By Jonathan Green
JAMIE Overton is better known for his bowling on the first-class circuit, but he showed he is no slouch with the bat –blasting 142 not out off just 55 balls in North Devon’s four-wicket win against Devon Premier League champions Sidmouth.
The 20-year-old was tipped for an England call-up last season after a breakthrough year at Somerset but he has found his first-team opportunities limited this year. He has kept in shape playing for North Devon and he showed what he is capable of with his match-changing innings.
Coming to the crease with North Devon 65-4 chasing Sidmouth’s 244, Overton hit his first ball for four and never looked back, reaching his 50 in 20 balls before reaching his maiden Devon Premier League century after 40.
In total he smashed 13 fours and 12 sixes as North Devon reached their total in 30.4 overs, leaving captain Matt Westaway dumbfounded.
“It was just phenomenal to watch. It’s certainly the best club cricket innings I’ve ever seen and I’m sure most people who were at the ground would concur with that,” said West-away, who added only four in an unbeaten 70-run partnership with Overton.
“It was one of those innings when it looked like it was going to be a brilliant 40 or 50 and then he’d get out but he just kept on going. Sidmouth are runaway champions so it wasn’t a duff bowling attack by any means either. Everybody was just absolutely amazed at what they were witnessing. He never looked like he was going to miss-hit a shot or get out.
“He hit one six into the local car park and another over the main road towards the beach. One ended up on the croquet lawn and I think everyone using the other sporting facilities at the ground had a visit from a cricket ball at some stage.
“It wasn’t just bludgeoning as there was some finesse as well. If we’d batted first I don’t know how many he would have scored the way he was going, it was just ridiculous. It was an absolute privilege to watch him.
“I was fortunate to be batting – or more accurately standing – down the other end for the second half of his innings. I can’t explain how well he hit it – some of the sixes must have been well over 100m.”
And Westaway believes Overton should back himself to replicate that sort of innings for Somerset.
“I truly believe that he would probably be better just to bat like that whoever he is playing against – treat the bowlers with a little less respect,” he added.
“I think he has got the ability to do it. There were a couple of shots that he picked up from outside off stump and swept to the boundary.
“I’m sure he would have played those deliveries straight had it been a first-class game.”