Man of the match Kirk proves Fenny nemesis

Ottery CC back on the right track

Feniton CC 1st XI could be forgiven for being heartily sick of the sight of Ottery batsman Matt Kirk. In the early season encounter at Acland Park, the powerful middle order man posted a fine century to clinch victory for the Otters. And, in last weekend’s return fixture, Kirk repeated the dose, scoring a terrific 107 to boost his side to a vital win which saw them leapfrog their local rivals in the D Division table.

Having chosen to bat first on an uneven wicket, Feniton initially struggled in the face of fine bowling from home seamers Rob Johns and Mark Woodman. After Mark Salter (4) fell to a diving slip catch by Kirk off Johns, Brian Cann appeared fortunate to survive a unanimous appeal for a catch at the wicket, a decision which cost the Otters 70 runs as the experienced opener went on to produce a fine innings on the challenging surface.

And when visiting skipper Mark Kingdon survived a similarly convincing appeal off Woodman, the home side appeared to be in for a frustrating day. However, the former Exmouth man soon had his revenge, inducing Kingdon (6) to edge behind to Alex Clements as the total crawled to 34-2 in the 15th over. Cann again survived as Kirk grassed a sharp chance at second slip and, as the change bowlers failed to maintain the pressure, the runs began to flow. Cann’s 50 (seven fours) arrived as he and Graham Tucker fashioned a fine 111-run partnership with Tucker in particular unleashing some delightful off drives.

Cann’s vigil ended at 77 as he top edged Jody Clements to Will Harrison at point before renowned hitter Adrian Pullin (31) launched a typically savage assault taking 16 runs in an over from Clements before the Otters skipper slipped into yorker mode to remove the big man’s off pole.

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Tucker continued to prosper, however, reaching a fine 74 not out as late partnerships with Alex Frankpitt (16) and Charlie Selly (7*) took the visitors to a competitive 251-7, having accrued 101 runs from the final 11 overs.

The Ottery reply suffered an early blow when Steve Forbes (8) edged Russell Witton behind to Salter, after having unfurled two pleasing straight drives.

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However, the threadbare nature of the visitors’ attack was soon exposed as Alex Clements and Feniton’s ‘nemesis’, Kirk, compiled a relatively untroubled 165-run stand to put the home side firmly in control.

In marked contrast to Alex Clements’s stoic defence, Kirk was his characteristically expansive and unorthodox self, reaching his 50 from 62 balls (10 fours) before taking the total past 100 by lifting Kingdon for six over mid-wicket.

With Kirk closing in on three figures, Feniton could ill afford Selly’s dropped boundary catch and the landmark duly arrived as the Otters’ man took two to long on to bring up a fine century (109 balls, 14 fours, two sixes). Alex Clements went on to reach a patient 50 (94 balls) as the Otters appeared to be strolling to victory, but, when Kirk was bowled by Pullin, who then pouched a steepler to remove Clements off Selly, the scoring rate slowed markedly.

The arrival of Lewis Townsend provided renewed impetus to the innings. The aggressive youngster took full advantage of the dolliest of dropped catches by Kingdon to power his way to an unbeaten 34 from just 17 balls via a combination of big hitting and quick running between the wickets.

It was left to Rob Bradshaw-Smith to secure victory for Ottery as he smashed Pullin to the long on boundary with two balls to spare. So, another fine result for the Otters, whose season has been transformed over the last month. This Saturday’s encounter with promotion-chasing Ashburton will be a revealing yardstick in gauging the extent of the side’s progress.

Otters’ Man of the Match was Matt Kirk.

Francis Clark Devon League D Division: Feniton 251-5, Ottery St Mary 253-5. Ottery St Mary (17pts) bt Feniton (7pts) by five wkts.

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