Four wickets apiece from Captain Neil Butler and Dan Heath deprived hosts Badshot Lea CC the chance to claim their first win over Pyestock CC in seven years this Sunday.
Batting first, Dan Addisons side fell away from a promising start to post a mediocre 156 during the first half of a hot and humid afternoon, as the visitors toiled but were rewarded by picking up wickets at key moments during the match.
After sustaining a thumb injury in midweek, Butler refrained from opening the bowling, and for the second time in succession, Chris Heath took the new ball. Heath also repeated the perfect start he created the week previous by striking in the very first over to remove Sags Malik LBW.
Heath was enjoying the slope and heavy covering on the pitch to unnerve both Josh Menzies and Sam Arthur in the early stages, but both survived and settled in to a more fluent regime as the overs ticked by, Arthur in particular showing an array of powerful strokes as the hosts took the upper hand.
Neil Butler introduced himself in the 8th over with the score a healthy 31 for 1, and immmediately created an additional problem for the batsmen with his trademark heavy inswing. That same inswing brought a quick double breakthrough for the visitors starting in the 10th over as Butler clean bowled both Menzies and his replacement Sam Acres.
Badshot Lea looked to rebuild with the formidable Tim Gray partnering the aggressive Arthur. Gray had dismantled many Pyestock attacks over the years and the relief was evident in the 16th over when his first sight of change bowler Dan Heath saw a leg side prod snapped up by Jay Threlfall at square leg.
Satisfied that their nemesis was back in the pavilion having scored just 6, the away side focussed their efforts on eroding the lower order while attacking and trying to contain Arthur who was looking ever more comfortable, and when Warren Vass lasted just 2 balls the hosts had slumped to 78 for 5 at the drinks break.
Heath and Jack Bromley were working hard in the heat, and with the correct field in place were now containing Arthur to singles mainly to long off, while Jamie Harris was providing more solid support.
In the 24th over, again just as the home side were settling down, Harris plundered the ball straight down the ground to where namesake Pete Harris was lurking. The Pyestock chairman made no mistake and held on the catch for the sixth wicket of the innings.
Arthur brought up a deserved half century with a clip to the extra cover fence, but soon became Dan Heath’s fourth victim, as excellent work from stand in wicket-keeper Glenn Taylor resulted in a comfortable stumping. If Pyestock thought the hard work was done they were mistaken as Dan Addison and Tom Bull continued to send any loose bowling to the fence.
The score continued to move quickly, but a mistimed shot from Addison resulted in his demise, Jon Ford this time in the right place at the right time, as the returning Neil Butler picked up his third of the game and number four soon followed as Jamie Addison picked out Ben Bromley in the covers.
This brought the last batter Katrina Jones to the crease, who more than ably supported the more powerful Bull, and the partnership added 19 valuable runs to the home sides cause, before Jones was superbly run out by Jay Threlfall to close the first half with Pyestock requiring 157 for victory.
After the mid game refreshments, Jon Ford and Glenn Taylor started the chase against the opening partnership of Tom Bull and Dan Addison, but the early talking point was the latter’s failure to find a consistent line despite considerable bowling experience. The home captain withdrew himself after just 3 overs, then, more worryingly left the pitch due to illness. Pleasingly, he was later able to return to the field.
This disturbed the starting rhythm of the hosts and allowed Ford and Taylor to quietly progress the score to 46 without loss from the first ten overs, a healthy and steady platform to push on from.
Bull was replaced by the pace of Josh Menzies and it was he who struck the first blow as Ford chased a wider delivery and only managed to find Warren Vass in the covers to end the opening partnership worth 52.
At the other end Tim Gray, who had been called into action early to replace the stricken Addison was bowling well and was enjoying a tit for tat battle with Taylor, which involved a few delightful balls that drifted into the opener and caused untold problems, although when the drift didn’t take, it was often punished with a trip to the boundary.
Gray eventually won the battle in the 14th over with the catch of the day as Taylor ferociously drove the ball straight, and in a pure moment of reaction, Gray pounced to pluck the ball out of the sky and end the innings of the Pyestock number 2.
Ben Bromley joined Dan Heath at the crease and had to work hard to contain both Gray and Menzies, however with only 105 runs needed from 26 overs, there was no need to take any risks, and the pair finished their respective spells without further damage to the batting order of the visitors.
This was not the end of the contest however, as Gray’s replacement Jamie Harris found that little bit extra to add some extensive dents to Pyestock’s chase as Ben Bromley departed for 6 while also picking up Dan Heath (9) and Colin Butler (16), both almost straight after being reprieved by dropped catches by Sam Acres and Dan Addison.
The three wickets had buoyed Badshot Lea , but the run rate was still a comfortable 3 an over as skipper Neil Butler marched to the crease to join Jack Bromley.
It was Bromley in the end who took the match to the hosts as a dominant batting display produced the majority of the remaining runs required to bring up Pyestock’s ninth victory of the season. The winning shot a confident flick to the midwicket boundary from the bowling of Sam Arthur, who, unfortunately for the home side had conceded runs at almost the same rate he had scored them earlier in the afternoon.
Bromley finished with an unbeaten 42 from just 24 balls as the victory was brought up with 6.5 overs to spare. It had been a good contest between two improved sides played in an excellent spirit, and Pyestock CC look forward to the next installment in 2015.