Ottery suffer serious blow to title hopes

The month of July is proving to be decidedly mediocre for Ottery St Mary 1st XI who produced a thoroughly sub-standard display to slip to their second defeat of the season against Halberton and Sampford Peverell, writes Ian Townsend.

Having dismissed the visitors for a distinctly gettable total, the Otters batsmen failed to show the collective application needed to see off the threat of visiting paceman, Paul Robbins who claimed an impressive 6-24.

Having won the toss, Ottery struck an early blow as Dan Coles edged a Mark Woodman leg cutter to Nick Doman at second slip in the first over.

Robbins got off the mark with a stylish extra cover drive but was then lucky to survive a very adjacent looking lbw appeal from young left armer, Will Harrison who produced a fine opening spell.

The Number three bat took full advantage, unleashing fine shots all around the wicket as 31 runs were added in partnership with Andy Blake (12) before the latter was castled by another beautiful leg cutter from Woodman.

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When the steepling bounce of Rob Johns saw Robbins (32) miscue a pull to Matt Reed at mid-on and Jon Chilcott (9) missed a low Joe Birch full toss to be bowled, the Otters had their foot on the visitors’ throats with the score at 55-4. However, not for the first time this season, Ottery change bowlers failed to deliver as a series of wides and full tosses released the pressure.

Jez Turner took full advantage, posting a belligerent 37 as he shared a 66 run stand with skipper Richard Durrant (16). Turner launched leg spinner Sam Loud for six before holing out to Sam Tennant, attempting to repeat the dose.

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Harrison returned to bring some order to proceedings and claim three well deserved late wickets. First Hugh Sheridan was bowled for a duck, then, after Birch’s excellent run out of Darren Partridge (14) ended a useful stand with impressive looking youngster, James Parkinson, John Geary (0) was bowled. Finally Parkinson (10) sliced a drive to Tennant for Harrison to claim 3-32 as Halberton posted 152 all out when they should surely have been dismissed for closer to 100.

Young opener, Loud (3), was soon trapped lbw by the bustling Turner as the Otters replied, but Johns and Tennant then looked in little trouble, taking the score to 27 before a stupid run out changed the course of the contest.

Tennant (12) departed attempting a third run in which his partner showed no interest and Halberton were beginning to realise it really was their day as Geary somehow pouched a low return catch to remove Johns (16) with a rank full toss.

The introduction of Robbins then blew away the remainder of the home batting line up. Swinging the ball in at a fair pace, he first bowled Jack Pritchard (10), who paid the price for not playing forward. And after the out-of-form Phil Taverner (0) miscued Durrant to mid-on, Robbins claimed the key wicket of skipper, Jody Clements (4) who sliced a loose drive to Turner at backward point.

The paceman’s movement then proved too much for Reed, who was trapped lbw, Doman (12) who was comprehensively bowled and Harrison (0) who was pinned lbw to set up a potential hat trick.

Old hand Woodman (27), batting surprisingly low in the order, survived, and, in combination with No.11, Birch, who put some of his colleagues to shame with a solid defensive display, proceeded to post some defiant late blows as 23 were added for the last wicket. However, Robbins wrapped things up in convincing fashion, plucking out Woodman’s off stump to complete a six wicket haul.

Once again, the Otters’ mindset in chasing down a mediocre total appeared questionable and although Whimple did their neighbours a good turn by defeating third placed Feniton, it is essential that momentum is quickly regained if the Salston Field outfit is to take full advantage of their healthy league position, heading in the final third of the campaign.

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