Ottery’s dream within reach
The champagne is firmly on ice at Salston Field after last weekend’s local derby saw Ottery St Mary 1st XI post a crushing eight-wicket victory over visiting Whimple. After countless near misses, the Otters will claim the long awaited prize of promotion if they can secure just three points from Saturday’s trip to relegation-haunted Whitchurch, writes Ian Townsend.
As has been the case with many opponents during the current campaign, Whimple were completely unable to come to terms with the quality of the Ottery seam bowling attack.
Asked to bat first on an unevenly damp track, the visitors soon lost Kevin Thompson (6) who fell to an excellent Alex Clements catch at mid-off off Mark Woodman. Mike Searle and Paul Gillard took the total to 40 before both departed in quick succession, Searle (21) being bowled by left armer, Will Harrison and Gillard (11) trapped lbw by Woodman.
The remainder of the middle order was then blown away during a terrific spell from giant paceman, Rob Johns. Youngster, Chris Palfrey (3) fell to a beauty which pitched on middle and hit off to leave the score at 49-4 and although Trevor Griffin and Richard Brown briefly resisted, Johns, who was swinging the ball in both directions, was not to be denied. First Griffin (12) fell to a sharp return catch after which Brown (4) was bowled. This was effectively the end of the visitors’ resistance as their last six wickets fell for just seven runs in the space of five overs! Left armer Rob Crabb cleaned up the tail in double quick time as he claimed 3-3. Skipper Jody Clements pouched two fine catches at second slip as the former Yarcombe all-rounder sent back Will Bardot (0) and John Silk (1) before Whimple skipper Jono Burden edged behind to Jack Pritchard. Johns rounded off proceedings by bowling Wes Burden (1) to finish with 4-13 from 11 splendid overs.
Chasing down small totals has not been the Otters’ forte of late and the loss of two quick wickets saw them make a nervous start in reply. First Palfrey produced an excellent swinging yorker to send back youngster, Sam Loud for a duck, then Will Munford (8) fell to a catch by Bardot off Matt Richards as he attempted to hit over the top against a delivery which stopped.
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Whimple were to regret then twice dropping Tenant who went on to compile an unbroken, match winning stand of 65 with Pritchard. The two youngsters batted with admirable maturity, running well between the wickets and picking off the loose ball effectively. Tenant saw his side home to a twenty point maximum in grand fashion as he lifted Palfrey for six over mid-wicket, one of few blemishes in a fine spell of 1-35 from 10 overs by the young paceman. Tenant remained unbeaten on 44 (5 x 4s, 1 x 6) and Pritchard on 22.
With the points gap to third placed Feniton, who could claim only seventeen points in their clash with Countess Wear, now increased to seventeen, Ottery travel to West Devon with their fate firmly in their own hands. C Division beckons!
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Otters Man of the Match – Rob Johns
OTTERS 2nd XI CLOSE THE GAP IN TITLE RACE:
By Ian Townsend
Francis Clark Devon League Second XI C Division
Ottery St Mary 160-8 (S.Forbes 40*, E.Fowler 27, A.Thurgate 23, L.Biggs 23, M.Newton 3-27, P.Schiller 2-33) Barnstaple & Pilton 69 (D.Donovan 22, K.Biggs 2-14, M.Reed 2-14, Z.Johns 2-20). Ottery St Mary (18pts) bt Barnstaple & Pilton (4pts) by 91 runs.
Going into Saturday’s final league fixture of the season at home to Clyst Hydon, Ottery St Mary 2nd XI still harbour hopes of crowning a wonderful campaign with the league title having closed the gap behind leaders, Ipplepen to a single point, after last weekend’s ‘overland trek’ to North Devon yielded a crushing victory over Barnstaple & Pilton.
After being inserted on a very damp wicket, the Otters were given a solid start by Ed Fowler (27) and George Biggs who coped with the bowler friendly conditions admirably to post a 43-run opening stand in 17 overs before the former fell victim to a run out by Mike Newton. When George Biggs (15) was soon caught off Newton and visiting skipper, Gavin Iley (3) was pouched at point off Dave Donovan, Ottery had slipped to 50-3. The visitors were indebted to a battling innings from Steve Forbes to guide them to a competitive total. The former Exeter Civil Service skipper fashioned an excellent stand with rapidly improving young left hander, Alex Thurgate (23) who eventually fell to a catch at the wicket by Chris Chugg off the bowling of Pete Schiller. And after Alex Tubbs (1) then holed out ff Newton and Matt Reed (9) was run out, another fine stand was posted with Louis Biggs who accumulated runs in characteristically unorthodox fashion as the score progressed to 146-8. When Newton then returned to remove Louis Biggs (23), who edged behind to Chugg, Zac Johns joined Forbes to take the visitors’ total to an above par 160-8. Forbes remained unbeaten on 40, an innings which, most unusually, did not contain a single boundary.
Despite tight bowling from swing merchants, Joe Birch and Keith Biggs, Neil Clark and Donovan gave B & P a steady 26-run start in reply. However, Johns broke the stand by bowling Clark (12) in his first over after which Donovan (22) was caught in the covers by Forbes off the bowling of off spinner, Reed and Y.Iqbal was needlessly run out to leave the score on 42-3 in the 18th over. This precipitated a catastrophic collapse as Barnstaple lost their last six wickets for just 27 runs in 14 overs. After Forbes clutched a brilliant running catch to remove Bert Hewings (3) off Johns, Reed and Keith Biggs wasted no time in cleaning up the tail, both men returning figures of 2-14 from 7 overs as their team registered their 13th victory of the season, thus keeping alive their hopes of putting the C Division league trophy into the Salston Field cabinet!