Pyestock CC played out an absorbing tie with Ewell CC this Sunday, with Chris Heath’s side unable to overhaul the hosts first innings score of 139 after an impressive bowling and fielding performance.
Heath, along with younger brother Dan put Ewell to the sword early on, reducing the home side to 28 for 4 with Scott Taylor providing the catch at extra cover to remove opener Simon Parker and hand his skipper his 450th wicket in a Pyestock shirt. Taylor’s unorthodox celebration of throwing the ball into his own face, a highlight for those who witnessed it. Pebaral, Hales and Wyatt (all contributing 3 runs) also perishing.
Despite a plethora of strong LBW shouts, the pair completed their allocation of overs without further success, but with Ewell only putting 39 runs on the board, thanks to a large but slow outfield, Pyestock were in the ascendancy.
Without Neil Butler, Richard Eynon, Ben Bromley and Glenn Taylor, the visitors bowling options were limited, but the change bowlers Scott Taylor (now sporting a badly damaged hand after a fielding mishap) and Jay Threlfall continued the good work but the partnership between Phillip Woolston and Nick Shea was settling and bearing fruit.
The pair had successfully built the score to 71 before a subtle change to the field brought immediate dividends as Shea skied to Chris Heath at short midwicket, the catch returning the earlier favour to Scott Taylor.
The good work was continued by new batsman Francis, who ably supported Woolston and took Ewell over the 100 mark in the 30th over, in what was proving the hosts most fruitful section of the innings, but in the next over, Taylor claimed his 2nd wicket when a loose shot from Francis looped to Ford, who made no mistake at point.
New man Malik, was far more defensive in his approach forcing the now fluent Woolston into farming the strike and scoring runs at every opportunity. Pyestock responded by attempting to keep Malik on strike as much as possible, but could never have anticipated the bizarre slice of good fortune they were about to receive.
Malik, playing a nice shot out to the square leg boundary completed a regulation single, all seemed normal, until the Ewell number 8 turned and embarked on a suicidal mission for the second run as Jon Ford released the ball to keeper Tom Threlfall. With both batsmen now at one end, Threlfall calmly sent the ball to bowler Jack Bromley and for all around it suggested Malik was to be run out, but in an astonishing twist, Woolston, whilst berating his partner, left his ground and crossed, leaving himself the sacrificial lamb as Bromley removed the bails. It was a generous gift. Woolston left the arena with 57 to his name.
This huge bonus had surely saved Pyestock many runs as the final few overs would surely have seen an onslaught from the settled number 3, who was until this point having no issues guiding the balls into gaps, although he had survived a scare at slip, where Scott Taylor and his mangled hand couldn’t grasp on to the edge generated by Threlfall, who was to remain wicketless.
Malik, found himself bowled by Bromley just 3 balls after the run out fiasco, and trudged to the pavilion, maybe fearing a reunion with his fallen partner, and the big hitting Rizwan couldn’t add significantly to the total as he was caught by Chris Heath for 4.
Pleasingly for the home side however was that the final pairing of Armstrong and Umer Farooq, calmly added 20 extra runs in the last 4 overs, to hoist their team to 139. These late runs were to prove crucial.
After tea, Chris McGovern was selected to replace Glenn Taylor at the top of the order, but the decision proved unsuccessful as Ian Wyatt bowled the opener for a duck in the second over.
Wyatt was in the thick of the action again soon after when a superb piece of fielding cut off a powerful drive from Jon Ford and caught JackBromley in no-man’s land. Scampering to return to his ground, the bails came off. A large enthusiastic appeal waved away by the umpire.
In the 9th over however Bromley was making his way to the changing rooms as the impressive Rizwan Shah snuck the ball through the defences, rattling the timbers and reduced Pyestock to 17 for 2.
Colin Butler became Ford’s third partner and used his experience to settle down a frenetic start to the innings. Pyestock slowly rebuilt whilst seeing off the threat of Rizwan, who conceded just 12 runs from his 8 allotted overs. Change bowlers Francis and Farooq less economical as the pair settled in and ground out precious runs.
