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    Western Tour 2018


    What better place to start this year’s tour than Cerne Abbas – distinctly greener this year than most of “England’s beige and pleasant land”? And what better event to celebrate the start than the maiden simultaneous appearance on a cricket field of all five of Ruth’s Thomases? (Surely not the last such occasion, whatever Paul says). Perhaps a repeat performance with Al and his Harry also playing could be arranged, to really confuse future historians of the club.

    To make this event possible, premeditated negotiations in lieu of a toss enabled George and Josh T to help their club win through to the next round of a colts 20/20 competition in the morning, confident in the knowledge that the Sou’Westers would be batting when they arrived a little late for our game against Cerne Valley. We inherited the painted boundary of Saturday’s league match, which had been played on a wicket significantly further from the pavilion than the one used for our game – the result was an interesting asymmetry, with boundary-fielders almost able to save the single on one side, but needing relay-throws to return the ball to the ‘keeper on the other. This in no way detracted from a very good match augmented by the high-quality catering synonymous with Cerne Abbas, both before and during the game.

    The cricket was initially quite serious while Rob Baney bowled briskly from one end, and Tom Doyle delivered easy-to-underestimate in-duckers from the other. The latter gained the first wicket, when the left-handed Will (son of Guy) Bucknell nicked the ball into the gauntlets of a septuagenarian Harlequin in a genuine Harlequin cap, as sported by Douglas Jardine while stuffing the Aussies in   ’32 – ’33.

    The cricket later had a less serious look about it. Angus Spratling’s six sixes were interspersed with four spurned stumping chances, Harry T seemed intent on breaking the Cerne Valley altitude record before succumbing to Sam Downey’s brave flight and a good catch, George T played some stunning shots before reverse-biffing a six to the long boundary, and the declaration came after 40 of the 80 overs allocated to this hybrid match. Josh T opened the bowling and delivered his ration of 8 overs before being whisked away – not content with playing in two cricket matches in one day, he had some sailing to fit in before bedtime. Cerne passed our total with 6 wickets down, but not before James Flatt had bowled what was aesthetically speaking the ball of the tour, pitching on a perfect length four inches outside the leg-stump, beating a text-book forward defensive stroke, and missing the off-stump by a hair’s breadth; it would have hit many recent Sou’Wester wicketkeepers on a glove, but the incumbent-of-the-day was better than that, and had moved to his left in anticipation of a ball which merely straightened, rather than being one of the Shane Warne persuasion ……..



    Again, negotiation took the place of a toss, this time to allow several Old Blundellians to attend a wake. After an erratic start by our opening bowlers, Alec Sprague found his length, and he and first-change Angus Spratling reduced the OB’s to 69 for 7, which

    included 41 from Justin Williams. At this point a most unfortunate injury to Harry Kennedy’s shoulder resulted in the tour losing a player but gaining an umpire – albeit one whose slung arm made signalling wides and sixes problematic. The OB’s recovery to 171 was based largely on 38 extras and 33 from Will Ginbell. Alec Sprague ended with the well-deserved figures of 6 for 46 from 11 overs.

    Despite a well-crafted 45 from Charlie Everett, the Sou’Westers too lost their first 7 wickets cheaply, and the subsequent spirited partnership of 58 between James Flatt and Alec Sprague still left them 34 runs short. Of the 9 wickets the OB’s had needed, Louis Stephenson took 7, for 9 runs, in 6.5 overs. As always, St Sue of Tiverton and her disciples produced an excellent lunch and a splendid meal after the game.



    At Heathcoat, all three of our “seam” bowlers showed touching faith in “slower-ball bouncers” (known to previous generations as long-hops) and persevered with this method of “attack” for some time, undeterred by the frequency with which the ball bounced off, or had to be fetched from the other side of, the pavilion. However, an opening partnership of 79 was followed by 5 catches and 2 lbw’s, and 7 wickets were down for 135 before a stand of 81 resulted in the Sou’Westers needing 215 to win.

    92 for 6 in reply did not look promising, but 50 from Al Thomas and 22 from Alec Sprague produced a short-lived glimmer of hope. Alec’s low, straight six over the sight screen would have elicited his grandfather’s unconditional approval, and was achieved with a bat sold, around the turn of the century, by John Haynes to the intermediate Sprague. When with nine wickets down Jon and Sam Kennedy had to settle for at best the draw they ultimately achieved, the attack was in the hands of a more-than-useful young off-break bowler, and a distinctly rapid “overseas”. It was deemed good sense for each batsman to specialise in defending against one type of bowler, and Sam’s success in dealing with a sequence of seriously fast yorkers vindicated the theory.

