Pyestock Cricket Club belatedly started their season in the picturesque surroundings of Sendholme for their annual visit to Concorde CC. After last weeks wash out at Eversley it was a relief to all to be greeted to blue skies and even a little warmth in the air.
As predicted the wicket was soft and green and both sides harboured ambitions of bowling first and taking advantage of the condition’s. It should be noted however that the considering the winter endured over the last 6 months, Concorde CC had done a miraculous job on preparing a wicket and outfield that looked serene. As it was, Concorde CC skipper Ian Cudworth won the toss and immediately elected to make Pyestock bat, scuppering his counterpart Neil Butler’s early plans. Therefore, regular openers Jon Ford and Glenn Taylor got to work against Cudworth’s wily medium but accurate deliveries and Jacob Nizzola’s pace, and despite a slow start, managed to get a foothold on the innings taking 33 from the first 10 overs.
By this time, Cudworth had removed himself from the attack and introduced the impressive Jack Brown, who foxed both openers with a barrage of high quality off-spin.
Despite this, however, the grit of the opening pair showed and managed to not only survive, but continue to score from the occasional bad balls from both Nizzola and Brown. The score reached 50 in the 15th over and just as the tide seemed to be turning, old nemesis Edgar Fernandes tempted Taylor into a poor shot and saw himself become the first wicket to fall in 2014 for an impressive 73. Unfortunately for the visitors, the good start to the innings which had provided 94 runs, was about to be undone by a stalling period in which only 39 runs were scored but a massive 8 wickets were lost. Ford fell only 2 balls later to give Brown a deserved wicket, whilst Colin Butler (4), Vaughan Newcombe (4) and Pete Harris (8) all fell cheaply to give Fernandes 3 further wickets and allow him to continue his hex over Neil Butler’s side.
Jack Bromley was the next wicket to tumble as the spin of Brown proved too much for the youngster and in the next over Chris McGovern was further treading an increasingly well worn path to the dressing room as Fernandes disturbed his timbers and claim his fifth wicket of the match. Number nine Ben Bromley lasted just four balls as the spin twins rampancy continued and the dominance Pyestock had created in the initial 20 overs had all but evaporated in the cool May sunshine.
Captain Neil Butler joined Dan Heath in middle and the penultimate partnership started slowly but soon began to flourish and repair the earlier damage, Suddenly Fernandes and Brown looked tired and out of ideas as the runs started to flow once again. The swagger of the fielders in the home camp had gone as lusty blows rained down either side of the boundary fence and concern started to creep into the hosts. George Howard replaced Fernandes and Nizzola was re-introduced to try and unsettle the Pyestock pair but the runs continued to flow.
To Concorde’s credit the over rate was fantastic and probably the best witnessed by Pyestock in recent times, and in the 49th over, the score passed 200 with both batsmen looking to score at every opportunity. In the 50th and final over however, Nizzola bamboozled Dan Heath and an easy stumping for Howard Smith brought the openers only triumph. There was still time for Butler to pass his half century as Pyestock closed their innings on 214 for 9, considered to be a decent effort for a seasons opening attempt, and confidence was high heading in for tea.
After the interval, Neil Butler and Chris Heath set about restricting the openers Nick Freeman and that man Fernandes, the latter’s innings of 99 12 months previous still retaining firm memories as the second half got underway. It was the memories of that match turning innings last season that made the events in the 6th over all the more hard to swallow. Confusion in the outfield from the Jack and Ben Bromley saw a mistimed drive from Fernandes loop up and come safely to rest between the two beleaguered fielders. The chance had gone, but the visitors had only until the next over to record their breakthrough, and when it came, it was in spectacular style. Butler found a genuine edge from Freeman that looked to have beaten wicketkeeper Newcombe and Glenn Taylor but an outstanding full stretch dive from the first slip saw a phenomenal one handed catch that would have graced much higher stages.
With the score poised on 6 for 1 as Chris Turvill joined Fernandes at the crease, Pyestock looked to battle on towards victory, however a stream of bad luck seemed to hinder progress. Heath twice found an inside edge that somehow failed to find the stumps and balls seemed to fall just short or just over stranded fielders. Concorde to their extreme credit batted sensibly however and started to score well from change bowlers Dan Heath and Ben Bromley and by the time the signal was made to signify the final 20 overs of play, the hosts found themselves in a commanding position with 85 runs on the board with 9 wickets still intact.
The match was indeed finely poised with Pyestock still confident that containing the run rate would force errors in the home sides ranks, and that only a few wickets might start a downward spiral. The runs continued to flow, however, and it took until the 33rd over (12 remaining) to see the second wicket fall, Glenn Taylor claiming his first ever wicket for the club enticing Fernandes to a big shot only to edge behind to Newcombe who took a smart catch. Fernandes had made 91, a fine effort and major contribution to his teams cause.
The experienced Rob Symondson now entered the fray and started patiently. Neil Butlers side were still frantically trying to reduce the dangerous run rate and re-introduced Chris Heath to the attack after the openers first stint only leaked 10 runs from 7 overs, but with 65 needed from the remaining 10 overs it was to be a tough ask.
Turvill and Symondson continued in their ethos to punish anything remotely short or wayward, and Jack Bromley received a tough introduction to the attack as the run rate continued to keep both sides interested, whilst looking unlikely to fall on their swords. The score marched on, and reached 200 with 13 balls remaining.
2 overs remained with Concorde needing 14 for victory, Neil Butler and Chris Heath planned meticulously and let the home duo decide their fate, a tight over followed as, an exhausted Heath leaked only 3 singles from a potentially match defining over, but it was only the penultimate over and 11 runs were still required. All eyes in the ground fell to Jack Bromley, who with Turvill at the crease, needed to draw all his experience to claim Pyestock a creditable draw.
The over started well, the first two balls yielded just a single, however a high full toss changed the tide for a final time and Symondson provided the fireworks to end a truly gripping and enthralling encounter with a huge six over the clubhouse and a lusty four, that jon Ford unfortunately could not cling on to, for a deserved but frantic victory.
A fantastic encounter was at an end and Pyestock will look towards frailties in all departments as to the inability to defend a large total. Only 4 batsman made double figures, and only two wickets taken in a performance which should have produced more. Hopefully once the early season rustiness is in the past, the performances will improve.