Ottery St Mary go down in spirited fashion at Ipplepen.

PUBLISHED: 11:33 24 July 2014 | UPDATED: 11:33 24 July 2014

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Despite being forced to field a side shorn of virtually their entire first choice top order batting line up, Ottery St Mary 1st XI last weekend produced a spirited performance as they went down to a narrow defeat to table topping Ipplepen, writes Ian Townsend.

The visitors’ two wicket triumph was built largely upon the exploits of two imports, professional Kiwi pace man, Caleb Gaylard and classy opener and former Exeter University student, Matt Nicholls.

Left armer, Gaylard wreaked early havoc as he claimed three wickets in an over to reduce the Otters to 24-3.

Makeshift opener Jody Clements (2) was trapped lbw and youngster Billy Reed castled for a golden duck before vice-captain Rob Crabb (9), leading the side in the absence of Lewis Townsend, was caught behind by Jack Lewis.

When Billy Rudolph and Sam Lynch then both failed to trouble the scorers, Ottery were in total disarray at 36-5.

However, after Jack Pritchard and Alex Thurgate played carefully to see off Gaylard (5-18 from nine overs), who has first class experience with Central Districts, it became a very different game with the two youngsters compiling an excellent 124-run stand in 31 overs to bring the home side back into the contest.

Pritchard’s measured 50 came from 113 balls after which he opened up to hammer a further 33 from just 15 deliveries. Left arm seamer Nicholls came in for severe punishment, disappearing for 32 in two overs!

Thurgate’s typically wristy 50 occupied 77 balls with eight fours. A breezy late innings cameo from Ed Fowler (17no from 10 balls) helped complete the Otters’ recovery as they closed at 200-6, Pritchard remaining unbeaten on a terrific 83 (eight fours, one six).

As home pace man, Will Harrison struggled for line and length, Lewis and Nicholls gave the Ipplepen reply a rapid start, adding 78 in 16 overs before first change seamer Joe Birch, embarking on another excellent spell (2-23), induced Lewis (36) to offer a catch to Lynch.

Nicholls was playing in typically assured fashion as, in the company of Sam De Friend, he took the total to 117 before two wickets fell in quick succession.

De Friend (26) fell to off spinner Matt Reed, courtesy of a catch at the wicket by Pritchard, then Joe Abbot (0) became Birch’s second victim in similar fashion. After Nicholls and Dave Harris took the score to 151, the accurate Rudolph (2-34) was rewarded with the valuable scalp of the remaining opener who fell to a catch by Lynch having reached 63 (eleven fours).

When the bounce and turn of emerging left arm spinner, Thurgate (2-34) was then rewarded with the wickets of Johnny Ranjit, pouched by Birch for 16, and Gaylard, bowled for three, the Otters were in with a shout of victory as the total stood at 184-7. Sadly for the Salston Field men, despite Lynch claiming a rare wicket as Seb Powell (11) was caught by Reed, Steve Bowden (12no) saw the visitors home with ten deliveries to spare.

Crabb afterwards paid tribute to his side’s gutsy display, commenting: “Jack and Alex batted really solidly to rebuild the innings and then produced some great stroke play to get us to 200.

Birchy delivered a terrific spell to unsettle their openers, and Billy Rudolph and Alex also bowled really well. It was all backed up a by a good team fielding display – Lynchy’s diving catch was spectacular! We pushed a very good side right to the limit. Good signs for the next few weeks if we can match that spirit and commitment”.

Ottery St Mary 200-6 (J Pritchard 83no, A Thurgate 52, extras 37, C.Gaylard 5-18) Ipplepen 201-8 (M Nicholls 63, J Lewis 36, S De Friend 26, D Harris 21, J Birch 2-23, B Rudolph 2-34, A Thurgate 2-34). Ipplepen (18pts) bt Ottery St Mary (9pts) by two wickets.

Otters Man of the Match – Alex Thurgate

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