A superb all-round performance by Chris Cook saw Dartington and Totnes win at Lewdown in a match where victory ensured that D&T would not face relegation from the C Division West.
Cook topped scored with 40 and took six wickets for 22 including a hat-trick as D&T enjoyed their first win since July in a low scoring game on a damp Recreation Field pitch.
Put into bat, D&T got off to a poor start when opener James Howrihane was bowled for 3 by Harry Williams. The score had been taken to 26 when Alex Winch was caught by a diving Harry Geering at midwicket off Keith Maynard for a patient 6.
Surviving opener Ian Bransdon, who has been in good form recently, was joined by Chris Cook and together the pair added 35 runs before Bransdon edged Adam Creasey through to ‘keeper Ed Squire for 28. The next partnership was the crucial one for the visitors.
Matt Sevior and Cook put on 71 for the fourth wicket to take the score to 132 before Sevior became the first of Tom Pengelly’s four wickets when he was bowled for 38. The wicket of Sevior started a collapse in which D&T lost five wickets for just eight runs.
Cook followed Sevior two overs later when he was stumped for 40 trying to push the scoring rate on and then Harry Baxendale was bowled by a sharp turner from Dave Ball for 3. Andy Bligh and Josh Orrell followed in successive balls in the next over leaving it to Harold Stevenson and Tyler Walton to add 15 runs at the end of the innings to take D&T to 155.
The innings was based around 28 from Ian Bransdon at the top of the order and the partnership between Chris Cook and Matt Sevior in the middle overs. The away side knew tight bowling and early wickets would be crucial if they were to win.
Some loose bowling allowed Lewdown openers Ball and Geering to take the score to 24 in the fourth over and put some pressure on the D&T bowlers. It therefore came as a welcome relief for the visitors when Geering knicked a Sevior delivery through to Winch behind the stumps for 13.
Sevior then had two in an over when Creasey was LBW without scoring. Tom Pengelly now joined Ball in the middle but could only make four before he was bowled by Howrihane to leave the home side on 35-4.
Chris Cook then began a remarkable spell in which he picked up the next six wickets to fall. His first wicket came with the score on 50 when he had Squire caught by a juggling Bransdon at slip for 5. Jack Williams then came to the crease and looked to play positively.
However, this intent led to his downfall when he was caught at long-on by Andy Bligh for 17. A further 21 runs were added for the sixth wicket before Nick Hayden was caught by Sevior running back from mid-off for 9.
The wicket of Hayden was just the start of what was an extraordinary over in which Cook took four wickets including a hat-trick without conceding a run. With the fourth ball of his over, he had opener Ball caught and bowled for 33 and with the next ball bowled Mike Maynard for a duck. Nick Smith came out to face the hat-trick ball but he was hit on the pad and was LBW to spark jubilant scenes amongst the D&T players.
Harry Baxendale then took the final wicket when he bowled Harry Williams for 0 to leave Lewdown 98 all out and D&T the victors.
Chris Cook was the undoubted star of the show: however, without Ian Bransdon and Matt Sevior’s contributions with the bat as well, the game may have had a totally different outcome.
It was an important victory as it secured safety in the C Division West for D&T in what has been a mixed season for the first team. They play the last game of the season on Saturday when they are home to Bridestowe.