Otters relieved to find form

Victory over Uplyme proved real morale booster

Despite sometimes making hard work of it, last weekend’s visit of East Devon rivals Uplyme & Lyme Regis to Salston Field saw Ottery St Mary 1st XI’s revival gather pace, and they eventually secured a victory which lifted them off the bottom of the league, securing 19 points.

After dropped catches and too many wides allowed the visitors to reach a competitive total, a solid batting display, based on a fine half century from returning Durham University student Sam Tennant, saw the Otters home.

Winning the toss and bowling on a worn pitch of uneven bounce, Ottery seamers, Rob Johns and Mark Woodman soon had the visitors struggling, the latter trapping Sam Challis (0) lbw with the fourth delivery of the game before skipper Johns castled Rob Thom (0) with an unplayable delivery which nipped in and kept low.

Mark Batey was dropped by Johns at slip off Woodman and Jed Whittington survived a mishit pull to Will Harrison at mid-off. However, these were only temporary reprieves as Whittington (15), having launched Woodman for six over wide long-on, lazily drove the next ball to Matt Kirk at mid-off and Mark Batey (15) lost his off stump to a full length Johns outswinger.

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Not for the first time in recent seasons, the visitors’ innings, which was in disarray at 47-4, was rescued by the Caddy brothers, Adam and Ashley. In their contrasting styles they tucked into the Otters’ change bowlers to compile a fine 103-run partnership. Adam unfurled a number of elegant cover drives whilst skipper Ashley bludgeoned the ball to all points of the compass.

Both players received lives as first Woodman spilled a ‘dolly’ at short third man off spinner Nick Doman, then Johns and Steve Forbes got in each other’s way under a steepler. The stand was eventually broken in controversial style as Ashley Caddy (49 with 7 x 4s, 1 x 6) was adjudged to be caught at the wicket by Alex Clements off Doman. Tim Daniel (4) soon followed, miscuing a James Faulkner full toss to Kirk, but Adam Caddy (59) reached a fine half century (9 x 4s) in the 41st over before departing to a brilliant diving catch by Tennant at deep midwicket, Faulkner the beneficiary.

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Ali Rattenbury (10) and Steve Batey (16*) produced some late blows to guide the visitors to a reasonable 210-8. Experienced duo Johns (2-19 from 10 overs) and Woodman (2-30 from 10 overs) were the pick of the home bowlers, solid support coming from Doman.

Faulkner gave the Otters’ reply a spectacular start, launching Steve Batey’s third delivery out of the ground as the first over went for 15 runs! The visitors soon hit back, though, Alex Clements (5) surviving two mass appeals for lbw before falling to a sharp gully catch by Adam Caddy off Steve Batey. Faulkner (16) continued to play positively, but, with the score on 49, he missed, aiming a head up ‘yahoo’ at left arm spinner Ali Rattenbury to be stumped by Whittington. The in-form Lewis Townsend (26 with 5 x 4s) dominated a 33-run third wicket stand with Tennant but, having unleashed a series of fine shots, the youngster missed with a big drive to become the innocuous Rattenbury’s second stumping victim. Tennant was beginning to flourish, however, bringing up the 100 with a pick-up shot for six in the 25th over. Then, having lost partner Steve Forbes (12) who played inside the line of an Ashley Caddy delivery, producing the shot of the day, a delicious straight driven boundary off the same bowler.

Tennant’s 50 arrived in the 32nd over (7 x 4s, 1 x 6) as a rapid 45-run stand with Kirk took the total to 162, the latter despatching the increasingly frustrated Uplyme skipper for a straight six over the sightscreen. Nerves jangled a little as the hard-working Steve Batey bowled both Tennant (63) and Johns (4) in quick succession and Ashley Caddy removed Kirk (24) to a catch in the deep.

However, the Otters were then taken to victory by a fine unbroken eighth wicket stand of 45 between the experienced pair of Woodman (22*) and Doman (21*) who kept their heads admirably, manoeuvring the ball into the gaps and producing the odd boundary, most notably a sweetly-timed, straight driven maximum from Doman.

Woodman’s edged boundary gave the home side victory with eight balls to spare.

So, the revival is well and truly under way and the second half of the season will, undoubtedly, be viewed with renewed optimism by the Otters whose relieved skipper Johns reflected: “We let them off the hook twice but then, when it came down to the wire, we didn’t panic and we did what we had to do”.

Otters’ Man of the Match: Sam Tennant

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