Otters looking over their shoulders


- Credit: Archant

The remarkably tight nature of the 2nd XI A Division of the Tolchard’s Devon League means that following last weekend’s crushing defeat by visiting Barton, despite being apparently comfortably placed in the league table, Ottery St Mary 2nd XI still require 10 points from their final fixture of the campaign away to Plymstock to be sure of avoiding relegation, writes Ian Townsend.

A markedly under-strength Otters side came nowhere near posting a total likely to stretch Barton who therefore cruised to their victory target leaving their hosts looking nervously over their shoulder in a league in which the bottom three will fall through the trap door.

Invited to take first knock on a greenish track, Ottery were soon in trouble. Barton seamer Matt Lipton (2-13) sent back skipper Rick Jackson, bowled for four, and Albie Southall-Brown (5), caught by Luke Hampshire who then proceeded to tear the heart out of the middle order. In a fine spell, Hampshire removed Tom Hinch, who edged behind to Alex Hunt, key batsman Rob Bradshaw-Smith pouched by Lipton and Luke Tierney bowled. With none of the three troubling the scorers, the Otters had plunged to 31-5. However, remaining opener Barry Flicker was battling hard and 18 were added in the company of fellow veteran Gavin Iley (8) before the latter edged behind to Hunt to give Hampshire an impressive 4-38.

Flicker’s resistance ended at 34 (four fours), caught by Hampshire off Kyle Lardner, and when Jack Webber (0) was caught off Gary Spencer, at 63-7, a three figure total appeared unlikely. Nevertheless, the teenage duo of Tom Jeacock and Sam Brook put the upper order to shame by grinding out a 35-run stand before Jeacock (10 from 48 balls) was bowled by Phil Gartrell. The total edged past three figures but when Brook (22 from 49 balls with three fours) was run out by Lardner, the home side had been hustled out for 101.

Barton initially struggled in reply in the face of a typically high quality spell from Bradshaw-Smith (2-16 from six overs). The vastly experienced seamer’s probing soon accounted for Lipton, bowled for two, and Hampshire, caught by teenager Jack Dallyn for a duck, leaving the visitors at 29-2.

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From there, however, it was all downhill for the Otters whose otherwise youthful attack struggled to bowl an effective line and length. In defence of such a modest total, the home side could ill afford an eye watering 24 wides and Hunt and Andy McVeigh took full advantage of numerous loose offerings to post a rapid, unbroken 74-run stand, thus powering their team to victory in a little over 17 overs. Hunt remained unbeaten on 34 (five fours) and McVeigh on 36 not out from just 34 balls (seven fours).

Ottery St Mary 101 (B Flicker 34, S Brook 22, L Hampshire 4-38, M Lipton 2-13) Barton 103-2 (A McVeigh 36*, A Hunt 34*, Extras 31, R Bradshaw-Smith 2-16). Barton (20pts) bt Ottery St Mary (3pts) by 8 wkts.

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