Cider Watch: Jamie Overton and James Burke by Brian Carpenter

cider watchUnicorns Knockout Trophy Final 2014: Devon v Oxfordshire, Sir Paul Getty’s Ground, Wormsley, 27 August 2014

Devon 203-9 off 50 overs (JE Burke 55, MW Thompson 45, J Overton 28, CB Keegan 4-20, JCR West 3-38) beat Oxfordshire 196-9 off 50 overs (CB Keegan 47, JCR West 38*,           NP Hawkes 36, LM Sabin 23, S Barlow 4-25) by 7 runs

Jamie Overton and James Burke were among a victorious Devon side which narrowly won the Minor Counties knockout trophy final in the gathering gloom at Wormsley on Wednesday evening.

Devon batted first, Burke top scoring with a patient 55 off 101 balls, while Matt Thompson made 45. After the pair shared a stand of 78, Devon were indebted to Jamie Overton with a run-a-ball 28 in helping them reach 200, as Chad Keegan finished with four wickets for 20 runs in his 10 overs.

In reply Oxfordshire reached 48-0, but then lost six wickets for 47 runs before 47 from Keegan renewed his side’s hopes of crossing the line. But with light fading fast, Scott Barlow took three wickets in the space of three overs and Oxfordshire finished just short of their target, losing by seven runs.

Brian Carpenter was at Wormsley for the final and here gives us his exclusive impressions of the match and the progress Overton and Burke have made away from the spotlight during 2014.

Despite their wealth of home-grown amateur talent, Devon benefited greatly from the services of their two Somerset players, James Burke and Jamie Overton. The two come from opposite ends of the county – Burke from Plymouth, Overton from Barnstaple – and they both appeared to relish the opportunity to represent the county of their birth in their quest for their first one-day trophy since 2008, alongside many of the players they grew up with.

After Devon had lost two early wickets on what became, after early sunshine, a grey and chilly morning (and which only got greyer and colder as the day wore on), Burke played a key role in stabilizing the innings in a partnership of 78 in 21 overs with Torquay’s Matt Thompson. Later on, Overton, batting at 7, made a powerful 28 which was very important in getting the Devon score just past the 200 mark.

Burke’s 55 turned out to be the game’s only half-century, and, for all the air of angular flamboyance which he brings to his batting, it was an innings high on restraint, judgement and shot selection. On a capricious pitch, it needed to be. As many Somerset fans will know, Jamie likes to hit the ball hard, but his basic technique is good, and there’s every chance that he’ll move significantly up the Somerset order before his career’s over.

With Oxfordshire needing 204 from 50 overs to win, there was little surprise when Jamie was given the new ball from the Dibley End (so called, apparently, because The Vicar of Dibley was filmed somewhere in the valley beyond the sightscreen). In his first spell he worked up more pace than anyone else on the day, but, after beating the outside edge numerous times and having a couple of decent shouts for catches behind turned down, there was a brief lapse into self-doubt and frustration, leading to a wild delivery which evaded the grasping clutches of Devon’s outstanding wicket-keeper Sandy Allen. After this Overton was promptly taken off, but he remained very usefully up the sleeve of the Devon captain Josh Bess, and was brought back to help tie up the innings late on, when, in sepulchral light that would have had professionals running for cover much earlier, he was very difficult for the Oxfordshire tailenders to lay a bat on. Overall, my impression was that Jamie is making gradual progress in ironing out the faults which have seen him lose his place in the Somerset side this season. It was particularly noticeable that he was running in more slowly, and he looks a more mature and well-rounded bowler as a result.

Burke contributed seven overs of sharp seam-up to the Devon bowling effort, also beating the bat many times, and, like Overton, taking his one wicket leg before. After a lot of injury setbacks in his late teens which took much of the natural sting out of his bowling, he appears to have found some physical equilibrium and may yet be able to make a career out of the game, even if it isn’t with Somerset. In the aftermath of the final the Devon Cricket website reported that Surrey are showing interest in him.

JamieAfter the game was over I was able to have a brief word with Jamie, and he confirmed that he felt as though his rhythm was gradually returning, with the deliberate adoption of a more measured run being a key aspect of that.

With all the praise – much of it premature – heaped upon him last season, it can be easy to forget that Jamie is only twenty years old. This time last year it was his twin Craig who was back playing for North Devon, and we all know what a good season he’s had in 2014.

Much more will be heard of Jamie Overton.

Match scorecard: http://www.espncricinfo.com/minorcounties/engine/match/701277.html

Thanks to Brian for sharing his thoughts on Wednesday’s final with readers of The Incider. You can follow Brian on Twitter at @brianc576 or read his blog via this link: http://www.differentshadesofgreen.blogspot.co.uk/

Afterwards photographer Alastair Crowe tweeted:

Devon CCC celebrate