Otters end glorious campaign on winning note

At last the perpetual bridesmaids have made it to the altar! And, boy, did they celebrate in style at the Salston Field headquarters of Ottery St Mary CC after the 1st XI last weekend clinched promotion to the C Division of the Francis Clark Devon League with a comfortable victory at relegated Whitchurch, writes Ian Townsend.

Yet again, the plaudits went to the Otters’ much-vaunted seam attack of Mark Woodman, Rob Johns and Will Harrison who combined to dismiss the West Devon side for a an under-par total. In the process, the trio passed a combined total of 100 wickets for the season.

In damp conditions on the fringes of Dartmoor, Whitchurch lost the early wickets of Doug Vernon (0), slogging at Johns, and Billy Barriball (6), trapped lbw by Harrison. Ewen Smith (22) and George Webb took the score to 51 before the former was bowled by a Woodman leg cutter.

When Johns then saw Webb (25) caught by James Faulkner at square leg and Martin Credicott (12) was pouched in the covers, Whitchurch had slipped to 81-5. Josh Meadows (23) briefly resisted, but after he was caught at point by skipper, Jody Clements off Faulkner, the writing was on the wall for Whitchurch.

After Johns had Nigel Barriball (7) caught by Sam Tennant at cover, Harrison returned and, despite not bowling at his best, soon despatched the tail. When Ben Powell (17) was caught by Will Munford, running from gully towards point, the resultant bonus point meant that the visitors had at last escaped from D Division! Harrison claimed 5-59, benefitting from the pressure generated by the frugal Johns (3-24 from 12 overs) and Woodman (1-17 from 13 overs).

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Clements was a man on a mission as he opened the Ottery reply with Sam Tennant. In a bizarre 42-run stand, after three maiden overs, the Otters’ skipper savaged Darren Sambells for 22 runs in a over, including two monster sixes, as he raced to 39 from just 20 balls before falling to a Medaows delivery which bounced twice!

Tennant (1) was immediately caught by Smith off off-spinner Mark Kerswill who also trapped both Harrison (4) and Munford (0) lbw to leave Ottery struggling at 58-4. The belligerence of Lewis Townsend and the pleasingly measured batting of Jack Pritchard turned things around for the visitors, adding 46 runs in seven overs before Townsend (30) holed out to mid-on. Rob Crabb (14) smashed two maximums before being caught off Vernon but Pritchard (38 not out with 8 x 4s) and Faulkner guided the revitalised visitors to their third successive win.

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Following a generally lacklustre second half to their campaign, a relieved and delighted Otters’ skipper afterwards reflected on his side’s late season revival, commenting: “The boys have responded brilliantly over the last few weeks. I think they realised we were in danger of throwing it all away, then, against Ipplepen, it all clicked. Huge credit to the bowlers – their figures in the last three games were brilliant. Next year will be a real challenge”.

Otters Man of the Match – Jody Clements.

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