After several weeks of fine but cold and dry weather the first game of the season arrived with the forecast of rain for most of the afternoon and given that we were away at Belstone, right on the edge of Dartmoor, this didn’t bode well. We arrived at the ground after a pleasant dry morning with a light shower in the air, which was soon blown away in time for the scheduled 2.00pm start, the outfield looked good and the wicket reasonably dry and with Danny winning the toss and deciding to have a bat first there was excitement in the air. Just as the first ball was bowled however the rain started again and then stayed with us for nearly the whole game, bar the final hour or so when the blue sky made an appearance along with the sun and the moon at the same time, but at no point during the afternoon was the rain heavy enough for it to take us off, a constant drizzle with a couple of short heavier spells that made sure we were never dry and always a bit more than damp. The 2 opening bowlers for Belstone started with a good line and length that saw us score very few runs in the first few overs and Tom (formerly “Mini”) Gidney had made 3 before departing back to the pavilion after playing down the wrong line to a straight one from R.Dennis. This brought out Brad Sheahan to the crease to partner Buzz and as we would expect from our very own African Lion the score started to tick over nicely with Brad scoring a huge 6 over the very long square leg boundary followed by several 4’s and another couple of 6’s, Buzz was also beaten by a straight ball and was bowled, again by Dennis, for 6 with the score on 33. Leighton Dayman joined Brad and didn’t look like a man that hadn’t picked up a bat since last September and the pair of them quickly put on a 60 partnership before Brad was very unluckily bowled via his shoulder for a majestic 62. The 2 Kev’s (Davies and Yarnley) came and went quickly with the former hitting one scoring shot that cleared the deep mid wicket boundary and the latter not bothering the scorers. With 16 overs still to bat and 112 on the board it was time for a little bit of consolidation and with Leighton and Martin Campling, two of the heavyweights of Chulmleigh, this is what we got. By this point the bowling had become a little more erratic with several bouncers attempted (not easy to hit a ball on its 3rd or 4th bounce!) and a few beamers thrown in as well but with a large outfield there was plenty of room to hit the ball into space and run, with Leigh and Martin running 3 3’s before the oxygen was called for! Leighton fell 6 short of what would have been a well deserved half century bringing the excitable young adult (he is 18 now don’t you know!), James Weeks, into bat. Martin and James continued to keep the score moving nicely towards a good total before Martin was given out LBW after playing all around another straight one, and Danny Pacell came in to play a skippers cameo role and supported James through the final few overs. James was finally out to the last ball of the inninings for a great 35, whilst Danny finished unbeaten on 9 with the Chulmleigh score standing at a very decent 213 for 8 from our 40 overs.
The Belstone reply began after a good tea and it seemed like their opener, Woods, wanted to get the game over as quickly as possible as he took a distinct liking to Tom Spences bowling, taking 12 and 17 off of 2 of his overs whilst Danny Parcell plugged away at the other end. With 8 overs gone Belstone had raced up to 45 and skipper Danny decided it was time for a change and to take some pace off of the ball, the introduction of the evergreen Alan Jacobs with his newly modelled action, turned out to be the turning point of the game. AJ started where he had left off last season bowling with great control and with James Weeks bowling a good tight line at the other end it began to frustrate the home team and AJ bowled the opener Walpole for 12 and 2 balls later bowled the new batsmen R.Dennis for 0. Bionic shouldered Kevin Davies replaced James after his great spell of 4 overs, which gave us spin at both ends. The spins twins both struck with AJ stifling Woods and making him play a rash shot which Brad did well to catch at deep long on after a lengthy time up in the air and Kevin Davies bowling the home team captain, Drake, for 10. We still had plenty of work to do and in his next over AJ had the dangerous Walker out (although the LBW decision did look slightly harsh) to take his 4th wicket and by now he was really in the groove. At the other end Kevins shoulder was holding up well and again he was showing great control taking a further 2 wickets, caught by Tom Gidney, at mid off, and a fantastic reaction catch by Kevin Yarnley at slip. With the overs slipping away and the run rate ever increasing it looked less likely that Belstone would reach the target, AJ finished his spell ending with 8-1-14-4 and Kevin 6-1-8-3 (both great opening day figures), and Danny bought himself and Tom Spence back on. The first over of Toms second spell was expensive as Bushin made one last attempt to get the home team going but it was not to last as Tom then found his length and bowled a couple of great overs and knocked the stumps over twice. With the last pair at the crease and still nearly 8 overs to bowl the only thing that was going to prevent us from winning was the light! The constant drying of the ball over the 2 innings had slowed the progress of the match down and we were suddenly in danger of the sun going down behind one of the Dartmoor Tors and us not finishing the game. With a new found urgency we raced through the next 5 overs and despite a mathematical error by Danny which resulted in him taking the final wicket (caught again by Brad) in what was his 9th over when the bowlers were only meant to bowl a maximum of 8 overs, the game was won with 2 overs to spare. Belstone were all out for 150 giving us a win by 63 runs. As we trudged off to try to dry off and warm up there was a great feeling of satisfaction, everybody had played their part and the 2013 season was up and running with a win.