Pyestock CC mastered the Mediterranean heat at Long Ditton CC this weekend to claim a comfortable 59 run victory, largely thanks to an exquisite maiden century from Chris McGovern.
Batting for 35 overs in the sweltering sun, McGovern expertly judged everything that the home side could throw at him, bringing up his century in just 97 balls, in front of his delighted and jubilant team-mates. The celebration was one of mixed relief and exhaustion as the popular number 3 raised both arms before crouching to the turf to preserve what little energy was left.
Chris Heath inevitably chose to bat first, after winning the toss, subjecting the hosts to a long and exhausting 40 overs in the field as Jon Ford and Glenn Taylor looked to cash in on the dry wicket and large quick outfield.
Neither batsmen seemed to be in too much distress as Jack Howarth and Chris McNichol toiled away, so in the 6th over it came as a surprise when the prolific Taylor (who began the day with an average of 105) was somehow bowled after the ball ricocheted off the pads and onto the stumps.
This wicket brought McGovern to the crease and after surviving a strangled LBW shout first ball, instantly looked comfortable as the early run rate was maintained. The powerful hitting may have left with Taylor but the classy strokeplay and constant rotation of the strike wore the home side down early as the hot day began to take its toll on the bowlers and fielders.
The pair were batting fantastically and it was a real shame when, just 1 ball before the first drinks break, Ford looked to cut a delivery from Felix Williams into the off side, but managed to chop the ball onto the stumps, to give Long Ditton a second wicket. Both openers contributed 20 to the cause as Pyestock found himself 72 for 2 after 15 overs.
Nad Ahmed and Tom Greggains were introduced to the attack but neither could halt McGovern’s charge as he brought up his 50 in the 22nd over, in a profitable period for the visitors, as the attacking Jay Threlfall now partnered the tenacious number 3.
The pair had rapidly put on a partnership of 72, when Ollie Leaning, replacing Ahmed whose three overs had cost 28, deceived Threlfall as he tried to pull away into the leg side. The LBW shout proving successful as Pyestock lost their third wicket with the score on 144.
Neil Butler replaced Threlfall with instructions to support McGovern, who by now had passed his highest previous score of 59, and the ex-skipper was doing a great job, until a powerful hook shot saw an outstanding catch by Will Golding at fine leg, applause from both sides for the youngster as Butler trudged off to be replaced by brother Colin.
By this point all eyes were on McGovern who was showing obvious signs of fatigue but had moved into the eighties, with 8 overs left. Long Ditton reacted by reintroducing McNichol and Howarth to the attack but the experienced duo plodded along adding runs wherever possible, both admittedly being let off the hook in the dying overs as fielders were simply too exhausted to get beneath catches that would usually be expected to be taken, but using this to their advantage, valuable late runs were added.
Then in the 36th over, the moment McGovern and the rest of the Pyestock contingent had been waiting for as a feint edge past the wicket keeper brought 2 runs. There was a nervous wait while the gathered masses waited to see if byes were to be signalled, and as soon as it became clear it wasn’t to come, the eruption of applause and relief echoed across the ground, a fine achievement in difficult conditions, and one that will be remembered for a long time.
McGovern and Butler hoisted Pyestock to 231 for 4 by the time the allotted 40 overs were up, leaving Long Ditton a huge task in chasing down the target.
The temperature had barely dropped by the time the match restarted as Freddie Goodyear and Paul Sweeney started the chase, but within 4 overs both were back in the pavilion, as Neil Butler bowled Sweeney for 7, before Chris Heath claimed the wicket of Goodyear who was caught well, by McGovern in the covers.
This brought Will Golding and skipper Chris Neely to the crease and both settled the innings down after the frenetic start and moved the hosts onto 42 for 2 after 9 overs.
A double bowling change saw Glenn Taylor and Jay Threlfall introduced and both produced 8 over spells that irreversibly swung the match in the favour of the away side, and it all began with an incredible diving catch from Taylor with a reaction that had to be seen to be believed to dismiss Neely. It looked a boundary all the way and quite how it was plucked out of the sky from the opposite side of the wicket, only the bowler will know.
This started a mini collapse as Threlfall then claimed 4 wickets in his next 6 overs, as Hogarth (0), Williams (4), Leaning (11) and Golding all fell to the medium pace bowler to leave the chase in tatters at 101 for 7.
It could have been even worse in truth for the home side with 2 catches taken but ruled out (correctly) for no-balls while a sloppy drop in the covers also reprieved Felix Williams before troubling the scorers.
Pete Harris and Paul Heath took the opportunity to bowl some tidy overs, with the latter rolling back the years to claim the wicket of Tom Greggains as Pyestock’s second string bowlers took centre stage in the latter part of the game. Heath and Harris, along with Jon Ford and Colin Butler claimed a combined 2 for 58 from 13 overs as Butler also claimed a wicket with his very first ball, thanks to a good catch from Jay Threlfall.
Mark Lambert and Chris McNichol saw out the remaining time as Long Ditton closed on 172 for 9. Pyestock celebrated their first win since Tadworth and produced their third score of over 200 in a row.
It was a solid victory and a good all round performance, but the match will always be remembered for the stand out performance and maiden century of our very own Hollywood.
The innings was a true blockbuster!
By Yook van der Greis.