Four crucial wickets in just seven balls bowled by man of the match Iqbal Jan wrestled victory from Pyestock’s grasp this Sunday as Worcester Park was visited for the first time.
Jan, who had earlier provided a lynchpin 71 before his team also collapsed, tore though the visitors middle and lower order to swing the match irreversibly in favour of the hosts.
Bowling first, stand in captain Chris Heath provided a strong start for his side as the third ball of the game sailed through to keeper Vaughan Newcombe. Appeals for an edge were upheld by the umpire and opener Mark Lawrence was on his way, possibly unlucky as the noise may well have been bat on ground.
Stephen Roberts replaced the forlorn Lawrence and immediately produced an array of flamboyant strokes that served to keep fielders and scorers interested.
The aggressive number 3 was proving a thorn in Pyestock’s side, with a healthy strike rate, but in the 11th over the end arrived and the mode of dismissal came as no surprise as Robert’s picked out debutant Kym Marsden at mid off.
At 41 for 2, Pyestock looked to kick on and introduced Ben Bromley into the attack to accompany the leg spin of Dan Heath, on a dry and dusty surface, but Jan and Michael Sachdeva watchfully progressed the score whilst nullifying any threat posed in the bowler friendly conditions.
Bromley and Heath were bowling well, backed up with some tight fielding that kept the home side to a little over 3 an over, only breaking loose in the over before drinks as Heath lost his rhythm and Jan exploited the short boundary to maximum effect, raising his sides total to 86 for 2 by the end of the 20th over.
The break seemed to give the visitors a lift after a chance to regroup as chances became more prevalent, none more so that in the first ball immediately after the stoppage. Ben Bromley tempting Jan into a sweep, only to send the ball vertically up. Unfortunately, the speed and angle of the shot deceived keeper Vaughan Newcombe, who was unfortunate that the ball rose above the peak of his cap, and, unsighted, the chance was lost. Bromley was bowling well, and now partnered by Kym Marsden at the other end continued the positive work into the second half of the innings.
In the 30th over, the breakthrough eventually came, and in truth it was gifted to Chris Heath’s side in a bizarre mix up between the batting pair. Sachdeva powerfully drove an off-side delivery from Marsden into the covers and set off for a single, only for Jack Bromley to cleanly collect the ball. At the non strikers end Jan had spotted the danger and remained rooted to the spot, but it was too late for Sachdeva to reverse and Newcombe had the easiest job of the day removing the bails from the stumps standing vacant and unguarded.
This moment of madness proved to be the turning point of the innings as Worcester park failed to build on the solid base that had been provided. New batsmen Galloway De Groot announced himself first ball, with an astonishing replay of the demise of Sachdeva. The same drive to Jack Bromley resulted in the same reaction from both batsmen as the youngster collected the ball. This time however, De Groot recovered his ground and despite a strong appeal, survived and in turn lambasted Jan for a perceived lack of backing up. Whether there was a single available remained open for debate, but it was clear that Pyestock’s pressure was beginning to force the home side into unwanted risks and it was unsettling the mood in the hosts camp.
Marsden was growing in confidence at the changing room end of the ground, and picked up the key wicket in the 32nd over. Jan powerfully drove to mid off, but made the mistake of assuming the power generated from the shot was enough to be unconcerned of the aerial nature of the stroke, however the formidable figure of Dan Heath lurked in the deep and in the blink of an eye, had snatched the ball out of the sky and was celebrating the fall of the fourth wicket of the afternoon. It was a significant scalp for the away side who applauded the opener from the pitch, his 71 a substantial contribution to the 132 runs showing on the scoreboard.
Marsden, was improving with every passing over and bowled Ashir Wani for 1, before Jack Bromley, introduced for an injection of pace removed both De Groot and Ryan Somes thanks to good catches from Glenn Taylor and Jon Ford. Marsden then ousted Scott MacAvoy as the innings very quickly turned on its head. The disintegration continued as the now flowing Marsden forced Mohammed Ibrahim into driving straight into the hands of Pete Harris before Chris Heath bowled his opposite number David Stemp on the stroke of tea to unbelievably end the innings for 145, with Kym Marsden finishing with 4 for 36 to help take the final 8 wickets for just 22 runs.
