Generation game at Ottery

The sheer unpredictability of cricket is surely one of the game's most appealing traits - a fact epitomised by Ottery St Mary 2nd XI's narrow victory over visiting Countess Wear.

The sheer unpredictability of cricket is surely one of the game's most appealing traits - a fact epitomised by Ottery St Mary 2nd XI's narrow victory over visiting Countess Wear.Having restricted their opponents to a seemingly very modest total, the Otters must have envisaged a fairly easy stroll to victory.However, a combination of injudicious shot selection and excellent spells from the visitors' only two frontline bowlers reduced Ottery to the verge of defeat. But the home side snatched a thrilling victory due to the sterling efforts of an even younger generation of players than those largely responsible for the previous week's opening day victory at Dartington & Totnes.Otters' skipper Gavin Iley had little hesitation in inserting the visitors on winning the toss, a decision which was soon vindicated by hugely promising left arm swing merchant Joe Birch. The King's School student may have lacked his customary control, but two cracking yorkers soon removed the leg stumps of both Tom Brooks (0) and experienced visiting skipper Martin Bovey (0) to leave Wear at 17-2 in the sixth over. The arrival of Adrian Nash gave the innings some impetus as he unleashed a series of delightful off drives against Birch and opening partner Keith Biggs, to boost the total to 43 after 10 overs before the introduction of left arm seamer Zac Johns did the trick for the Otters. Nash perished for 28 (6 x 4s) as he mishit the youngster's first delivery to Iley at mid-off allowing the skipper to pull off a running, diving ('Hollywood') catch! Seventeen-year-old Johns proceeded to produce an excellent spell, seaming the ball away from the right hander and, after Ian Cole and Jerry Carpanini added 36 in 10 overs, the youngster claimed a well deserved second wicket when he comprehensively bowled Cole. When the returning Birch produced yet another yorker to remove Carpanini (16), Wear were in serious trouble at 88-5. The introduction of Lewis Townsend saw their plight worsen as the off spinner produced a double wicket maiden. First Keith Hanford (0) fell victim to Townsend's notorious ability to claim wickets with long-hops, dragging a half tracker onto his leg stump, then Gary Spragg (0) was bowled trying to slog a well flighted off break. Steve Channing (12) brought up the 100 for the visitors, sweeping Townsend for four, shortly before falling lbw to the same bowler attempting a hit to leg. Adam Frost (1) fell victim to a fourth Birch yorker and, after some defiant late order blows from Phil Irish (12*), last man Adam Baitup, who was evidently participating in his very first game of cricket, soon became Townsend's fourth victim, bowled for a duck. The visitors' total of 122 from 30.5 overs appeared to be well below par. Birch returned 4-27 from 10 overs and Townsend 4-28 from 5.5 overs, but the home side's standout bowler was undoubtedly Johns with 2-10 from six excellent overs.Steve Forbes and George Biggs began the Otters' reply against the lively Nash and Spragg who were the only two front line bowlers in the visitors' less-than-extensive attack and, remarkably, the two pacemen were to deliver all but two of the 38 overs of the Otters' innings. Nash made an early breakthrough when Forbes (10) attempted to drive a delivery which was not quite there for the shot and gave a straightforward catch to mid-off. Biggs, though, was batting with a maturity beyond his years. Totally unfazed by a plethora of close fielders and the probings of Nash and Spragg, the 15-year-old Colyton Grammar School student was defending stoically whilst occasionally unfurling some delightful shots, two beautifully timed square cut boundaries being particularly notable. Sadly some of his more senior team mates failed to show the same degree of application; skipper Iley (17) never looked comfortable, despite bludgeoning one or two powerful blows, and he soon fell to Spragg, bowled attempting to pull a shortish ball which kept low. Three further quick wickets, all falling to the hard working Nash, plunged the Otters into deep trouble at 68-5 after 21 overs - first Alex Clements was trapped lbw attempting to turn a straight ball to leg, then Townsend departed for a second ball duck, brilliantly caught by the diving Brooks at mid-off after miscuing a drive after which Mark Stoyle was caught for two. Enter 13-year-old league debutant, Devon U13 player, Sam Loud who proceeded to share a 26 run partnership of tremendous character with Biggs, a stand which proved critical to their side's eventual victory. Shortly before Loud was run out for 11, despite the growing tension, Biggs managed to produce a sumptuous extra cover drive for four which drew acclaim even from the Countess Wear fielders. The incoming Nick Baxter sliced a boundary through point before Biggs's long vigil ended when he was trapped lbw by Nash to give the young paceman a richly deserved fifth wicket and leave the Otters at a nervous 100-7. Biggs's fine knock of 35 came from 96 balls in 112 minutes at the crease. Biggs senior's innings was a much briefer affair as he smote a vital boundary through the covers before falling lbw to Spragg to leave nerves jangling at 110-8. However, Wear's first bowling change (after no less than 35 overs) saw the pressure relieved as a wayward over from Brooks yielded four wides and a powerful extra cover boundary by Baxter. Johns then capped his successful day by turning a Spragg full toss to the square leg boundary to tie the scores before pushing the winning single backward of point to edge his side to victory despite valiant performances from Spragg (2-53 from 17.5 overs) and particularly Nash (5-55 from 18 overs) who had an outstanding all round match - you don't always need a run feast to produce a great game of cricket!Reflecting on the manner in which his side got out of jail, a relieved Ottery skipper heaped praise upon his young charges commenting: "We saw today what George Biggs, Zac Johns and Sam Loud can do - they're the next generation coming through and basically today they won us the match.". Otters' Man of the Match - George Biggs.

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