A memorable man of the match performance from Glenn Taylor proved the major difference between Pyestock CC and a well organised Sandhurst side this weekend.
Taylor contributed with both bat and ball to spearhead a victory in an otherwise close match, as his 5 wickets and 87 crucial runs dampened the dangerous batting of opener Sumit Maya and the experienced bowling attack of the Berkshire based hosts.
Fielding first by mutual consent, Stand in skipper Chris Heath seemed short of bowling options, however it was he and Jack Bromley who opened the attack, and the 18 year old found the first breakthrough as Birch overstretched and pushed a simple catch to Chris Mcgovern at short mid-wicket.
Ed Bachelor joined the impressive looking Maya at the crease, and looked to kick start the innings, on an impressively flat wicket which was not complimented by a slow green outfield. In fact, Pyestock were counting their blessings in the field as countless well timed drives and pulls from Maya found the gaps nicely, but failed to reach the boundary rope thanks to the over lush greenery.
Despite this, however, Maya was proving a thorn in the side of the visitors who struggled to contain the fluency of the opener. At the other end, Bachelor was battling for the same level of potency against the seam of Heath and Bromley, and in the 7th over a mistimed drive skied to Billy Leader at mid off marked his exit from the crease.
De Villiars replaced the outgoing number 3 and struck an immediate understanding with Maya that saw the pair begin to dictate play, rotating the strike and finding runs progressively easy to come by. Heath reacted by removing both opening bowlers from the attack and introducing Ben Bromley’s leg spin and Billy Leader. This double change did not seem to deter the batsmen as the run rate continued to increase, as Leader seemed to toil for consistency after 8 months away from the game, while Bromley managed to contain both Maya and De Villiars, without causing any real concerns to the pair. At the first drinks break the home side had amassed 72 runs and were looking in strong position.
Pyestock restarted in sloppy fashion as a period of poor fielding, missed run out chances and overthrows threatened to seriously derail their earlier efforts, but thankfully it was short-lived as the reliable leg spin of Dan Heath brought more control to the game. In an impressive spell, Heath almost immediately broke the long standing partnership by tempting De Villiars into a leg side slog sweep, which uncharacteristically kept a little low and thundered into the batsmens back leg leaving the umpire no choice but to send the number 4 back to the pavilion.
Chris Whiteoak was the next Sandhurst man in the middle and provided solid but defensive support to Maya, who by now had passed 50 and looking strong to carry his bat while providing a massive contribution to his sides cause.
Glenn Taylor was introduced in the 28th over to provide hopefully something a little different, and it proved to be magical decision, as the “part time” spinner really threw his hat into the ring for a more regular bowling slot, as he opened up the Sandhurst order, who had little to no answer to the fizzing spin of the opening batsmen.
Firstly, Maya produced a moment that condradicted his otherwise calm and organised innings by top-edging Taylor high into the ocean blue of the cloudless sky, the chance went down agonisingly, but it was not long before the fluent opener was finally on his way as in Taylor’s next over, a full toss was drilled straight to the safe, uncompromising hands of Pete Harris at mid on.
With the Sandhurst talisman now back in the pavilion, Pyestock found a new level of belief and began to pick up wickets on a regular basis to completely turn the innings on its head. 140 for 4 quickly deteriorated as Dan accounted for Whiteoak for a patient 13 while , O’Neil (16), Pab (4) and Dobson (1) left the hosts 161 for 8 with 3 overs remaining.
Taylor continued to tempt the remaining batsmen and accounted for VJ and Bijen to close the hosts innings 5 balls early and end with career best figures of 5 for 38 in the process of providing Pyestock a target of 171 for victory.
After the break, Pyestock set about reaching their target in cautious and defensive style, perhaps still mindful of the efforts needed to achieve victory in last weeks chess-like battle with Deando-Ruxley CC. The value of having wickets in hand can never be under-estimated and with big hitters Jack Bromley and Dan Heath positioned at 9 and 11 in the order respectively, the visitors batting order looked uncompromising.
Progress, initially was slow, with Bachelor and Martin Bridges keeping the openers in check. In the 5th over, a major talking point, Ford played off the front foot and the ball, seemingly played straight back to bowler Bachelor who took a regulation catch and started the celebrations. Ford (renowned for his fair play and walking if out) stood firm and glanced at the umpire, who also remained unmoved. An appeal from the Sandhurst contingent brought a consultation from the umpires, before the decision was made and Ford had to go. “I genuinely wasn’t sure” stated Ford afterwards, who was perfectly within his rights to wait for a decision, and made no argument as the umpires finger went skyward.
Ben Bromley joined the patient looking Taylor at the crease and continued with the slow steady progress as the pair tried to build a solid foundation, but in the tenth over, the number 3 went back to a ball from Bridges and found himself bowled. At 20 for 2, Pyestock were beginning to wobble, and needed an injection of positive scoring to wrestle back control from a Sandhurst side who were confident and organised in the field and had now their tails up and could smell blood.
Chris McGovern was next to join Taylor as the Sandhurst bowlers continued to control proceedings. McGovern however provided more stability than his predecessors and allowed Taylor to launch an array of attacking shots that finally awoke the scorers. A massive six from Bridges final ball signalled a change in attitude as the first wave of bowling changes struck with the score on 45 for 2.
VJ and Pab took over the ball but struggled to find the same level of consistency as the duo before them as Taylor capitalised on the change. The next seven overs brought 43 runs, although Pab did account for McGovern, caught handily for 6. Leader became Taylor’s fourth partner, and by now Sandhurst had identified the opener as the danger man, having already gone past 50, despite none of his partners yet reaching double figures. The Pyestock number 5 struggled for rhythm, like with the ball in his early exchanges with hosts attack, but crucially did not give his wicket away while he readjusted to life at the crease.
At the other end, Taylor was now in full flow and looking unstoppable, another huge maximum from the bowling of Malla signalled his superiority, as the runs kept flowing, and by the time he was dismissed, deceived by the spin of Jack O’Neil, Pyestock were only 59 from victory.
Chris Heath failed to trouble the scorers as the innings progressed beyond the 30 over mark, but Colin Butler provided the perfect partner for the improving Leader who was looking more fluent with every shot following a mammoth drought of just 2 runs in 35 balls, and Pyestock slowly edged towards home. Captain Richard Dobson introduced himself to the attack, and managed to force Butler into a poor shot that ended his innings for a hasty 14, but in a 3 over spell costing 28, found himself contemplating defeat probably for the first time in the match.
Vaughan Newcombe proved himself as about as good a number 8 that you will find at village cricket level, taking on the bowling of Adam Birch and ending the contest with 15 balls remaining. The plaudits were handed to Newcombe and Leader (32*) as they left the pitch but the 5 wickets and 87 runs by Glenn Taylor proved invaluable to Pyestock in this victory, against a Sandhurst side who performed strongly and will perhaps point to key moments in the game for their eventual demise. At the end of the season, this win will undoubtedly rank as one of the most impressive for Pyestock CC.