    That evening, the magnificent, extremely civilised BBQ at Loyton Lodge was a worthy replacement for the dinners we have enjoyed in recent years at Stumbles in South Molton.



    Sidmouth were numerically stronger this year, with 9 players in the field (and a tenth “expected” at half-time), augmented by a succession of individual Sou’Wester substitutes (an offer to supply Sou’Westers in pairs was declined). Unfortunately, Angus Spratling was that individual when Justin Williams, approaching a belligerent century, hoisted the ball high towards the long-leg boundary – no other Sou’Wester would have made the sprint from fine leg in time to drop the ball – Angus not only completed the journey before the ball reached grass, but caught it. Jon Kennedy’s composed 46, extra’s 50, and Al Thomas’s 30 not out were the other major contributors to our total – the last thanks to some nifty footwork by Philip Oliver, to ensure his being run out rather than Al, who was looking well-set at the time. When Sidmouth batted Harry (son of Al) confidently pouched a catch at first slip off Will Penny’s bowling and would no doubt have pouched

    a second had he been allowed to stay there. Unfortunately, it had been deemed sensible to park him half-way between where second and third slips would have stood, and that snick sped to the boundary unmolested. Later Jon Kennedy took a stunning c&b, only to decline a rather easier opportunity shortly afterwards.

    Despite some confusion over the time at which the last hour would start Simon Hogg’s declaration  during  the 45th over, at 283 for 8, proved to be well-nigh perfectly timed, and thanks to a fine century by skipper Declan Lines, when the 46th and last over of Sidmouth’s innings began, they needed eleven to win with number nine (of the nine who had fielded) at the non-strikers end. His partner was stumped Oliver bowled Hogg off the second ball. Your correspondent was an umpire that day, and was half way back to the pavilion with the bails in his pocket when he became aware that number ten HAD arrived (unannounced) and was on his way to the wicket – to reverse-swat the next two balls into the tennis court for a surprise home victory. The Sidmouth captain had, rightly in my view, felt that those who had done the fielding should bat before the late-comer, but a malign side-effect of this decision was the strong (but in fact unfounded) suspicion in the minds of Sou’Westers’ supporters that “number ten” was actually a first eleven player who had just turned up for the evening net practice. For the second year running a numerically challenged Sidmouth side had provided us with excellent, competitive cricket and, irritatingly, beaten us.



    In your correspondent’s absence, Peter George wrote “We played at peaceful, picturesque Chittlehampton from 2007 to 2009, when there was a misunderstanding over dates. When another such accounted for Exmouth at short notice, Chittle stepped into the breach with an evening 20/20 game arranged through Justin Williams, who now lives close to the ground, and as a result was clearly qualified to play for the hosts.

    Many of our opponents had been working all day, and a 6 pm start was always a bit ambitious. As a result, the match did not end until ten past nine, when sighting the ball was a bit of a challenge; the run rate declined as the evening went on.

    To start with Justin and his partner powered their way to 93 – 0 off 9 overs; the remaining overs only got the total up to 141 – 7 “[there were 5 ducks]” and we replied with 116 – 9 in the gloaming. Although short, it was a happy and constructive evening at a very welcoming cricket club, and an equally welcoming proper village pub – we would very much like to return.”

    Justin scored just over half Chittlehampton’s total; Angus Spratling and Charlie Everett between them just over half ours, each striking 2 sixes. Andy Pring and Philip Oliver took wickets economically, the other bowlers’ 13 overs went for 120 runs.



    It was all rather odd – Harry Thomas pillaged 92 in an hour and Guy Bucknell 104 in an hour and a quarter, while a succession of Old Tauntonians cheerfully bowled dross and their team-mates cheerfully fetched the ball from far-flung corners of the field. Our 356 for 5 ended with a couple of Spratling sixes and occupied 41 overs. Then a succession of OT’s strode cheerfully to the wicket, and shortly afterwards cheerfully back to the pavilion, usually having been bowled by Will Bucknell (who took 3 wickets in his first over and 5 for 47 in all) or Angus Spratling (3 for 24). Their 150 all out occupied 27 overs. Not to put too fine a point on it, I would have preferred a touch less cheerfulness and at least a suggestion of wailing and gnashing of teeth, but one can’t have everything. It was a good day’s cricket on a first-class wicket in attractive surroundings, with excellent catering. Experiments in wave theory by the next generation of Oriental Einsteins, using the boundary rope, were enjoyed by the spectators but frowned upon by the umpire.



