True Otters’ grit thwarts the Thors

Title-chasing Thorverton were frustrated in their quest to cement their position at the top of D Division as Ottery St Mary 1st XI clung on for a losing draw in this hard fought encounter.

Title-chasing Thorverton were frustrated in their quest to cement their position at the top of D Division as Ottery St Mary 1st XI clung on for a losing draw in this hard fought encounter.

The home side were indebted to an innings of considerable character from opener Richard Townsend who stood firm in the face of a furious late innings onslaught from Aussie paceman Kobi Griggs to carry his bat and prevent the Exe valley outfit from securing a vital victory.

The Thors were given a flying start by Ally Fury and George Greed in compiling a 34-run stand before Greed (15) edged Rob Crabb behind to Charl Axsel. Former Exmouth and Devon seamer Mark Woodman soon claimed the prized wicket of Griggs (2), trapping the all-rounder lbw. Fury and G Hess then took the total to 77 before off-spinner Lewis Townsend removed both batsmen in quick succession, Fury (36 including 5 x 4s) falling to a catch by Jody Clements and Hess (23) being well held by youngster Jack Pritchard at deep square leg, to leave the total on 80-4. Rob Bradshaw-Smith and home skipper and left arm spinner Martin Miller produced tight spells but, nonetheless, Dan Bone and Devon youth player Will Denford compiled a useful half century stand, Denford in particular unfurling some fine drives. Miller ended the partnership having Bone (34) caught by Lewis Townsend and then Phil Tavener suffered the agony of being run out backing up. Bradshaw-Smith captured two well deserved wickets bowling both Alan Tait (4) and Nick Barton (1) as the visitors' innings stuttered and, when Denford (42 with 7 x 4s) departed, the Thors stood at 169-9. However, a last wicket stand between R Woodward and James Meredith added 23 runs.

Having been 136-4 in the 30th over, 192 all out was somewhat disappointing for the visitors. Once again Bradshaw-Smith (2-35 from 13 overs) was the pick of the Otters' bowlers, good support coming from spinners Miller and Lewis Townsend.

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Griggs and Woodward restricted young Ottery openers Axsel and Richard Townsend to just 25 runs in the opening 12 overs before Griggs trapped Axsel (5) lbw.

Otters' vice-captain Clements (16) produced some pleasing shots before pushing left arm spinner Barton's first delivery into the hands of silly point. Matt Kirk (18) was stumped by Tait having been deceived by Barton to leave the Otters at 62-3 in the 27th over.

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Remaining opener Richard Townsend had been becalmed against spinners Barton and Fury, but slowly he produced some lofted drives. And when Pritchard (2) departed, bowled by Fury playing down the wrong line, the arrival of Lewis Townsend saw the scoring rate rapidly increase. The belligerent youngster announced his intentions, getting off the mark by lifting Fury over midwicket for four and he soon despatched a big six over mid-wicket to bring up the 100 in the 35th over.

Hopes of an unlikely home victory were emerging, but Barton was bowling beautifully and, with the score on 123, he removed the younger Townsend brother, stumped by Tait for 26.

Enter Aussie fast bowler Griggs who then carried his side to the verge of victory with a devastating salvo, claiming three wickets in four balls. Bradshaw-Smith and Miller were both bowled in successive balls after which Woodman survived a massive appeal for lbw from the hat-trick ball, only to be trapped in the same fashion from the next delivery.

Richard Townsend was rapidly running out of partners and, when Crabb's brief resistance ended, Ottery were 142-9 with three overs remaining. Townsend managed to farm the strike ensuring that last man Scott Gibbins was not exposed to Griggs's exocets and the home side hung on for a stirring draw. Townsend's gritty unbeaten 49 contained eight boundaries, whilst Griggs and the excellent Barton were the standout bowlers for the Thors.

Otters' Man-of-the Match:Richard Townsend.

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