Match was poised when ‘the wet stuff’ intervened
Not for the first time during this unremittingly soggy summer, rain intervened to spoil an intriguingly poised contest involving Ottery St Mary 1st XI, writes Ian Townsend.
Having bowled and fielded consistently well to restrict ‘C’ Division league leaders Chagford to a modest total, the Otters required just 13 more runs for victory with two wickets in hand when the umpires controversially called off the contest due to persistent but light rain.
After Ottery skipper Jody Clements unsurprisingly chose to bowl first, on a damp and green wicket, seamers Will Harrison and Mark Woodman exerted a tight grip on proceedings, restricting the visitors to just 20 runs from their first 10 overs.
And after Paul Penberthy (17) was run out following great work by Sam Loud at point, first change bowler Rob Johns kept up the pressure to such an extent that Chagford could only limp to 44-3 at the halfway point of their innings.
The tall paceman’s beautifully directed outswing accounted for both Peter Holland (9) and Henry Gordon-Lennox (6) before father and son partnership Arnie and Billy Searle resisted well with a useful 38-run stand.
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Arnie Searle produced some powerful blows including a big six off George Biggs whilst his impressive 16-year-old son played some pleasing drives.
Johns was not to be denied, however, as first Arnie Searle edged behind for 18-year-old keeper Jack Pritchard to take a brilliant low catch, then, next ball, former Exeter all-rounder Del Lammonby fell victim to the first of a number of questionable lbw decisions.
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The rapidly improving Biggs then came to the party by ending Billy Searle’s fine knock at 33 (four fours) as he was bowled playing down the wrong line and Toby Gosling (4) was held in the gully by Loud.
Johns completed a well deserved ‘fivefer’, trapping Jacob Barber (10) via another dubious looking lbw decision before James Faulkner held a well-judged running catch to remove Luke Mortimore (3) off Biggs.
Woodman returned to wrap up the innings for just 117, Biggs capping his terrific display of fielding by taking a tumbling catch to remove Steve Sizmur (5). Johns returned 5-38 from his 13 overs, good support coming from Biggs (3-27).
Under increasingly threatening skies, Billy Searle and Lammonby produced excellent opening spells to haul the league leaders back into the contest.
Will Munford (0) drove loosely to Holland at midwicket and Faulkner (0) shouldered arms only to lose his off peg to an inswinger as Lammonby claimed two early victims.
And things became markedly worse for the Otters as young Searle claimed two scalps in quick succession, Sam Tennant (13) edging a lifting delivery behind before Pritchard (0) fell to a truly awful lbw decision.
Ottery were in the mire at 28-4 but Clements and Biggs carefully built a vital 40 run partnership featuring excellent running between the wickets and a number of fine cover drives.
After skipper Clements (12) was bowled by a Barber outswinger, Biggs and Loud added a precious further 21 runs but shortly after Loud (8) was also castled by Barber, rain intervening with the total on 92-6.
With batting still to come, the home side looked to be favourites but, soon after the total passed 100 in the 35th over, Biggs’s well-crafted innings of 38 (74 balls, 114 minutes) was ended by another ‘iffy’ lbw decision, Searle this time the beneficiary.
Incredibly Johns (0) immediately fell in identical fashion and the Otters were wobbling at 103-8. However, as the tension grew, light rain continued to fall and, to the frustration of both sides, the umpires soon decided to call a halt with the home side on 105-8.
The highly promising Billy Searle returned 4-33 whilst for the Otters Johns’ terrific spell was eclipsed only by Biggs’s outstanding all round contribution.
Otters Man of the Match – George Biggs
Francis Clark Devon League C Division: Chagford 117 (B Searle 33, R Johns 5-38, G Biggs 3-27) Ottery St Mary 105-8 (G Biggs 38, B Searle 4-33, J Barber 2-18, D Lammonby 2-37). Match abandoned – rain.
Ottery St Mary 12pts, Chagford 11pts.