    At Chulmleigh, an early interruption for rain resulted in the game being transformed into a nominally 35/35 contest. Thanks to Sam Kennedy (49), Will Oakes (57), and Peter Stone (29) our score was at one stage 143 for 1. Shortly afterwards it was 195 all out, in 32.1 overs. Chulmleigh were 149 for 7 in 29.4 overs when the rain finally had the last word – no-one suggested recourse to either Duckworth- Lewis-Stern or an electronic calculator, so both teams repaired to the Old Court House to celebrate a DRAW. Sam Sprague’s overdue return to the Sou’Westers had produced three well-deserved wickets.



    The successful cup-run of the colts team of the club for which George and Josh Thomas play had left us short of players, and we welcomed Old Blundellians Rendell and Cole as guests. As has become usual, North Devon fielded a team composed largely of colts, bolstered by their Antipodean pro. As is becoming usual, we batted first, declared, failed to prevent the pro from scoring a century, and failed to bowl them out.

    Justin Williams scored a handsome 76 – Charlie Thomas, Lorcan Barker, and James Flatt chipped in with 34, 28*, and 24* respectively, guest Les Rendell shovelled a quick 15, and we declared after 43 overs. This left us only 36 to bowl them out – we didn’t. JJ bowled his best spells of the tour (4 – 37 in 12 overs), but the challenge to score just over 130 in the last “hour” with 6 wickets in hand was declined. Had we known more about the untypical batting style of this year’s Antipodean, perhaps we would have declared a little earlier. As it was, another day on this iconic ground “passed away peacefully in its sleep”– perhaps we should have set attacking fields rather sooner than we did.



    Kilve’s 337 for 9 declared occupied 52 overs and was based on a fine century by Butt (18 fours and 2 sixes) and a spectacular 72 in under an hour (8 fours and 4 sixes) by Buller. JJ went in the fetlock early (reducing the Sou’Westers to eleven) and retired to the boundary to sample the pharmacological delights of the Kilve first aid box, and chill the offending joint with ice. Alec Sprague and Josh Thomas were the only other bowlers to concede less than a-run-a-ball, Andy Bolan came on during the pre-declaration slog and picked up three wickets, and James Rew effected two smart stumpings. Sam Trumper’s fifty laid the foundations for an assault on Kilve’s total; the superstructure was a one-and-a-quarter hour partnership of 164 between Justin Williams (who hit 15 fours and 6 sixes in his 137) and James Flatt (who hit 6 fours in his 52). Alec Sprague struck a sprightly 22, James Rew and Will Penney chipped in, and but for Butt’s three good catches at mids off and on, the 56 overs we received might have been enough – as it was, we were 3 runs shy with 3 wickets in hand. Another proper game of cricket on a proper ground against a proper team – the day enhanced by terrific catering, and a declaration and bowling changes judged to a nicety.



    Our supporters club at Seaton was augmented by Geoff Powell, alongside whom I played on the Cambridge Tour of ’63. The yearbook records that he batted “handsomely” while scoring 60 against Queens and 32 against Corpus (your correspondent’s only recorded contribution to the tour was to bat out the last 45 minutes with Miles Peregrine to salvage a draw, nine wickets down and a hundred runs adrift, against Trinity Hall). The 20/20 game he saw was a good one – we hope he sees more and longer games next year.

    JJ, now recovered sufficiently to bat, opened and top-scored with 45 at better than a run a minute, and despite a quartet of lbw’s and a needless run out we began the last over 144 for 6. It began “wicket, six, wicket” (and ended “one, dot, dot”), Sam Kennedy being responsible for the only six of the innings. Five of their batsmen reached double figures, but none went on to match JJ’s score, and Sam Trumper’s last two overs brought him three wickets for nine runs and the Sou’Westers victory by ten.



    Axminster, that most hospitable of clubs, welcomed us back after an interval of several years during which a salubrious housing estate has sprung up between the road and the ground. All of us found our way through, some at the second attempt, and we began our innings at 11.40 – to declare after 50 overs with the score 350 for 6. Andy Bolan’s hundred took him 109 minutes and included 17 fours (8 in the first 35 runs of his innings); PJ Clarke and Will Payne scored fifties containing 11 and 8 fours respectively, Lorcan Barker was unlucky to be out for 47, and James Rew had time to strike 5 fours in a cameo 26 not out. Their opening bowlers performed well, but I felt most of the others would have welcomed spells shorter than those allotted to them (and while on the subject of the other bowlers, for future reference, I know I am not alone in thinking that no eleven-year-old should be struck for more than one boundary per over ……). Decades ago Max Felgate would have earned his corn by bowling himself for at least 20 overs, but modern cricketers appear to believe that it is “not done” for one player to bowl much more than ten. The only batsmen to miss out were Kennedy and Son, father falling to a sensational one-handed slip catch by Kiy, taken inches from the ground as he flung himself to his right.

