn’t have come in a worse game with what already appeared to be a strong Topsham bowling attack.

Batsmen three, four and five only managed a dozen runs between them and suddenly the home side were a troubled 29-4 and looked about as precarious as a certain famous shed that teeters on the cliff in Sidmouth!

The loss of Anning led to the introduction of Antony Cox. The latter, as it has been well documented, has been struggling for form. It has been said that the greatest players need a little bit of pressure to perform.

These two set about building the sort of partnership Poppleford are more used to seeing at one and two!

Running well between the wickets and keeping each other motivated in the heat, House reached 50 from 62 deliveries.

Cox had clearly made whatever changes he needed to his batting and played chanceless cricket.

Most notably, he served up an extra-cover drive and straight drive that both showed immaculate timing and placement – both shots being rewarded with four runs.

House began to tire and produced several lose chances only to be reprieved. His partner offered some stern words of advice which refocused the opener. House bottom edged through the vacant first slip area for four and a cheer erupted from the home team. House and Cox had well and truly dug their team out of the mire and now had an already respectable total on the board.

Cox fell straight after passing 50 from 60 balls faced. House went on to pass his 100 and he had a splendid 119 to his name with Raistrick not out 21 as Newton Poppleford closed on 235-5.

Tea was taken with the home side feeling like they had got themselves out of jail a little.

They had been shown that good line and length would produce wickets, but also that it wasn’t impossible to score on this pitch. Marsh and young opener Ben Fisher took the new ball.

The latter showed excellent skill and control of swing at a young age. Fisher bowled excellently in his five over spell to finish with figures of 1-29.

Marsh remained consistent and nagging, finishing with 1-14 from six overs. Phil Hunter and leading wicket taker Chris Davis took the next 12 overs and both started with controlled maidens.

Davis continued his wicket taking antics with a return of 3-30 while Hunter passed the bat countless times and was unlucky not to have a wicket to his name.

The next pairing was Luke Raistrick and Leigh Adey. Luke has now fully mastered his mystery spin and continues to become more consistent.

He finished with figures of 1-40 from eight overs, a spell that included two maidens. Leigh continues to be the unluckiest bowler with a sharp catch dropped by Thomas behind the stumps.

Some late order firepower saw Topsham reach 194-7 with two overs to go. The penultimate over brought 11, but claimed a wicket. Young gun Fisher bowled a controlled final over and the home side managed to keep Topsham at bay.

Thanks to Sonia for scoring and for all who provided teas. With no game next Sunday, the next outing for Poppleford will be the meeting with Clent CC on June 24.

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