An agonising collapse in which Pyestock lost 8 wickets for 35 runs, handed a jubilant Kings CC a nerve-shredding 3 run victory under the Sunbury sun this weekend.
The home side, who responded brilliantly to earlier batting expertise of Glenn Taylor, who produced an error-free 107 before falling, leaving his team-mates unable to back up the heroic performance.
Earlier in the day Pyestock captain Chris Heath elected to field after winning the toss (yes, really!), on a wicket that had stood up well to the week’s early heavy rain, but remained slow early on. Dave Perry, often a Pyestock tormentor surviving an early scare, as the third ball of the game was cut past the stumps to get the home side off the mark.
The Heath brothers had the upper hand in the early exchanges as Perry and Wright struggled to impose themselves on the game, the former looked a little rusty, unlike his normal nonchalant self. The tight and probing bowling eventually claimed the wicket it deserved as a beautiful variation ball from Dan Heath deceived Perry, the leading edge looping back to the bowler for a simple catch.
James Melligan replaced the departing opener and struggled also, as Kings just could not get going, Chris Heath teasing the outside edge of the number 3 on more than one occasion as the bowlers remained on top.
The second wicket came in the 12th over, as Dan Heath breached the defences of Melligan, who departed for a flashy 14, the hosts, only having 25 runs on the board needed to react to the slow start, but with the more than useful Joel Miah now at the crease, there was no way Pyestock could relax.
Ben Bromley replaced Chris Heath at the top end of the ground, and can count himself mighty unlucky as the young spinner twice found the edge of Miahs flashing blade, Wicket-keeper Tom Threlfall and Dan Heath in the slips unable to cling onto the chances offered.
With the halfway point arriving and the scoreboard only displaying 51 runs, Kings reacted with a more positive second half. The stubborn Wright finally fell as Jack Bromley, replacing Dan Heath (after a superb 8-over spell that conceded just 11 runs), bowled the watchful opener for 13, bringing Simon Pipe to the crease. The veteran all-rounder providing the catalyst for the revival as almost immediately the run rate began to increase. Kings spied and targeted the change bowlers of Jack Bromley and Jay Threlfall as the pitch started to become more batsmen friendly.
The pair batted superbly, rotating the strike well and punishing the bad ball, as the innings began to rapidly gain pace, Pipe in particular targeting the short boundary with Chris Olley having his work cut out. Despite some good fielding, Kings passed the 100 mark in the 30th over.
Glenn Taylor was introduced, to fill a gap after Jack Bromley tired and proved easy pickings late on in his spell and was unable to oust either batsmen who were now well settled, Pipe passing his 50 with a maximum to the short boundary, overtaking Miah on the way. It was the persistence of Jay Threlfall, who was working hard to keep the runs down, who eventually broke the partnership as Pipe was bowled for a rapid 70 from 71 balls.
This wicket however brought Joel’s brother Ellis to the middle, clinging to his licence to attack freely with four overs left. Pyestock did however feel they had picked up a big wicket in the 37th over as a quick single seemed to catch Joel Short of his ground after good work by Tom Threlfall, the umpire however was unconvinced.
The returning Jack Bromley and Chris Heath provided the cannon-fodder for the Miah brothers to hoist their side to 189 before the end of the innings, Heath using his experience to restrict Ellis to just 2 scoring shots from the last 5 balls. The final ball missed, resulting in non-striker Joel being run out for 61. A very impressive recovery from the home side with 81 runs plundered from the final 10 overs.
Pyestock knew they had to get off to a good start, with them unlikely to match the final surge shown by the hosts. Jon Ford and Glenn Taylor, comfortably seeing off the opening threat of Paddy Daye and Ellis Miah.
The pair were progressing well, and offered no chances to Kings who were forced into an early bowling change with Nick Tighe, with significantly less run-up and significantly less pace than his hey-day introduced to attempt to stifle the Pyestock opening duo. A tight spell showed the experience in the bowler, but it was the arrival of spinner Gordon Young who provided the breakthrough as the usually placid Ford rushed up the wicket, looking to push the ball straight, but finding himself stumped by wicket-keeper Dave Perry.
