Ottery St Mary cricketers celebrate a golden season

Ottery St Mary Cricket Club’s annual end-of-season dinner recently saw the Salston Field outfit celebrate a terrific year during which all three of its senior sides enjoyed highly successful Tolchard’s Devon League campaigns, writes Ian Townsend

After storming to the C Division (East) title, the 1st XI will next season ply their trade in the third tier of Devon League cricket for the first time in their history. Having shown promising signs in the previous campaign, Lewis Townsend’s young side flourished in impressive fashion. The combination of the league’s strongest batting line-up, a bowling attack capable of exerting consistent pressure and a clutch of fit and athletic fielders set the Otters apart from their rivals as they suffered just two defeats in 18 matches to win the league by a huge 48-point margin.

The batting award went to rising star Billy Rudolph who topped the league averages and impressed all and sundry with his remarkably mature approach to the game. Paying tribute to the youngster, skipper Townsend commented: “To score two hundreds and five fifties is a terrific achievement, to score 813 runs at an average of 90 is wonderful and to do all of that at sixteen is truly remarkable”.

It was far from a one-man show, however, with Townsend, Rob Crabb and Dan Flower all registering well in excess of 300 runs for the season and numerous others contributing at critical times.

Rudolph also featured prominently on the bowling front, returning 26 wickets, including 7-43 against Kentisbeare, whilst fellow 16-year-old Ollie Reed enjoyed a wonderful 1st XI debut season, claiming 23 victims as he produced numerous impressive opening spells. Off spinner Matt Reed and left armer Will Harrison also enjoyed productive campaigns, but the 1st XI bowling award went to paceman Jody Clements whose captured 39 wicket haul included an astonishing 7-9 against Alphington.

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The former Otters skipper has been a rejuvenated bowler since ceding the captaincy to Townsend who commented: “Jody was fantastic all year – throw him the ball and you know exactly what you’ll get”. No-one epitomised the collective fielding prowess of the title winners more than Matt Reed. In presenting the all-rounder with the Fielder of the Year award, Townsend reflected: “As a team, we’ve worked tremendously hard to improve our fielding and Matt basically sets the standard for the entire club”.

Second XI vice-captain Alex Clements also waxed lyrical regarding the exploits of his side whose fourth place finish in the A Division was highly creditable in a campaign where a number of teenagers stepped up to the plate in impressive fashion. Opener Joe Henkus was a case in point, posting 456 runs at an average of 38 to establish himself as an opener. Flower’s mid-season sojourn in the 2nd XI yielded a vital 280 runs and youngster Dan Jeacock showed late season promise as an opener, but the batting award went to Clements himself. Despite his relatively tender years, the powerful middle order man is something of a Salston Field stalwart; numerous observers were therefore delighted to see him top the league averages with a career best 618 runs at 56.18. In a season where some painfully inexperienced bowling attacks were forced to take the field, the consistency of seam bowling prospect, Tom Hinch (19 wickets) shone through. In presenting the bowling award to the teenager, Clements enthused;” Tom worked so hard in training and brought us real control”. In addition to his batting exploits, Jeacock also claimed 16 wickets in his maiden season as an off spinner to clinch the Club’s Most Improved Player Award.

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Under the leadership of Club Chairman John Tierney, the 3rd XI enjoyed a successful second season in the DCL, finishing fifth in D Division (East). Supported by a number of senior players, such as Barry Flicker, Richard Kitzinger, Guy Peters and most prominently, Tierney himself, a range of very young players made significant progress in the world of adult cricket. Whilst the bowling attack sometimes struggled for line and length, there were some notable performances with George Mutter performing consistently well and 14 year old Sam Brook claiming 13 wickets to clinch the bowling award. On the batting front, although Mutter produced some solid knocks and Frank Hartley and Albert Southall-Brown at times contributed well, the lion’s share of runs emanated from the ‘Old Guard’. Tierney showed his customary power and class in topping the league averages with 479 runs at 79.83, but the batting award went to Richard Kitzinger. The affable right hander enjoyed a successful return to the club after several years away, registering 380 runs in relatively few innings, including a maiden league century against Kenn.

A highly popular award was that of the coveted Clubman of the Year trophy to Will Harrison in recognition of his efforts as 1st XI opening bowler, ground staff assistant, committee member and general support worker. Chairman Tierney remarked: “This is such a well-deserved award. Will is a terrific clubman, the type of guy every club needs to succeed”.

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