Half centuries from Neil Butler and Jack Bromley rescued Pyestock CC’s faltering batting performance to eventually secure a comfortable 103 run victory at Peper Harow this weekend.
Welcoming back Vaughan Newcombe into the side after a week’s break, the visitors were at full strength, but an indifferent start to the match may have led any interested parties to believe otherwise as early wickets tumbled.
Being asked to bat first, Jon Ford and Glenn Taylor made a cautious start on a slow green wicket which removed most of the pace generated by the hosts openers Adam Strickland and Tom Crawford.
Crawford in fact had Ford in trouble on a couple of occasions before a leg side delivery was feathered through to wicket keeper Marcus Broomer for the days first dismissal. Ford to his credit walked before the decision was made, although admitted he was unsure whether the ball had connected with glove or forearm.
Nevertheless, Crawford was bowling well and in the 6th over , almost accounted for new man Chris McGovern who again could only edge a straightening delivery, but this time Broomer could not hang on.
At the other end Taylor was keeping the Peper Harow fielders on their toes with some trademark blows as the scoreboard started to crank into action, however if Pyestock thought they had weathered the early storm then nothing could have been further from the truth as three quick wickets threw the innings into turmoil. Firstly, McGovern played a loose shot to be caught by Jovito Rosewin, before Taylor himself was also caught for 29, and Vaughan Newcombe repeated the trick as Crawford picked up his third wicket.
The visitors were not dealing with the ball sticking in a soft wicket, dampened by heavy rain the day before and seemed unable to prevent themselves playing too early. All four wickets were lost to simple catches, and with only 55 on the board, the innings was at a crossroads.
Chris Heath and Pete Harris now occupied the crease, reunited from last week’s efforts to salvage an unlikely win at Godalming, looked again to rescue their side from a difficult position, and initially saw off the remaining efforts of Crawford before trying to cash in on change bowlers Keaton Landress and Elliott McArthur. Despite initially getting the better of the pair, Harris found himself caught out by a darting delivery from Landress , which found it’s way through and bowled the Pyestock chairman for 9.
This was just the first ball of a very profitable over from Landress as he also accounted for Colin Butler, who chased a wider delivery and only succeeded in tapping it straight to Crawford at point.
Pyestock were now 73 for 7 , but had the comfort of a tail that included both Bromley brothers as well as the often destructive Neil Butler and Dan Heath. It was Jack Bromley who was next to enter the crease and expertly managed to achieve what many before him had failed to do. By taking a mammoth 20 balls to get off the mark, Bromley accustomed himself to the pace of the pitch, the bowling and took control of the conditions, which left him in good stead as the innings moved into the latter stages.
A double bowling change by the hosts prior to the 23rd over saw Jovito Rosewin’s leg spin and Alan Jones introduced to the attack. Initially it appeared as if the pace and turn of Rosewin would cause problems, but it was at the other end that the next wicket fell in bizarre circumstances.
A delivery from Jones proved short enough to catch out Heath, who failed to connect as it looped past him and settled on middle stump. It was a strange dismissal, but one that Peper Harow required on their quest to remove the Pyestock tail.
The visitors had other ideas however and began repairing the innings as Bromley and Neil Butler completely changed the direction of the game. Similar to Bromley, the Pyestock skipper cautiously played himself in before launched a full on assault on the home side’s bowling.
Jones, who had been buoyed by his early wicket, quickly found himself with more problems as Butler capitalised on the shorter balls, finding the boundary with regular occurrence. As Rosewins threat also diminished, Peper Harow captain Harley Saunders was pressed into making further changes.
By introducing himself and Lee Bennett, Saunders hoped to quash any further attempts from Pyestock to strengthen their position, but tellingly the pendulum had had already swung, and it proved nearly impossible for the reins to be pulled back in.
The result was 56 runs in just 6 overs as almost all of the hard work put in by the Peper Harow bowlers earlier in the day was being undone in cataclysmic style. Butler reached his half century in just 42 balls as the fielders began to lose faith, however, just 2 balls later, Saunders got his man as Butler miscued straight to Tom Crawford. A highly important partnership was at an end with Butler’s heroics elevating his team to 181 for 8 with 15 balls remaining.
