Brilliant Biggs lead Otters to superb win over all conquering table toppers

Ottery St Mary II became the first team this season to stop all-conquering Ipplepen II which they did, with something to spare, beating the visitors by six wickets, writes Ian Townsend.

Whilst emerging young talent has played a key role in the recent success of Ottery St Mary 2nd XI, this impressive triumph over previously unbeaten league leaders, Ipplepen, was very much founded upon the efforts of experienced performers. After ‘forty-something’ seamers Keith Biggs and Rob Bradshaw-Smith had claimed seven wickets between them to despatch the South Devon side for a mediocre total, Otters’ vice captain Rob Crabb produced a typically powerful knock to guide his side to a maximum points victory.

Batting first in difficult conditions, Ipplepen were soon struggling in the face of fine swing bowling from Biggs and Tom Bornet, the latter removing Tom Cooper (2) in the first over courtesy of a Matt Reed gully catch. Biggs then sent back Steve Harris, lbw for a single, and bowled the dangerous Jeff Heath (2) with a ball which kept low. The visitors were rescued from 27-3 by the aggressive pair of skipper Simon Tapley and Lee Curtis, both of whom put bat to ball to good effect to post a 61-run stand in 12 overs before the former fell for 42 as he drove teenage left armer, Zac Johns to Crabb at extra cover.

Home skipper, Gavin Iley turned to the hugely experienced Bradshaw-Smith to exert some control. This proved to be an inspired decision as, after Chris Partridge (6) had suicidally run himself out, the seamer nibbled it around beautifully to strike three quick blows and rip the heart out of the innings. First Curtis’s leading edge was well held by Biggs after which Alan Boon (0) was trapped lbw and finally Jonny Ranjit (6) was cleaned out by a full, swinging delivery. Ipplepen were rescued from 116-8 by the experienced Keith Bell and impressive 14 year old, Matt Hodgson, who compiled a 31 run stand. Bell (24) struck some fine blows before being trapped lbw by the returning Biggs who promptly removed John Sewell (0) in similar fashion to wrap up the innings at a below par 150. Biggs returned an excellent 4-22 from his 11 overs, very good support coming from Bradshaw-Smith (3-21).

The Ottery reply began slowly in the face of lively bowling from Bell and Sewell, just 25 runs accruing from the first ten overs. The introduction of Hodgson’s well flighted leg spin saw the demise of both openers as Barry Flicker (12) was trapped lbw and Ed Fowler (17) played on via a half hearted defensive stroke. And when Bradshaw-Smith (10) departed, brilliantly caught by the ubiquitous Hodgson at backward point off Boon, the Otters were wobbling at 57-3. However, despite the nagging length of old hands, Boon and Harris, well supported by Reed, the Otters’ star performer, Crabb began to open up as he laced a series of crashing drives down the ground. Reed (21) also produced some well timed shots before departing to a Sewell delivery which seamed in to clip off stump. In coming skipper Iley began nervously as he battled to avoid a fourth successive duck, but once off the mark, he got into his stride, launching Hodgson for a towering straight six as he embarked upon a well controlled, unbroken 59 run partnership with Crabb to guide his team to a terrific win with ten overs to spare. Crabb reached a fine unbeaten 50 from just 36 balls faced (2 x 6s, 3 x 4s) shortly before the close whilst Iley remained unbeaten on 31.

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After two successive defeats, this was fine all round performance from the Otters which closes the gap at the top of the C Division table to just six points ahead of Saturday’s clash with visiting Barnstaple and Pilton.

Ipplepen 150 (L.Curtis 43, S.Tapley 42, K.Bell 24, K.Biggs 4-22, R.Bradshaw-Smith 3-21) Ottery St Mary 152-4 (R.Crabb 50*, G.Iley 31*, M.Reed 21, M.Hodgson 2-48). Ottery St Mary (20pts) beat Ipplepen (5pts) by 6wkts.

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