    Three-and-a-half hours later, Kiy, opening the batting, was out to a sensational one-handed slip catch by Kennedy senior, taken inches from the ground as he flung himself to his right. If either Kennedy or Kiy had been in the slips, Kohli would not have scored his hundred in the first test. The wickets were shared – Sam Trumper’s 3 -13 broke the back of the innings, and Sam Kennedy began to find bowling form, rather late in the tour (the scorebook bears witness to his improved batting form this year). Victory came at 5.20 pm. Having scored his first run for the club at Chulmleigh on Saturday, Max Clarke scored some more (including a first boundary) and took his first wicket – the first catch will have to wait until ’19.


    And so ended another very successful tour (W 3, D 3, L 4)

    No tour can be perfect if the Bridgetown match is washed out (as it was, for the second year running), and we would have preferred all the games to have been played under the laws of cricket rather than having two reduced to 20/20 matches, but of the eleven games started, we only lost a few minutes (at Chulmleigh) to rain, the sun shone, good fellowship abounded, and youth took wickets and scored runs (including 10 sixes from Angus Spratling). And, blessed relief, for twelve days I did not hear a single fielder shout a demand for feline faeces.

    For this wonderful fortnight we must thank the usual suspects (and the fact we do so every year does not make our gratitude less heart-felt) – Marion, Vernon, and Martin  for the immaculate score sheets which made the above possible, Stewart for the splendid fixtures, John Bolan, Mark Williams [and scribe Christopher Dean] for outstanding standing, and Martin, whose cricketing sainthood must be imminent, for everything.



    1. “I ran it over earlier in the day”
    2. “Well, you’re not captain, so shut up”
    3. “There was no-one there”
    4. “YES! no, no, no! – YES! no, no, no!”
    5. “Get back in your box!”


    1. An unusual explanation for a ruptured helmet, but unfortunately one Kennedy had not known where another had parked his kit.
    2. An eleven-year-old Axminster player, who clearly (and rightly) did not hold with captaincy-by-committee.
    3. Max’s complete and rational explanation at Instow for the presence, partly in his hand and partly in his mouth, sometime before the tea interval, of a delicacy originally intended for the players.
    4. A Sou’Wester call at Heathcoat. Frequency trumped decibels – the Nays had it, no run was attempted, and no damage done. We were rather short of quotations this year.
    5. A brave man’s encouragement to the scorer as the tea interval at Kilve drew to a close……


    Played 11             Won 3                  Lost 4                            Drawn 3               Abandoned 1

    V Cerne Valley                       Sun July 22                             Lost by 4 wickets
    Sou’Westers                  241-7          G. Bucknell 65, A. Spratling 62
    Cerne Valley        244-6          J. Barrett 80, S. Walsh 63, H. Thomas 2-25

    v Old Blundellians                      Mon July 23                 Lost by 34 runs
    O.B.s  171             J. Williams 41, W. Ginbell 33, A. Sprague 6-31
    Sou’Westers                  137             C. Everett 45, L. Stephenson 7-9

    v Heathcoat                                      Tues July 24                 Drawn
    Heathcoat             224             R. Goldberg 56, D. Sumner 48, A. Spratling 4-46
    Sou’Westers                  187-9          A. Thomas 50, H. Thomas 39

    v Sidmouth                                      Wed July 25                  Lost by 2 wickets
    Sou’Westers         282-8          J. Williams 86, J. Kennedy 46, A. Thomas 30*
    Sidmouth             283-8          S. Hogg 2-44, W. Penny 2-44, J. Kennedy 2-44

    v Chittlehampton (20/20)       Thurs July 26                Drawn
    Chittlehampton    141-7          A. Pring 3-11, P. Oliver 2-6, A. Coulter 2-31
    Sou’Westers         116-9          A. Spratling 32, C. Everett 32, M. Latham 3-23

    v Old Tauntonians                 Fri July 27                     Won by 206 runs
    Sou’Westers         356-5          G. Bucknell 104, H. Thomas 92, C. Everett 58
    O.T.s                    150             W. Able 57, W. Bucknell 5-47, A Spratling 3-24

    v Chumleigh                           Sat July 28                    Abandoned – Rain
    Sou’Westers         195             W. Oakes 57, S. Kennedy 49, A. Heimann 4-6
    Chumleigh            124-8          B. Sheahan 59, S. Sprague 3-35

    v Bridgetown                          Sun July 29                             Cancelled – Rain

