Ottery St Mary II go down but then climb up!

Despite slipping to only their third defeat of the campaign at the hands of visiting Clyst St George, Ottery St Mary 2nd XI paradoxically returned to the top of the league courtesy of the crushing defeat inflicted upon Ipplepen on their trip to Barnstaple and Pilton, writes Ian Townsend.

Despite an astonishing display of stroke play from the prolific Rob Crabb and a quality innings from old master, Rob Bradshaw-Smith, the Otters fell agonisingly short of overhauling Clyst’s challenging total of 231-9 which was inflated due to the home side’s poor ground fielding and patchy bowling.

After the visitors chose to bat, Ottery struck two early blows as Alex Tubbs bowled Richard Coe (6) around his legs and a full ball from Tom Bornet knocked back the leg stump of Allan Welch (9). However, Clyst were allowed to recover from 21-2 as Tubbs’s radar went completely astray. Sean Middleton and Craig O’Dwyer cashed in, hammering numerous loose deliveries to all corners of the ground in posting an 86-run stand during which the former posted a fine half century (nine 4s and one 6), before lifting a short delivery from Crabb into the hands of Zac Johns at long leg. Johns soon castled Dan Takle (0), who was aiming a wild off drive, and Crabb saw Paul Laverick (4) chop a delivery into his stumps, but all the while, aided by some slipshod fielding, O’Dwyer was scoring freely via a combination of fine shots and fortuitous edges. Twenty five were added with Oz Besley (7) and a further 45 with Kevin Coe during which O’Dwyer reached a good fifty (seven 4s) before departing with his score at 78 as he slogged at the returning Johns. After Rob Bradshaw-Smith induced Coe (10) to edge behind to Sam Lynch, Johns was further rewarded for a fine spell (3-46), securing an lbw decision against Paul Richardson whose 24 included a number of lusty blows. Clyst’s last wicket pair then saw the total through to 231-9.

The Otters reply began disastrously as lively Indian seamer, Banik Mithun sent back both Anthony Dean, bowled for a duck, and Alex Thurgate, lbw for two, before Richardson shattered the stumps of veteran opener, Barry Flicker (7). After Rob Bradshaw-Smith then survived a ‘dolly’ catch to cover, Ottery were rescued from 12-3 by his exhilarating 121-run stand with skipper, Crabb who set about the Clyst attack to compile one of the most remarkable half centuries ever witnessed in a league fixture at Salston Field. The landmark was reached in a mere 24 deliveries via an amazing dozen fours and one towering six.

The powerful left hander produced an array of magnificent shots all around the wicket, his first single not accruing until his score was on 54!

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Despite being a virtual spectator, Bradshaw-Smith leant solid support and as he forced leg spinner Julian Welland to the cover boundary to bring up the 100 in the 21st over, the visitors fielding was becoming ragged. However, Crabb’s concentration then wavered and after one or two narrow escapes, he holed out to deep mid-wicket off Kevin Coe having scored 82 from just 58 balls faced. Bradshaw-Smith was playing in typically elegant manner, however, and with the incoming Rick Jackson producing some fine shots, the score reached 167 before medium pacer, Besley changed the course of the game, claiming three wickets in an over by bowling Jackson (20), Lynch (0) and Tubbs (0). The Otters’ victory hopes now hinged on the hugely experienced Bradshaw-Smith who reached a fine 50 (six 4s) in the 33rd over. Bornet leant solid support as the score reached 200 but the returning Richardson then produced a delivery that kept low to bowl Bradshaw-Smith (70) before also removing Johns (4). Mithun soon trapped last man, Duncan Bradshaw-Smith (0) to consign the Otters to a rare and narrow 18-run defeat.

This was an Otters’ display lacking in application. In conjunction with uncharacteristically poor ground fielding, too many loose deliveries were served up and, in reply, too many batsmen perished to injudicious shots – issues which must be swiftly addressed ahead of looming crunch clashes with the likes of Cornwood and Ipplepen.

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