After the interval, Jon Ford and Glenn Taylor set to work in chasing down the moderate total, but immediately were put under pressure with the probing accuracy of Mohammed Ibrahim and Ryan Somes.
With only 19 runs coming from the first 8 overs, it was clear that the hosts were up for the battle and not going to let any runs go cheaply. Ford in particular was finding it difficult to get the ball away, facing a full 20 balls from Somes before he was able to get the better of the seamer.
It wasn’t long however before Somes made the pressure tell as Ford drove weakly into the off side where Tom Cronk claimed a simple catch.
Cronk was congratulated on providing the breakthrough, but the celebrations were nothing compared to what followed in the next over as new man Chris McGovern slapped a full toss hard and straight, only for Cronk again to be in the right place at the right time, to jump full stretch and somehow cling to a blistering catch. McGovern was on his way and Pyestock were wobbling at 26 for 2.
Jack Bromley now joined Taylor at the crease looking to stabilise the innings, with time on the side of the visitors retaining wickets remained the priority over run scoring, and the pair worked well in settling down after the early excitement.
In the 16th over however, that man Cronk struck again, this time with the ball, as he broke the defences of Bromley to claim his side’s third wicket of the afternoon.
Vaughan Newcombe also perished to change bowler Galloway De Groot, as the away side found themselves stumbling once again at 54 for 4, but this brought the experience of Colin Butler to the crease to once again calm the storm.
Together, Taylor and Butler resumed with the low risk strategy of using the ample time to good effect and take runs only where possible, and managed to frustrate Cronk and De Groot, before the former was replaced by Iqbal Jan. This was the bowling change that made the difference but not before the patient Pyestock pair continued their disciplined approach. Now into the final 20 overs of the match, this tactic had put Chris Heath’s side into pole position needing only 55 runs from 14 overs.
Worcester Park had other ideas however and fought back brilliantly to claim a victory they may not have thought possible. With the visitors only 36 runs from their ninth success of the season, Stephen Roberts produced a pearl of a delivery to remove Glenn Taylor for a well grafted 65 from 94 balls, before Jan produced a magical few overs, started by exposing the lower order, after Galloway Dr Groot had clung on to a solid catch to remove Butler. Two balls later Kym Marsden was also back in the hutch, bowled by a full and swinging delivery.
The double wicket maiden was replicated 2 overs later as The impressive seamer showed no mercy in also bowling Dan Heath (2) and Pete Harris (0) to all but end the hosts resistance as the score slumped to 113 for 9.
The visitors capitulation had to be seen to be believed, as 5 wickets had been lost for just 3 runs. Last pair Ben Bromley and Chris Heath had a decision to make. With 6 overs and 2 balls remaining, should the batsmen hold out for a draw, or attempt to eek out the 33 runs required for a now unlikely win.
In a bold but risky move, it was decided to attempt to win the match, but with with only 7 runs accumulated from the next 2 overs, 26 were now required at more than a run a ball, and despite a scare when Heath swept a leg side delivery from David “the finisher” Stemp, high, but down into a gap between 3 fielders, the pair plodded on.
Heath was trying to claim every possible run, scampering a couple of twos but in doing so failed to give the more aggressive Bromley the strike, and this proved the downfall of the number 11, who in the 40th over, slapped a fuller deliver from Stemp high to midwicket, where Michael Sachdeva took a comfortable catch to win the match for the hosts.
Worcester Park deserved their win, with Iqbal Jan undoubtedly the Man of the moment, as his 4 for 21 turned the match on its head, however the entire bowling and fielding performance from the hosts was highly impressive. Pyestock will move forward to its next fixture at Badshot Lea next Sunday knowing victory will not be a simple procession without significant improvement, mainly in the batting department.