Otters return to form

Francis Clark Devon League D Division

Having struggled throughout the second half of the league campaign, Ottery St Mary 1st XI returned to form in emphatic style as they swept aside newly crowned league champions, Ipplepen in last weekend’s crucial encounter at Salston Field, writes Ian Townsend.

The visitors looked anything but title winners as they produced a batting performance almost totally lacking in application, which saw them skittled for just 76 by home pacemen, Will Harrison and Rob Johns, after which the Otters cruised to a terrific seven wicket win.

After skipper Jody Clements had won a vital toss, Ipplepen were soon deep in trouble as first Harrison bowled Joe Abbott (0) with a ball which nipped in, then Johns’ outswinger claimed the prized wicket of the dangerous Luke Tuckett (0), courtesy of a very sharp gully catch by returning Exeter University student, Will Munford.

And when Johns sent back both Dave Harris (14), well held by a leaping Joe Birch at square leg, and Jack Lewis (0), bowled playing down the wrong line, at 18-4, the South Devon side were in a hole.

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A succession of loose shots saw Harrison bag a deserved ‘fivefer’ as Sam Defriend (5), Andrew Mason (12) and James Wotton (0) were all castled, aiming loose off drives at in-swinging deliveries and Sam Wakeham (0) picked out Sam Loud at mid-on with a checked shot. Matt Abbott (1) lost his off stump playing across a Johns delivery and Ipplepen, whose only other league defeat came in the return fixture back in June, were only saved from total humiliation by their last wicket duo of Devon U17, Tom Dyer, and vastly experienced skipper, Keith Wakeham. The pair put the higher order to shame by applying themselves well to take the total from 43-9 to 76 before left-armer Rob Crabb saw Dyer’s searing edged drive brilliantly pouched by Johns at second slip. The youngster had played some fine shots in his top-scoring 15. Harrison and Johns both delivered 12 excellent overs returning 5-34 and 4-17, respectively.

Ipplepen’s faint victory hopes appeared to hinge totally upon the shoulders of prolific Kiwi import, Mason, who predictably opened the bowling. However, despite the left arm spinner bowling in good areas, the green pitch was offering little assistance and Ottery were given a rapid start by Sam Tenant, who took a liking to the bowling of Joe Abbott. However, Mason struck as first Sam Loud (4) was trapped lbw sweeping, then Tenant (14) was bowled aiming an ugly slog and, finally, Clements (0) was surprisingly adjudged lbw. Ottery were wobbling at 30-3, but were powered to victory by an unbroken 47-run stand in seven overs between the belligerent duo of Munford and Crabb.

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Munford rode his luck somewhat in posting a rather ‘aerial’ undefeated 28, but Crabb, who has been enjoying a brilliant season in the 2nd XI, produced a series of wonderful shots in racing to an unbeaten 27 (6 x 4s) from just 20 balls. When Munford clipped a boundary to long leg, the champions had been despatched with a huge 31 overs to spare!

With just two matches remaining, the Otters retain a 14 point lead over chasing Feniton and will be looking to take a giant step towards C Division cricket by avenging an early season defeat when near neighbours, Whimple, visit Salston Field this Saturday.

Otters’ Man of the Match – Rob Johns.

Ipplepen 76 (Extras 21, W.Harrison 5-34, R.Johns 4-22) Ottery St Mary 77-3 (W.Munford 28*, R.Crabb 27*, A.Mason 3-24). Ottery St Mary (19pts) bt Ipplepen (1pt) by 7 wkts.

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