Ottery CC 1sts thwarted by last wicket stand

Having lost a vital toss, posted a competitive score on a slow, drying wicket, then reduced their opponents to 124-9, still 50-odd runs short of their target with a full 10 overs remaining, Ottery St Mary 1st XI will have been disappointed.

Having lost a vital toss, posted a competitive score on a slow, drying wicket, then reduced their opponents to 124-9, still 50-odd runs short of their target with a full 10 overs remaining, Ottery St Mary 1st XI will have been disappointed not to have claimed victory over visiting Ipplepen.

In the face of well-directed bowling on a very damp wicket, Ottery openers Charl Axsel and Richard Townsend found it difficult to get the ball away. Fourteen-year-old paceman Joe Abbot produced a fine leg cutter to bowl Axsel (4), after which Otters' skipper Jody Clements was dropped in the covers off the pedestrian, but accurate Alan Boon.

Clements looked to be settling in nicely but when his score reached 15, he wandered out of his crease after an unsuccessful lbw appeal, only to see the fielder at 1st slip throw the stumps down. John Tierney announced his arrival by lofting youngster James Wotton over long-on for six, but Richard Townsend (10) soon managed to york himself driving at Boon. And when Tierney's short but eventful knock (12 from seven balls) was ended by a thin edge behind to Luke Tuckett off Wotton, Ottery were in real strife at 47-4.

The home side was rescued by a fine 70-run partnership between middle order pair Matt Kirk and Steve Forbes. Forbes played an excellent supporting role as Kirk unleashed a series of fine shots all around the wicket, being particularly severe on anything wide of off stump. The 50 stand arrived from 13 overs as the pair pressurised the visiting fielders with excellent running between the wickets.

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The total passed 100 in the 31st over before Forbes fell for 20, edging visiting skipper Keith Wakeham behind to Tuckett, driving at a fullish delivery. Lewis Townsend (0) fell victim to a freakish run out, but the incoming Rob Bradshaw-Smith offered good support to Kirk who reached an excellent half century (7 x 4s, 76 balls).

Steve Bowden spilt a return catch to give Kirk a life but, soon after the 150 arrived in the 43rd over, Bradshaw-Smith (19) was run out attempting a suicidal single. Kirk, though, carried on unabated and, in taking 12 from the final over from Bowden, he boosted the total to a useful 177-7 from a full 46 overs, Kirk remaining undefeated on 83 (7x4s, 2x6s).

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The Ipplepen reply began at a furious pace as the visitors benefitted from the drying wicket and the extra pace offered by the Otters' attack.

The powerful Simon Tapley, promoted to open the innings, took 10 from Mark Woodman's opening over and completely dominated an opening stand of 39 with David Harris (7) who was eventually bowled attempting to turn a full ball from Rob Crabb to leg.

Tapley continued to pounce on anything remotely loose as, in combination with Tom Price (13), he took the score to 69 in the 13th over before the latter was bowled by Bradshaw-Smith.

The same bowler soon ended Tapley's fine knock at 48 (8 x4s, 58 balls), a drive on the up flying to Tierney at extra cover to leave the visitors at 72-3.

Bradshaw-Smith's nagging accuracy, supported by an excellent display of fielding, in which Tierney was outstanding, combined to pressurise Ipplepen who lost Richard Hayman (17) as the quick thinking Axsel effected a fine run out after a mix up between the batsmen.

The introduction of off spinner Lewis Townsend, saw the onset of a calamitous collapse in which the visitors lost four wickets for just seven runs. A brilliant diving catch at square leg by Scott Gibbins removed Tuckett (13) off Townsend after which the youngster removed Abbot who miscued a shortish ball to midwicket. The return of Woodman delivered three more wickets as Bowden (0) was stumped by Axsel, Wotton (0) missed a straight full ball to be bowled and Matt Quartley (13), after some defiant blows, was castled by a leg cutter.

At 124-9 with 10 overs remaining, Ipplepen's goose appeared to be well and truly cooked. However, last pair Wakeham and Boon had other ideas as they stoically repelled the full gamut of Ottery bowlers to secure a battling draw. The Otters will point to a seemingly plumb lbw appeal by Bradshaw-Smith against Boon, but there can be few excuses for failing to claim the crucial last wicket, given the number of overs available. Otters Man of the Match: Matt Kirk.

l Ottery St Mary 177-7 (M Kirk 83*, S Forbes 20) Ipplepen 155-9 (S Tapley 48, Extras 23; M Woodman 3-42, R Bradshaw-Smith 2-19, L Townsend 2-28). Ottery St Mary (14pts) drew with Ipplepen (8pts).

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