By Chris Heath
Pyestock fell to there third narrow defeat in four matches this weekend amongst the beautiful surroundings of Sonning, Berkshire.
Coming toe to toe with former company side Prestcold CC for the first time, the two sides could not have been dealt a better set of conditions, with a warm sunny day providing the perfect side to the gorgeous backdrop.
Fielding first, Pyestock welcomed back Neil Butler to the side for the first time since the opening day of the season, and it was also good to see Chris Heath with the ball in his hand once again following his shoulder injury. It was Heath who struck the first blow to the home side as Will Marsh played all round a low full-toss that thundered into the base of middle stump.
The early swing and unpredictable bounce was causing the Prestcold batsmen issues as the run rate struggled to get above 2 runs per over in the early stages. Dan Heath in particular finding some hefty away swing. No further wickets fell however and Pyestock replaced both bowlers with Jack Bromley and 2015 sensation Jon Ford.
Ford took until just his second ball to make another statement in his hugely successful return to bowling, by skittling opener Phil Desbois for 15 to set the path for another tidy spell.
Prestcold however regrouped, and with Matt Rosier and James Prior events calmed and runs began to flow more easily. The half century for the hosts was reached in the 17th over as Rosier hammered successive boundaries to boost his side’s cause.
Ford picked up a wicket in his final allotted over as Prior was bowled, to finish with 2 for 27 from his spell, which had helped reduce Prestcold to 84 for 3 by the end of the 25th over.
Glenn Taylor was introduced to the attack as the only spin option available to Pyestock and was unlucky to find Rosier, who was now seeing the ball well, in no mood to die wondering.
This caviler approach however did bring the fourth wicket as a mixture of hesitation and bad calling saw a chip into the off-side well gathered by Jon Ford for a comfortable run out.
This brought Luke Rosier to the crease and he was determined to add quick runs to the scoreboard, however was lucky himself not to be run out in the 30th over, as a complete mix up saw both batsmen stranded at one end. In all the confusion, the ball ended up exactly where it shouldn’t be and the chance was lost.
Pyestock didn’t have too long to wait. Just two overs later Luke became the first Rosier to be dismissed as Matt looked on, bowled by Taylor, while at the other end Chris Heath conceded only 7 runs in his final 3 overs to leave the home side with work to do.
In the closing stages the away sides looked to take advantage of the inevitable chances that would come their way, but were found wanting with catches going to ground, but in the 34th over Tom McLarty powered a strong shot over deep mid wicket. The only question appeared to be whether it was to be worth four or six runs. No one expected Dan Heath, galloping around the boundary with all the finesse of the polo horses in the adjoining field, to take an outrageous one handed catch to the despair and frustration of the beleaguered batsman.
It was a superb catch and would grace any game, and gave Neil Butler’s side the chance to again keep things tight as the closing overs ticked down. A good catch, at the second attempt by Glenn Taylor saw Jack Bromley claim a deserved wicket, Matt Rosier finally departing for a well constructed 43, leaving Dan Riley and Andy Rosier to see out the final 2 overs and 4 balls, as Prestcold posted 167 for 7 from their 40 overs.
After the break, Luke and Andy Rosier set off looking to make the most of the bowler friendly pitch in the same way that Pyestock had done beforehand, and had similar success, with Jon Ford and Glenn Taylor struggling to place willow onto leather. In fact the extras column quickly found its way to the top of the scoring charts, thanks to some helpful byes past stand in wicket-keeper Will Marsh.
In the ninth over, Luke Rosier struck, and picked up a wicket that his persistence deserved as Taylor mistimed horribly to short cover James Prior and was caught for 7. After ten overs the visitors score of 27 for 1, was identical to the hosts effort at the same stage of the innings earlier in the afternoon.
Jack Bromley entered proceedings and himself also struggled with the conditions as the score meandered along, but as Dan Riley began his spell, the mood swung as his contribution in just his third over proved significant. Firstly, managing the faintest of edges on Ford’s bat enough to remove the stubborn opener, who generously walked while the umpire debated, before drawing a false shot from replacement Jay Threlfall just three balls later saw the away side tottering at 39 for 3.
The in form Dan Heath was next to face the impressive bowling unit, and as he got settled, Tom McLarty entered the attack following the end of Luke Rosier’s impressive spell that leaked just 14 runs.
McLarty, took a while to adjust his radar, but once the change bowler found his line proved equally as prudent in handing out runs, however Bromley and Heath dug in and kept their wickets intact, and in doing so, slowly turned the tide against the home sides efforts.
The hundred was brought up in the 28th over and all signs were pointing to another successful chase following last week’s nail-biting finish at Whiteley Village when hunting down just one run more.
The attacking pair marched on and Prestcold’s heads began to drop, however in a brilliant comeback spell, Andy Rosier dragged the match back into his own sides hands, firstly Jack Bromley found the safe hands of James Prior, before a huge roar of relief from the home fielders greeting Heath middle stump arched backwards. The partnership between the pair was worth a pivotal 85, but there was still 32 runs to find from 32 balls.
Despite needing a run a ball, Pyestock’s faithful were confident seeing as the new pairing consisted of last week’s dream team Vaughan Newcombe and Colin Butler who successfuly added the last 39 remaining runs together 7 days previous, however an unfortunate heavy landing following a scampered run left Butler with the wind knocked out of his sails and he was soon caught for 4.
Young Tom Threlfall joined Newcombe at the crease and batted admirably as the pair squeezed out every possible run, but the game felt like it was slipping away. Andy and Matt Rosier showing skill and quality to leave Pyestock requiring 18 from the last over.
It wasn’t to be as the home side secured an 11 run victory. It was a brilliantly absorbing encounter played in a great spirit between two evenly matched sides. It is hoped Pyestock CC will be invited back for a chance to even the scores.