By Roy Honeybone
Wiltshire scored an historic win against Devon at Sandford CC, July 21/22/23 in an MCCA Championship game.
Devon won the toss at Sandford CC and elected to bat. Wiltshire had to face the challenge without two of their leading bowlers – Tahir Afridi was able to play, but not bowl as he had woken up with a mysterious, unexplained, ankle pain.
Jake Lintott was missing as he had been called up by his club to play in a National Club Championship game. The remaining bowlers worked tirelessly in the heat to contain Devon.
There were two wickets each for South Wilts pacemen Luke Evans and Will Harries and for spinners Joe King (a marathon 34 overs) and Brad Dawson.
The Devon innings were built around a splendid partnership of 111 between Matt Thompson, 132, and seasoned professional Wayne White 62.
The partnership was eventually broken when Luke Evans returned to bowl White. Thompson continued and made a significant century until caught by Tahir Afridi off Joe King’s bowling. There were late contributions from Zac Bess 38 and Matthew Skeemer 46 not out which saw Devon close their first innings on 337 for eight.
Wiltshire began confidently with Jake Goodwin and Will Wade both getting into the twenties, but it was Uzi Qureshi (pictured above) who anchored the Wiltshire reply with an excellent 81. Skipper Ed Young 42 and Brad Dawson 42 kept the scoreboard moving.
Brad enjoyed support from Tahir Afridi 19 and Luke Evans 18 as Wiltshire closed on 293, a deficit of just 44 runs. For Devon, Wayne White was the demolition man with a breathtaking seven-wicket haul, seven for 62.
Devon began their second innings looking to build on their lead, but were immediately knocked back when Tahir Afridi, now recovered and able to bowl at pace, took two early wickets to leave Devon on four for two after three overs, including the prized wicket of first innings centurion Matthew Thompson for a duck!
Skipper Alex Barrow 21, looked to rebuild the innings until trapped lbw by Luke Evans. Ben Beaumont reversed his fortunes from the first innings (0) to hit a lively 51 until lbw to Brad Dawson. Joe King got in on the act by taking two more wickets, leaving Devon on 176 for 6 overnight.
The game was finely poised when Devon continued their innings in the morning knowing that if they could build on their lead, they would have every chance of winning the match. Similarly, Wiltshire realised that if they could take quick wickets then they would have a good chance of winning.
Zac Bess stood firm for Devon, but he was left stranded on 51 not out as wickets tumbled around him. Joe King added to his tally three for 42, but the real destroyer was the rejuvenated Tahir Afridi, who knocked the stumps over three times to finish off Devon and secure another five wicket haul – five for 63.
Devon were bowled out for 207 meaning that Wiltshire needed 252 to win with plenty of time and overs to do it.
The Wiltshire reply didn’t go completely according to plan as they lost Will Wade with only 12 runs on the board. However, this brought Uzi Qureshi 74 to the crease and together with Jake Goodwin 86, they added a hard-hitting, yet disciplined, partnership of 148 for the second wicket.
At 160 for two Wiltshire looked to be firmly in control. Neil Clark added a quickfire 35, but it was left to Bradley Dawson 22 not out to guide Wiltshire home. The winning runs came courtesy of a boundary from Tahir Afridi five not out after Wayne White had taken three more wickets (match figures of 10 for 126) to give Devon a little (if unrealistic) hope.
And so Wiltshire 253 for six claimed the Championship victory over Devon for the first time since 1967.