Ottery St Mary celebrate another grand season of development

Dan Flower receives the Ottery St Mary CC1st XI batting award

Dan Flower receives the Ottery St Mary CC1st XI batting award - Credit: Archant

Ottery St Mary Cricket Club’s recent annual dinner, held at the traditional venue of the town’s Tumbling Weir Hotel, saw club members celebrate another successful season for the Salston Field outfit, writes Ian Townsend.

Plying their trade in the third tier of Devon League cricket for the first time in the Club’s history, the 1st XI, under the leadership of newly appointed skipper Rob Crabb, enjoyed a terrific campaign. Despite being shorn of key top-order batsmen, Jack Pritchard, former skipper Lewis Townsend and Mickey Wilkinson, the Otters were genuine promotion contenders until the closing stages of the campaign when serious player availability issues took their toll. Nevertheless, a fifth place finish in B Division represented a creditable showing.

Crabb reflected: “It was a great effort from the boys in a new league where we didn’t really know what to expect. Despite losing some talented cricketers from last year’s promotion winning side, we competed really well, but availability issues cost us in the end. We used 23 players and the young lads who stepped up did very well”.

Numerous individuals contributed on the batting front. Nineteen year old Billy Reed posted some typically flamboyant knocks to score 403 runs at an average of 31.00 including a wonderful century against Braunton, Jody Clements batted with real character in a number of testing situations, Billy Rudolph produced some important knocks and teenage opener Joe Henkus performed with real promise stepping up from the 2nd XI. However, the batting award went to experienced opener, Dan Flower. The powerful former Derbyshire League left hander played a number of typically hard hitting innings to post 411 runs at an average of 34.25.

On the bowling front ever-reliable left arm paceman Will Harrison (20 wickets @ 22.90) had another solid season performing particularly well in the early stages. Jody Clements once again bowled with admirable consistency whilst left arm spinner Alex Thurgate came into his own in the latter stages of the campaign.

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The bowling award, however, was claimed by off-spinner Matt Reed who captured 20 wickets at an average of 20.40. “Reedy often bowled at really difficult times” said Crabb. “He frequently made important breakthroughs and removed the opposition’s overseas player. It was great to see him bag a ‘five-for’ against Dartington & Totnes as he often doesn’t get the wickets he deserves”.

Alex Clements, who skippered the 2nd XI for much of the season in the absence of the injured Rick Jackson, was also happy with the efforts of his side that did particularly well to finish in mid-table in a remarkably competitive A Division. Numerous teenagers performed admirably on stepping up from the 3rd XI and Clements paid tribute to the organisers of this side commenting: “The people who run the 3rd XI have done a fantastic job in bringing on so many promising youngsters.

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“For us to finish fifth was terrific. We generally garnered lots of points even from games we lost, and the boys performed with real character.”

Batting-wise, teenage openers Dan Jeacock (275 runs @ 25.00) and Joe Henkus (203 runs @ 25.38) and Henry Mutter performed solidly whilst Frank Hartley, Alex Tubbs and Harry Conway all starred on occasions.

However, Clements himself claimed the batting award for the third successive season, posting 370 runs at an average of 33.64 including a fine century in the home fixture against Plymstock. Youthful bowlers figured prominently throughout the campaign with Tom Jeacock (18 wkts @ 30.61) and Tom Hinch (13 wkts @ 23.69) delivering many good opening spells and off-spinner Dan Jeacock completing a fine all-round season, claiming 20 wickets at a cost of 18 runs apiece. The bowling award went to left armer George Southall-Brown whose excellent first change and death bowling reaped 20 wickets at an average of just 17.25.

Third eleven skipper Richard Kitzinger waxed lyrical regarding the value of the side, enthusing: “The team exists for the development of the Club’s future – just look at the number of players now featuring in the second and even first eleven. John Tierney and Barry Flicker’s efforts in organising the side are terrific – they give their heart and soul to the Club. It’s a pleasure and an honour to captain the side.”

The season saw a number of fine innings from 3rd XI players including a classy 68 from Tom Peters against Feniton, a fine century from Anthony Dean versus Topsham and two hard hitting fifties apiece from John Tierney and Albie Southall-Brown. But the batting award went to Joe Button (184 runs @ 36.80) who capped a fine all-round season with 90 against Fenition. On the bowling front Harry McNamara-Campbell (11 wickets @ 20.64) delivered some pacey spells, Albie Southall-Brown and the Tierney brothers, Luke and Jake, frequently chipped in but the bowling award went to highly promising leg spinner, Jack Dallyn.

Henry Mutter claimed the Fielder of the Year trophy for his terrific commitment and excellent haul of eleven catches in the outfield, including three impressive scalps in the 1st XI fixture at home to Bideford. Younger brother, 14-year-old George, made it a proud night for the Mutter family as he captured the Most Improved Player award for his spirited all round displays for the 3rd XI and a hugely impressive innings of 35 in the 2nd XI fixture at home to Sandford.

The evening concluded with the presentation of perhaps the most coveted trophy of all, Clubman of the Year, to John Tierney. Presenting the award, club secretary Ian Townsend reflected: “John’s contribution to Ottery CC over a number of seasons has been terrific. He was almost singlehandedly responsible for establishing our highly successful 3rd XI and his efforts over the last year have been outstanding.

“Individuals frequently fulfil multiple roles within sports clubs but for one person to play a major role in running the 3rd XI, regularly play for the same team, also appear for the 1st XI, frequently assist with junior training, step in as junior section chairman and continue to act as club chairman means that there can have been few more deserving recipients of this award”.

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