Form revives but Ottery denied win

Ottery 2nd XI scrape home

Last weekend’s visit to high flying Halberton and Sampford Peverell saw Ottery St Mary 1st XI continue their recent revival, as they enjoyed the better of a drawn encounter and, indeed, only a fine innings from home all rounder Jess Turner denied the Salston Field outfit a surprise victory.

Batting first on a small ground with a fast outfield, the Otters soon lost opener Alex Clements (2). He gloved John Geary to Dan Coles at slip before Steve Forbes and Sam Tennant compiled a steady 68-run partnership in the face of tight bowling from Geary and the lively Turner.

Having punctuated his 33 with seven good boundaries, Tennant was bowled to become the first of three victims for off spinner Fred Harding. Rob Bradshaw-Smith (24) briefly prospered, launching two fine straight driven maximums before holing out to long-on attempting a third.

Lewis Townsend’s brief cameo ended at 11 as his leading edge to Harding’s away drifter flew to cover. Forbes reached a patient 50 (7 x 4s, 96 balls) but, shortly afterwards, the former Exeter Civil Service skipper departed, aiming an uncharacteristic lofted straight hit at Coles to be pouched by Turner at long-on.

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Nevertheless, from 139-5 the visitors continued to score steadily in the latter stages of the innings. Youngster George Biggs (22), returning to the 1st XI, batted confidently, pushing the ball into the gaps as 27 runs were added in partnership with skipper Jody Clements (9), after which both players fell victim to Turner.

All-rounder Rob Johns (27 from 18 balls) ignited some late innings fireworks before becoming the deserving Turner’s third scalp, good support once again coming from the canny Mark Woodman (20*). The late wicket of Nick Doman (5) saw the visitors finish on 218-9 from a full 46 overs, a total which appeared a little below par. Turner (3-44 from 13 overs) was the pick of the Halberton bowlers.

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The humid conditions soon saw the swing of Johns and Woodman plunge the Halberton reply into trouble. Hugh Sheridan (1) was trapped plumb lbw by Johns and Tom Sambrook (16) was brilliantly caught off the same bowler by Doman, who initially misjudged the catch before falling backwards to grasp it one-handed!

A Woodman outswinger induced Jon Chilcott (11) to edge behind to Alex Clements as the home side plunged to 36-3 after 13 overs. Kevin Fever (7) departed aiming a big drive at Johns, only to find Forbes at cover before a 32-run stand between Coles and the obdurate Andy Blake took the total to 78.

Two quick wickets for off spinner Doman appeared to put the Otters on the road to victory, Coles (12) driving to Tennant at point before Blake’s patient knock (30 from 69 balls) ended as he played on.

However, the ubiquitous Turner had other ideas as he took advantage of attacking field settings to launch a furious assault on the Otters’ change bowlers. Well-supported by the watchful Richard Durrant (12*), the hard-hitting all-rounder plundered a fine half century from just 30 balls faced (8 x 4s, 2 x 6s). When he departed, aiming a big hit at persistent left armer Will Harrison, the home side were within touching distance of safety with just four overs remaining.

Nevertheless, this was another encouraging display from the reinvigorated visitors for whom Johns (3-30 from 11 overs) and Woodman (1-27 from 11 overs) were the standout performers in an impressive bowling display.

The Otters will go into Saturday’s eagerly anticipated local derby with Feniton in good heart.

Ottery St Mary (14pts) drew with Halberton & Sampford Peverell (9pts).

?Batting first, the Otters were under early pressure as four wickets fell to Barnstaple opening bowlers, Pedlar, who exploited the humid conditions to derive considerable swing, and spinner Clarke.

Barry Flicker (15) was caught and bowled by the former, whilst youngsters Sam Loud (4) and Nick Mansfield (5) fell to catches close to the wicket off Clarke as the visitors employed well set and inventive fields.

From the depths of 44-4, Ottery were rescued by a fine maiden league 50 from young left-hander Alex Thurgate, who shared the first of two excellent partnerships with Gavin Iley, during which the Otters’ skipper posted a typically pugnacious 52 (8 x 4s, 2 x 6s) as the total was boosted to 117.

After Iley was run out, the rapid loss of Sam Bowyer-Thornton and Alex Tubbs, both without scoring, saw the home side slip to 118-7 before a fine eighth wicket stand of 69, featuring Thurgate and fellow left-hander Keith Biggs, steadied the ship.

Having batted circumspectly, Thurgate opened up, sweeping particularly well to harvest 5 x 4s and 3 x 6s in his 61 before he too departed to a run out. Keith Biggs’s fine supporting knock of 25 contained four 4s and a late cameo from Louis Biggs (11*) took the Otters to a slightly disappointing 202-9.

After an opening stand of 25 between Loder and Young, the visitors reply was plunged into deep trouble as opening bowlers Keith Biggs and Joe Birch utilised late swing to claim a brace.

From 31-4 in the sixth over, Holm and Bowden (5) inched B & P towards respectability with a 30 run stand before the latter edged behind to Louis Biggs to give the pacey Birch a third wicket.

And the visitors decline continued as three more quick wickets followed, including that of Holm (30), who showed his displeasure at being adjudged caught behind off change bowler Alex Tubbs by flattening all three stumps with his bat!

With the total at 81-8 in the 17th over, the Otters were clearly already in the pavilion celebrating and collectively took their foot off the pedal to such an extent that ninth wicket pair Clarke and Roe were able to compile a 92 run stand over the next 23 overs. Benefiting from two dropped catches, the Barnstaple pair were batting beautifully but, just when it appeared that the Otters had snatched defeat from the jaws of certain victory, the return of Birch broke the stand as Clarke (30) was bowled.

Last man, Pedlar, helped Roe add a further 20 runs before the latter’s fine innings of 53 (6 x 4s) was ended by a run out from Mansfield and the relieved Otters scraped home by 10 runs. Birch (4-57) and Keith Biggs (3-42) both exploited the conditions well.

Francis Clark Devon League 2nd XI C Division: Ottery St Mary 202-9 (A Thurgate 61, G Iley 52, K Biggs 25, M Clarke 3-50, F Biederman 2-45, R Pedlar 2-46) Barnstaple & Pilton 192 (J Roe 53, Extras 49, M Clarke 30, R Holm 27, J Birch 4-57, K Biggs 3-42). Ottery St Mary (20pts) bt Barnstaple & Pilton (8pts) by 10 runs.

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