Neil Butler smashed a 27 ball half century, as the Pyestock captain returned with aplomb in a comfortable 131 run victory over The Bourne this week.
With the skippers inclusion in the side not confirmed until the Thursday before the game due to a niggling ankle injury that kept him out of the previous weeks victory against Sandhurst CC, it was remarkable that the contribution and impact delivered could be so vast.
Batting first after winning the toss, Pyestock included debutant Jay Threlfall and Greg Fanshawe for his first match of the campaign, and started with the usual partnership of Jon Ford and Glenn Taylor. However it was the hosts front-line bowlers who made the first impact as the pace of Chris Beanland and impressive leg-spin of Joe Morse kept the visiting pair quiet. In the sixth over, it seemed that the impressive flight and turn of Morse looked to have claimed its first victim as Taylor completely mistimed a powerful drive, only to be redeemed as Van Rensberg failed to hold the catch at mid-off. Taylor’s early luck was to continue as he was again put down in the tenth over as a sharp chance went begging at short cover, and three overs later the hat-trick was complete as The Bourne began to rue these missed opportunities.
At the other end, Ford was also facing problems from Beanland as the unpredictable bounce caused various near misses as it seemed inevitable captain James Frost would claim a catch from the Pyestock stalwarts edge. Fortunately though, both survived these early scares and eventually started to settle down, but the nervous start had taken its toll on the early run rate with only 48 runs appearing from the initial 15 overs. The wickets in hand would prove crucial later.
The Bourne, fielding their first Sunday side of the season were keen to give their players a full run out in the friendly conditions and by the 20th over had already used their sixth bowler, not allowing Ford or Taylor to settle fully and keeping them on guard at all times, and two overs later, the breakthrough arrived, Taylor, who had just passed 50 for the second match running, found the hands of James Frost (no longer wicket-keeping), who, unlike his team-mates, held on to claim his teams first wicket. This proved the catalyst for the home side to fight their way further into the underbelly of the Pyestock batting order as Dan Heath (5), Paul Heath (8) and Jon Ford, who had battled strongly for 45 all fell, to leave the visitors innings at a cross roads at 122 for 4.
Chris Heath (1) also provided little resistance, but at the other end Mike Carpenter was relishing the slow and loopy spin of Ollie McAllan, punishing the young bowler with a few powerful trips to the fence, The 36 year old, who had already secured his highest ever Pyestock score was eventually bowled as McAllan took his revenge, but the full-blooded attacking intent showed set the scene for what was to follow from Neil Butler and his teams powerful lower order.
The Pyestock Captain led from the front as the punishment of the hosts bowling attack began, as 3 huge sixes from 3 separate bowlers catapulted the score towards 200. At the other end, Threlfall was certainly making the most of his first appearance in a Pyestock shirt, also depositing Chris Toase into the houses behind the bowler.
Tomlinson replaced the expensive bowler to become The Bourne’s tenth different player to take responsibility with the ball and with his second ball, tempted Threlfall into finding only the hands of James Frost for his second catch of the afternoon.
Colin Butler joined his brother at the crease and really facilitated the quest for late runs, eagerly and selflessly rotating the strike to allow Neil the freedom of the attack. Further big shots followed as his half century was brought up with only 27 balls faced, as the innings came to a close. Right at the death Tomlinson collected the wicket of Colin Butler, thanks to a solid boundary catch by Jordan Frost, but Pyestock were content with their work with the bat, closing on 238 for 8.
After a beautiful tea, Jordan Frost and Joe Morse needed to collect all their thoughts and solve the initial mystery of how to deal with Greg Fanshawe’s raw pace and probing lines of Chris Heath. Initially Fanshawe had the upper hand, keeping both openers quiet, while Heath provided slightly more clues as 12 runs were uncovered from his first 2 overs.
In the 4th over however Frost mistimed a straighter ball from Fanshawe and could only find Chris McGovern at mid wicket. 3 overs later, McGovern proved equally deft on the off-side as the openers replacement Tomlinson could only connect with a leading edge to double his teams wicket tally as well as his number of catches in the match.
James Frost joined Morse in the drama, with the score 27 for 2, and with memories his performance last season where he eased his way to 42 in similar circumstances, the visitors knew they had to be on their guard to not let the powerful stroke-maker settle. Despite this, however, the captain looked immediately comfortable at the crease and the ease in which both he and his sidekick scored became almost criminal.
Just as it looked as if Pyestock would have to dig extra deep to continue their march towards wickets and victory, another huge chunk of luck fell into their hands, as a half volley from Fanshawe was driven back strongly by Frost. Whilst on a bullet like trajectory towards the boundary, the ball clipped the foot of the bowler, and ricocheted onto the stumps. A solitary appeal from Paul Heath saw the umpire raise his finger, Morse was short of his ground and exited the pitch in a mixture of despair and frustration. it was a huge bonus for the fielding side, and changed the momentum of the innings and match.
Suddenly The Bourne were on the back foot as Chris Heath cleaned up Natrass, and Fanshawe added to his wicket total by bowling Michael Toase to leave the scoreline at 47 for 5. The ever dangerous James Frost remained and was still scoring confidently to keep Pyestock on their toes, while actively putting pressure on McAllam at the other end to further open up the tail. A smart decision by Neil Butler to bring himself into the attack almost paid immediate dividends as his first ball careered into the pads of Frost. A huge appeal was turned down, perhaps swinging too much to the leg-side.
Pyestock’s record wicket-taker only needed to remain patient for 4 more balls as Frost uncharacteristically mistimed a drive and the chance was snaffled by Chris Heath at mid-off. Suddenly it seemed that the floodgates would open, as the danger-man trudged to the pavilion for 21. Butler continued to bowl effectively to the left-handed Beanland and once he had breached the number 8’s defences, the home side were reeling at 73 for 7. Dan Heath at the other end was supplying added pressure and was also rewarded as the stubborn McAllam was surprised by a quicker ball, and prodded to Glenn Taylor at silly mid on.
By this point, the wickets were tumbling and the fight was seemingly gone from The Bourne’s reply, however Van Resenberg had other idea’s by counterattacking the Pyestock bowlers with little regard to his teams plight, and in fairness to the tail-ender, the tactic was paying off as three impressive sixes elevated him to top scorer in his teams innings. Jay Threlfall ended the fireworks from Van Resenberg in the 23rd over, for his first wicket for the club, leaving Pyestock needing just 1 wicket in 11 overs for victory.
Fortunately, however it took just 1 ball as Dan Heath bowled the younger Morse brother to wrap up a comfortable victory.
Played in a fabulous spirit from beginning to end, The Bourne is quickly becoming a favoured opponent for Pyestock CC to visit, as a warm welcome, friendly game and good facilities installing a friendly relationship between the two clubs, which will hopefully continue long into the future.