A superb knock of 84 from Dan Heath was not enough as Pyestock CC were dealt their first defeat of 2015 this weekend.
Travelling to favourite outpost Concorde CC situated in the ever-resplendent confines of Sendholme, the side were looking to adjust to life without captain Neil Butler who aggravated his knee injury to a point where an appearance was impossible.
The ground looked immaculate and both clubs indeed lucky to play on a gorgeous sunny day, even considering the overnight rain that threatened to cancel the match. Conditions were as close to perfect as you could wish for.
Vice Captain Chris Heath took the reigns and was invited to bat on the damp but drying surface. It was definitely a wicket to bowl on first, but openers Jon Ford and Glenn Taylor got to work repelling the efforts of Andy Marshall and Nick Freeman, and despite finding it difficult to get the ball away, managed to survive the early onslaught.
In the seventh over, Taylor managed to scare most of his teammates half to death with a thick edge that was dropped by Paddy Haddow at first slip. It was a huge let off, but not one that the in form opener could take advantage of. In the next over, upon completing a single, a powerful throw in from the boundary struck Taylor on the elbow. In obvious discomfort his downfall followed, Haddow making up for his earlier error by taking a fine catch.
Jack Bromley was the replacement and immediately was let off the hook with a simple chance spurned at mid-on, which denied Marshall a second wicket, and the need for the visitors to settle down was immediate.
By the time the 12th over had arrived, Ian Cudworth had entered the Concorde attack. Extremely competent at knowing exactly the right line and length to bowl, his bowling cannot be taken lightly, Ford and Bromley patiently awaited the bad balls and pushed their side over the 50 mark in the 19th over.
Progress was slow but solid until the next breakthrough when, after a couple of requests turned down, an LBW appeal ended Bromley’s innings for 26.
This brought the woefully out of form Dan Heath to the crease, but before he could settle Jon Ford was also back on his way to the pavilion, Cudworth again the aggressor with his second wicket, bowling the Pyestock opener after he failed to connect with an expansive shot.
Youngster Tom Threlfall also fell in Cudworths next over, after overstretching and offering a simple catch to Jerry Stockbridge at silly mid off, and Pyestock were now in trouble at 69 for 4.
Heath’s next partner was the ever reliable Vaughan Newcombe, fresh from his unbeaten knock at Eversley and immediately the pair set about repairing the damage. Newcombe again providing the calm rotation of the strike, whilst Heath, who’s confidence was returning seemingly with every ball, latched on to the loose balls and rocketed them to the boundary.
Suddenly the Concorde attack had little answer as Jerry Wright and George Howard conceded 74 runs between them in 11 overs from the pavilion end. Included in them a towering six from Heath to bring up his first half century since August 2013.
At the other end, Cudworth continued to be more dangerous, as well as economical, but not even he could break the solid foundations the two middle order batsmen were setting.
Then, suddenly in the 43rd over, Newcombe, just eight runs from his own half century found Chris Turvill at mid-on and had lost his wicket. Seemingly from nowhere Concorde had a way into the visitors lower order, and thanks to an amazing over rate, still had 25 minutes to eat away at Pyestock’s remaining batsmen.
Perhaps how sensing he had to get a move on, Heath was bowled by the returning Andy Marshall for an innings defining 84. He left to applause from the pavilion, his partnership of 110 with Newcombe crucial in his side’s total of 204 for 6
Taylor Newcombe and Jay Threlfall looked to add extra late runs to the cause, as did Pete Harris after Newcombe had unluckily played on. The close came after Concorde had bowled an incredible 50 overs, and were looking to squeeze in number 51, until Chris Heath signalled enough was enough.
Pyestock’s chances of defending the total rested on a bowling attack missing it’s two main protagonists, but Chris Heath and Dan Heath opened proceedings against Paddy Haddow and Nick Freeman, and it was the latter who swung the match into the away sides favour, with a shorter ball that Freeman looked to cut away, but a clunking edge through to Vaughan Newcombe sent the frustrated opener back to the pavilion.
The phrase, “one wicket often brings another” could not have been more apt as with his very next ball, Heath managed to tempt Mike Prevost into and outrageous leg side flick, straight to older brother Chris at fine leg. Concorde were 8 for 2.
This brought Andy Marshall to the crease, and together with Haddow restored order for the home side. Little chance for a third wicket was offered as the pair comfortably negotiated the remainder of the Heath brothers spells, before tucking into the bowling of Glenn Taylor, still struggling with a badly bruised elbow, and Taylor Newcombe.
Both bowlers bowled very decent balls, but we’re expertly punished for anything pitched short or wide, and as the remaining 20 overs were signalled, the score had raced to 106 for 2, with only 113 needed for victory.
The run rate continued to impress so Chris Heath introduced Jack Bromley for the struggling Glenn Taylor. After an over of dubious spin, the youngster turn on the pace and with the fourth ball of the over, Haddow suffered from a complete lapse in his senses. Driving the ball straight at Chris Heath in the covers, Haddow set off on a suicide mission to gain a single. Immediately sent back by Marshall the opener failed to regain his ground, and despite a poor throw, Newcombe worked wonders to gather the ball and complete the run out before the bat was grounded.
It was a huge slice of luck for Pyestock who seemed unlikely to dislodge the pair by any other means. This brought Rob Symondson to the crease, a man the visitors are well aware of given his trademark straight sixes and it wasn’t long before he took aim and fired a Jack Bromley half volley into the car park.
Symondson however was lucky to be at the crease, as another earlier suicide run had almost cost him his wicket, Chris Heath losing his composure at the vital moment on the follow through from bowling. The stand-in captain did however get his man 2 overs later, as he bowled the Concorde number five for 17, the huge scrape in the wicket, indicative that the batsman may had hit the ground causing him to miss the ball.
Just like his brother in the fourth over, the opening bowler found himself on a hat trick after forcing new batsman Chris Turvill to play on to his stumps first ball, and the match could have taken a further twist as Heath also found the edge of the impressive Marshall’s bat, but the chance was spurned.
As the light began to fade, so did the visitors hopes, with further chances falling to Glenn Taylor and Jay Threlfall going down in the gloom, it mattered not as the damage was done. Marshall celebrated a magnificent century to the applause of Pyestock’s exhausted bowlers and fielders. George Cowdry brought up the winning run with 15 balls remaining.
Defeat for Pyestock and their gallant troops, their first since way back on 10th August at Theale & Tilehurst CC, but they will look to bounce back against Deando-Ruxley CC in 7 days time. Thankfully, the result at Concorde is always secondary to the superb hospitality and serene surroundings, that allows friendly village cricket to be enjoyed to its absolute maximum.