OTTERY St Mary haven’t allowed promotion into the B Division for the first time to compromise their principals for the season ahead.

Of the former East Devon League sides absorbed by the Devon League in the 2001 season, Ottery have done better than most.

Whimple (2003-4), Feniton (2005) and Clyst Hydon (2008) all made it as far as the C Division after the leagues mergee. Feniton (2006) and Clyst Hydon (2009) reached the B Division, but only lasted a season before dropping back.

If Ottery can survive their debut season it will be a first for the East Devon League old boys and quite an achievement for the club too.

Unlike almost every other club in the B Division they will be operating without an overseas player – Braunton are the only others in the same position – and have no intention of getting one.

John Tierney, the former Devon all-rounder who is chairman at Strawberry Lane, said the club’s policy is to invest in the players it has and there are no plans to change it.

“Our investment will always be in our juniors – we have 143 of them – as I would rather than spend money on developing our members than sending it overseas,” said Tierney.

“You don’t achieve anything in the long term by having an overseas player, although I accept it does mean progress through the divisions can be slower.

“It may be the club loses one or two players who just can’t wait. So be it. We have got where we are with what we have and that isn’t going to change.”

Something that has changed at Ottery is the captaincy as Lewis Townsend has moved to Bristol with his job. Rob Crabb, who has learned cricket and captaincy in the 2nd XI has taken over the mantle.

Billy Rudolph, the Devon U17 player who topped 800 league runs last season and took 26 wickets, has resisted offers to move into the Premier Division with clubs in the neighbourhood.

Tierney said it was inevitable Rudolph would attract offers but staying put was probably the right option for him.

“Billy will open the batting for us every week and get a bowl too – which is unlikely to happen if he was with a Premier side,” said Tierney.

“Interest in him is inevitable. But at this stage of his development he is better of staying with us,”

Ottery’s seasonal opener is away to Thorverton.