Johns blasts Ottery ton

Early season strugglers, Alphington were left to rue their generosity as Ottery St Mary 2nd XI’s Rob Johns took full advantage of being given no less than three early lives to plunder a fine century, writes Ian Townsend.

In partnership with promising youngster, Matt Reed (65), the all-rounder posted a magnificent 157 run fourth wicket stand to propel his side to a highly competitive total after which the visitors were swept away for just 77 to give the Otters a much-needed maximum points victory.

On a damp, green track, probing opening spells from Alphas’ seamers, Richard Gott and Rob Graham initially saw the home side on the back foot at 34-3. Dan Flower (8) top edged a pull to give Gott a return catch and the same bowler then trapped Barry Flicker (2) lbw before Graham produced an excellent leg cutter to bowl the dangerous Rob Crabb (9). Batting was proving difficult with the ball seaming around and not coming onto the bat, and the visitors should have also sent back Johns as Alan Davey dropped a sitter behind the stumps off Gott and Graham saw a catch spilt at deep mid-off.

Despite surviving another chance, in partnership with Reed, Johns slowly began to take charge. The score passed 50 in the 19th over as it became apparent that the visitors’ change bowlers posed little threat. Runs began to flow as Johns lifted Jack Webber over mid wicket to reach his 50. And after bringing up the 100 partnership, which occupied 23 overs, Johns really began to cut loose, launching Webber for a huge six over extra cover before smashing another maximum straight down the ground. Reed, meanwhile, had started to time the ball beautifully and a two to backward point brought up another half century (97 balls, 6 x 4s) in a hitherto lucrative season for the 18 year old. Johns reached his century in the 42nd over (10 x 4s, 2 x 6s, 108 balls), with his second 50 coming from just 30 balls, before the stand was broken by leg spinner Nick Beasant who bowled Reed for 65.

Johns departed shortly afterwards, caught behind off the same bowler and the Otters stumbled slightly, losing two further wickets in claiming maximum batting points with a total of 205-7. Gott and Beasant claimed three wickets a piece but the pick of the Alphington bowlers was Graham who can count himself unfortunate to have taken only 1-34 from 13 excellent overs.

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In reply, Alphington were never able to shake off the stranglehold exerted by the home bowlers. Openers Ben Upton and Luke Phillips (6) batted soundly but the score had crawled to just 13 in the ninth over when the latter popped up a Keith Biggs delivery to Crabb at short extra cover. Gott and Upton briefly resisted, taking the score to 36 before Gott’s leading edge to young seamer Johnny Golder was well held by Flicker.

Golder soon removed Davey (0) but Upton was batting beautifully combining cast iron defence with stylish attacking shots. However, when he was run out by his partner in the 27th over, having scored a fine 41 out of a total of just 63, the visitors fell apart. Johns bowled youngster Jack Mills for a duck after which Biggs and Reed rapidly mopped up the tail. The Exeter side had been hustled out for just 77 with Reed and Biggs claiming three wickets apiece.

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So, a welcome victory for the Otters which lifts them into mid-table, but all at Salston Field will be well aware that this was achieved against pitifully weak opposition.

Otters’ Man of the Match – Rob Johns.

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