Ton up Flower blooms as Ottery land first win of Francis Clark Devon League season

Ottery cricket club played Axminster on Saturday. Dan Flower in full swing. Picture by Alex Walton.

Ottery cricket club played Axminster on Saturday. Dan Flower in full swing. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref shsp 1849-20-13AW. To order your copy of this photograph, go to and click on myphotos24 - Credit: Archant

Boosted by a tremendous 166-run stand in just 22 overs between opener Dan Flower and Jack Pritchard, Ottery St Mary 1st XI held their nerve to secure a vital victory from the short trip to Clyst St George, writes Ian Townsend.

The result lifts the Otters off the bottom of the C Division table and, with other results going in the Salston Field side’s favour, they can now embark on a series of fixtures against fellow strugglers in good heart.

After Clyst skipper John Meredith won the toss and elected to bat, the combination of a flat wicket, short boundaries, a rapid outfield and a struggling bowling attack pointed towards the visitors having to chase down a large total. And so it proved as, after the early loss of Dan Takle (0), caught at the wicket by Pritchard off Mark Woodman, opener Chris Ferro (90 with 17 fours) and Matt Cook (64) unleashed some fine shots all around the wicket to add 145 in 25 overs. Clyst looked to be heading for a 300-plus total, but Woodman (2-47) returned to bowl Ferro with the score on 198 and the visitors actually began to assert some control as Meredith (6) and Sam Cooper (6) departed cheaply.

However, the experienced Chris Cook (77) embarked on a late innings onslaught which yielded nine fours and three sixes as Clyst closed on a challenging 278-7 from their 45 overs. None of the Otters’ bowlers performed with any great distinction on an admittedly batsman-friendly surface.

A sound start was essential if Ottery were to produce an effective run chase. Flower and the in-form Lewis Townsend (22 with four fours) obliged, adding 43 before the latter holed out to backward point. Flower was gradually beginning to flourish, however, and the arrival of Pritchard saw the run rate rocket. The UWIC student is a highly accomplished hockey player and it showed as he produced a series of beautifully timed ‘pick-up’ shots to race to 50 in just 30 minutes at the crease (six fours and three sixes). By now Flower had also really got into his stride, unleashing a series of tremendous off drives as the score passed 200 in the 32nd over. However, the Otters rarely do things the easy way and after Pritchard (87) pulled a Takle long-hop down the throat of deep midwicket, the rapid loss of two more wickets set nerves on edge. Flower reached a wonderful century from 92 balls (14 fours and two sixes) but when he too departed to a Takle ‘pie’, the alarm bells were ringing for the Otters. Experienced campaigner, Woodman (17*) remained calm, however, as he guided the Otters home, victory arriving in the 44th over as he clipped Takle over midwicket.

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Having seen his charges finally register a victory at the sixth time of asking, hugely relieved skipper, Jody Clements reflected: “Fingers crossed, this is a turning point. With six runs to win, I was pacing around like I was waiting for a child to be born! Pritch and Dan were fantastic, though – clean hitting and so decisive”.

Clyst St George 278-7 (C Ferro 90, C Cook 77, M Cook 64, M Woodman 2-47, R Johns 2-51, J Clements 2-67) Ottery St Mary 282-7 (D Flower 105, J Pritchard 87, L Townsend 22, C Ferro 2-34, D Takle 2-34). Ottery St Mary (18pts) bt Clyst St George (8pts) by 3 wkts.

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