Friday, October 4, 2013
Ottery St Mary CC’s end of season dinner saw the club bid a fond farewell to one of the most accomplished and popular players ever to emerge from Salston Field, writes Ian Townsend.
Mark Woodman – ‘Woody’ to his countless friends throughout Devon cricket – who recently moved to Hampshire, was an early product of the developing Ottery youth system whose potential was spotted by Exmouth Cricket Club back in the mid ‘80s.
Woodman’s tremendous accuracy and ability to seam the ball late in either direction soon saw him become established in top level cricket, and he went on to play a key role in the all-conquering Maer outfit which dominated Premier League cricket in the late 1980s and much of the 1990s.
During many seasons at Exmouth Woodman not only featured in numerous league winning sides, but he also enjoyed a hugely successful Minor Counties career, representing Devon on over 90 occasions and playing in championship and cup winning teams in the company of another illustrious Ottery CC product, John Tierney. Furthermore, having been profoundly deaf from birth, he has represented the England Deaf XI on many occasions.
To the delight of everyone at the club, in 2009 Woody returned to his Ottery roots and has since played a key role in the recent progress made by the Salston Field 1st XI, his metronomic accuracy proving a great example to emerging young bowlers. Highlight of the recent dinner was the presentation to Woodman of a framed Otters’ shirt signed by numerous players, officials and friends from the club. In making the presentation, former Chairman Rob Bradshaw-Smith echoed the thoughts of everyone at Ottery CC, commenting: “Mark is such a great clubman and for him to be so outgoing and full of fun, given his obvious communication difficulties, is fantastic - he’ll be sorely missed”. Somehow cricket at Salston Field won’t be quite the same without Woody’s indignant, puce-coloured glare, outstretched arms and famous ‘double teapot’ stance as a hapless umpire turns down yet another plumb lbw appeal!
Amongst the awards presented to the Otters’ league players, UWIC student Jack Pritchard claimed the 1st XI batting trophy after plundering an impressive 475 runs from just 10 innings in a fashion which impressed many well informed observers. The youngster, who also performed admirably behind the stumps, topped the Devon League C Division 1st XI list with an average of 67.86. Skipper and paceman Jody Clements enjoyed a renaissance in his bowling to clinch the 1st XI trophy with an impressive 22 wickets whilst, in addition to leading his side to the uncharted territory of the A Division, his 2nd XI counterpart, Rob Crabb enjoyed another terrific season with the bat. The talented all-rounder secured the batting award, as he topped the Devon League B Division 2nd XI averages with 365 runs at 73.00. A number of U-15 players from the club’s thriving academy also represented the 2nd XI with distinction. Two of these youngsters, George Southall-Brown and Harry Conway, claimed well deserved trophies. Seamer Southall-Brown’s impressive control produced 21 wickets at 16.95 apiece and won him the 2nd XI bowling award whilst Conway’s efforts to refine his technique, which yielded his first two league fifties and 207 runs at an average of 41.00, secured the Most Improved Player cup. Alex Clements’s unquenchable commitment and enthusiasm were rewarded with the Fielding Trophy whilst Will Katene, a highly active youth section coach who somehow found the time to manage two different teams in the East Devon Youth League, was a popular recipient of the coveted Clubman of the Year award.