Big turnover of players for Devon's three-day opener
Devon embark on their defence of the Minor Counties Championship title this weekend with a squad much-changed from the one who won it last year.
When Devon take to the field against Wales at Exmouth tomorrow (11am), three members of the Championship-winning 12 have gone for good and a fourth is out of favour.
Former captain Bob Dawson (retired), all-rounder Craig Overton (Somerset) and seamer Scott Barlow (Dorset) have gone for good – as has Dawson's successor Neil Hancock, who did not play against Cambridgeshire in the final due to work commitments.
Pace bowler Charles Morris, who played on the way to the final but found himself 12th man, has been left out due to lack of wickets.
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In come Matt Wood, the former Exmouth and Devon batsman who scored more than 5,000 first-class runs for Somerset and Nottinghamshire, Bradninch all-rounder Matt Golding, and Bovey Tracey seamer Ryan Bougourd.
That is quite a turnover from one season to another, but one director of cricket Roger Newman is happy with.
Nothing stands still in sport and, thanks to their Devon Lions development set-up, Newman believes a solid system of succession planning is now in place.
Bougourd came to notice through the Lions' winter nets programme, and Golding has been part of the process after Newman was tipped off about him by ex-Somerset star Keith Parsons.
Golding has played through the age-groups for Devon and is coached by Parsons at the Huish Academy in Somerset.
Newman accepts Devon will be a prized scalp this season, but is comfortable about the challenges ahead.
"Thanks to our Devon Lions development programme, we are identifying more and more potential Minor Counties players of the future," Newman said. "We have depth in our squad and the players to win the title again."
Wales have been swallowed up by Glamorgan in recent seasons, which has proved to be a mixed blessing. Their sides are generally a mixture of Glamorgan second XI and Academy players, which is fine until there is a clash of fixtures.
Glamorgan's second XI have a Twenty20 game against Somerset on Monday and one against Warwickshire on Tuesday. Wales have made nine changes to the team which played Dorset in a Trophy game two weeks ago and they include three under-16 players.
Captain Dan Thomas and all-rounder Jon Denning are the two regulars on parade.
Devon: J E Burke (Budleigh), R J Woodman (Taunton), R J Holman (Exeter), D F Lye (Exmouth), M J Wood (Plumtree), J J Bess (Sidmouth), M W Thompson (Torquay), M J Golding (Bradninch), T S Anning (Exmouth), C Bradley, R J Bougourd (both Bovey Tracey). 12th man: A Buzza (Exmouth).
Wales: S D Thomas, J S T Denning, H W Powell, S Phillips, N H Davies, C T Lowen, S W Griffiths, C Reed, T Sidford, J Claybrook, J Griffiths. 12th: K Bull.
Umpires: A Hicks and M D Gumbley.