At the other end, Bromley had certainly played his part, but had remained more conservative on 29 at the time of his skippers departure. With time running out , he and Dan Heath had full license to free their arms and see what could be added to what was now a formidable total.
Heath set the tone in the very next over as a no ball from the returning Crawford was venomously dispatched for a simply huge maximum, but the true fireworks began in the final over as Bromley raced to a well deserved fifty.
Needing 17 to reach his personal milestone, the youngster smashed three straight sixes and added a two, to bring up the half century with the final ball of the innings.
Pyestock had finished on 221 for 8 from 38 overs, a truly monumental recovery in the final 15 overs as such a score looked simply impossible earlier in proceedings. There was still the small matter of collecting 10 home wickets however to secure victory.
After the interval, Neil Butler and Chris Heath looked to stifle any early plans for Peper Harow to chase down the target, however Mike Tait had other plans as he twice lofted Butler to the long on boundary in the first over, however was lucky to survive 5 overs later as Jack Bromley dropped the dangerous opener at mid off.
In contrast , Lee Bennett at the other end was contributing in a far more composed manner, as he resolutely defended the probing opening spells.
Butler reacted to a wicketless opening 9 overs by introducing Ben Bromley into the attack, but it was Heath who administered the first breakthrough as Bennett swatted a wider delivery into the grateful hands of Glenn Taylor.
From this moment however, Bromley stole the show, bowling Guest in his second over, before also drawing Tait forward allowing Vaughan Newcombe the opportunity for a swift stumping, and removing Adam Strickland to a blistering reaction catch, again from Taylor.
At 44 for 4 from 21 overs, and all hopes of victory seemingly gone, Peper Harow needed to buckle down and weather the accurate Pyestock bowling and aggressive field placings. Marcus Broomer had other ideas however and continued to try and attack Bromley and new bowler Dan Heath.
The home wicket-keeper rode his luck, as Chris Heath and Neil Butler both failed to take regulation catches, denying Heath his first wicket of the day, and it was hoped that the visitors wouldn’t rue these missed opportunities as the innings wore on.
Those thoughts were put to bed by the ever impressive Bromley however as he continued to excel, removing Keaton Landress to a sharp catch from a redeemed Chris Heath, before bowling Elliott McArthur to further hinder the hosts chances of survival.
Dan Heath eventually took a deserved wicket as Broomer was bowled for 14, but by this point, Bromley was unstoppable, as Alan Jones became his sixth victim, as the home side started stare down the barrel of a heavy defeat.
Jovito Rosewin and Harley Saunders were now united as Pyestock found themselves just two wickets from victory, however the experience and quality of the pair stretched the visitors bowling to the limit. Saunders took sweeping boundaries from both spinners as it became clear that the victory was not yet in the bag for Neil Butler’s men.
Chris Heath was reintroduced along with Jack Bromley to try and blast out one of the impressive pairing, but initially it seemed nothing would budge as runs started to flow due to the amount of catchers employed around the bat.
However, in the last ball of Heath’s second returning over, a moment of brilliance forced open the door to victory as Saunders popped the ball into the leg side, where Chris McGovern made up serious ground before diving forward and taking a superb catch just above the turf.
Serious celebrations ensued, as appeared the pivotal moment had arrived, Rosewin and last man Tom Crawford had 11 overs to survive and claim a truly monumental draw.
Despite this however and contrary to Rosewin’s pleas from the other end, Crawford seemingly had no patience for dead batting his way to almost hero status and thrashed his way to 5 streaky runs before edging through to Vaughan Newcombe as Neil Butler claimed the last wicket and with it the match. Rosewin looked on in despair and left the field unbeaten on 20 from an impressive innings.
Pyestock had completed a comfortable win, despite a spluttering batting performance and another sub standard display in the catching department. It will be hoped that this improves moving forward, starting next week at Woking and Horsell CC.