Ottery deserve better

Ottery youngsters show enthusiasm and commitment

Regular readers of this column could be forgiven for thinking that it’s time to change the record!

Yet again, a very young Ottery St Mary 2nd XI produced a gutsy performance, including a terrific maiden league half century from 16-year-old all-rounder Alex Tubbs, only to suffer defeat after failing to maintain the pressure on more experienced opponents, Ipplepen, who were powered to victory by a fine innings of 85 from erstwhile first teamer Jeff Heath.

Prospects initially looked bright for the Otters as reunited openers Barry Flicker and youngster George Biggs posted an excellent opening stand.

On a lifeless wicket, Ipplepen seamers James Wotton and Alan Boon struggled to make an impression, although Flicker was dropped at slip and Boon grassed a dolly return catch offered by Biggs. The home openers effectively cashed in on the regular supply of loose deliveries and had laid a good 53-run foundation, when the medium pace of Keith Bell trapped Flicker (23) lbw, then Biggs (23), whose thick inside edge cannoned onto leg stump from his pad.

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Three more quick wickets plunged the Otters into trouble. Bell bowled Anthony Dean (6) as he played all around a full delivery, before 15-year-old off spinner Tom Dyer, deriving little deviation from the benign track but flighting the ball well, induced home skipper Gavin Iley (6) to slice a lofted drive to Jack Lewis, running back at extra cover. Then Matt Reed’s well-timed clip went straight down the throat of Sam Wakeham at deep midwicket. A perilous 70-5 became even worse when Alex Thurgate (2) was caught at short extra cover off Dyer.

The Otters were revived by an excellent stand between Tubbs and Sam Loud who, in his pleasingly correct style, played the perfect foil to the aggression of his partner.

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After the total passed 100 in the 32nd over, the scoring rate increased rapidly as Tubbs bludgeoned the ball to all corners in characteristic ‘stand and deliver’ fashion. Having taken their stand past 50, it came as a surprise when the returning Boon removed Loud (20), bowled aiming a lazy ‘hoik’ to leg. Keith Biggs (4) soon fell as he drove Steve Harris to Dyer at deep mid-on leaving the total at 152-8.

Not for the first time in recent weeks, young swing bowler Jon Phillips contributed to a late order stand, adding a rapid 39 with Tubbs who reached his first league 50 (7 x 4s) before really cutting loose and twice hitting Dyer into the adjoining bowls club!

Phillips’ useful contribution ended at 16, beaten by an excellent return from the outfield and the Otters just failed to claim maximum batting points as Tubbs, who had raced from 50 to 76 in just 11 balls, was run out from the final ball of the innings.

Wily old fox, Bell (3-37 from 13 steady overs) and the promising Dyer (3-55) took the bowling honours for Ipplepen.

Ottery spurned the chance of an early breakthrough as the visitors began their reply, Keith Biggs spilling a sharp return catch offered by Lewis.

With Phillips struggling with his line and length, the Ipplepen openers looked in little trouble. However, with the score on 22, Roger Doxatt-Pratt (4) edged a full delivery from Phillips to Iley who pouched a sharp catch at gully. Simon Tapley briefly prospered, powering three boundaries off the wayward Phillips but, just when it appeared that the visitors were getting into their stride, Keith Biggs struck a triple blow as the ball suddenly began to swing. Lewis (15) edged behind to Flicker, Tapley (17) was comprehensively deceived and trapped lbw by an excellent slower ball and Harris (0) was lbw to a swinging full toss.

The veteran paceman’s blitz reduced Ipplepen to 55-4 and the Otters sensed victory. However, as the inexperienced change bowlers consistently served up one ‘four ball’ per over, Wakeham (31) and Heath steadied the ship with a 57-run stand before the former fell to an terrific catch by Thurgate who pouched a steepler at deep mid-wicket off Loud. By now, though, Heath was powerfully despatching the ball all around the wicket despite the enthusiastic and athletic outfielding of the Ottery youngsters, amongst whom Reed was outstanding.

The stocky middle order man reached an excellent 50 (5 x 4s, 1 x 6) and, in the company of Boon, really began to flourish, although he rode his luck late in his excellent knock of 85. Heath finally fell, bowled by Tubbs, with the score on 193 shortly before Boon (14 not out) guided the visitors to a well-deserved victory.

Keith Biggs was the Otters’ stand out bowler, returning 3-49 from his 13 overs, good support coming from Loud (1-35).

The Otters will be hoping that the injection of more experience from returning university players will soon help deliver the results that their enthusiasm and commitment deserve.

Otters’ Man of the Match – Alex Tubbs.

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