Otters back on the winning trail
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On a difficult surface, two fine individual innings coupled with an improved bowling performance saw Ottery St Mary 1st XI claim a hard-fought and welcome victory from the short trip to face Exeter 2nd XI, writes Ian Townsend.
After Ottery skipper Will Harrison chose to bat first, Exeter opened the bowling with experienced left arm spinner Mike Wilkinson who soon accounted for Alex Clements (6). However, the visitors were then boosted by a 66-run stand posted in 16 overs between Ollie West and Joe Henkus (26) before the latter was trapped lbw by Simon Glenn. On a wicket where few batsmen ever really felt in, West was looking in fine form as he cruised past 50 with eight fours.
The Otters could ill afford the needless run out of Lawrence Walker (10), though, and with Wilkinson (3-26) returning to claim two further victims, including West for an excellent 72 via a questionable-looking lbw decision, the visitors slipped to 139-6.
Enter the Otters' flamboyant all-rounder, Harsha Liyanage. With solid support from Jody Clements (13), the ex-Countess Wear man proceeded to play in typically expansive and wristy fashion to craft a fine 45 from just 39 balls (seven fours) to propel his side to an above par 216-9 from their 45 overs.
Fine opening spells from Harrison and Jack Malden soon had Exeter in trouble with the latter in particular bowling in just the right manner to let the badly cracked surface do the damage. With Malden (2-29) seeing Ben Abraham (5) pouched by Eddie Rudolph at square leg and inducing Jamie Telford to edge to Rob Johns at slip and Harrison (2-28) claiming the scalps of Marc Oelofse (4) and Wilkinson (1), the home side were in big trouble at 33-4.
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However, after teenage seamer Matt Jeacock had ended Callum Hogan's cameo at 14, Tor Ziegler-Evans and elegant left hander, Sean Langford posted a near century stand which dragged the hosts back into the contest. Langford gave a masterclass in batting on such an unpredictable surface, manoeuvring the ball into the gaps and eliminating risky shots whilst putting loose deliveries away in effortless fashion. Ziegler-Evans produced some lusty blows as 95 were added before Langford (59 with eight fours) chipped Jody Clements to Eddie Rudolph at mid-wicket.
This saw the innings slip into terminal decline as Johns (2-31) and Jody Clements (3-34) cleaned up the tail to guide their side to a 17-run victory.
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Reflecting on a pleasing return to winning ways Harrison reflected: "Great to bounce back after last week's disappointment and we showed that we can hold our nerve under a bit of pressure. Jack Malden bowled especially well at the start of the innings after Westy and Harsha posted valuable runs. Then the ever reliable Jody [Clements} got us over the line with some tight bowling".
Ottery St Mary 216-9 (O West 72, H Liyanage 45, J Henkus 26, M Wilkinson 3-26) Exeter 2nd XI 199 (S Langford 59, T Ziegler-Evans 36, J Clements 3-34, W Harrison 2-28, J Malden 2-29, R Johns 2-31). Ottery St Mary (20pts) bt Exeter 2nd XI (8pts) by 17 runs.
Otters Man of the Match - Ollie West