North Devon ready for new season

North Devon batsman Barney Huxtable at the Maer ground. Picture: Simon Horn

North Devon batsman Barney Huxtable at the Maer ground. Picture: Simon Horn - Credit: Archant

North Devon get their Tolchards Devon Cricket League season underway on Saturday against Sidmouth.

North Devon get the Premier Division season under way on Saturday when Sidmouth visit the Instow Ground.

Sidmouth finished second and North Devon third last season behind runaway champions Torquay.

Torquay have lost a clutch of players during the winter, among them Somerset T20 regular Max Waller and Hampshire-bound Ryan Stevenson, and will find it tough defending the title.

It has been a difficult close season for North Devon due to the death in January of fast bowler Tom Allin, last season’s leading Premier wicket taker with 35 scalps.

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Allin’s death was an emotional blow to cricket in the area – he was a hugely popular figure in the clubs and schools were he coached – and North Devon CC in particular.

The challenge facing North Devon skipper Barney Huxtable, who has stayed on for a second crack at the captaincy, is to concentrate on the season ahead not events in the past.

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North Devon have lost spin-bowling all-rounder Callum French to Exmouth as he lives in Exeter and was finding the travelling to Instow difficult.

A familiar face back in the Sandhills this summer is that of former captain Matt Westaway, who took last season off to work on his golf.

Huxtable has high hopes of new overseas player Kyle Verreynne, who comes from the same background as Jason Smith, North Devon’s hugely successful overseas player in 2013.

Verreyenne played for South Africa in the last Under-19 World Cup hosted by Bangladesh.

The keeper-batter from Pretoria averaged more than 30 with the bat and had 10 victims behind the stumps.

He won two man-of-the-match for South Africa in the Under-19 World Cup, for an unbeaten 64 against Scotland and won another two days later for leading South Africa to victory over Ireland with a knock of 77

Overall he has played 17 times for South Africa at under-19 level in one-day cricket and is averaging in the high 20s.

He made his First Class debut for Western Province as a 17-year-old in January 2015 in a three-day Sunfoil Cup game against Griqualand West.

“Kyle looks a very good player and should strengthen out batting line-up,” said Huxtable.

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