It was clear even from this early stage in the chase, that the result was going down to the wire with Pyestock matching but rarely exceeding the par score set by their opponents, and with stunning similarity found themselves just 3 runs ahead at the half way stage in comparison with Ewell’s score at the 20 over mark.
The old adage that a drinks break can often prove the catalyst to break a partnership rang true as just 3 balls into the second half of the innings, Butler found the safe hands of Phillip Woolston and headed back to the pavilion for 24.
Jay Threlfall, with his first appearance with the bat in 2017 supported Ford until the 27th over when the opener was struck on the pad sweeping. For the first time in the day despite numerous appeals from both sides, the umpires finger condemned Ford to the dressing room for a well manufactured 39.
Pyestock were very slight favourites at this point, but still unable to break the shackles thanks to some tight bowling and sharp fielding by the home side. The score of 90 for 4 comparible to Ewell’s 84 for 5 at the same point, but with Dan Heath now at the crease, it appeared Pyestock had unleashed their main weapon at exactly the right point to see them over the line, and even when Threlfall (11) perished in the next over, Pete Harris steadied the ship once more, rotating the strike well to maximise Heath’s chances of narrowing the margin to victory.
The pair were working very well together and the runs came at the required level, no more, no less, and the match was setting up for a grandstand finish. Ewell rotated their bowlers once more but the patient Heath, dealing mainly in singles, and the plucky Harris guided Pyestock over 100, 110 and 120 by the end of the 35th over.
Ian Wyatt returned to the attack and produced a very tight 37th over leaving Pyestock needing eleven from the final 3 overs, not an easy task on a pitch refusing to yield more than an average of 3 and a half an over all afternoon.
Francis’s penultimate over saw a couple of singles and a scrambled 2, leaving Pyestock 7 from victory, but with Harris now having to face up to Wyatt, the Pyestock continent looked on nervously. Harris and Heath traded singles as it appeared that the pair were gaining the upper hand, but true to form in this epic encounter Wyatt stunned the visitors by bowling Harris for 14, a score which does not do the heroic innings justice.
Cometh the hour, cometh the man who at the beginning of the match was leisurely walking around the ground soaking up the early summer sun. Vice president Paul Heath, answering his sides SOS call to “fill in” as eleventh man, was now thrust into the limelight, with Pyestock needing 5 runs from 9 balls. This became 5 from 6, as despite an aesthetically pleasing one handed dab to square leg, no runs followed, and it was up to Dan Heath to somehow eek out the remaining runs from the final over.
A huge wind up and swing brought only a single, but to the delight of the crowd, Heath Snr hauled the third ball of the over away to claim a hurried double. Pyestock were just 2 runs away with 3 balls left. A swing and a miss followed before further drama unfolded.
As the ball was bowled, Dan Heath set off from the non-strikers end like a steam-train, desperate to get on strike for the final ball, fancying himself to score the winning single, having only played out 5 dot balls in his last 21 faced, but when the ball was not played away sufficiently, the Pyestock number 6 found himself stranded. Quick thinking from wicket-keeper Hales saw the furious batsmen run out for 28, and more crucially, a thrid dot ball of the over. Heath left the field showing obvious anger and frustration not in keeping with the events unfolding. Entering the changing room, he was to miss the final ball of an already epic contest.
Tom Threlfall had one job. Run! Thankfully Heath Snr was able to squirt the final ball away, but only a single was obtained, sealing a deserved tie. It was a fantastic finale in which neither side deserved to lose. Captain Chris Heath remarked after the game that it was a deserved result, in which both sides bowled and fielded brilliantly to stifle the batsmen. A proper game of village cricket with both sides giving everything to win the game in a sporting and friendly spirit.
The below shows just how neither side could separate themselves from the other over the course of 80 overs.
By Yook van der Greis