Win was within Otters' grasp
I was just looking for someone to bowl me some dot balls!" was the frustrated post-match reaction of Ottery St Mary 1st XI skipper John Tierney having seen his side slip to an agonising two-run defeat.
I was just looking for someone to bowl me some dot balls!" was the frustrated post-match reaction of Ottery St Mary 1st XI skipper John Tierney having seen his side slip to an agonising two-run defeat in a fascinating and fluctuating contest against visiting Lewdown. Tierney's bowlers collectively failed to perform after their skipper's decision to invite the visitors to bat, and, despite a valiant effort to chase down a sizeable total, the Otters slipped to their second successive defeat in what has been a disappointing start to the new season.Despite losing the early wicket of opener Antony Weeks (8), bowled off a thin inside edge by Rob Crabb, the only home bowler to emerge with any real credit, Lewdown were soon into their stride taking full advantage of an Otters bowling attack which simply served up too many 'four balls'. Visiting skipper David Ball and burly No.3 Toby Street fashioned an excellent second wicket partnership via a sensible combination of watchful defending and powerful dispatching of the all-too-regular loose deliveries. Ball helped himself to 10 runs from first change bowler Will Harrison's first over, and the half century stand came up in just 40 minutes as the home bowlers toiled on what was proving to be an excellent batting track. Street unleashed a series of powerful drives, the last of which brought up a fine half century from just 46 balls faced (9 x 4s). Despite losing Street (50) to a tumbling catch by Tierney at midwicket off the bowling of left arm spinner Martin Miller when the score had reached 102, Ball continued to progress serenely via an excellent display of controlled batsmanship. Well supported by the in coming Jack Skuse, the skipper reached his half century from 76 balls (9 x 4s) as the score raced past 150 in the 32nd over, all bowlers coming alike to the Lewdown batsmen. The 50 partnership arrived in just 26 balls, but after Skuse (31) had survived a difficult chance to Miller at backward point, the returning Crabb claimed his wicket as he failed to get over a powerful off drive to be caught by Tierney at mid-off, leaving the visitors at 169-3. The ball seemed to be following the Otters' skipper as he made a fine diving attempt at catching the incoming Justin Gliddon but to no avail and the same batsman soon deposited Miller over deep midwicket to bring up the 200. The home side's ground fielding now became ragged as the visitors pressurised them with sharp running between the wickets and this, coupled with some further lusty blows, kept the scoreboard ticking. Ball completed an excellent century (147 minutes, 12 x 4s) with a lofted drive off Jody Clements shortly before the innings closed on an imposing 248-3 from a full 46 overs. Ball was unbeaten on 102 whilst Gliddon remained on 46 not out from just 35 balls. Rob Crabb emerged from the carnage with 2-51 from 11 overs.The Otters' daunting run chase got off to solid start as openers Miller and Joe Edwards took the score to 32 in relatively untroubled fashion, Miller (18) in particular took toll of the odd loose delivery. However, a cross-batted slash at a delivery too close to his body saw the latter fall to a catch by Ed Squires at cover point. Incoming skipper Tierney appeared to be a man in a hurry as he proceeded to smash his first six deliveries to the boundary including a six over midwicket, opening bowler Street disappearing for 26 runs in an over! Opening partner Adrian Edmonds also appeared to be feeling the strain conceding no less than nine wides in his sixth over. Tierney, though, was leading a charmed existence and, having survived a chance to Nick Hayden off a top edged pull, he perished aiming an expansive off drive at the bowling of Ball and giving a thin edge behind to Antony Weeks. Tierney's 37 had come from just 23 balls, containing 6 fours and a six, and left the Otters on 85-2. Edwards meantime had been batting steadily and brought up the 100 with a sumptuous cover boundary in the 20th over. Shortly afterwards, however, he fell for 26 to a thin edge behind off Ball leaving the total at 109-3. A fine partnership of 67 ensued between 17-year-old Sam Tennant and Aussie Brett O'Brien, the former unleashing a series of powerful off drives whilst the latter played a sound supporting role. After O'Brien (15) chipped a return catch to the returning Street, the Otters' went into the final 10 overs needing 79 runs for an unlikely victory. Fine running between the wickets by Tennant and the incoming Sam Lynch began to pressurise the visitors whose bowling started to waiver, Street's 12th over going for 18 as Lynch deposited him into the adjoining caravan park! Tennant's fine knock ended on 65 as he was run out going for one quick single too many, but Clements (12) and Lynch (23) kept the runs flowing until the latter played on to Edmonds via a thin inside edge from an attempted off drive. The Otters were 238-7 and in touching distance of victory. An extra cover boundary from Rob Johns (14) appeared to have wrapped things up, just four runs being required from seven balls with three wickets in hand, but when the all rounder was bowled attempting a forcing shot against Charlie Hughes, the game was back in the balance. Crabb came to the wicket in fading light and was promptly bowled neck and crop by an excellent swinging first ball yorker from Edmonds. Two balls later, when No.11 Harrison was judged lbw when hit on the full by another Edmonds' delivery, the Otters had snatched defeat for the jaws of victory. A wonderful game of cricket played in an excellent spirit. Otters' Man of the Match was Sam Tennant.