Ottery St Mary net thrilling victory at Shaldon


- Credit: Archant

It wasn’t just the view that was spectacular as Ottery St Mary 1st XI last weekend crossed swords with Shaldon Optimists at the South Devon side’s Hazeldown Oval ground overlooking Torbay – the cricket was pretty stunning too, writes Ian Townsend.

After the Otters had posted a total which appeared to be no more than par on a small playing area, home opener Karl Blackburn produced an astonishing display of hitting to blast eleven sixes in a whirlwind innings which seemed to be taking his side to victory. However, this Otters side is made of stern stuff and they kept their collective nerve in admirable fashion to edge to a narrow win, thus keeping their unbeaten start to the season intact.

Openers, Lewis Townsend and Billy Rudolph once again got their side off to a rapid start as they cashed in on loose bowling by Carl Woolnough and Mark Couch to add 48 in just seven overs before the Otters’ skipper fell for 18, caught by Blackburn at short extra cover off Chris Whitehead. Rob Crabb (11) was soon bowled by a fine delivery from Whitehead which seamed in sharply and when Rudolph (31) fell to a second catch by Blackburn off Todd Ballman, Ottery stood at 77-3 in the 13th over.

Billy Reed and Mickey Wilkinson worked hard to rebuild the innings with Reed, in particular, producing some delightfully timed shots in a 69-run stand which was ended as Wilkinson (18) aimed a wild hoik at leg spinner Andy Espley. After Dan Flower departed for a duck and Billy Reed (40) was bowled by Espley (2-41), the Otters were struggling at 153-6. Enter Sam Lynch who, despite tight late innings bowling from the home side, with stoic support from Ed Fowler, produced a typically sparky knock to boost his side to a competitive total. The combative right hander unleashed fine shots all around the wicket to reach an excellent 61 (eight fours) as 94 were added before he was castled by the returning Whitehead (3-38) who was easily the pick of the home bowlers. Fowler was run out for a battling 28 off the last ball of the innings as the visitors posted 248-8.

Kiwi, George Thomas (11) was an early casualty as the Optimists replied, bowled by a fine delivery from youngster Ollie Reed (2-53) but Blackburn was soon into his stride, driving powerfully down the ground to reach 50 from just 38 balls (six fours, four sixes).

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Left arm paceman Will Harrison strived hard to atone for dropping the opener at short fine leg as he produced a fine spell (2-26) to remove Jay Tuffnell (5) and Todd Ballman (5) but Blackburn ploughed on, blasting boundaries with gay abandon to scorch past 100 from just 66 balls despite another fine spell from Jody Clements (3-52) who had Espley (18) caught by Lynch and trapped Dan Woolnough lbw for a golden duck.

Otters vice-captain, Crabb (2-49) made the vital breakthrough as Blackburn spliced an attempted pull to be well held by keeper Billy Reed for a magnificent 123 (76 balls, eleven sixes and nine fours) and two further quick wickets left Shaldon at 195-8. Jamie Day (22) threatened to spoil the Otters’ day with some lusty late blows but, when his skied drive was brilliantly pouched by Rudolph, running out to long-off , Shaldon were done for and shortly afterwards the Salston Field men clinched a thrilling 23-run win as Danny McKenna (7) was bowled by Rudolph.

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Ottery St Mary 248-8 (S.Lynch 61, B.Reed 40, Extras 40, B.Rudolph 31, E.Fowler 28, C.Whitehead 3-38, A.Espley 2-41) Shaldon 225 (K.Blackburn 123, J.Day 22, J.Clements 3-52, W.Harrison 2-26, R.Crabb 2-49, O.Reed 2-53). Ottery St Mary (20pts) bt Shaldon (9pts) by 23 runs.

Otters Man of the Match – Sam Lynch.

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