John’s spurs Ottery to win

New face at the helm inspires out of form Ottery

Newly-appointed Ottery St Mary 1st XI skipper Rob Johns produced a fine all- round performance to inspire his team to victory in last weekend’s bottom of the table clash with Whitchurch.

Having blown away the West Devon side’s top order with an excellent display of pace bowling, the 6ft 10ins all rounder then crafted an unbeaten half century to settle the Otters’ nerves and secure a result which will lift spirits at Salston Field.

Having inserted the opposition, Johns, and fellow opening bowler Mark Woodman, kept a tight rein on the scoring, the total crawling to 41 before Phil Mansfield (17) fell to a Sam Lynch catch at point off the Ottery skipper.

Two more quick victims for Johns saw Whitchurch slump to 52-3 before Martin Credicott and Aaron Churchill (29) steadied the ship with a 34-run stand which was eventually terminated when Will Harrison’s booming in-swinger bowled the latter. After Harrison claimed another scalp, the watchful Credicott (47) and the aggressive Ashley Woodrow (59 with 11 x 4s) took the score to 187 before Rob Bradshaw-Smith removed both players, one of whom fell to a superb catch in the deep from Steve Forbes.

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A steady clatter of late wickets saw Whitchurch limp to 215-9, well below par on a postage stamp ground with a lightning fast outfield. Johns returned an excellent 4-28 from 13 overs.

The Ottery reply began shakily with home seamer Joe Trembath removing the experienced duo of Bradshaw-Smith (9) and Barry Flicker (12), but the arrival of Lewis Townsend saw the innings gain real impetus. Well supported by the ever reliable Alex Clements, the youngster’s first knock of the season was a characteristically positive affair, his 35 runs coming from just 27 balls (7 x 4s).

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However, after Townsend was bowled, three more wickets fell in quick succession and Clements’ obdurate knock ended at 17 via a run out, Forbes (9) fell lbw to Darren Sambells and Rob Crabb (5) was trapped in front by Woodrow.

Enter two old heads in the form of Johns and Woodman. The Otters’ skipper compiled an excellent innings, combining careful defence with powerful dismissal of the loose ball, whilst Woodman (12) ‘nurdled’ effectively before falling lbw to George Webb.

Johns found another excellent foil in the shape of Nick Doman, who posted a valuable 25 not out (4 x 4s) as his skipper’s unbeaten 65 (10 x 4s, 2 x 6s) guided his side to victory with two overs to spare.

An understandably elated Johns afterwards enthused: “Today was a brilliant team performance from ball one – a really good day for the club”.

And with the Otters now just three points behind their opponents and facing other struggling sides in the coming weeks, a revival is hopefully in the offing.

l Ottery St Mary (19pts) bt Whitchurch (8pts) by three wkts.

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