OTTERY St Mary will have a new chairman this season as they adjust to life back in the C Division East.
Ottery enjoyed a steady climb up the Tolchards Devon League ladder, going the last rung up to the B Division in 2016 under the stewardship of John Tierney.
Tierney, who played for Devon in the 80s and early 90s, brought a wealth of cricket experience to Ottery gained playing Premier and A Division cricket for Exmouth, South Devon and Abbotskerswell, as well as a stint as a match pro with Cowbridge in South Wales.
Locals still talk fondly of Tierney’s quickfire 144 for Cowbridge against Hirwuan in the 1995 season.
Ottery lasted two seasons in the B Division before dropping down again. Last season’s trials and tribulations – they didn’t win a game on a Saturday afternoon – won’t stop Ottery aiming for promotion again.
“Promotion is the aim, maybe after a year on consolidation, but we want to go up again,” said Johns.
“Looking round the division we are going to be in we know most of the teams other than the three 2nd XIs who have come in.
“There is certainly nothing for us to fear.”
Johns, a 22-year veteran at Strawberry Lane, said anyone thinking the mood round the club was one of gloom and doom is mistaken.
“The good thing to come out of last year was the progress our youngsters made in youth cricket. Out 12s and 14s were runners-up in their divisions and our under-13s won their league and cup.”
Will Harrison is carrying on as 1st XI captain with Jody Clements doubling up as vice-captain and vice-chairman to Johns.
Alex Clements was nominally 2nd XI captain last season, but spent most of it assisting the 1st XI. Rick Jackson returns to the role he filled from 2014-16.
Eddie Rudolph, the 15-year-old Devon age-group player, will be Jackson’s number two.
Ottery won’t be running a 3rd XI this season having abandoned the agreement with Exmouth to field a combined side last year when both clubs were short of numbers.
Exmouth feel they can stand on their own this season and have restarted a 3rd XI.
Ottery are looking for other clubs in the area who may be willing to offer games to 3rd XI players.
Alex Clements will be running Ottery’s coaching operation, aided by in-house level-two coaches and clubman Trevor Griffin, when his commitments with Kia Super League champs Western Storm allow.
Youth cricket has been streamed into All Stars (5-8), under-nines to under-11s and under-12s-14s.
Women’s cricket is set to return to Salston Field after a break of two years as Ottery have signed up for the DCB-backed Wine-and-Wickets programme.
Net practice for senior players is booked at the St John’s International School in Sidmouth for three weeks from March 13. Start time is 6pm and new players are welcome.