Following the Devon v Cornwall game this week season thoughts from Cornwall CCC Team Manager Godfrey Furse, with thanks to Conrad Sutcliffe.
CORNWALL team boss Godfrey Furse hopes the 86-run win over Devon in the final Unicorns Championship game of the season signals a corner turned for the county.
Cornwall went into the game with the faintest of chances of making it into the top five and qualifying for the new West Division One in 2020.
For the first time since 1983 the Minor Counties Cricket Association has redrawn the competition from two regional divisions of ten – East and West – into four regional divisions of five with promotion and relegation between them.
Despite beating Devon in their own backyard at Exeter – Tom Dinnis making it happen with an eight-for-49 haul in the fourth innings – Cornwall were one place and five points below the cut-off point.
Cornwall showed they could live with the best during the season by holding runaway champions Berkshire to a draw at St Austell. Berkshire won their other five games with relative ease.
Oxfordshire, who did qualify for Division One, were beaten by an innings and 42 runs at Truro.
On a bad day Cornwall were rolled over for 87 by Wiltshire at Corsham and lost by an innings.
Cornwall were in trouble twice against Devon, yet came from behind to win. Furse said the players found the desire and will to win somewhere and he hopes they don’t lose it.
“Whether we had won or lost I would not have cared just because of the passion and fight we showed at the right times,” said Furse.
“In our first innings we struggled for runs and the last three pairs of batsmen put on 95 to get a reasonable total.
“We were a hundred behind on first innings and at 104 for five second time looked in trouble again.
“I told the players if we could get a lead of 160 we had a chance – and hoped Matt Robins could keep batting as long as possible.
“When Devon got Matt out we were 110 ahead with three wickets left. Our last three pairs did what they did in the first innings again and put on another 96.
“When we played and lost badly to Shropshire and Wiltshire I was critical of the players for the shocking way they played. Against Devon they really got stuck in when the going got tough and went on to deservedly win the game.”
Dinnis, who went in at number 11, made 41 in a last-wicket stand of 70 with Andrew Libby that put more pressure on Devon than they could ultimately cope with.
Dinnis bowled a handful of overs with the new ball with no luck and when Devon were 95 for three in reply the signs were not good for Cornwall.
Devon lost their next seven wickets for 25 runs and Dinnis took all of them.
“Tom bowled with venom, accuracy and above all heart,’ said Furse.
“He bowled in all the right areas and when he found the edge or Devon hit the ball in the air we took our catches.”
For Devon it was a case of so near yet so far. Had they won they would have finished third in the final table, not seventh.
Dave Tall, the director of cricket, was blunt in his assessment of what went wrong, citing game management and selection problems as his main bug bears.
“Of the four games we have lost this season this was one of two we could and should have won but threw away winning positions,” said Tall.
“When we lose the same issues keep coming up. Either we can’t finish sides off when they are seven or eight wickets down, or our batting lets us down. Sometimes, like this game, it is both.
“There are times when we have played some fantastic cricket at times, and other times when we have been very average.
“The number of players (24) we have used in six games shows the problems we have had getting a settled side out. It would help if we had a nucleus of seven or eight, but we don’t even have that. I hope that improves in the four-game season next year.”