Pyestock CC’s brittle batting order once again snapped in brutal fashion as Theale and Tilehurst CC cruised to a 68 run victory this weekend.
Suffering what seems like the clubs umpteenth selection crisis of a rocky season, George Worman and Charlie Neville became the 21st and 22nd players to represent the side during 2016 as no fewer than 5 members missed out on this now regular contest.
Fielding first, Pyestock started brightly with Chris Heath and Worman keeping the opening pairing of Arsalan Ahmed and Andy Shotter at bay with only 23 runs conceded in the opening 8 overs. In a surprising move however, Neil Butler removed Heath (4-0-9-0) from the attack and replaced him with the leg spin of Charlie Neville, perhaps with one eye on the worn and crumbling track.
The result proved unsuccessful for the away side as both Ahmed and Shotter found their rhythm and plundered 43 runs from the next 7 overs as Neil Butler’s side were forced onto the back foot. The talented Neville, struggling for consistency in his debut spell (6-0-39-0).
Dan Heath and Jay Threlfall replaced the young debutantes and immediately slowed the scoring rate with Heath nonchalantly dismissing Ahmed with a ridiculous caught and bowled for the first wicket of the day. Pyestock were however struggling to “put the cat back in the bag” with the healthy run rate continuing as Rob Dimmack accustomed himself to the crease.
The score passed 100 in the 21st over but Pyestock did claim their second wicket with a thick edge from Shotter finding Paul Heath at first slip, who did not have to move (thankfully!). The trick was almost repeated soon after as replacement G.Coker edged through to Tom Threlfall behind the stumps. The young wicketkeeper could only deflect the ball to Heath who, diving forwards could not hold on.
The overs ticked by with the Theale batsmen cleverly rotating the strike, but in the 34th over Coker undid all of his hard work by finding Chris Heath at short cover with a mis-timed drive and the hosts fell to 155 for 3. Namesake C.Coker arrived at the crease and continued the acceleration and strike rotation as the home side targeted a formidable scoreline at the innings break.
As the hosts approach continued to rival something similar to “gung-ho” Pyestock re-introduced Chris Heath and George Worman in what proved to be an absorbing passage of play. Dimmack, who was fresh from celebrating his deserved half-century, was being urged by his team-mates to play more and more outlandish shots, and the tidy innings was tarnished with an outrageous attempt to scoop Heath over wicket-keeper Threlfall, meeting his end as a clever slower ball just about reached the stumps to bowl the Theale number 3.
Newcomer James Bozarth showed his predecessor the art of showboating with a comical “switch hit” for 4 first ball (although many questioned whether truly a left hander) before the smile dissipated from the Heath’s face with a blatantly incorrect call for a wide souring his mood for the remainder of his spell.
Pyestock should have taken further wickets as the innings drew to a close, with sloppy fielding taking its toll, but had to settle for a towering trademark Pete Harris catch to give the weary Worman (9-1-41-1) a deserved wicket. Theale smashed 19 runs from the final over to post an imposing 235 for 5.
With Pyestock missing Jon Ford, Jack Bromley and Chris McGovern from the usual top order, the job of opening the batting fell to Tom Threlfall for the first time in his Pyestock career, and despite being one of the more in-form batsmen this season, the youngster could not keep out Alec Parcell who claimed his first wicket with a good catch from ‘jamie Shields. Pyestock’s bad start was about to get considerably worse, as Dan Heath was caught and bowled first ball to leave the chase in tatters at 16 for 2.
Glenn Taylor, at the other end, was now joined by Neil Butler, and finally Pyestock got going. Brutal, and all out attack of the Theal bowling transformed Pyestock’s chances with the score moving to 100 for 2 in the blink of an eye.
With 28 overs and eight wickets for the visitors to score 136, there was only one side in it, but, as in more than one occasion in 2016, Pyestock simply fell apart. Neil Butler (31) was bowled by change bowler G.Coker, before Glenn Taylor was caught in the deep for 56, his eighth score of 50+ this season, and at 101 for 4, Pyestock had to dig deep.
Unfortunately, the grand stand finishes of previous match-ups between these two sides completely failed to materialise as Pete Harris (1), was caught by Andy Parcell, before a promising partnership between Paul Heath and Colin Butler ended with Butler bowled for 14. Chris Heath (3), Jay Threlfall (0) and George Worman (2) all fell to off spinner Michael Holder as the match effectively ended with Pyestock 137 for 9, but there was still time for some old fashioned Paul Heath fireworks, as the multi-retired veteran, less than a week from his 60th birthday rolled back many years to take the task to James Bozarth, even mimicking the earlier exuberance of the “switch-hit” and a trademark dismissive one handed flick for 4 saw an entertaining 21 run innings brought to an end as last man Charlie Neville was run out leaving Pyestock 68 runs short.
It was a shame that Pyestock fell so short in this fixture, and better is hoped for next week at Bedhampton Mariners CC, although with almost a completely different side due to take the field, it would take a brave man to predict any result with confidence.
The insider is still pondering over his answers.