Otters off the mark with victory

A bitterly cold opening day to the new Francis Clark Devon League season saw newly-promoted Ottery St Mary 1st XI clinch an excellent victory in their inaugural C Division contest, writes Ian Townsend.

After the entire Otters’ bowling attack performed well to restrict Clyst St George to a relatively modest total, a fine innings from opener, Sam Tenant ensured that the new campaign began on a high note.

Having won the toss at a damp Clyst St George, Rob Johns, skippering the 1st XI in the absence of Jody Clements, had little hesitation in inserting the opposition. The Ottery attack fully justified the decision as, despite the early loss of left armer Will Harrison with a back injury, every bowler performed well. On a seamer friendly track, Johns himself was as hard as ever to get away, beating the bat with monotonous regularity as he delivered a miserly 13 over spell in which he conceded just 24 runs.

Veteran seamer Mark Woodman prevailed at the other end as Clyst crawled to just 35-3 from the first 13 overs. The ex-Exmouth and Devon man eventually claimed 5-32 from 12 typically steady overs. For Clyst, opener Chris Ferro (30 from 105 balls) played a solid sheet anchor role, but the standout innings came from Chris Cook who posted a beautifully constructed 51 (6 x 4s, 78 balls) in difficult conditions. Cook’s sixth wicket stand with Will Aldridge (25 not out) propelled Clyst to a respectable 151-7 from their full 46 overs despite fine support bowling from James Faulkner (2-30) and spinners Sam Loud and Ottery debutant, Adrian Pullin recently signed from near neighbours, Feniton.

The Otters’ reply began poorly in the face of fine bowling from Ferro who soon removed Loud (6), with an unplayable ball which ‘popped’ and lobbed to cover, and Ed Fowler (0) who edged to Chris Cook at slip.

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However, a fine 63-run partnership ensued between Sam Tenant and wicketkeeper-batsman Trevor Griffin. The ex-Whimple man marked his debut with a solid innings of 21 in support of Tenant who began to time the ball beautifully, left armer, Mike Johnson coming in for some particularly rough treatment as he disappeared for 14 in an over. After the score passed 50 in the 14th over, Tenant lifted Chris Cook for six over long-on and the scoring rate accelerated before Griffin fell to the same bowler, courtesy of a catch by Matt Cook at mid-off.

Pullin (0) soon departed, slogging at Matt Cook, but Tenant continued to flourish, and, well supported by teenager, George Biggs, reached his 50 from 61 balls (7 x 4s, 1 x 6). The Otter’s pair really pressurised the home side, pushing the ball into the gaps and run very well between the wickets. As the winning post approached, Tenant really opened up, unleashing a series of fine shots all around the wicket to finish unbeaten on 89 (11 x 4s, 3 x 6s) as the visitors cruised to victory with 12 overs to spare. Biggs remained on 18 not out. Pick of the home bowlers was Ferro whose 2-19 completed a fine all round performance.

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Skipper Johns was a satisfied man, reflecting: “It’s a good start – this league’s an unknown quantity to us but we just concentrated on our own game. Sam batted beautifully and Woody was just his normal self! It’s great to get off the mark with a win.”

Francis Clark Devon League C Division

Clyst St George 151-7 (C Cook 51, C Ferro 30, W Aldridge 25*, M Woodman 5-32, J Faulkner 2-30) Ottery St Mary 152-4 (S Tenant 89*, T Griffin 21, C Ferro 2-19).

Ottery St Mary (18pts) bt Clyst St George (5pts) by 6 wkts.

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