North Devon lose unbeaten record to basement-dwelling Abbots

North Devon Gazette

North Devon lost for the first time this season in the A Division when relegation worriers Abbotskerswell pulled off an unexpected three-wicket win over the promotion chasers.

Abbots have been virtual sitting tenants in the basement since the early weeks of the season and were second favourites against previously unbeaten North Devon.

But hopes were high in the Abbots’ dressing room after North Devon had been bowled out for 118 by Jay Hussain (4-39) and a combination of Mark Gilmour (2-28) and Alex Birt (2-26).

Openers Ben Howe (54) and George McEndoo (16) put on 61 for North Devon’s first wicket. When Howe was run out at 114 for five the rest of the batting surrendered.

Abbots took five North Devon wickets for four runs, with Gilmour at the forefront of the wicket-taking effort.

North Devon have been in the top two for as long as Abbots have been at the opposite end of the table – and showed why by hitting back with the ball.

Chathura Peiris (23) and Gilmour (20) got Abbots moving after Jack Moore (2-26) and county paceman Jack Popham (1-28) had them at 25 for three.

Gilmour’s demise to Fred King sparked a collapse from 64 for three to 73 for seven as King (3-16) did most of the damage.

But the rot stopped with eighth-wicket pair Alex Birt (20no) and Kyle Rich (21no), whose unbroken stand of 46 won it for Abbots.

Tom Popham, the North Devon captain, was generous with his post-match comments.

“We made a decent go of it with the ball, but no excuses, we didn't bat well enough and Abbots deserved their win,” said Popham.

“Abbots won a good toss and, barring the first 15 overs, which we dealt with well, their bowlers suited the deck and bowled in areas that made it difficult to score quickly and difficult to stick around.”

North Devon (16.18 points) are still second in the table behind champions-elect Bradninch (19.00).

*Hatherleigh had no games at first, second or third-team level last weekend due to a Coronavirus outbreak at the club.

Three positive cases were confirmed and when self-isolators were factored in the only way ahead was to cancel all three games.