Pyestock CC crashed to a second straight defeat despite looking favourites for long periods during their first ever visit to Theale and Tilehurst CC this Sunday.
Despite a heavy downpour 45 minutes before the start, the pitch was in good condition and the home side elected to bat first in a league -style 44-41 format.
Pyestock however dominated the early stages with the first run not arriving until the 27th ball of the innings as Rob Dimmack pushed into mid off and set off for a single to the ironic cheers of the home contingent situated on the sidelines.
The strong cross wind was helping the bowlers no end as Neil Butler and Chris Heath were both benefitting from the movement in the air as the conditions proved difficult early on for Dimmack and Barry Stroud.
In the seventh over Butler claimed the first wicket of the day as Dimmack clipped the ball away a little late and only found the grateful hands of Jack Bromley in the gully region who dived well to make the required ground.
At the other end Heath was continuing to pin Stroud down by consistently beating the outside edge and when the pair were withdrawn after 12 overs, the hosts were just 21 for 1.
Replacement Ben Bromley struggled to find his length in the early stages of his spell, but still managed to pick up the wicket of Stroud in his first over as the opener was bowled for 8 runs taking 41 balls. At the other end Jack Bromley started well and picked up the wicket of Arsalan Ahmed after the number 3 was unlucky to be bowled off of various parts of his body, attempting a powerful leg side slog.
At 39 for 3 from 20 overs it looked as if Pyestock were halfway to restricting Theale and Tilehurst to a mediocre score, but James White and Michael Holder had other ideas as the pair quickly set about rebuilding the innings.
Glenn Taylor was introduced to the attack in place of Jack Bromley in an attempt to remove the pace from the ball as the runs started to flow, White was proving the key as he smartly rotated the strike and supported the more flamboyant Holder who was impressing with some thundering drives to the boundary.
As the innings entered the final third, the momentum shifted as the score moved past 100, Neil Butler reintroduced himself in an attempt to break the partnership and the tactic worked perfectly as Holder, attempting to distract the Pyestock Captain lost his own technique and could only heave the ball high into the gully region, where Jack Bromley again took a good catch running away from the action.
Jay Threlfall was introduced to the attack as the away side looked to push for further wickets, but his spell was cut short as, while fielding during the 40th over dropped a catch at mid off, from the bowling of Chris Heath, and had to leave the field with a badly injured thumb.
Heath’s remaining overs were expensive as White and Robert Why looked to maximise their teams score, White hammered a huge six to bring the score to 145 for 4, remarkably his first boundary in 80 deliveries faced, but the bowler was also unlucky with Threlfalls earlier dropped catch, Why also uncharacteristically thrashed wildly only to connect with a bottom edge that was not claimed by wicket keeper Vaughan Newcombe.
In the penultimate over, Neil Butler ended the fine innings of White who was bowled for 44, but the more than Daly impressive Why and new man Pibhakar safely saw the hosts through the remainder of the innings, setting Pyestock 172 runs for victory.
This was exactly the same target Pyestock themselves had set Hartley Wintney CC the week before, and with that game lost, knew the target was achievable, as Jon Ford and Glenn Taylor started the pursuit.
Brian Cooper made the early breakthrough for the hosts as Jon Ford gloved to gully in the third over, but despite this early set back Taylor and Vaughan Newcombe comfortably moved the score on to 50 for 1 within 10 overs to bring Neil Butler’s side firmly into pole position. Change bowler George Coker did remove Taylor in the 12th over with a strained LBW appeal that eventually persuaded the umpire to raise his finger.
New man Jack Bromley, who also survived a leg-before shout from Coker, settled in with Newcombe and pushed their side closer to victory, as runs continued to arrive. Robert Why was introduced along with Michael Holder, as well as a change of ends for Coker, saw Theale and Tilehurst mix up the bowling in an attempt to unsettle their visitors, but nevertheless, the score moved into three figures with 18 overs remaining.
Despite the apparent stranglehold Neil Butler’s side had on this match who had eight wickets and 108 balls to pick off the remaining 69 runs, the mood changed in the 25th over as Why bowled an over that contained 2 wickets. Firstly a poor decision to take a single saw Jack Bromley run out, while Pete Harris was bowled without scoring to bring the hosts back into the contest.
The Pyestock skipper calmed the situation and moved his team closer to the winning line and as the last 10 overs were entered the score sat at 137 for 4 with just 35 runs needed, and it seemed just a matter of time before victory was wrapped up and socialising could commence, but in a major twist, Theale and Tilehurst entered youngster Husnan Ahmed into the attack. Almost immediately the slow, loopy but dangerous bowling accounted for the settled newcombe who deflected the ball onto his stumps, before also cleaning up Chris Heath in his next over.
Coker was reintroduced and in his second over trapped Colin Butler LBW as the skipper continued to watch the procession at the other end, and the strong position evaporate in the space of 3 overs. and in the very next over Ahmed claimed his third wicket in as many overs as the captain himself skied straight to James White,
Suddenly Pyestock found themselves 158 for 8 and without the stricken Threlfall last pairing Ben Bromley and Chris McGovern looked to eek out the required 14 runs from 6 overs. The pair concentrated and scored well, but with the visitors an agonising 4 runs short, Bromley was bowled to give Theale and Tilehurst a brilliant victory almost out of nowhere.
The Pyestock batting had collapsed losing 7 wickets for just 61 runs in a similar fashion to the demise at Worcester Park four weeks previous, and this will need to improve by the time the next fixture at the impressive Bedhampton Mariners rolls around.
Theale and Tilehurst were very impressive hosts who worked hard to get the game started earlier in the afternoon. Everyone from both sides aprreciated their efforts to allow a good humoured and closely fought battle to dictate the day. Just as Sunday cricket should be!