    v North Devon                       Mon July 30                 Drawn
    Sou’Westers         217-6          J. Williams 76, C. Thomas 34, Rothery 2-12
    North Devon        159-6          Isherwood 101*, J. Jones 4-37

    v Kilve                                    Tues July 31                 Drawn
    Kilve                    337-9          S. Butt 119, T. Buller 72, A. L. Bolan 3-35
    Sou’Westers         334-7          J. Williams 137, J. Flatt 52, S. Trumper 50

    v Seaton (20/20)                     Wed Aug 1                    Won by 10 runs
    Sou’Westers         152-8          J. Jones 45, L. Barker 25, B. Morgan 3-25
    Seaton                  142-8          O. Pinnock 39, S. Trumper 3-20, A. L. Bolan 2-22

    v Axminster                            Thurs Aug 2                 Won by 206 runs
    Sou’Westers         350-3          A. L. Bolan 100*, P. Clarke 59*, W.Payne 50*
    Axminster            144             B. Webb 45, S. Trumper 3-13, S. Kennedy 2-23


    Batting Innings N/O Runs H.S. Ave Ct/St
    G. Bucknell 2 0 169 104 84.50 0/0
    P. J. Clarke 2 1 82 59* 82.00 2/0
    A. Thomas 2 1 80 50 80.00 1/0
    J. Williams 4 0 312 137 78.00 1/0
    J. Flatt 5 3 116 52 58.00 2/0
    L. Barker 4 1 119 47 39.66 1/0
    H. Thomas 5 0 190 92 38.00 2/0
    A. Sprague 4 2 69 25 34.50 1/0
    A. Spratling 6 2 130 62 32.50 3/0
    J. Rew 2 1 32 26* 32.00 1/2
    G. Thomas 3 1 63 33 31.50 3/0
    A. L. Bolan 8 2 169 100* 28.16 4/0
    H. C. J. Thomas 2 0 49 39 24.50 3/1
    W. Payne 5 2 72 50* 24.00 3/0
    C. Everett 10 0 227 58 22.70 4/0
    S. Trumper 3 0 67 50 22.33 1/0
    S. Kennedy 11 3 149 49 18.62 10/0
    J. Kennedy 7 2 88 46 17.60 2/0
    H. Kennedy 4 1 48 24 16.00 1/0
    P. Stone 2 0 31 31 15.50 0/0
    W. Oakes 4 0 60 57 15.00 1/1
    P. Oliver 9 0 122 41 13.55 9/3
    D. Edwards 2 0 19 17 9.50 0/0
    C. Thomas 5 0 46 34 9.20 0/0
    W. Penney 3 1 17 9* 8.50 0/0
    H. Parker 5 0 41 17 8.20 0/0
    M. Clarke 2 1 8 7* 8.00 0/0
    K. Barnes 4 0 25 16 6.25 0/0
    A. Coulthard 2 1 9 9 4.50 0/0
    W. Sewell 3 0 5 3 1.67 2/0

    Also batted: A. Anderson 6*; W. Bucknell 6; F. Fisher 2*; Garrett 5*; S. Hogg 14; J. Jones 45; R. Prior 9*; L. Rendell 15;

    Bowling  Overs Maidens Runs Wickets Ave
    S. Trumper 14 2 49 6 8.17
    A. Pring 11 1 34 4 8.50
    A. Spratling 28 3 104 10 10.40
    P. Oliver 12 0 47 4 11.75
    S. Sprague 5.4 1 36 3 12.00
    J. Jones 17 1 64 5 12.80
    A. Coultard 9 1 39 3 13.00
    P. Stone 7 2 29 2 14.50
    A. L. Bolan 12 0 90 6 15.00
    W. Bucknell 14 0 98 6 16.33
    A. Sprague 29.1 4 167 10 16.70
    H. Thomas 6.5 1 42 2 21.00
    J. Kennedy 50.1 7 238 11 21.64
    S. Kennedy 70.3 6 363 14 25.93
    R. Prior 10 0 52 2 26.00
    J. Thomas 32 1 164 6 27.33
    W. Penny 23 2 137 5 27.40
    S. Hogg 9.4 0 55 2 27.50
    H. Parker 31.3 2 197 7 28.14
    J. Flatt 33 4 174 4 43.50
    C. Garrett 16 1 98 2 49.00
    G. Thomas 26 2 194 2 97.00

    Also bowled: A. Anderson 3-0-30-0; G. Cole 4-0-12-0; M. Clarke 4-0-23-1; F. Fisher 3-0-24-0; H Kennedy 8-0-62-1; W. Oakes 2-0-34-1; L. Rendall 2-0-10-0;