Twists and turns in Ottery CCnailbiter

Ottery St Mary 1st XI s short trip to the Knowle Recreation Ground, Whimple, produced an exciting encounter in which all results were possible going into the final over writes Ian Townsend.

Ottery St Mary 1st XI's short trip to the Knowle Recreation Ground, Whimple, produced an exciting encounter in which all results were possible going into the final over. With the vastly experienced Rob Bradshaw-Smith on strike, the visitors required 10 runs from the final six deliveries to pull off a famous victory, despite earlier appearing to be dead and buried at 139-9 in pursuit of a total of 170. However, Bradshaw-Smith's unbroken tenth wicket partnership of 24 with Dave Richardson was not quite enough as 17-year-old Chris Palfrey produced an excellent final over, conceding just three runs and restricting the Otters to a losing draw. Having won the toss on a dull, humid afternoon, Ottery skipper John Tierney invited the home side to bat and was then forced to watch in frustration as Kevin Thompson and opposite number Simon van Grudgings fashioned an opening stand of 62 in 18 overs. The Otters' opening bowlers, Jody Clements and Rob Crabb, struggled to make an impression even though the former, in particular, produced a lively spell. After van Grudgings was run out for 22, Thompson kept the scoreboard moving in the company of Mike Searle (13) but, when the score reached 131, his valuable knock, which came from 96 balls and contained seven fours and two sixes, ended at 68 when he was caught by Sam Tennant off the bowling of Aussie off-spinner Brian Burns. Burns, who skilfully varied his pace and flight, and Bradshaw-Smith then prompted something of a middle order collapse as Whimple declined from 131-2 to 146-8 in the space of five overs. However, some lower order resistance, including three boundaries from No 10 batsman Jono Burden, saw the home side through to a useful 169 all out in the last of their 46 overs. The ever reliable Bradshaw-Smith returned 4-16 from his 4.2 overs whilst Burns' full 13 over quota produced four wickets at the cost of just 41 runs. Burns and Martin Miller gave the Otters a sound platform on which to build in reply, compiling an opening stand of 29 before the latter was dismissed. The incoming Joe Edwards and Burns batted sensibly to take the total past 50 before two quick wickets saw the visitors slip to 54-3 in the face of some excellent in-swing bowling from Phil Hope. A steady partnership of 44 between Bradshaw-Smith and the in-form Tennant (27) appeared to have put the Otters in control. The loss of two quick wickets put the contest back into the balance. However, with eight overs remaining, the total had progressed to 129-5 and there was every cause for optimism for the Salston Field outfit before another clatter of wickets once again swung the contest back towards Whimple, as the Otters lost four wickets for just ten runs in little over two overs. The persistent Hope and Burden did the damage with a brace each as injured skipper Tierney and the out-of-form Sam Lynch both failed to trouble the scorers. At 139-9 the visitors were staring down the barrel but, with normally cavalier No 11 Richardson batting in admirably restrained fashion, he and Bradshaw-Smith continued to chip away at the victory target. The tension was palpable with the total standing at 160 entering the 46th and final over but, after Bradshaw-Smith took two from Palfrey's first delivery, he lost the strike with a single, after which the youngster served up two excellent dot ball yorkers. Discretion then became the better part of valour as Richardson patted back the final two deliveries to finish on 11 not out and secure the draw. Bradshaw-Smith remained undefeated on 39. Hope returned the excellent figures of 4-29 from his full 13 overs and was well supported by Burden (2-21) and Tom Saker (2-52). Bradshaw-Smith's out-of-character dogged innings was vitally important and a masterpiece in concentration, occupying no less than 126 minutes and containing just three boundaries. Reflecting on a hard fought derby, the battle hardened all rounder commented: "It was another tight game that we should have won. Dave Richardson batted very well at number 11 and we just needed one more substantial partnership up the order." Otters' Man of the Match - Rob Bradshaw-Smith l Francis Clark Devon League D Division - Whimple 169 (K Thompson 68, S van Grudgings 22; R Bradshaw-Smith 4-16, B Burns 4-41) Ottery St Mary 163-9 (R Bradshaw-Smith 39*, S Tennant 27; P Hope 4-29, J Burden 2-21, T Saker 2-52). Whimple (13pts) drew with Ottery St Mary (10pts).

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