Otters dig deep to maintain league form

Despite being shorn of the services of key seamers, Rob Johns and Mark Woodman, and last season’s leading run scorer, Matt Kirk, Ottery St Mary 1st XI maintained their league challenge, writes Ian Townsend.

They had a hard-fought, narrow victory in last weekend’s fascinating derby clash with Feniton, in which Devon U15 leg spinner Sam Loud was Man of the Match.

After home seamer Jonathan Pyle shocked the Otters by claiming an early innings hat-trick, Jack Pritchard, 17, played a beautifully controlled innings to guide his team to a total which at least gave the bowlers a chance. Devon U15 leg spinner, Sam Loud, took full advantage by removing the home side’s four premier batsmen to set up the visitors’ fourth win of the season.

Pyle had written his name into the record books in the sixth over by removing Steve Forbes (1) and Will Munford (0), both caught behind by Rob Pfeiffer, followed by Phil Cox (0) lbw.

Pritchard and fellow teenager George Biggs (28) played steadily to post a 55-run stand before the latter played on to home skipper, Mark Kingdon. The immediate dismissal of Otters’ captain Jody Clements (0), caught at mid-off off by Russell Witton, left the score on 67-5 and, although useful contributions followed from Ed Fowler (15) and Nick Doman (22), a competitive total looked unlikely for the visitors.

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However, Pritchard continued to accumulate runs in characteristically wristy fashion and the arrival of Loud saw the two youngsters combine well to craft an excellent 56-run stand before the latter departed for a valuable 29. The home bowlers continued to feed Pritchard’s strength, outside off stump, and the Exeter School student cashed in, posting a league best 78 (9 x 4s) to help the Otters to 193-9 from a full 46 overs.

In reply, Feniton soon lost young opener Charlie Selley who edged Tom Bornet, bowling steadily on his return to the 1st XI, behind to Cox. Kingdon and Aussie import Norman Bedford (22) steadied the ship before the latter slashed at Will Harrison, only to fall to a fine catch by Bornet at third man.

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With the big hitting Adrian Pullen now at the wicket, Clements took the brave decision to turn to spin and, although the big man initially struck some meaty blows, particularly off Doman’s off spin, the move proved to be inspired, as the hugely promising Loud proceeded to blow away the core of the home batting.

Kingdon (29) was caught in the covers by Forbes, Graham Tucker (4) was bowled by a well-disguised quicker ball, Pullen (38) holed out to Bornet at short fine leg and Alex Frankpitt (8) fell to a sharp gully catch from Pritchard. Feniton were in trouble. After the returning Harrison removed Pfeiffer (34), the innings crumbled.

Clements claimed two late victims before a crazy run out brought victory for the visitors by the slender margin of 14 runs with two overs remaining.

Loud, who bowled with fine variation and control, was the pick of the Ottery bowlers claiming 4-44 from his 12 overs.

Francis Clark Devon League D Division

Ottery St Mary 193-9 (J Pritchard 78, S Loud 29, G Biggs 28, N Doman 22, J Pyle 4-34, N Bedford 2-46, R Witton 2-58) Feniton 179 (A Pullin 38, R Pfeiffer 34, M Kingdon 29, N Bedford 23, S Loud 4-44, W Harrison 2-31, J Clements 2-31).

Ottery St Mary (19pts) bt Feniton (8pts) by 14 runs.

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