Cricket: Roebuck on the right lines

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The Independent Online
Devon 242-5; Yorkshire 116-3

CALL it a drop of the write stuff. Peter Roebuck may have picked up the pen as a cricket correspondent, but he had also kept his bat handy and well-oiled. The former Somerset captain now leads Devon and yesterday he led by example at The Maer, his 83 on a wild and windy afternoon certainly helping to put the wind up Yorkshire.

Roebuck clearly had his own ideas on how the script should read and a positive one it was. The gap between minor county and first class is enough to give many an inferiority complex in these NatWest Trophy first-round ties, but the niceties were dispensed with immediately - Yorkshire lost the toss and found themselves in the field and this morning, three down, they need to find another 127 off 32 overs to avoid further embarrassment.

'Our chance is to get runs on the board and get them worried,' Roebuck said. He was not joking. The result was that Yorkshire, who in the past have been beaten by Durham (when they were still minors) and Shropshire, were left with a sizeable problem.

Even two weather breaks amounting to three hours had no effect on Devon's well-controlled charge to rather more than respectability. And while spectators sat shivering around this delightful ground, they warmed to the bracing efforts of Roebuck and his west countrymen, who did not appear at all overawed.

Roebuck may be remembered as the quiet Somerset opener, but here he held himself back until the second wicket had fallen and the difference now was that there was simply no holding him on a shaven, run-making strip. He also had his eye in following a useful net at St Austell on Sunday in which he made 91 against Cornwall in the MCC Trophy.

Martyn Moxon, Roebuck's Yorkshire counterpart who was breaking fresh ground at the seaside resort, warned: 'You are always on a hiding to nothing in these matches.' Nick Gaywood, the left- hander, promptly struck four handsome boundaries and Devon were breezing along.

Gaywood is a schoolteacher in Doncaster and he brought a party of pupils down in a mini-bus to watch the fun. But while Gaywood perished, the real master of the situation was Roebuck. By the time he was fifth out, he had faced 109 balls and struck 10 fours. He had also featured in a stand of 64 with Steve Willis and one of 77 with Gareth Townsend and, thus inspired, Devon collected 66 off the last 10 of their 60 overs.