Pyestock CC restored a large element of pride at Aldershot CC this weekend following last seasons embarrassing 111 run defeat, but could still look to no fewer than EIGHT dropped catches in this rain affected contest.
The home side won the toss and the batting was opened by Ahmed Faraz, and George Morton, but it was the bowling qualities of Chris Heath and Billy Leader that claimed the opening rounds, with only 3 runs scored in the first 4 overs whilst both could consider themselves lucky as Chris McGovern and Pete Harris shelled chances.
Unfortunately for the visitors this was to set the tone for the afternoon, as the bowlers were frustrated with poor reward for their fantastic efforts.
Slowly, both Morton and Faraz acclimatised to the poor batting conditions with the slow damp pitch ensuring the timing the ball required a high level of skill, and built a useful opening partnership, amongst further escapes as the rub of the green fell in the home sides favour.
Pyestock continued to bowl with a disciplined approach, and managed to hold the run rate at just under 4 per over, and change bowlers Dan Heath and last minute call up Steve Bradley, tried to maintain the pressure.
Eventually in the 15th over, Jay Threlfall showed his teammates exactly how it should be done, when a powerful lofted drive from Morton was brilliantly held whilst back-pedalling to give Pyestock the breakthrough they yearned badly.
Replacement Faisal Ahmed was given an immediate reprieve as Chris Heath dropped a simple chance at short cover as the visitors continued to shoot themselves in the foot, whilst Faraz, escaped twice in quick succession as loose shots saw the ball dropped agonisingly over the head of Threlfall at deep mid-off and Dan Heath at fly-slip, and once another skyer was fumbled by a scampering Chris Heath, it was clear it was to be the youngsters day as a half century was soon celebrated.
In the 22nd over, Threlfall once again stood head and shoulders above his teammates as Ahmed departed for 4 as the second catch saw wily Steve Bradley claim a deserved wicket in a beautiful spell, before Martin Harris fell for a golden duck as Jack Bromley took a smart catch at gully.
If Pyestock thought that 2 catches in as many balls was a sign of a turning tide, they were to be sadly mistaken as the powerful Vineet Sinha was twice allowed off the hook by Jack Bromley on the boundary whilst in single figures. A major scalp was not to be taken as the imposing Sinha dispatched Dan Heath into the neighbouring car park. At the other end, there was no change to the script as Faraz was again put down by Chris Heath at square leg.
That was the eighth and final clear cut chance for the visitors as the heavens opened after 28 overs and the players retreated for shelter, with much discussion over Pyestock’s inability to hold on their chances with it widely agreed that Faraz had been dropped 4 times on his way to a healthy 72, whilst Sinha reprieved twice on his way to a rapid unbeaten 25 whilst Ahmed and Morton were also put down once.
An early tea was taken as the shower receded, but due to the ferocity, play was not able to resume until 6pm, with a Duckworth-Lewis guided target of 163 set for the away side from the same number of overs. It was a sporting gesture from the hosts as the system suggested a score in excess of 170 was required, but the damp conditions on a track already proving difficult to score on meant an agreement was reached to reduce the target slightly.
Jon Ford and Glenn Taylor began the chase in the slippery conditions and immediately stated their intentions with a massive 34 runs smashed from the opening 4 overs as Tom Varney and Faisal Ahmed struggled, forcing an early bowling change as Ibrahim Ahmed was introduced. The change worked immediately as a couple of very tight overs pegged back the run rate, however the change at the other end had the opposite effect as captain Jamie Grover was mauled for 25 in his first 2 overs, which brought up Taylor’s half century in just 29 balls. Grover however had the last laugh as a powerful straight drive was superbly caught by the bowler to give Aldershot their first scalp.
At 67 for 1, Pyestock had the perfect platform to attack the target, but in scenes reminiscent to 12 months previous, two further wickets fell without a run being added as Jon Ford was stumped and Dan Heath bowled first ball to hand Ahmed two deserved wickets and leave Pyestock with the need to stabilise.
Jack Bromley and Steve Bradley continued the good work and guided Pyestock over the three figure mark with sensible, positive batting, but it was always thought the away side were always one big over away from being favourites as Aldershot juggled their bowlers in an attempt to prevent the Pyestock batsmen from settling. It was Captain Jamie Grover, in his final over who swung the match hugely in his sides favour, as Bromley was caught by brother Callum, before Billy Leader was bowled first ball, although quite how the bail dislodged from the stumps was up for debate for some time.
This left Pyestock needing 57 runs from 43 balls but further quick wickets fell as Chris Heath (0), Pete Harris (2) and the defiant Bradley (26) fell in the next 4 overs as George Morton claimed 2 wickets and the otherwise wicketless opener Varney one, as the onslaught to the target never really materialised.
There was time however for some late entertainment as the hitting of Chris McGovern, Jay Threlfall and Colin Butler hoisted the Pyestock score to 148 before last man Butler was bowled from the final ball of the match. Pyestock can feel proud of their efforts in chasing a challenging total given the conditions. Despite outscoring their hosts, the nature of the match meant that the final deficit read 14 runs.
Aldershot were worthy winners in a match unfortunately dampened by the considerable rain break. Pyestock have work to do to regain the level they previously held with regards to their fielding attributes as it could be claimed the match slipped through their fingers, as did the ball on many occasions.
A strange game this week, with Pyestock losing out narrowly. What did you make of the game and was this a fair result in your opinion?
Pyestock didn’t disgrace themselves this year, apart from our catching, there is only one word for that! If we had held our catches we probably could have won this game as we dropped all the Aldershot batsmen.
The dropped catches certainly had an impact on the first half of the match. Is it something more than bad luck that so many chances are going begging this season?
We haven’t fielded as well this year as in previous seasons. I honestly do not know why.
Pyestock were set a revised target of 163 to win, based loosely on Duckworth-Lewis. Given the state of the game, do you feel this was a fair chase?
Duckworth-Lewis is always a complicated formula, although I am claiming a moral victory as we actually scored more than our opponents 😉