This brought Dan Heath to the crease, and the run rate increased almost immediately, as the pair looked instantly at home. The early problems encountered by Kings a distant memory as the pitch offered no demons to the Pyestock heavyweights. the score passed 100 in the 19th over, and with only 90 needed for victory, there was a clear favourite in this contest.
Joel Miah and Simon Pipe, another showing a reduction in pace, but no absence of skill and guile, were introduced and despite no obvious change in the run-rate, it was a double change that did provide the breakthrough that Rob Young’s side so badly needed, as Dan Heath chipped tamely to Pipe at mid off, to hand Miah his first wicket.
Pyestock, now 146 for 2 required just 34 runs from 12.1 overs, as Tom Threlfall entered the arena. Pipe, however wasted no time in dismissing the visiting wicket-keeper, and once the same bowler claimed the prized wicket of Taylor for an otherwise unstoppable 107, the visitors were now facing a different animal with Kings, unusually silent up until this point, now jovial and self motivating to the point that an impenetrable force was created in a tight fielding ring strangling the new batsmen Jack Bromley and Chris Heath.
With a lot of time remaining, scoring runs were not the immediate priority, as the pair looked to calm the home side, on a crest of a wave created by their 3 quick wickets, but when Jack Bromley fell in identical fashion to Dan Heath for 9, Pyestock suddenly seemed a long way from victory. New batsmen Ben Bromley found the situation similarly challenging, calling a quick single which almost ran out his captain as the pressure began to tell.
Chris Heath, failed to heed this warning and in the 34th over was run out by Gordon Young (although a TV replay would be appreciated, especially as the fielder later admitted he would not have given it himself). Nevertheless Pyestock were crumbling in almost embarrassing fashion.
Bromley found himself the next in the procession having been adjudged LBW by the umpire as the Ellis Miah claimed his second wicket, which immediately became 3 as Pete Harris was bowled first ball. With the score now 168 for 8 Kings were now firm favourites, but Chris McGovern, who last week opened the batting was more than capable of holding his own with 5.1 overs required to score 22 runs. He and Jay Threlfall managed to momentarily halt the Kings steam train with a useful partnership, which included 2 pressure relieving boundaries from Threlfall as Pyestock passed 180 with 2 overs remaining.
Joel Miah took the penultimate over, and produced a fine 6 balls which cost just a single and picked up the ninth Pyestock wicket as Threlfall got himself in a tangle and was bowled for 9, leaving last man Chris Olley to see off the final delivery, which he did with ease. Joel unlike some encounters with Pyestock, forced to dig deep and was rewarded for his efforts.
6 balls remained and Pyestock required 9 runs. A conference between the senior players settled on Paddy Daye to bowl the final over, with a defensive field set. With the first ball beating McGovern for pace, the task became difficult, but a scrambled 2 with the next ball followed by a single saw the away side 6 away with Chris Olley left to face 3 balls.
Clearly fancying his chances, the first ball was left alone, adding another few millimetres to the fingernails being chewed by the Pyestock faithful. The penultimate ball however was heaved over to long on. The strong connection seemingly fooling the batsmen into thinking the ball had gone for four, but, by picking one of the longest boundaries on the ground, the ball did not reach the rope, confusion rained down, with the result being another 2 runs, It could have been worse as both batsmen scrambled for the safety of the crease as the ball came in.
So for the second match running, Pyestock were needing to score from the final ball of the game, and in this instance, nothing less than a boundary would do. Daye produced a good length ball however, and with Olley unable to make contact, Dave Perry gathered and match was over. Kings had produced a remarkable comeback in a match where all bookies would have stopped taking bets, the spirit of old returned and once more showed why they are such a difficult side to beat, once they begin raising and motivating each other it becomes almost impossible to swing the tide back away from them.
Pyestock, showed similar frailties in the middle order, and must learn not to panic once the finish line is in sight. It is not the first time, this has affected the side and it clearly costs victories that should be claimed. They played their part in another superb game of cricket and clearly have the ability to win matches. Glenn Taylor and Dan Heath produced a superb partnership of 77, with Taylor flawless in his 107, and the earlier bowling and fielding severely restricted what is normally a side that has no issues in scoring big runs. More bottle and more killer instinct is required, but in a friendly side, the enjoyment is more important, and this game was certainly that.