Otters slip up in soapy conditions

An unremittingly soggy Saturday afternoon failed to dampen the spirits of Ottery St Mary 2nd XI .

An unremittingly soggy Saturday afternoon failed to dampen the spirits of Ottery St Mary 2nd XI and visiting Stoke Gabriel, both of whom deserve considerable credit for producing an exciting contest in which all four conceivable results were on the cards going into the last few action packed overs.

Both sides will probably feel they should have secured victory but, in truth, an honourable draw was just about right.

Having been asked to bat first on a wicket of horribly uneven dampness, and then forced to endure two rain interruptions, the visitors did well to post a competitive 150-5 from their 36 overs.

Initially, the going was tough, in the face of aggressive pace bowling from Otters' left armers Will Harrison and Joe Birch. The score crawled to just 13 from six overs as Ben Stone survived two chances to Manus Schoeman at second slip, both off the unfortunate Birch.

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After the first rain break, Stone and fellow opener Dave Higgins (20) got the scoreboard moving, despite the wet outfield, the total reaching 48 in the 15th over before the latter fell to a brilliant low extra cover catch by Sam Lynch off young seamer Sam Bowyer-Thornton.

Lynch soon repeated the dose, pouching an easier catch in the covers to remove Stone (25) as he drove on the up against off spinner Nick Doman.

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The incoming Rob Baker unleashed a series of fine off drives to boost the score to 86-2 after 27 overs before rain once again intervened.

Baker was soon back in the groove when play resumed, taking toll of Doman and Schoeman, both of whom struggled to find a good line and length with a ball reminiscent of a bar of soap.

The total passed 100 in the 30th over and, shortly afterwards, Baker lofted Schoeman over wide long-on to complete a fine half century (7x4s, 1x6). The burly South African eventually had his revenge, however, bowling Baker for 55 as he attempted to cut a ball which was too close to his off stump.

Alex Bertram (16) and Tom Armstrong (10) chipped in with useful runs before both were bowled by the returning Harrison after which Doug Ansley (7 not out) brought up the 150 from the final ball of the innings. Harrison claimed 2-35 from his 10 overs, but the pick of the home bowlers was the pacy, but wicketless, Birch.

Experienced duo Barry Flicker and Gavin Iley gave the Otters a slow, but sound, start in reply, despite the probings of lively young paceman Sam Hill. Skipper Iley (6) square cut change bowler Baker's first delivery to the cover boundary, but then gave a catch to Adam Newman at point trying for a repeat, leaving the total at 23-1.

After Flicker, who had nurdled his way to 19, was lbw for the umpteenth time in his long career as he attempted to turn an Armstrong full toss to leg, the incoming Ollie Mann set about increasing the scoring rate.

The powerful youngster took the total past 50 in the 17th over and proceeded to unfurl fine shots all around the wicket as he totally dominated a 35-run third wicket stand with Alex Clements. Both players departed with the total on 80, Mann (37) edging Baker behind to Bertram and Clements (3) falling lbw to Armstrong.

When Lynch (3) was then bowled by a good off cutter from Baker, the Otters were in trouble at 83-5.

However, a fine 47-run sixth wicket stand between Doman and Harrison revived the home side to such an extent that, going into the final few overs, the home side were in with a real chance of victory.

Doman produced a characteristically canny knock, interspersing well run singles with powerful legside blows, whilst Harrison again suggested that his reputation as a 'walking wicket' is becoming obsolete.

Sadly, the realisation that the contest was there for the taking without continuing to hit the ball out of the park appeared not to have dawned on the pair.

The returning Hill bowled Harrison (19) as he attempted a big drive, then, in fading light, castled Schoeman first ball before watching in horror as the otherwise excellent Baker spilled an easy catch at square leg allowing youngster Sam Loud to survive the hat-trick ball.

All hope of an Otters' victory disappeared when Doman (33 with 4x4s) holed out to the ubiquitous Baker at deep mid-wicket off Armstrong, leaving the score at 138-8.

Bowyer- Thornton and Loud batted out the last few deliveries to guide their side to a draw.

Baker (3-36 from 10 overs) and Hill (2-29 from 10 overs) were the pick of the visitors' bowlers.

Otters' Man of the Match - Nick Doman.

Stoke Gabriel 150-5 (R Baker 55, B Stone 25, D Higgins 20; W Harrison 2-35) Ottery St Mary 145-8 (O Mann 37, N Doman 33; R Baker 3-36, T Armstrong 3-46, S Hill 2-29). Stoke Gabriel (14pts) drew with Ottery St Mary (11pts).

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