Rudolph delivers maiden ton
- Credit: Archant
Boosted by a maiden league century from prolific teenager Billy Rudolph, Ottery St Mary 1st XI cruised to a seventh straight victory to continue their sensational start to the 2015 campaign as they swept aside the challenge of well-fancied Alphington, writes Ian Townsend.
After a well-directed bowling display had restricted the visitors to a sub-par total, ably supported by the rest of the top order, 16-year-old Rudolph crafted another masterpiece of an innings which saw the Salston Field outfit open up a 38 point lead at the top of the table.
Having been asked to bat first, the Alphas soon lost experienced opener Neil Murrin (7) whose loose drive off Will Harrison flew to Mickey Wilkinson at backward point. However, fellow opener Anthony Shepherd was playing expansively and despite home seamer Rob Johns producing a probing spell, benefitting from two lives, the big right hander kept the scoreboard ticking as he reached fifty (nine fours). Ian McDonald leant solid support as the stand reached 115 before Shepherd’s luck ran out at 74 as he edged Jody Clements behind for keeper Billy Reed to pouch a super diving catch. McDonald continued to craft a fine innings but both Tom Bath (10) and Dave Haysom (0) departed to run outs, the latter falling victim to a wonderful direct hit from Otters’ skipper, Lewis Townsend. McDonald’s knock ended at 82 (14 fours) as Rudolph held a tumbling catch at short third man off Clements (2-46). Two late scalps for the returning Harrison (3-44) plus the wicket of Will Pring (12) for Rudolph saw the Alphas close on 227-8, which appeared to be at least 30 runs short on a good batting wicket and fast outfield.
Rudolph and Townsend (24) gave the Otters another solid start in reply as 55 were added in ten overs before the latter was beaten for pace by Bath resulting in a miscued hook lobbing to Shepherd at mid-wicket. The visitors could ill afford two lives given to Rudolph, one a ‘dolly’ catch at point off skipper Stuart Shaw and the other a sharp chance to second slip off the impressive Bath. Rudolph took full advantage, timing the ball beautifully as he passed 50 (five fours and a six) in adding 80 with vice-captain Rob Crabb whose typically hard hitting 33 ended with a thin edge behind off Bath. Despite tight bowling in poor light by Bath (2-36) and South African import Ashley Green, the runs continued to flow and with Billy Reed timing the ball characteristically sweetly, the score passed 200 in the 37th over.
Ninety had been added by the time Reed (34) top-edged Ben Newcombe to Bath at square leg but the precocious Rudolph was now in full flow as, to rapturous acclaim, he reached his first league century, finishing on 102 not out with ten fours and one six in the 126 balls he faced, to guide the Otters home by seven wickets.
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Reflecting on his wonderful innings, Rudolph afterwards commented: “After getting out for 97 against Uplyme, it was a huge relief to get there. It really was a great moment and the noise from the balcony was amazing!”
Alphington 227-8 (I McDonald 82, A Shepherd 74, W Harrison 3-44, J.Clements 2-46) Ottery St Mary 229-3 (B Rudolph 102*, B Reed 34, R.Crabb 33, L Townsend 24, T Bath 2-36). Ottery St Mary (19pts) bt Alphington (6pts) by 7 wkts.
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Otters Man of the Match – Billy Rudolph