Pyestock Cricket Club extended their unbeaten run to four matches this weekend within the glorious confines of Hartley Wintney, largely thanks to an unbeaten 79 from George Morten and a blistering catch from Vaughan Newcombe.
After losing the toss, Chris Heath was surprised to see his team inserted on dry track with a green covering, but the decision to field first paid almost immediate dividents as bowler Mazar Toor bowled Glenn Taylor in just the second over, gaining immediate revenge for being smashed for a huge six the delivery before.
Despite this early setback, Pyestock settled down as John Ford and Jack Bromley began to dominate the bowling, and pushed the score on to 87 before Bromley was adjudged LBW from the bowling of James Brooke-Webb. This brought George Morten to the crease for his first innings in Pyestock colours, and the youngster immediately looked at home scoring well with the support of Ford.
The score accelerated quickly after the drinks break with 60 runs added in 9 overs, however young Angus Brown was unlucky with a trap set for Morten failing to execute with the catch in the deep dropped by brother Luke Morten a substitute fielder.
The impressive bowling of Tristan Gregory deservedly claimed the wicket of Ford in the 30th over with an LBW decision that looked harsh, however Ford had earlier survived a strong appeal that could have swung either way, and the opener departed for a well constructed 43. It was the third time in 4 innings he had been dismissed by this method.
With ten overs remaining and seven wickets intact, Morten and new partner Vaughan Newcombe had license to attack and did so proficiently as the Hartley Wintney bowlers suffered with a quick outfield and lack of any genuine assistance from the pitch. Morten brought up his half century in the 33rd over and continued his good work. Only Gregory provided any sort of threat with his five overs conceding just 12 in an impressive spell.
Pyestock closed on an imposing 221 for 3, with Morten finishing undisturbed on 79. A fine innings from such a young player. Newcombe ended on 24 not out from just 29 balls.
After the break, Heath brothers Chris and Dan looked to make early inroads into the hosts batting line up, but came across stiff resistance from Tristan Gregory and Andrew Davies. It was obvious from the early stages that this match was going to the wire, with the home side in firm belief that the match was winnable. In the 6th over however Dan Heath breached the defences of Davies and provided the visitors with their first wicket of the afternoon.
This brought Dan Bowles to the crease and immediately struck a partnersship with Gregory which threatened to swing the match irreparably in Hartley Wintney’s favour. Chris Heath withdrew himself after failing to make an impact and was replaced by Luke Morten, who immediately injected more pace and a tighter line, reducing the run rate, which had hovered around 4.5 runs per over. Dan Heath completed his 8 over allocation without further breakthroughs and Jack Bromley continued the good work with an impressive spell.
Despite the tight bowling of Morten and Bromley, the batting pair continued to look comfortable and continued to project an air of confidence that seemed to show a calm belief that their side were heading to victory, but in the 19th over, with the score on 69, the moment that arguably changed the match descended as an expansive drive from Gregory looked like it would produce four runs was inexplicably plucked from the air by usual wicket-keeper Vaughan Newcombe. It was a stunning catch and threw the momentum of the game back into the air for either side to seize. Dumbfounded, Gregory was forced to leave the arena, amid the backdrop of congratulations heading in Newcombe’s direction.
This breakthrough brought John Puddifant to the crease and the number 4 continued his predecessors good work with an impressive run rate. Jack Bromley however swung the match back in Pyestock’s favour, by trapping the dangerman Bowles LBW for 44. The match seemed to heading for a grandstand finish, but appeared to be denied this as in the 32nd over, while scampering a single, the attacking Puddifant, tumbled at the non-strikers end and was forced to retire hurt with a strained hamstring. Further bad luck for the home side suffering their second match ending injury of the afternoon, but with 79 runs required from 7 overs, it was a tall ask for batsmen Clint Mogridge and Will Brooke-Webb.
Glenn Taylor and George Morten worked well in tandem to restrict the pair to around seven runs per over as Morten picked up the wicket of Mogridge, as the overs and runs ticked down, Hartley Wintney were never quite reaching the required run-rate, but were only really 1 big over from being back in the match. Chris Heath reacted by bringing himself back into the fore in an attempt to avoid either spinner being targeted, and conceded just two runs in the 38th over, while picking up the wicket of Brooke-Webb to all but end the contest with 41 runs required from 2 overs.
There was still time however for further light entertainment as the final over bowled by Pete Harris contained no fewer than 3 wides and two catches dropped by Luke Morten in the deep, at least proving his earlier faux-pas as substitute fielder contained no malicious intent, as Hartley Wintney ended 18 runs short on 203 for 5.
It was a thoroughly entertaining match played in a superb spirit in glorious surroundings, Pyestock can be thankful to the contributions of George Morten and Vaughan Newcombe, as well as a little lady luck in the form of 2 crucial injuries to hit the home side. Finally however, 2015 appears to have kicked into gear with yet another strong team performance.