Filleigh old boy Saker relishing Devon League return at Barton

Sunnier times at Barton Cricket Club

Sunnier times at Barton Cricket Club - Credit: Archant

Filleigh's former overseas player Justin Saker has been explaining why he will be commuting 150 miles there and back to play home games for new club Barton in the season ahead.

The 30-year-old Australian had three seasons between 2016-2018 with Filleigh as their overseas player, during which he racked up the runs and piled up wickets for a pastime.

Saker had the summer off in 2019 – and although he registered with Braunton last summer he did not actually play as work commitments got in the way.

Now settled in Bishops Tawton with a new wife and a baby on the way, Saker wants to return to the cut and thrust Tolchards Devon League while he can.

“My second and third seasons at Filleigh were played in the B Division and I think I held my own there,” said Saker.

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“I have only ever played in the B and C Divisions of the Devon League and would like to have a go at a higher level.

“Barton have been trying to get me down there for a couple of years and now seems the right time to have a go with them in the A Division.

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“Barton are keen to get back up into the Premier Division again and I would like to help them. I am not going to drive 150 miles there and back for home games just to make up the numbers.

“I turned 30 recently and if I want to play Premier cricket I don’t want to leave it much longer.

“Barton have some good young players and lads coming back from university during the season too. If they are good enough to get into the Premier Division I would like part of that gig.”

Saker scored nearly 2,800 runs combined in the Devon and North Devon leagues for Filleigh at an average a touch over 42. His top score was 176 off 109 balls in a 252-run win over Uplyme & Lyme Regis.

Barton saw at close quarters what Saker could do when he helped himself to 93 not out against them at Deer Park in 2017.

“That must have impressed them as I don’t remember scoring any runs at their place,” said Saker.

A haul of 65 wickets at a fraction below 20 runs each underlined Saker’s all-rounder credentials.

Brought up on the east coast of Australia in Coff’s Harbour, Saker played cricket at Nana Glen in New South Wales and was 1st XI captain for two years.

When Saker’s uncle Dave came over to coach in the UK in Gloucestershire, his nephew followed in 2014 and played for Shipston in the Cotswold Hills League.

Filleigh came calling in 2016 and Saker’s three seasons there coincided with the club being promoted into the Devon League B Division for the first time.

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