Pyestock CC and Eversley CC braved chilly and damp conditions this Sunday as a draw secured both sides an unbeaten start to 2016 season.
Beginning the year without Captain Neil Butler, who was otherwise engaged (and impaired), Chris Heath negotiated an agreement that allowed the majority of the visitors to remain camped in the warmth of the pavilion whilst opening batsmen Jon Ford and Glenn Taylor braved the elements, as well as the talents of opening bowlers Kevin Manning and Rob Saunders. Whilst the first two overs yielded just a single leg-bye, Taylor soon began to find the middle of his new bat to set the scoreboard into action.
In fact, Taylor seemed to rediscover his form far quicker than Ford, who took until the seventh over to register his first runs of the season, by which time his partner had already plundered 35 dominant looking runs.
The pair were not having it all their own way, however and Saunders had two LBW shouts turned down before he was withdrawn along with Manning for D.Kirby and Jack Kirby. Despite the change, the runs continued to flow, again mainly from the blade of Taylor bat who soon brought up his first half century of the season from a feignt edge through the vacant slip corden with just his 40th ball faced. The score moved towards three figures at a healthy rate, but when just 2 away, Jack Kirby breached the defences for Ford, who became the first dismissal of 2016.
Ford was replaced by the super-hyped Chris McGovern who had spent the previous 16 overs itching to get on the pitch and start his season in good form, or possibly to ensure he was back in the pavilion in time to watch Arsenal’s expected and imminent victory over hapless Sunderland. Either way, slapping 8 runs from his first 6 balls showed a continuation of the positive intent laid out by Taylor at the other end.
D.Kirby was however proving economical and was helping reduce the run rate and gain an element of control over the home sides performance, and in the 20th over gained a morale boosting scalp by bowling Taylor for 87. Pyestock now had to rebuild with Jack Bromley joining McGovern in the middle.
Colin Webb and Ollie Heywood took over the bowling reigns and the tide of the match turned with both batsmen dismissed in quick succession before a calamitous run out of Jay Threlfall left Pyestock 146 for 5.
With McGovern now firmly in front of his Arsenal heroes on TV in the clubhouse, stalwarts Colin Butler and Pete Harris began to rebuild from the mid-innings wobble and added 36 for the 6th wicket before the Pyestock chairman was comprehensively bowled by the returning Saunders.
Frantic attempts to push the score over 200 saw 4 wickets fall in as many overs as the first innings closed on 198 for 9, only injured Dan Heath and Tom Threlfall (not out) finishing scoreless, oh and Arsenal of course!
A super tea was followed with the Pyestock players emerging to the field like bears straight out of hibernation. Not expecting any sort of brilliance straight away as the team eased there muscles back into the workout, Jack Bromley’s first ball which was “Steve Harmison” wide confirmed fears that the bowlers were not quite match ready.
Bromley quickly rediscovered his radar however and a pearler of a delivery produced a strong appeal for caught behind against Burnett. The umpire stood firm, but undeterred, the bowler claimed his scalp in the 4th over to leave Eversley 3 for 1.
At the other end Chris Heath had brushed off most cobwebs and was proving economical whilst removing both Heywood and the attacking D.Kirby. before making a double change introducing Jay Threlfall and Glenn Taylor to the attack. Taylor had already been a major part of the action and had been unfortunate with a run out chance, whilst also just failing to hold on to a screaming chance in the gully region.
The pair continued to bowl economically without troubling Kevin Manning or Dickin until the drinks break arrived at 21 overs with the score 56 for 3.
Any hopes Eversley had on the victory were not obvious at this stage with a defensive approach that was adopted mainly by Dickin who happily defended all that was thrown at him and began to cause concern within the visitors ranks with his defence sounder than Sunderland’s back-line earlier in the day.
At the other end, Manning committed suicide by backing across his stumps to give the umpire the easiest of LBW decisions, before a succession of attacking field changes eventually disrupted Dickin who departed for 6 from 45 balls, leaving Pyestock just 67 balls to claim 5 remaining wickets and victory.
The bowling unit was ordered to mix up the deliveries and not allow the batsmen to settle, but with Eversley’s sights now set firmly on the draw, only Taylor had any further joy as skipper Colin Webb was bowled before Jack Kirby was trapped LBW to give the leg-spinner figures of 4 for 18 from 9 overs.
By now the light was fading and drizzle became more prominent. The notion of returning the ball to pace bowlers Heath and Bromley was not an option so it was decided to hold firm and continue to try and tempt the batsmen to score some “easy runs”. Ollie Heywood was one who was tempted and was bowled to give Taylor his fifth wicket of the afternoon, leaving the visitors 13 balls to prise out 2 of the 3 remaining Eversley batsmen.
At one end, Robin Brooks on 18 not out was going nowhere, so hopes turned to new man Dobbin, who had either not read the script, or had and decided to completely ignore it. Flashing blades and a distinct desire to hammer the remaining 107 runs for victory left the tail-ender vulnerable and must have resulted in many heart-stopping moments for his teammates watching on. Unfortunately for the visitors, dropped catches late on by Chris Heath and Pete Harris resulted in there being too much left to do, and the game petered out to a draw with the hosts finishing exactly half way to their target.
So Pyestock CC’s season opens with a hard fought draw, with an impressive performance. The clubs newly appointed and anonymous “Insider” clearly felt his side deserved more.
Mr Insider, Sunday looked a promising start to the season, how do you think Pyestock played and was a draw a fair result?
In my opinion Pyestock were clearly the better side on Sunday, 198 runs was clearly too much for the Eversley side who seemed to give up on the chase quite early on. On reflection a draw didn’t seem enough for Pyestock who seem every year to have to try and bowl out Eversley to win the game. Maybe bowling first will be the way to secure wins in the future.
Do you think Pyestock could have pushed harder or tried anything different to secure victory?
It was the first game of the season and some bowlers were rusty having not bowled a ball since last season, although this probably helped in the later overs to keep taking wickets and stay in the game. Pyestock did drop a couple of catches (Glenn, Chris, Pete) and if we had held onto them you never know what would have happened.
Concorde CC next week have proved tough opposition in recent seasons, how do you rate our chances?
Concorde have been a strong opposition for the last couple of years, maybe this year with Pyestock arguably stronger than previous years, this could be our year!
The insider was talking exclusively and anonymously to http://www.pyestockcricketclub.co.uk and hopefully will continue to provide his view from the pitch throughout 2016.