Pyestock returned to winning ways this Sunday with a 26 run victory in a match which seemed to have everything from controversy to bizarre catches and run outs, and finished near total darkness thanks to a rain delay early on.
Batting first after returning vice-captain Chris Heath lost the toss, the visitors made a solid start as Jon Ford and Glenn Taylor saw off the threat of Chris Doughty and Hunt, compiling 24 runs from the first 4 overs.
A barrage of wides from Hunt early on kept the umpire’s arms well stretched and the opener was soon replaced with Yasir Khan and the run rate slowed, as the drizzle began to fall.
By 8.5 overs the rain had become too heavy and the players were off the field with Pyestock 37 without loss, but once play resumed Doughty trapped an off balance Ford LBW for 4 and Lower Earley celebrated their first wicket if the day.
Hunt was reintroduced from the far end at the end of Doughty’s spell and was immediately more disciplined as he and Khan forced a period of consolidation for Pyestock as a good passage of play from both sides saw the half way stage arrive with Pyestock 84 for 1. It could have been worse for the visitors with Taylor in particular benefitting from generous errors as wicket keeper Bradley and Garwood were both guilty of putting down the hard hitting opener.
The drinks break did however produce a wicket, as it often does as Chris McGovern departed for 14 having looked comfortable until his demise. Debutant Andrew Taylor, replacing the Pyestock number 3 looked to continue to provide stability as Pyestock brought up three-figures with 15 overs left.
The introduction of Garwood to the attack provided the Lower Early faithful with the wicket they craved in the 28th over as Glenn Taylor, who had amassed 79 in 83 balls, was well caught by Steve Maynard.
The next over saw Pyestock lose their fourth wicket as Pete Harris was unceremoniously run out looking for a quick single and the visitors solid start now looked under threat with the score 125 for 4.
Guest players Taylor and Steve Bradley regathered once more and moved the score to 144 before the returning Doughty claimed the wicket of Bradley who was caught for 14.
Doughty certainly justified his return as Andy Taylor was bowled in the openers final over to finish with an impressive 3 for 28 in his spell, however Dan Heath and Chris Olley provided late entertainment hoisting the score to 187 before both were stumped looking for one too many big shots.
Confidence was high in the Pyestock camp as a superb tea was devoured, and Chris and Dan Heath set about trying to remove Bradley and the notoriously stubborn Steve Maynard from the crease.
Maynard is a player, Pyestock have regularly found it tough to dismiss, therefore the away side overjoyed in the sixth over when a Dan Heath ball was edged to Steve Bradley, who took a good catch falling to his right at first slip. Amazingly batsmen and umpire remained unmoved much to the amazement of the visiting players, and annoyance of the now fired up bowler. Quite why Maynard wasn’t expecting the next ball to come down with an extra couple of yards of pace was almost as baffling as the preceding ball and decision, but with leg stump arched backwards, and Heath’s monstrous roar, the argument was over and Maynard departed for 12. No damage done.
Despite this entertainment, Lower Earley were adequately dealing with the threat of the Heath brothers and amassed 42 by the end of the twelfth over, therefore the scorned Steve Bradley was introduced to the attack. Any disappointment at having his catch chalked off was soon forgotten as the experienced master of flight and guile tore through the Lower Earley order as Kumar (16) and Bhogal (4) were bowled before the stubborn Bradley was dismissed by his namesake for a hard working 22 after a sharp catch at gully by Dan Heath.
The catch of the day however was reserved for a truly “special” effort by Chris Heath, showing how it shouldn’t be done when Chowdry drove tamely to the captain stationed at extra cover. With the ball slipping through hands and thighs, the captain crouched to find the ball lodged in-between his ankles. Celebrations were more in disbelief than congratulations.however Lower Earley were now up against it with only 77 on the board and 5 wickets lost.
Stand in player Paul Heath compiled the hosts misery in his first over as Khan was bowled, but it was two overs later when Riley lost his wicket, that had players from both sides baffled once again. A wide ball from Heath was collected by Chris Olley at fine leg and returned. In confusion over the single, Riley was joined at the strikers end by Doughty, and as the stumps came off, was short of his ground by a yard. An appeal for the run out was upheld by the umpire and Doughty looked doomed, before it was pointed out that the striking batsmen Riley, had not left his ground.
The situation of a dead ball and a run out decision being made despite the stumps being broken at the wrong end caused confusion amongst all parties and it was eventually agreed that had the ball remained live Pyestock would have run out one batsmen at the bowlers end. Riley was the unlucky recipient of the short straw and departed run out at the bowlers end despite being within his crease at the strikers end at the time the bails were removed… again at the strikers end. Chaos!
The match resumed with Lower Earley 99 for 6 and Chris Olley was introduced for his bowling debut, and his first ball beamer in fading light thankfully proved just a loosener as the wicket of Neal was collected thanks to a sharp catch by Andy Taylor at short extra cover.
The fading light was becoming an issue and Chris Heath was forced to reintroduce himself earlier than planned to finish his 8 over allocation however with the light fading fast as the sun set over the trees, had to resort to non-spinning leg spin in order to power through the overs.
This situation played into the hands of the hosts who looked out of the game with 10 overs remaining but had hauled themselves to 139 for 8 with 5 overs left. The last overs were played out in almost farcical conditions as bowlers, batsmen and fielders simply could not see the ball. Any contact made by bat on ball led to confused looks by fielders who on more than one occasion conceded a boundary before even locating the ball.
Doughty and Hunt were dealing with the situation better, using the sight screens to maximum effect and just trying to lay bat on ball, and had the visitors worried about the match as the score raced to 155 needing 34 from the remaining 3 overs.
Chris Olley provided a huge amount of relief by collecting his second wicket as Doughty was bowled with 16 balls remaining for a courageous 31 and Pyestock were able to keep defensive last man Garwood on strike enough to prevent what would have been a heroic rescue attempt. Lower Earley finished 161 for 9 on a pitch now almost fully illuminated by the large electronic scoreboard.
A crazy game that will live long in the memory for various reasons was finally over, with Pyestock evaluating the key decisions that went both in and against their favour. A win however will be celebrated and we look forward to visiting Lower Earley again next season for another close match.
So…was it out?
Yes! It was out, granted the batsmen did hit the ground as well, but the laws of physics have to be re-written if the batsmen did not hit the ball.
What did you make of the Captains somewhat unorthodox catch?
Chris certainly re-invented catching last weekend with his catch, could this be the way forward for catching in the future? (Editor note: No!) ;o)
What are your thoughts on the run-out fiasco?
It was a truly bizarre run-out, with the confusion over which batsmen was out. From my angle I couldn’t see if the striking batsmen had left his crease or not, but at the end of the day a wicket is a wicket!
Just how dark was it out there?
I struggled to pick up the ball until it nearly hit me, I can honestly say it was the darkest i had ever played cricket!