Saturday saw the final round of matches in this year’s West of England Premier League which decided promotion and relegation for our league clubs across Somerset. This week Jeremy Blackmore rounds up the news from each of the divisions, including the role played by Somerset CCC players past and present. Today we start our series of reports with news from the Bristol and Somerset Division.
Taunton Cricket Club sealed promotion from the Bristol and Somerset Division in emphatic style with a comprehensive 148-run win over Old Bristolians Westbury CC on Saturday – their ninth victory on the bounce.
The promotion crowns a wonderful season for the club which has brought an incredible turn-around in their fortunes after they narrowly avoided relegation just 12 months ago.
Just a few miles away on the other side of Bristol, Midsomer Norton, who led the division for most of the summer, were unable to win a narrow game away to Bedminster, thereby conceding the title to Taunton.
Taunton went into the final round of games on Saturday seven points behind the leaders, knowing they needed to win and hope that Norton would fail to beat Bedminister. Norton simply needed to win their game to take the title.
Taunton were forced to do without the prodigious Tom Abell who had been called up as part of the Somerset squad for the following day’s game against Northants, but still piled up a competitive 254-4 in their 50 overs after being put into bat.
Opener Chris Davenport set up the innings with a top score of 58 off 69 balls with five fours and a six. As the club’s overseas player, the Australian has been a key member of the Taunton side this season and has shared some big partnerships with Abell. His 58 on Saturday was his sixth half-century of 2014 to go with two 100s and took his tally of runs to 742 at an average of 61.83.
When Davenport was out, the first of two wickets in quick succession for Ben Kelly, Taunton had a mild wobble, but at 125-3, skipper Jack Cooper was joined by Richard Godfrey and the pair shared a 78-run stand for the fourth wicket before Cooper fell for 45 with the score 203-4. He had faced 49 balls and hit two fours and three sixes).
Godfrey and George Cook then put on a further 51 to take Taunton to 254-4 at the end of the 50th over. Godfrey finished with an unbeaten 49 at exactly a run a ball, while Cook clubbed 30 off just 21 balls with two fours and a six.
Cooper dismissed both Old Bristolians openers with only four runs on the board, before a stand of 69 from Ben Figueiredo (44) and Matt Tavare (34) offered the hosts hope. But both men fell to Ben Orr before Graham Fitt ran through the lower order to finish with 5-25 from his eight overs.
With the last four wickets falling with the score on 106, the hosts were all out with 21.3 overs of their innings still remaining.
Across town at Bedminster, Norton won the toss and elected to bat, but struggled in making 189-8 in their 50 overs. The mainstays of their innings were Dean Clifton (48) and skipper Nick Potter (54*) who shared a fifth-wicket stand worth 61, which was broken when former Australian and Gloucestershire all-rounder Ian Harvey had Clifton caught off his right-arm medium pacers.
Norton had the best of starts with the ball, reducing the hosts to 50-5, including the prize wicket of Harvey, trapped lbw for just 12 as Alex Davis took three wickets.
However Bedminster skipper Garreth Elphick fought back with a determined unbeaten 63 off 127 balls with five fours and two sixes. He found a willing ally in all-rounder James Carter (22) and the pair put on 59 to bring up the 100, but when Carter fell with the score on 106-6, Norton still had the upper hand.
Bedminster lost a further wicket to make the score 136-7, but Sam Knapp (15) joined Elphick and the pair put on an invaluable 21 runs for the eighth wicket before Davis removed Knapp to claim his fourth wicket of the innings and reduce Bedminster further to 157-8.
That brought number 10 George Drissell (11) to the crease with 33 still required for victory. But Drissell kept his nerve and stayed with Elphick as they saw their side home with 1.4 overs to spare.
Norton will look back ruefully at the 55 extras they conceded (comprised mostly of wides). But they have been an extremely strong side all year – like Taunton they won 12 matches – and can be very proud of their season. They will no doubt challenge for promotion again next year.
Meanwhile Brislington took third place in the table after beating basement club Wembdon by eight wickets.
Brislington, home of former Somerset batsman Richard Ollis, had slipped to fifth last week after being beaten by Taunton. On Saturday, they dismissed Wembdon for just 122 in 42.5 overs, Dan Bingham top scoring with 33. Donovan Scholtz and Paul Hamblin took three wickets each.
Despite losing an early wicket, Brislington made short work of their target, reaching it with 25.5 overs to spare, Rhys Grove top scoring with 43. Former Somerset all-rounder Ian Blackwell returned extremely economical figures of 6-3-7-0. Wembdon used nine bowlers in all as Brislington chased down their target with comparative ease.
Saturday’s results meant that Taunton took the title with 277 points to Norton’s 269. As evidence of just how out in front the top two have been all season, third-place Brislington finished with 205, some 64 points behind Norton.
Old Bristolians finished fourth with Bedminster in fifth. Knowle took sixth place by beating Chew Magna by five wickets on Saturday.
Bishopton’s match with Frenchay was called off as the bowlers’ run-ups weren’t dry enough, so both clubs took five points and finished seventh and eighth respectively.
Wembdon (ninth) and Chew Magna (tenth) finished at the foot of the table and are relegated.
Bedminster CC v Midsomer Norton CC – http://midsomernorton.play-cricket.com/view_results_details?id=11848018
Brislington CC v Wembdon CC – http://brislington.play-cricket.com/view_results_details?id=11848032
Old Bristolians Westbury CC v Taunton CC – http://taunton.play-cricket.com/view_results_details?id=11848076
Final 2014 West of England Premier Cricket League Bristol Somerset Division league table after 17 games: http://taunton.play-cricket.com/league_table?id=405&season_id=72