Under strength Otters beaten again


- Credit: Archant

Ottery St Mary 1st XI’s late season slide continued as they slipped to a fifth defeat in six contests in the delightful surroundings of Shobrooke Park, writes Ian Townsend.

Skipper Rob Crabb afterwards cut a frustrated figure having seen an attack missing three front line bowlers fail to capitalise on a poor quality wicket, after which a batting line up shorn of top-order quality was unable to chase down a slightly above-par total.

And yet it all began so well for the visitors with opening bowlers Will Harrison and, in particular, Joe Birch imposing something of a stranglehold on home openers Jon James and Phil Anning.

The pacey Birch was right on the money and unfortunate not to claim a scalp or two as the opening 14 overs went for just 25 runs.

The introduction of the change bowlers saw the pressure released with teenage debutant George Southall-Brown (1-60) struggling a little for line and length despite removing Anning (15), pouched by Tom Jeacock. Home skipper Chris Simpson struck a rapid 42 (40 balls) before being castled by Jody Clements (1-40) and when James departed for a well-crafted 48, caught off Crabb by John Tierney who then ran out Chris Ford (2), Park stood at 119-4 with only 12 overs remaining.

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However, after the returning Birch (1-10 from 9 overs) bowled Jaques Budricks (14), the experienced Richard Pyle took a particular liking to Crabb’s occasional left arm spin, launching numerous powerful drives to blast 65 (six fours and four sixes) from just 38 balls before holing out to Joe Henkus off the Otters’ skipper whose nine overs disappeared for 73. Ben Trenaman’s useful undefeated 25 saw Shobrooke post a challenging 231-run target.

The Otters’ reply was given a fine start by Henkus and Dan Flower. In the face of probing spells from Trenaman and Simpson, promising teenager Henkus played in pleasingly correct fashion whilst Flower despatched anything loose with characteristic alacrity as 72 were added from the opening 18 overs. However, after Flower (28 with five fours) hammered South African pacer Budricks to Tom Youngman at backward point, the visitors began to lose wickets at regular intervals as Shobrooke took the pace off the ball with an all-spin attack. Henkus’s well-constructed 35 (six fours) ended as he sliced Youngman to James in the covers and Jeacock (9) was soon deceived by off spinner Anning to be stumped by Ford. Clements (15) looked in fine form, hammering three boundaries before falling to an excellent running catch by Dan Lewis at wide long-on off Youngman. As scoreboard pressure mounted, Tierney (8) perished in the quest for quick runs, skying Anning to Simpson before George Biggs’ patient knock was ended at 25 as he became a third victim for Youngman (3-30). Anning (5-49) completed a ‘fivefer’ as Ed Fowler (14) holed out to James, Crabb (3) was bowled and an impressive late cameo from Southall-Brown (11) was terminated by a catch by Youngman. When the same fielder held a skier off the returning Budricks (2-31) to send back no.11 Harrison (3), Ottery had slipped to a 35-run reverse.

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Having acquitted themselves admirably for the first two thirds of their B Division debut campaign, Ottery have recently been hamstrung by chronic player availability issues to the point where this weekend’s final fixture, at home to Plymstock, will come as something of a relief!

Shobrooke Park 230-6 (R Pyle 65, J James 48, C Simpson 42, B Trenaman 25, J James 20, R Crabb 2-73) Ottery St Mary 195 (J Henkus 35, D Flower 28, G Biggs 25, P Anning 5-49, T Youngman 3-30, J Budricks 2-31). Shobrooke Park (20pts) bt Ottery St Mary (7pts) by 35 runs.

Otters Man of the Match – Joe Birch

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