Devon go for two-captain solution to replace Bess

WoodmanFormer Somerset batsman Rob Woodman is to take over the reins in one-day cricket at Devon County Cricket Club as part of a new two-skipper solution.

Devon have decided to split the leadership role following the mid-winter resignation of Unicorns Cup-winning captain Josh Bess.

Torquay keeper-batsman Matt Thompson will skipper the three-day Minor Counties Championship side, while opening batsman Woodman leads Devon in the one-day Unicorns Cup competition.

Woodman will also continue to play for Taunton Deane in the West of England Premier Division.

No other county in the Minor Counties Western Division currently has a two-skipper set up and Keith Donohue, Devon’s director of cricket, said the decision had been made for a number of reasons.

“When Josh took over from Chris Bradley in 2013, our one-day campaign was just about over and he could ease himself into captaining the three-day side,” said Donohue.

“This year we will have a couple of warm-up games then it is straight into the knock-out games – and as holders everyone will be gunning for us.

“Matt will have a bit of time to find his feet and we can take advantage of Rob’s wealth of experience with Somerset, Gloucestershire and England U19s.

“Josh is going to be a hard act to follow as a player and a captain, but the management feel they have the right people in place.

“And there are senior players in both sides, Trevor Anning, Rob Holman, David Lye among them, to turn to for an opinion.”

Thompson, 23, made his debut in 2010 and holds the distinction of being the youngest player to make a Minor Counties century for Devon. He was 18 years 206 days old when he made a century against Herefordshire at Eastnor.

He started out with Devon in the U10s and worked his way through the age groups to the full county side.

Having captained the Lions Development XI on a number of occasions, Thompson was always likely to be a Devon skipper of the future.

He follows in the footsteps of Torquay predecessors Derek Cole (1962-69), Barrie Mathews (1973-84) and Hiley Edwards (1985-91), all of whom led the county side.

Thompson is currently finishing a post-graduate course at university in Cardiff, where he is doubling up as cricket academy director. Devon team-mate Barney Huxtable is one of his scholars.

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Thompson said he was proud and excited to be picked and was looking forward to the challenge ahead.

“I never even considered being captain of the side when I first got into it – I just wanted to play and enjoy it,” said Thompson.

“The side is a lot younger now and I am excited at the prospect of leading it.

“Following what Josh did last year is going to be hard, but Woody and I want to try to build on what he did.”

Thompson said he had no problem with the job-sharing arrangement – far from it.

“Rob has a huge bank of knowledge from playing at a good level and I am looking forward to working with him in both formats of the game,” said Thompson.

Woodman, 28, first played for Devon in 2006 while attached to Somerset and reappeared in 2011 after being released by Gloucestershire.

While Thompson will have the bulk of last season’s three-day squad to work with this summer. Woodman has some rebuilding to do after the Devon one-day side’s success against Oxfordshire in the Unicorns Knockout Trophy Final at Wormsley last August.

Bess, Scott Barlow, former Somerset batsman James Burke (who top scored with 55 in last year’s Unicorns Final) and Gary Chappell are all out of contention. The availability of Jamie Overton (who made a crucial 28 in the 2014 Final) will again depend on his Somerset commitments.

Barlow has moved to London, Burke has signed for Surrey and Chappell has told Donohue he does not wish to be considered for selection.