Friday, August 22, 2014
Despite digging themselves out of a sizeable hole to register their ninth victory of an impressive debut A Division campaign, Ottery St Mary 2nd XI may well live to regret three precious batting bonus points dropped in last weekend’s encounter with struggling visitors, Plymouth 3rd XI, writes Ian Townsend.
The result, coupled with second-placed Budleigh’s 20 point maximum victory, leaves the Otters fourteen points adrift of their East Devon neighbours ahead of Saturday’s mouth-watering clash at Salston Field.
When vice-captain Alex Clements, leading the side in the absence of Rick Jackson, lost the toss, the Otters faced the disadvantage of taking first knock on an unevenly damp, drying wicket. After the early loss of James Faulkner (4), caught by Marcus Deane off Barney Caudwell, the experienced duo of Steve Forbes (13) and Richard Kitzinger took the score to 34 before the former was caught by Luke Edmunds off Sam Knapman. Kitzinger (21) soon followed, also caught off Knapman (2-20), as the total limped to 41-3.
The visitors were making a mockery of their lowly league position and, supported by sharp ground fielding, Knapman and fellow medium pacer, Joe Cunningham, exerted a stranglehold which saw just 12 runs added in 13 overs. Clements (15) and teenager Harry Peters (18) briefly resisted but with nine overs remaining, the high flying Otters were struggling at 93-7. The cavalry arrived in the form of the Johns family. Father, Rob (36 not out with six fours), batting in typically correct fashion, and son, Zac, relying on his good eye, added a priceless 48 in seven overs, comfortably the biggest partnership of the match. Despite the loss of Zac Johns, bowled by Ben Hudson for 26 (five fours), Ottery closed on a respectable 147-8 which appeared to be a tricky ask, given the strength of the home attack.
Prevailing conditions were ideal for Otters’ evergreen paceman, Keith Biggs (2-16), and predictably he soon had Plymouth in trouble - Deane (0) was castled by a swinging yorker and Edmunds (15) was pouched by Duncan Bradshaw-Smith at mid-off as the visitors slipped to 18-2. Nigel Hughes (10) and Joe Cunningham (15) affected a minor recovery before the former was run out attempting a crazy second run and Cunningham edged Zac Johns behind to Clements. However, remaining opener, Geoff Martin (30), was batting very solidly in difficult conditions and had effectively despatched anything loose until he spliced a Bradshaw-Smith full toss to Faulkner at mid-wicket.
This sent the visitors into terminal decline and with former 1st XI opening bowler Rob Johns showing his class and swinging the ball in either direction, the tail was soon blown away. Claire Varcoe (0) and Knapman (7) were comprehensively bowled and after Marcus Haes (8) was run out by Faulkner’s direct hit, the big all-rounder finished proceedings by removing Jimmy Haffenden (16), caught by Ollie Reed, and Caudwell (1), trapped lbw, to finish with a terrific 4-16 from his nine overs.
Understandably relieved at his side’s recovery, the Otters’ stand-in skipper commented: “At half time I told the boys ‘this’ll be the hardest 45 overs we’ve had this year; we’ll really have to fight’. And we did – that was a great win”.
Ottery St Mary 147-8 (R Johns 36*, Z Johns 26, R Kitzinger 21, S Knapman 2-20, N Hughes 2-22) Plymouth 3rd XI 111 (G Martin 30, R Johns 4-16, K Biggs 2-16). Ottery St Mary (17pts) bt Plymouth 3rd XI (5pts) by 36 runs.
Otters Man of the Match – Rob Johns