Dan the man as Otters sink Shaldon

Will Harrison bowling at home for Ottery. Ref shsp 9081-26-15TI. Picture: Terry Ife

Will Harrison bowling at home for Ottery. Ref shsp 9081-26-15TI. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

After a fine bowling and fielding display restricted visiting Shaldon to a below par total on a good batting wicket, a magnificent century from Ottery St Mary 1st XI opener Dan Flower ensured that his side maintain a healthy lead over second placed Uplyme heading into this weekend’s mouth-watering clash between the teams, writes Ian Townsend.

Karl Blackburn threw the bat from ball one to hand Shaldon a jet propelled start, 18 runs coming from Ollie Reed’s first over as 51 were added in six overs before the powerful opener was bowled by the teenage seamer for 32. With George Thomas and Todd Ballman (25) both playing in pleasingly correct fashion, the total reached 98 in the 20th over whereupon Thomas attempted a suicidal single to run out his partner. Change bowlers Jody Clements and Matt Reed then produced beautifully controlled spells to exert a stranglehold which soon delivered three further wickets. Clements nipped one away off the seam, inducing Will Moore (0) to offer a sharp chance to Lewis Townsend at slip, Andy Espley (0) top edged a slog which was also pouched by the Otters’ skipper off Reed and finally Dan Woolnough (0) was castled by another fine delivery from Clements (2-19). Shaldon had slipped to 115-5 as Reed and Clements jointly conceded just 43 runs in 18 overs but the visitors were boosted by a 64-run stand between Thomas, who was playing fine shots all around the wicket, and skipper Mark Couch (31) who initially struggled but then struck some fine blows before being bowled by Kevin Kelly. Thomas was denied a deserved century as he smashed a Billy Rudolph full toss to Will Harrison at deep square leg and Jamie Day (9) became a second victim for Kelly (2-42) as Shaldon closed on 220-9.

The Ottery reply was given a great start by Flower who tucked into some loose bowling from Carl Woolnough and Ross Abraham to race to 50 from just 42 deliveries (11 fours) before Rudolph (20), who had provided sound support, fell victim to a fine delivery from Couch which seamed away to clip off stump. A hard hitting cameo from Rob Crabb (24 from 16 balls) kept the scoreboard ticking and despite the Otters’ vice-captain being castled by Couch (2-38), Flower was now in full cry. Powerful drives flowed from the big left hander’s bat as he reached a wonderful hundred (83 balls, 18 fours and a six) and although he departed soon afterwards, caught for 102, Jack Pritchard continued the run spree as he hammered a fluent 48 from just 40 balls (six fours and a six). When Townsend (18*) ended the contest in typical style, launching Espley for six over mid-wicket, his side had stormed to an eleventh victory from twelve matches with a full fourteen overs to spare.

The result sends the Otters into their clash with in form Uplyme in good heart but the trip to the Dorset border is likely to provide the stiffest examination of the season so far. Honours are even between the teams with the Otters prevailing in the early season reverse league fixture whilst Uplyme claimed a convincing win in the Corinthian Cup. Victory for the Otters would open up a huge gap at the top of the league whilst an Uplyme win would be a major boost in their quest to reel in Townsend’s men.

Shaldon 220-9 (G Thomas 89, K Blackburn 32, M Couch 31, T Ballman 25, J Clements 2-19, K Kelly 2-42) Ottery St Mary 221-4 (D Flower 102, J Pritchard 48, R Crabb 24, B Rudolph 20, M Couch 2-38). Ottery St Mary (19pts) bt Shaldon (6pts) by 6 wkts.

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