Rudolph reigns once more as Otters close in on historical title

Ottery batsman Billy Ruldolph fell short of a hundred by just three runs against Uplyme on Saturday.

Ottery batsman Billy Ruldolph fell short of a hundred by just three runs against Uplyme on Saturday. Ref shsp 7236-22-15TI. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

The list of unused superlatives available to describe the exploits of Ottery St Mary 1st XI all-rounder Billy Rudolph is rapidly shrinking, writes Ian Townsend.

After his teammates had last weekend produced a disappointing bowling display against struggling visitors, Kentisbeare, well supported by the rest of the top order, the sixteen year old crafted a superb second century of the campaign to guide the Otters to an easy win.

After another fine opening spell from teenage paceman Ollie Reed was rewarded with the wicket of visiting skipper Scott Chappell (2), courtesy of catch by Rudolph, James Sprague and Rory Thomas tucked into some loose offerings from experienced seamers Will Harrison and Jody Clements (0-70) to add 92 in 16 overs before Sprague’s well composed knock ended at 54 (13 fours) when Dan Flower held a catch off medium pacer, Kevin Kelly. Kelly (2-37) and left arm spinner Alex Thurgate (1-24) stemmed the tide by removing Paul Tatterton, bowled by the former for a duck, and Tom Bunker (1), trapped lbw by the latter, but, as the home attack served up far too many ‘four balls’, Thomas and the powerful Steve Read then fashioned a rapid 88-run stand. Impressive Blundell’s School student, Thomas, had reached 93 at a run-a-ball (13 fours and a six) when he was bowled by the returning Ollie Reed (2-29). However, Read ploughed on, hammering eight fours and three sixes to reach 66 from 52 deliveries before falling to a catch by Clements off Rudolph as Kents closed on a useful 248-7 and the Otters dropped two valuable bowling points.

In reply, the home side’s powerful batting line up was scarcely troubled by a decidedly friendly Kentisbeare attack. Flower (36), drove the ball in typically powerful fashion as a 79-run opening stand was posted with Rudolph in just 13 overs before the big left hander played around a straight one from Read to be bowled. Rudolph, meanwhile, was playing in characteristically correct fashion and despite the loss of vice-captain Rob Crabb, bowled by Read (2-40) for a single, the scoreboard continued to tick over nicely as the Devon U-16 player added 84 in 15 overs in the company of Jack Pritchard. Anything loose was ruthlessly despatched and sharp running between the wickets pressurised the visitors. After Pritchard (41) was ‘strangled’ by young leg spinner, Matt Durham, as he toe-ended a double bouncer to mid-on, the arrival of Billy Reed saw the scoring rate increase even further. The 18-year-old timed the ball delightfully to reach an undefeated 30 from just 24 balls and, shortly after Rudolph (108*) reached a hugely impressive century (99 balls, 14 fours), a leg glanced boundary took the Otters to a thirteenth victory of the season with six overs to spare.

With title rivals Uplyme dropping three points as they struggled to defeat Shaldon, the Otters increased their lead at the top of the C Division (East) table to seventeen points heading into this weekend’s tricky trip the Alphington.

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The Salston Field men require a further 44 points from their three remaining fixtures in order to clinch the title and secure promotion to the third tier of Devon League cricket for the first time in their history.

Kentisbeare 248-7 (R Thomas 93, S Read 66, J Sprague 54, O Reed 2-29, K Kelly 2-37) Ottery St Mary 249-3 (B Rudolph 108*, J Pritchard 41, D Flower 36, B Reed 30*, S Read 2-40). Ottery St Mary (18pts) bt Kentisbeare (6pts) by 7 wkts.

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