Wear limp over the line

There's no substitute for experience , or so the saying goes, a fact which was epitomised by the nature of this narrow reverse suffered by Ottery St Mary 2nd XI at the hands of visiting Countess Wear in last Saturday s exciting encounter at Salston.

= 'There's no substitute for experience', or so the saying goes, a fact which was epitomised by the nature of this narrow reverse suffered by Ottery St Mary 2nd XI at the hands of visiting Countess Wear in last Saturday's exciting encounter at Salston Field.

Once again, an Otters' team packed with teenagers produced a spirited, all-round display before slipping to a disappointing defeat as Wear secured victory with just two balls and two wickets to spare.

A curate's egg of a bowling performance, featuring no less than 21 wides interspersed with numerous excellent deliveries, boosted Countess Wear's top scorer, extras, to 35, a profligacy which was always going to prove fatal in a low-scoring match.

Admittedly, the home side were immediately handicapped when asked to bat first in damp, bowler-friendly conditions. After Barry Flicker (2) was needlessly run out, the visitors' lively opening attack of Swapnil Paul and Owen Smith soon had the Otters in trouble. Smith's off cutter bowling Matt Reed (2) and Paul's bounce inducing Antony Dean (2) to knick behind to Steve Channing.

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With the score at 11-3 in the eighth over a downpour forced a two and a half hour delay. On resumption, the contest was reduced to 30 overs a side to the inevitable advantage of the team batting second.

When Nick Mansfield (2) was promptly run out, the innings was in disarray at 16-4, but the rescue act was begun by experienced duo of Gavin Iley and in- form all rounder Rob Crabb, who opened his account with a six over the sightscreen as a useful 38 runs were added for the fifth wicket.

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Young left-hander Alex Thurgate joined skipper Iley and batted with real maturity during a rapid 62-run partnership which saw Iley race to a typically pugnacious half century (53 with 2 x 6s and 4 x 4s) before holing out to John Heaver at deep mid-on off Adam Frost.

Thurgate followed shortly afterwards for an excellent 27, stumped at the second attempt by Channing off Wear skipper Martin Bovey. From 126-7 the home side quickly lost two more wickets chasing late runs, but 132-9 from 30 overs represented a commendable recovery. Bovey was the most successful visiting bowler claiming 2-28 with his gentle medium pace.

In reply, Countess Wear never really dominated the home bowling at any stage.

Paul (7) departed early, surprised by the lift of left arm paceman Crabb, his knick behind to Flicker giving the keeper the first of five catches in the innings and, when Jon Phillips induced John Murray (5) into also edging to the veteran glovesman, Wear were 27-2 after seven overs. To make matters worse, skipper Bovey was forced to retire with a torn hamstring.

Young seamers Sam Bowyer-Thornton and Alex Tubbs were deriving considerable lift from the 'sporting' surface, the former inducing Tom Brooks (17) to edge behind with the total on 66.

The stocky Heaver (14) briefly resisted, clipping a couple of pleasing boundaries through mid-wicket before launching a real steepler to Phillips who took a terrific catch at deep extra cover, Tubbs the beneficiary.

Wear were 81-4 in the 20th over, and under real pressure from the youthful home side who were, at this point, bowling tightly and fielding with vigour.

Bowyer-Thornton produced another lifter to remove Channing (6), who became Flicker's fourth victim but grassed a difficult return catch as the total passed 100 in the 25th over.

An exciting finish was clearly in prospect as Tubbs held a low catch to account for Frost (1) caught and bowled, but Steve Millington made an important late contribution, his 16 including two stylish boundaries before he drove loosely at a wide delivery from Crabb to give Flicker his fifth catch.

Sadly for the Otters, their young bowling attack then wilted at the vital moment. The returning Phillips' five wides signalling a spate of extras and, although Crabb comprehensively bowled Phil Wakeley (5) in the 28th over, the visitors managed to limp over the line to claim victory with two deliveries remaining. Crabb was the most successful home bowler, claiming 3-35 from his 8.4 overs, excellent support coming from Bowyer-Thornton and Tubbs.

This was a wonderful game of cricket made possible by the determination of both sides to play, despite the inclement conditions.?It was a desperately disappointing outcome for a young Otters team which performed with admirable spirit throughout. Skipper Iley afterwards reflected: "Those lads gave everything and they're feeling pretty sick in the dressing room, but that's good, because it shows they care."

Otters' Man of the Match: Alex Thurgate.

l Francis Clark Devon League 2nd XI C Division: Ottery St Mary 132-9 (G Iley 53, A Thurgate 27, M Bovey 2-28); Countess Wear 133-8 (Extras 35, R Crabb 3-35, A Tubbs 2-17, S Bowyer-Thornton 2-33). Countess Wear (17pts) bt Ottery St Mary (6pts) by 2 wkts.

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