Ottery St Mary CC - a new Tolchards Devon League season dawns

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- Credit: Archant

Ottery St Mary Cricket Club 1st XI will this weekend embark upon their first ever campaign in the third tier of Tolchards Devon League cricket under new leadership following the close season departure of title-winning skipper, Lewis Townsend, writes Ian Townsend.

Ottery St Mary Cricket Club 1st XI will this weekend embark upon their first ever campaign in the third tier of Tolchards Devon League cricket under new leadership following the close season departure of title-winning skipper, Lewis Townsend, writes Ian Townsend.

Having formed a highly effective partnership with Townsend over the past two years, which has seen the emergence of an exciting young side, vice-captain Rob Crabb will this year step up to take the reins.

Whilst relishing the challenge, the talented all-rounder - like his predecessor a product of the prolific Salston Field academy - readily admits he has a hard act to follow, commenting: “It’s a real shame that Lewis has moved away from the area – he did such a great job last year and will be sorely missed”.

However, there is clearly real optimism for the future in the eyes of the new skipper who continued: “We do have a terrific crop of youngsters who I’m more than confident will continue to progress this year. B Division is a new challenge to the Club, so we’re not really sure what to expect. It would be nice to start well and chase the guys at the top rather than looking over our shoulders”.


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The loss of Townsend aside, the playing squad will remain largely unchanged from that which stormed to the C Division title.

Crabb acknowledged that retaining the services of teenage star Billy Rudolph, despite the overtures of several Premier Division sides, represents a major boost when he said: “It’s a real plus to keep hold of Billy after his stellar season last year. I’m hoping for improved availability from a few of the guys and a couple of familiar faces making a re-appearance now and again bodes well for the season ahead”. Crabb’s men, who will once again be sponsored by Bovis Homes, begin their Tolchard’s Devon League campaign with the short trip to Thorverton.

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Second eleven skipper Rick Jackson also anticipates a challenging season for his charges who will again compete in the A Division.

Adopting a pragmatic view of the campaign ahead, Jackson reflected: “Our expectations are again to remain in this division. Progression to the Premier would be unrealistic, but A Division is a good platform for younger players hoping to progress to 1st XI cricket. We hope to be competitive in every game and, with our younger players a year older and wiser, I think this should be achievable”.

Jackson’s side, which will continue to benefit from sponsorship by Hall & Scott Estate Agents, will also be broadly similar in composition to 2015. “Our side will again predominantly feature younger players”, said Jackson “But I’m hoping to keep some old heads, such as Rich Reed, myself and the returning Steve Forbes, to guide the lads through. Looking at the teams in the league, it may be quite a tough season but we’re relishing the prospect!”

The Otters welcome Torquay 2nd XI to Salston Field in their opening fixture.

The Branoc Brewery will continue to sponsor the Otters’ 3rd XI whose captain, club chairman John Tierney, emphasised the pivotal role of the side in providing a route for products of the thriving youth set-up into adult cricket when he commented: “In the first two years of the team’s existence we’ve seen numerous young players rapidly learn and improve. Hopefully this season will prove to be just as successful.

“We don’t aim for promotion, but to have fun, allow our youngsters the chance to bat and bowl and if we occasionally win, that’s a bonus. Let’s hope the sun shines!”

There should be no shortage of raw material for Tierney’s side as the Otters’ academy will this season comprise around 140 youngsters. With the support of new sponsors, The Devon Fencing Centre, the club will be entering no less than eight sides into the Bradleys East Devon Youth League.

Tierney also paid tribute to the club’s numerous sponsors commenting: “As a club we’re very fortunate to have the support of many local businesses which undoubtedly helps us develop cricketers of all ages in and around Ottery. Their support makes it so much easier for us to invest in coaches and facilities for all club members to benefit from. I cannot thank them enough.”

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