Devon win by 4 wickets
GILES WHITE, a Somerset staff member with a dual registration for Devon, played what Nick Folland, his captain, described as 'the innings of his lifetime' to win the Holt Cup with five balls to spare yesterday.
Devon's only previous title in 93 years was the Minor Counties championship 14 seasons ago when White was still in short trousers. Playing at Lord's was then beyond his wildest dreams but he conquered the challenge to ease the possible fears of being released by Somerset in the next month with a ferocious innings of 79 not out from 57 balls.
This final would have graced more august occasions at the game's headquarters, though the second-day crowd was more a mixture of players' relatives and friends. Most Devon supporters had clambered reluctantly on the milk train back to Plymouth the night before.
The quality of the rain-affected match blew the misguided theories of the uninitiated that the game at this level is a combination of cow-pats, pink gins and the elderly blacksmith bowling to the curate with a greengrocer keeping wicket. Selection for away matches does not depend whatsoever on driving the car with the biggest seating capacity.
Minor Counties teams have advanced far beyond that. Devon's average age is 26, Staffordshire's not much more. Folland, among others, emphasises the point. He is about to sign a two-year contract for Somerset, having already scored 82 not out in a County Championship match against Worcestershire at Weston-super-Mare last week. The 28-year-old Folland, a geography and PE teacher at Blundell's, Tiverton, will jump into the first-class pool with leave of absence from his school.
He was run out for 47 by a direct hit from Russell Spiers with the Lord's job half done. White was left in charge with 66 needed from 10 overs with five wickets intact. He proceeded to hit two sixes over midwicket off Bob Dyer, an off-spinner, and another also over a 50-yard boundary off Nigel Hackett, whose 3 for 41 sustained Staffordshire, the double champions last season.
Dyer's wickets included a dismissal to please students of the obscure with Andy Pugh expertly stumped by Mark Humphries from a leg-side wide. Last summer, Humphries beat Devon in the final by hitting John Tierney for 18 off the last five balls.
This time, Tierney helped White to thrash 61 in nine overs, adding piquancy to the probable rematch in the championship final at Worcester on 13 September. Staffordshire are already there, Devon look almost certain to follow.