Flower blooms as Ottery 2nds complete their ‘Great Escape’

A batsmans gear is left on the wicket during drinks. Picture STEVE BIRLEY

A batsmans gear is left on the wicket during drinks. Picture STEVE BIRLEY - Credit: Archant

Having a few short weeks ago looked certainties for relegation from E Division (East) of the Tolchard’s Devon Cricket League, Ottery St Mary 2nd XI escaped the drop by posting a fifth win from their final seven matches, writes Ian Townsend.

Dan Jeacock's men were never seriously troubled by Bideford, Littleham & Westward Ho! 2nd XI, who plunge through the relegation trap door as a result of defeat in what was a final 'winner-takes-all clash'.

After winning the toss and bowling, the Otters struck an early blow as Pete Stevens (18) was bowled by Luke Tierney (1-22).

A high quality opening spell from left arm paceman Joe Birch (1-18 from nine overs) was then rewarded as Cameron Atkinson (0) was held by Max Moore.

The hosts slipped to 51-3 as James Hayter (13) fell to Henry Mutter (2-34), but the rot was then stopped by Ian Hayter who played fluently in posting stands of 34 with Chris Luxton (6) and 42 with Keith Berry.

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However, when Ian Hayter (61 with nine fours and a six) fell to young seamer Moore, courtesy of a catch from Dan Flower, from a relatively promising 127-4 the Bideford innings subsided.

Berry (5) was soon castled by Moore (2-13) after which a terrific spell from teenage left armer Ashok Prasad (2-6 from six overs) removed John Weeks (0) and Darren Willcocks (2). When Albie Southall-Brown (2-13) capped a fine display by a decidedly youthful bowling attack by cleaning up both Martin Stanbury (14) and Tim Cooke (0), the hosts had been hustled out for 153.

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Dan Jeacock (5) soon departed to a catch by Stanbury off Willcocks as the Otters replied, but that was about as good as it got for Bideford as Flower and Anthony Dean embarked on a terrific century stand.

Dean leant solid support as the in-form Flower unleashed a number of typically powerful drives to cruise past 50.

The stand had reached 126 from 27 overs when Dean (35 with five fours) misjudged a delivery from Cooke (2-15) to be stumped by Ian Hayter.

Flower (80, with 14 fours) fell to the same bowler soon afterwards via a catch by Willcocks but despite Atkinson (2-41) claiming the late scalps of Mutter (9) and Tom Jeacock (1), the visitors cruised over the line with 12 overs to spare.

A large disparity in the standard of cricket played by 1st and 2nd XIs frequently proves problematical when players are asked to step up.

The Otters' 2nd XI retaining their place in E Division therefore represents a real boost for the Club and, looking ahead to the 2020 season, recent impressive performances from a number of home produced youngsters is cause for significant optimism.

Bideford, Littleham & Westward Ho! 2nd XI 153 (I Hayter 61, A Prasad 2-8, M Moore 2-13, A Southall-Brown 2-13, H Mutter 2-34) Ottery St Mary 156-5 (D Flower 80, A Dean 35, T Cooke 2-15, C Atkinson 2-41). Ottery St Mary (20pts) bt Bideford, Littleham & Westward Ho! (5pts) by 5 wkts.

Otters Man of the Match - Dan Flower

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