Otters beaten as wickets tumble

PUBLISHED: 16:09 29 August 2008 | UPDATED: 11:03 17 June 2010

Francis Clark Devon League 2nd XI C Division: Ottery St Mary 56 (B.Glover 4-28, I Hargreaves 2-4, J Ellis 2-8) Kingsbridge 57-8 (K Biggs 4-32, J Birch 3-10). Kingsbridge (16pts) bt Ottery St Mary (4pts) by 2wkts.

Francis Clark Devon League 2nd XI C Division: Ottery St Mary 56 (B.Glover 4-28, I Hargreaves 2-4, J Ellis 2-8) Kingsbridge 57-8 (K Biggs 4-32, J Birch 3-10). Kingsbridge (16pts) bt Ottery St Mary (4pts) by 2wkts.

This truly bizarre contest marked the return of cricket to Salston Field after the August 'monsoon' finally relented.

Despite collapsing to a pitiful 56 all out, the Otters came remarkably close to beating visiting Kingsbridge in a match where the majority of batsmen on both sides displayed a woeful lack of application.

Yes, conditions were bowler friendly, but certainly not so extreme as to justify extras being top scorer in both innings.

Only two batsmen (just!) attained double figures and the princely sum of just six boundaries were hit in 54 overs of cricket!

The writing was on the wall for the Otters early in the piece as, having been inserted by the visitors, they lost skipper Gavin Iley for a duck in just the fourth over as he drove loosely at Ben Glover to be caught at mid-off.

The pleasingly timed shots played by the in-coming Joe Edwards (11) shone out like a beacon in a contest full of mediocre batting, but the youngster's stay was short-lived as he drove tentatively at Josh Dorey to give a thin edge behind to James Westlake.

A total of 18 for two wickets soon became 19-3 as Ollie Mann (1) was caught on the crease playing across the line of a fullish ball to be trapped lbw by Glover in the 12th over.

Remaining opener Steve Forbes was at least looking to occupy the crease and, with the conditions conducive to bowling and a slow outfield, it was clear that a total around 100 would be highly competitive.

However, wickets continued to tumble at the other end as first Lewis Townsend failed to trouble the scorers, turning an innocuous delivery from Glover straight to Ian Hargreaves at square leg, then James Faulkner (1) fell in unfortunate fashion as a leg side delivery from Matt Thurlow flicked his back pad and rebounded onto the off stump.

The Otters were now in dire straights at 26-5 as vastly experienced vice captain Barry Flicker came to the crease.

Hargreaves was deriving considerable spin from the drying wicket and this, in conjunction with some sharp ground fielding, saw the visitors secure four successive maiden overs as the score crawled to just 35 in the 20th over.

Another loose shot saw Flicker depart for five as he mishit a James Ellis delivery to Thurlow at mid-off.

Shortly afterwards, Forbes's vigil ended for just seven as he popped up a Hargreaves off-break to Phil O'Neil at short forward square leg.

Scott Gibbins (7) soon followed, bowled through the gate by Hargreaves and, when Keith Biggs (0) played on via his pads attempting to hit Ellis over mid-wicket, the Otters had plunged to 43-9 in the face of three successive wicket maidens and looked set to face the ignominy of not even reaching 50.

However, youngsters Duncan Bradshaw-Smith (5 not out), a 14- year-old making his league debut, and No 11 Joe Birch proceeded to put their colleagues to shame by batting with real application in fashioning the highest partnership of the innings (13!) to take the total to 56 before the latter was bowled by Glover for two, playing around a full-length delivery.

Fittingly, extras was the Otters' top scorer with 17 as their innings closed at the ludicrously early time of 3-35pm.

Glover returned figures of 4-28 from 12.3 overs but the pick of the Kingsbridge bowlers was Hargreaves with 2-4 from eight overs of troublesome off spin.

Ottery St Mary must have taken the field simply hoping for respectability but, amazingly, in the face of some quality swing bowling from openers Biggs and Birch, the visitors were soon in real trouble.

Mark Edmonds and Joe Buckle, the youngster who played a wonderful innings to deny the Otters victory at Kingsbridge earlier in the season, both fell for ducks, beaten and bowled by Birch's late in-swing.

Despite exhibiting virtually zero batting technique and being beaten all ends up by a series of Biggs out-swingers, Matt Hammett was somehow managing not just to survive, but to begin edging his side towards their modest target.

However, in the sixth over, the highly promising Birch struck again, knocking back Vern Etoe's leg stump to leave Kingsbridge at 20-3.

Phil O'Neil (8) then batted soundly until he reached for a widish ball to give Townsend a leaping catch at deep cover off Biggs, a richly deserved first victim for the veteran paceman. Hammett's luck finally ran out at 11 as he was bowled by Biggs, trying to hit a good length ball over midwicket.

The visitors were beginning to wobble and the alarm bells really started to ring when Biggs then claimed two wickets in successive balls. First Hargreaves (8), having hit two priceless if rather fortunate boundaries, yorked himself, then Westlake missed attempting to turn a full-length ball to leg to be bowled for a duck. At 46-7 the improbable looked possible for the Otters but, despite Biggs and Faulkner, who had replaced Birch, continuing to ask questions of the Kingsbridge lower order, amidst some tension, they managed to edge towards victory.

Faulkner struck a final blow for the Otters, trapping Ellis (4) lbw with the scores level but, shortly afterwards, a single into the leg side saw the visitors crawl over the line to claim victory by just two wickets as Extras (15) once again top scored.

Biggs (4-32 from 9.3 overs) and Birch (3-10 from 6 overs) both performed admirably but ultimately such a small total was always going to prove to be undefendable.

This was a particularly galling defeat for the Otters whose normally verbose skipper was pretty much lost for words afterwards. For he and his team will know that, in admittedly less than ideal conditions, a relatively strong batting line-up showed a collective lack of application in a game where simply occupying the crease would very likely have brought victory.

Otters' Man-of-the-Match:Keith Biggs.

By Ian Townsend

Ottery St Mary CC

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