Ottery St Mary batsmen shine

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generic pic - Credit: Archant

Just a few short weeks ago an away trip to face the league’s form side would have represented a daunting prospect for Ottery St Mary Cricket Club’s beleaguered 1st XI, writes Ian Townsend.

Last weekend’s terrific victory at Ipplepen therefore speaks volumes for the recent transformation in the form and fortunes of the Salston Field outfit.

After a typically strong batting performance from the home side had posted a challenging target, the Otters’ top order collectively put a mediocre bowling attack to the sword as the visitors cruised home with seven wickets to spare.

A well-directed opening spell from Ottery left arm paceman Will Harrison was rewarded with the scalps of Rachit Lakhmani (16) and Tom Dyer (7), both of whom were trapped lbw as Ipplepen slipped to 53-2.

That was the end of the ball’s dominance over the bat, however, as a good batting strip, allied to a lightning fast outfield, produced something of a run fest. Jack Lewis and the experienced Dave Harris compiled a good 115-run stand in 22 overs before Lewis was well held by Harrison off Rob Crabb for a patient 78 from 123 balls (ten fours).

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Harris continued to prosper, however, and when after he was eventually caught by Matt Reed off Jody Clements for 80 (11 fours), youngster Sam Wakeham (50) took a particular liking to the Ottery skipper’s bowling as he blasted a 26-ball half century, including three maximums, before holing out to Harrison off Dave Richardson to leave the home side on 249-5. Despite two late wickets for the persistent Clements (3-68), Ipplepen closed on a very respectable 269-8. Harrison’s 2-32 from nine overs was the pick of the Ottery bowling.

After a rain delay reduced the Otters’ target to 223 from 37 overs, the developing opening partnership of Dan Flower and Sam Tennant gave the visitors a tremendous start. Both men produced fine shots all around the wicket as 93 runs were added in 17 overs before Flower (35) was bowled by Dyer.

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The arrival of Lewis Townsend saw the scoring rate rise even further as the Otters’ vice-captain teed off from the outset, taking full advantage of two lives as he savaged the home attack to reach a half century from just 22 deliveries. Tennant was caught by Lakhmani off Joe Abbott for an a excellent 61 (seven fours) but Townsend launched the same bowler for a huge six into the adjoining football club before despatching returning opener, Paul Thomas, for three successive fours. Steve Bowden halted the carnage, trapping Townsend lbw for 65 (eight fours and a six), but by now the visitors stood on 196-3.

Teenage duo, Jack Pritchard and Alex Thurgate (15*) then did a sterling job in continuing the flow of boundaries to guide their side home in the 35th over. Pritchard’s golden season continues with his unbeaten 34 boosting his average to a shade under 90!

This third successive victory over promotion chasing opponents elevates the Otters to fifth position in the league and, with confidence high, there is no reason why they cannot climb even further in the closing weeks of the season.

Otters Man of the Match – Lewis Townsend

Ipplepen 269-8 (D Harris 80, J Lewis 78, S Wakeham 50, J Clements 3-68, W Harrison 2-32) Ottery St Mary 223-3 (L Townsend 65, S Tennant 61, D Flower 35, J Pritchard 34*). Ottery St Mary (19pts) bt Ipplepen (6pts) by 7 wkts in a rain affected match.

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