Otters need to be on top form to take on Ipplepen

After their lower middle order once again guided them to a respectable total, Ottery St Mary 1st XI produced a patchy bowling performance to allow Plymouth Civil Service and Roborough to escape with a draw from last weekend’s encounter at Salston Field, writes Ian Townsend.

Experienced seamer, Mark Woodman and teenage leg spinner, Sam Loud, performed admirably to claim eight wickets between them but the remaining Otters’ bowlers suffered a collective off day allowing early season pace setters, Ipplepen, who claimed their sixth straight victory, to extend their lead at the top of the league to 15 points with a third of the season gone.

After being asked to bat first in bowler friendly conditions, Ottery were soon in trouble. Young left arm swing merchant, Jack Dent, corrected his initially errant radar to send back Steve Forbes, yorked for a single, George Biggs (2), who drove loosely to Dan Winsor at extra cover and Lewis Townsend (6) who was unfortunate to see the ball rebound from his pads onto the stumps.

And with Will Munford (1) holing out to Andy Hawker after recklessly driving at Chris Newton, the Otters were in the mire at 32-4.

The experienced duo of Jody Clements and Rob Johns restored some order, posting a rapid 36 run stand in just six overs before Johns, whose run-a-ball 21 contained four fours, got a leading edge to balloon a Dent delivery to Ben Wilkinson at mid-on.

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Rain intervened with the home side at 89-5. On the resumption, skipper Jody Clements, having compiled a careful 33, was bowled aiming a lazy drive at Winsor, but a useful stand between Woodman (28), who despatched the loose ball well, and Alex Clements took the score to 133 before the former got a leading edge to Chris Saunders to be well held by Greg Bridgett in the covers.

This was the signal for Man of the Match Alex Clements to take centre stage as, in partnership with Nick Doman, he hit a range of fine shots all the around the wicket. The pair added 46 in rapid time before Doman (13) was run out shortly before the innings closed on 187-8. Clements remained unbeaten on 47 (5 x 4s).

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In reply, the visitors were plunged into disarray by the ever-reliable Woodman who produced a seam bowling masterclass as Civil crawled to 17-3 in the first 11 overs.

Dan Piddock and Bridgett, steadied the ship somewhat, taking the score to 50 before the introduction of Loud wreaked further havoc and the total slipped to 62-6.

Just when it seemed that the Otters were cruising to their fifth victory of the season, their bowling let them down. Doman and Johns both struggled for line and length as Bridgett and Dave Bayliss took full advantage, unleashing some fine shots to forge a crucial 55-run stand. Skipper Jody Clements turned to openers Woodman and Will Harrison to finish the job. And when Woodman quickly removed Bayliss (25), who lost his leg stump playing around a full delivery, and Newton, courtesy of a brilliant running catch by keeper, Alex Clements, a home victory looked on the cards.

However, Bridgett (51*) completed a brave half century to see his team to a battling draw at 127-8 from their rain restricted 39 overs. Woodman was the Otters’ standout bowler with a terrific 5-14 from his 11 overs, impressive support coming from Loud (3-20).

The Otters travel to high-flying Ipplepen this weekend for a mouth-watering clash.

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