Seventy-six crucial runs from Glenn Taylor provided the catalyst as Pyestock scraped past Godalming CC in this hastily arranged fixture, that contained a bizarre “Handled Ball” (non-)incident.
After a mix-up with the fixtures, Neil Butler’s side found themselves back at Holloway Hill just 15 games after their last visit, after expected hosts Whiteley Village were unable to host, and a much improved performance saw a first victory over Godalming since 2011, and ending a run of four consecutive defeats against the Surrey-based side.
Losing the toss once more, Pyestock found themselves bowling on a pitch renowned over the years as being tough to take wickets on, but even tougher to field on with the notorious Godalming bobble.
Openers Chris Heath and Jack Bromley got off to a tough start with Edward Osbourne and Ollie Baker scoring heavily from the early overs, with Osbourne the predominant run scorer, but Bromley soon provided the first wicket of the day by bowling his victim for 16 in the fourth over.
Chris Heath soon removed the replacement Adam Cook who fell plumb LBW before a change in bowling saw Neil Butler and Dan Heath join the attack.
Baker was leading a charmed life as Colin Butler and Pete Harris spilled chances to remove the powerful opener, and when a feint edge perfectly dissected wicket-keeper Tom Threlfall and Neil Butler at first slip, it looked like the luck was to fall the way of the home side.
One ball after celebrating his half century however, Baker was on his way after picking out Colin Butler on the mid wicket boundary, who made no mistake second time round. A good low catch by Jack Bromley in the very next over dismissed left-hander Dominic Dawson as Godalming reached 94 for 4 at the half way point in the innings.
The main talking point at the mid-innings drinks centered around a stumping chance from the bowling of Dan Heath on George Dukes. It appeared to most that the Godalming batsmen had failed to get back after missing the ball before replacement keeper Glenn Taylor whipped off the bails. However the umpire at square-leg remained unmoved much to the disbelief of many Pyestock players, although later admitted he had not been focused on the crease line at the magical moment.
Taylor and Heath did eventually team up for a stumping in the 22nd over as George Allen departed for 4, but any hopes of the (albeit friendly-natured) controversy dying down were dealt a hammer blow when new batsmen Carston Horne defended a straight delivery from Neil Butler. The ball hit the deck and began to roll agonisingly towards the stumps. Horne had time to use any part of his anatomy to stop the leather hitting the timber yet inexplicably bent down and used his hand to prevent being bowled as everyone watching held their breath.
In sheer disbelief, captain and bowler Butler appealed for “handled ball”, and Horne was promptly and correctly dismissed by the umpire, before sense and sportsmanship prevailed and the appeal was withdrawn.
Despite this being the correct call, Pyestock were now wary that Horne can be a devastating batsman on his day, having scored an unbeaten century in 2010, following up his also unbeaten 98 a year previous. The imposing figure remained at the crease while his side went through a tough patch with Dukes (9) falling to a good deep catch by Pete Harris (also reading his earlier effort), John Eddowes (0) and Luke Brooks (8) being bowled by Neil Butler before BJ the “Witley Ringer” became Jay Threlfall’s first wicket of the season.
The returning Chris Heath finally ousted Horne two balls into his return to end the Godalming innings on 139 after 32.2 overs.
After the break Jon Ford and Glenn Taylor seemed to make easy work of opening bowlers Luke Brooks and Carston Horne and added 39 runs in the opening 10 overs leaving the visitors 30 overs to score 101 runs.
The introduction of Adam Cook however caused Pyestock their first problems with the bat as Ford chased a wide delivery looking for the cut, and snicked behind to George Allen, before Chris McGovern, who was worrying his teammates watching on by using his legs to cover all 3 stumps whilst trying to sweep Cook, was unsurprisingly dismissed LBW when a full delivery was missed.
Pyestock were now 59 for 2 and looking to rebuild and Tom Threlfall provided ample support to Taylor as a crucial partnership of 43 was constructed. The prospects of a second victory in 2016 looked inevitable, but in keeping with the away sides season so far, near catastrophe was just around the corner. Captain Dominic Dawson introduced himself to the attack in the 19th over and struck a double blow with Taylor holing out at deep extra cover, for an impressive 76 (the score was only 102 at the time) and Tom Threlfall who was caught by John Eddowes at mid-off.
Suddenly, Pyestock had gone from cruise-control to almost stalling completely, as Pete Harris and Jack Bromley found themselves thrust into the middle, to face the 24th over, neither having faced a ball. Progress was slow as Dawson and the wily experienced John Allen kept matters tight, and only 14 runs were added in the next seven overs, leaving Pyestock needing 22 runs from 10 overs.
Every run from this point was cheered as the Godalming players continued to strangle the Pyestock batsmen, and Jack Bromley was bowled by Dawson for 20 with Pyestock still ten runs from victory with 45 balls remaining.
In a surprising move, Dawson replaced himself with the wicketless Carston Horne, but his re-inclusion turned out to be immediately vindicated as a double wicket maiden put paid to the Butler brothers (Colin (1) and Neil (0)) and left the visitors biting their nails with 3 wickets remaining.
Jay Threlfall became Pete Harris’s fifth partner at the crease, as Pyestock continued to be suppressed and with 18 balls left, remarkably still needed 5 runs. Threlfall relieved a lot of pressure with a hard-run three from Allen’s first ball of his tenth over, and a scrambled single brought the scores level. The last ball of the over saw Threlfall pierce the off-side field and complete a single to win the match. Pyestock celebrated and breathed a sigh of relief, meanwhile the excited batsmen were running a second, either unaware that they had won the game, or thinking of their own averages. Nevertheless, a good win over a competitive Godalming side, and one played in a good spirit. Pyestock continue to require an improvement on their middle-order batting, and the clubs anonymous insider was asked his thoughts on only three players making double figures a week after only four managed the feat last week at Deando Ruxley.
A late change to the fixture saw an unexpected return to Godalming. Did you enjoy the game?
(Unusually), I enjoyed the game at Godalming, there seemed to be a different atmosphere within the camp this year, I don’t know why though. It was good to get a win against an opposition who usually get the better of us.
Another Batting collapse saw Pyestock almost throw this game away. In fact, opener Glenn Taylor has scored 37% of the sides runs this season (and 54% this week). Do you feel he is carrying the side at times?
We haven’t just got Glenn to rely on within the batting department. We have 4 or 5 other players capable of scoring plenty of runs. However, Glenn seems to have a crucial role at the top of the order to make a sizable dent in the target or to get us off to a good start. In terms of “carrying the side”, cricket is not all about batting as we also rely on the bowlers and fielders to win games. You could argue that Neil’s and his other bowlers wickets are as, if not more important than Glenn’s runs.
Four games into the season, Pyestock have now won 2, drawn 1 and lost 1, arguably without playing particularly well. how do you rate the season so far.
The season has been a bit strange in terms of the way we play. Usually Pyestock pride themselves on their fielding, but it seems this year our fielding has deserted us, which may be having an affect on our batting and bowling. However we have only been beaten once so we must be doing something right.