Midsummer monsoon misses Ottery 1sts

After the meteorological gods last weekend conspired to ensure that the June ‘monsoon’ miraculously steered clear of the Otter valley, Ottery St Mary 1st XI took full advantage to record a hard-fought victory over visitors Kingsbridge, writes Ian Townsend.

It enabled them to steal a march on the rest of their C Division rivals, all of whom endured an inactive afternoon.

As bowler-friendly conditions yet again prevailed, the Otters’ skipper, Jody Clements invited Kingsbridge to take first knock. The damp, green track was predictably much to the liking of master seamer, Mark Woodman who soon put the South Devon side on the back foot.

James Westlake (13) miscued a steepling drive to be well held by Matt Reed in the covers, Josh Dorey (1) spooned a leading edge to Sam Tennant and Clive Clark was castled by a leg cutter as Kings plunged to 37-3. Worse was to follow as the impressive-looking James Fletcher (17) was trapped lbw by a full length in-swinger from Will Harrison.

However, the introduction of the Ottery change bowlers saw the pressure released allowing Ashley Treeby and Ben Glover to begin to pull things around. The pair defended well and took full advantage of number of loose deliveries as a valuable 50-run stand was compiled in the course of 17 overs.

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It took the introduction of teenage all-rounder, George Biggs to swing the contest back into the Otters’ favour. Bowling at a lively pace and deriving considerable late movement, the youngster first trapped Glover (22) as he tentatively prodded forward to be hit on the full, then produced a lifting delivery which Treeby (28) feathered behind to Trevor Griffin who pouched a good catch standing up to the stumps.

Kingsbridge were in real trouble at 99-6 and three further quick wickets looked set to confine the visitors to a single batting point - Rob Johns induced Bahnu De Silva (1) into slicing a drive to Reed at deep point before Biggs claimed two more victims, Vern Etoe (1) falling to a smart stumping from Griffin before Russ Thomas (1) aimed a wild drive at a wide, swinging delivery to give Reed his third catch of the innings.

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However, a combination of loose bowling and some useful blows from last man, Neal Peach (14*) saw the latter share a useful 10th wicket stand with James Rosewarne (6) who was eventually run out as Kingsbridge closed on 130 all out. Biggs (4-27) and Woodman (3-23 from 10.5 overs) shared the bowling honours.

Peach and Sri Lankan leg spinner, De Silva opened the attack as the Otters replied and, with little pace on the ball, runs proved hard to come by for openers, Tennant and Griffin. The former’s attempt at taking the attack to the visitors resulted in a number of false shots, especially in the face of De Silva’s cunning flight.

After Tennant was dropped at deep mid-on, with the total on 29, Griffin (9) edged a well flighted De Silva leg break behind to Thomas. Will Munford joined Tennant and together the pair gradually wrested the initiative back for the home side.

Pushing the ball cleverly into the gaps, running well between the wickets and posting the odd boundary, the pair compiled an excellent 58 run stand in 17 overs before Munford (25), who had worked hard to reign in his natural attacking approach, skied a miss hit drive off De Silva to Glover in the covers.

Tension began to increase as two further wickets fell, Tennant (39) edging behind to Thomas as he slogged at Glover and Johns (3) suffering the same fate as he aimed an expansive drive at Dorey.

Biggs (11) played one or two pleasing shots in helping Jack Pritchard to add a valuable 23 for the fifth wicket before losing his off stump to Dorey. Pritchard (13) soon followed, castled by an unplayable ‘shooter’ from Dorey, who went on to claim an impressive 3-8, but the Otters were guided to a deserved victory by Clements and Reed, the latter producing a sumptuous square cut boundary as the 131-run target was reached with four wickets in hand.

A 19 point haul saw the Otters climb to fourth in the table ahead of this weekend’s tough-looking home clash with table toppers, Chagford.

Otters Man of the Match – George Biggs

Ottery St Mary (19pts) bt Kingsbridge (5pts) by 4 wkts.

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