Thompson to fore for Devon
DEVON were indebted to Matt Thompson for grinding out a century to help put them on top against Cheshire at the end of day one of their final Minor Counties Championship match of the season.
Thompson was unbeaten on 120 when he ran out of people to bat with at Exmouth as Devon finally cobbled together 233 all out in the 64th of the 90 overs available to them
Oxfordshire had to bat out the final 20 overs of an elongated day – half an hour was added on towards making up for time lost to rain – and at stumps were 49 for six.
They did not quite make it to the full 20, though, as skipper Josh Bess yorked Richard West with the final ball of the day to finish the day with figures of four wickets for nine runs.
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Oxfordshire have some serious regrouping to do when they get back out there today after a thorough mauling by Devon pace bowlers Trevor Anning and Bess.
Bess and Anning bowled straight and either hit the stumps or the edge.
There were two exceptions: Joe Barrett top-edging Bess to Will Squire at behind square and Jonny Cater who hit a wide long-hop to Squire at point.
Devon closed the day 184 runs ahead and for that sizeable margin they have a lot to thank Thompson for.
Thompson went in at ten for one in the sixth over after opener Rob Woodman had been caught on the boundary and kept going for the next four hours and 14 minutes.
Oxfordshire had a confident shout for leg before wicket declined – a hint of inside edge probably saved Thompson's bacon – but otherwise he did not offer a chance
Thompson barely hit the ball in the air until he was in the 80s, when spinner Lyke Ryan was smashed back over his head on to the adjoining croquet lawn.
Thompson's knock could not be faulted, as director or cricket Keith Donohue was quick to underline.
However, on a day when five of Devon's recognised batsmen were either caught behind of in the slips, there was no disguising the fact too many had underperformed.
"Matt hasn't had the best of seasons but it was a very good innings and showed what a quality player Matt really is," Donohue declared.
"Halfway through the season, we asked Matt to move up the order to do a job for us and that's what he did by batting through.
"The disappointing thing is that Matt made 120 and the rest didn't get a hundred between them.
"The main thing is we managed a score. Whether it is a good one we won't know until both sides have batted, although 184 runs ahead overnight looks pretty good."
Thompson did most of the donkey work with the bat, and it was hard going at times.
Worthwhile partnerships were few and far between. The best were ones of 52 for the third wicket with David Lye (15) and 45 for the ninth with Matt Kidd, who did what all good tail-enders should do: hang around.
Thompson appeared to be building a promising partnership with number seven Sandy Allen, but that ended when Allen was judged lbw for 17 to the right-arm round-the-wicket spin of Karl Penhale. The ball must have straightened considerably!
Of the rest, opener Rob Holman made 29 and no one else made more than skipper Bess with 11.
Thompson was left stranded when last man Squire was run out for nought – having helped add 16 for the last wicket.