Friday, June 20, 2014
A beautifully judged run chase saw Ottery St Mary first eleven rewarded with a much needed win as they overhauled a sizeable total posted by visiting Alphington, writes Ian Townsend.
A high scoring contest was always on the cards on a flat wicket and lightning fast outfield, but the home batting line up never looked troubled in pursuit of a near 260-run victory target.
Alphington were given a flying start by Dave Haysom and Danesh Raheja who took full advantage of some fairly wayward opening bowling to construct a rapid 97-run stand before Haysom (56) edged first change seamer, Joe Birch behind to Jack Pritchard. Although Raheja was proving to be an effective sheet anchor, wickets fell at the other end as first Birch removed Mike Shepherd (9), courtesy of a brilliant running catch taken over his shoulder by youngster, Billy Rudolph, then off spinner Matt Reed induced Tom Bath (16) to edge to Pritchard and Paul James (0) to give a chance which was sharply taken by Birch at mid-wicket. Raheja’s solid knock ended at 68 (89 balls, 11 fours) as he was pouched by Dan Flower off Rudolph, but a late innings onslaught from John Hill (47 not out from 39 balls) and Andy Wilson (32 not out from 24 balls) took the visitors to a competitive 257-6. Matt Reed (2-38 from 9 overs) and Jody Clements (0-35 from 9 overs) were once again the standout bowlers for the Otters.
Ottery flew out the traps in reply, Flower (10) and Billy Reed taking the score to 24 before the former was desperately unlucky to see his beautifully struck pull pouched in truly stunning fashion by Hill at square leg, Runs continued to flow, however, with Mickey Wilkinson looking in fine form. Flashing cuts and well-timed drives flowed from the bat of the former Torquay man who was ably supported by Billy Reed. A beautifully straight driven boundary off Alphas skipper Stuart Shaw brought Wilkinson his 50 (seven fours and a six) but Reed (45) soon fell to a fine catch in the deep by James off Bath before Wilkinson (56) top edged Bath behind to Shepherd leaving the Otters at 141-3. This brought the in-form Lewis Townsend to the wicket and the Otters’ skipper was soon into his stride, lifting Bath for a huge six over square leg to bring up the 150. Pritchard and Townsend took the home side well past the 200 mark with an 82 run stand featuring typically quick running between the wickets and ruthless despatching of anything loose. After Townsend misjudged the length of a Lee Rowe delivery to depart for a fluent 60, Rudolph (22) leant excellent support to Pritchard (40no) who calmly guided his side home with an over to spare.
A relieved Otters skipper Townsend afterwards paid tribute to his batsmen, commenting: “Having not quite crossed the line in similar circumstances last week, it was pleasing to see the guys bounce back. I thought their score was about par on that track and our batters always looked in control; we timed our innings to perfection. The most important thing was we got the win. This has given the guys a real boost to kick on from here.”
Alphington 257-6 (D Raheja 68, D Haysom 56, J Hill 47no, A Wilson 32no, M Reed 2-38, J Birch 2-56, B Rudolph 2-76) Ottery St Mary 261-5 (L.Townsend 60, M Wilkinson 56, B Reed 45, J Pritchard 40no, B Rudolph 22, T Bath 3-58, L Rowe 2-40). Ottery St Mary (18pts) bt Alphington (7pts) by 5 wkts.