Ottery II so close to having promotion confirmed

Ottery St Mary 2nd XI stand on the verge of promotion to the dizzy heights of B Division of the Francis Clark Devon League, writes Ian Townsend.

That wonderful prospect has arrived after last weekend’s trip to third placed Cornwood saw them battle their way to a hard fought eleventh win of the season.

Having taken full advantage of bowler friendly conditions to skittle the West Devon side for just 91, the Otters were in deep strife at nought for three wickets in reply before an excellent unbroken half-century stand between old hand, Rob Bradshaw-Smith, and seventeen year old left hander, Alex Thurgate, guided them home with four wickets to spare.

After the Otters won the toss, opening bowlers, Rob Crabb and Alex Tubbs, struck three early blows.

First Crabb induced Phil Bees (1) to edge behind to Alex Clements, then Tubbs’s fine spell was rewarded with the scalps of Steve White (17), caught & bowled, and Rob Cavendish (13), caught in the covers by Matt Reed. Although Graham Jones (27) then produced a steady knock, the visitors’ change bowlers performed superbly, backed up by excellent fielding. Thurgate (2-25 from 9 overs), swinging the ball late in either direction, sent back Jones, caught by Tubbs, then bowled Pete Skeemer and Rob Bradshaw-Smith, bowling with characteristic rhythm and accuracy, claimed three wickets for just 17 runs before son, Duncan, chipped in with two late victims to wrap up the innings.

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The Ottery reply got off to a sensational start as Richard Boase removed skipper Gavin Iley, caught at gully, and trapped Rick Jackson lbw without a run on the board.

Then, when Barry Flicker was controversially adjudged lbw to Fran Adams, the total stood at 0-3! It was left to number five batsman, Reed, to finally post the first run of the innings and, in the company of Crabb, he proceeded to compile a precious 33-run stand. However, Chris Horton, bowling rapid away swingers, soon plunged the innings back into trouble as he yorked Crabb (22) and removed Reed (6) and Anthony Dean (0) via catches at the wicket. Ottery were rescued from the parlous state of 40-6 by a wonderful partnership of 52 between Rob Bradshaw-Smith and Thurgate. ‘RBS’ used all his experience to combat the difficult conditions and received excellent support from Thurgate (12*) who showed admirable application throughout. Bradshaw-Smith’s unbeaten 45 contained three fours and two typically effortless late sixes off Horton who, nevertheless, returned a fine 3-43.

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With just four matches remaining, the Otters retain their five point lead over Ipplepen at the top of the table but now lead third placed Cornwood by a massive 63 points. The Salston Field outfit’s trip to Ipplepen a week on Saturday is looking more and more like a title decider!

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