An impressive century from Abinger’s Sam Solt ensured a comfortable 5-wicket victory over Pyestock CC this weekend as the home side adjusted better to the difficult batting conditions which proved tough to master for the visitors.
Chasing down a target of 180 on a variable pitch, Solt managed his sides innings to perfection as the win was secured with 3.4 overs remaining.
Earlier in the day Jon Ford and Glenn Taylor got the visitors off to a solid if unspectacular start as the opening bowling from Connor Eales and Sam Graves tested both batsmen on a surface that required concentration at all times.
Progress was consistent but never rapid, as the hosts benefitted from their decision to field first, but Ford and Taylor remained watchful and successfully saw off the threat of the first pairing, adding 36 runs in the process.
The pressure imposed by Abinger was not released with the double change that saw Josh Burt and Richard Easton introduced, as the run rate hovered at around 4 an over on the small but picturesque pitch, and slowly but surely Pyestock were putting themselves in a commanding position.
By the 16th over the opening pair had accumulated 72 runs but the hard work was undone with a calamitous spell in which the hosts claimed 4 wickets in just 22 balls, as Ford (25), Taylor (40), Dan Heath (1) and Chris McGovern (8), all finding themselves caught leaving the scoreboard showing a rather less impressive 81 for 4.
The leg-spin of captain Adam Gunner was proving a challenge on the dry pitch, and he looked to build on his 2 wickets as Chris Heath and Jay Threlfall looked to restart the innings after seeing the top order ripped away, and despite a very scratchy, perhaps fortunate spell, both survived and started to drag their side back into the match.
The impressive Eva Solt who claimed the wicket of Taylor whilst only conceding 12 runs in a 6 over spell was replaced and the task became a little easier as the middle-order pair pushed Pyestock over the 100 mark, Threlfall in particular looking confident and scoring whenever possible with a fine array of pull shots.
This prompted Abinger to reintroduce opener Graves into the attack to try and break the partnership, and it worked, but with a fair chunk of assistance from his field. Chris Heath, having already pulled one ball in the over for 4, repeated the feat with a firm connection from a short ball, but the sprinting one handed catch, by the fielder at mid wicket more than equal to the shot. It was a fine effort and the skipper departed for 20 with Pyestock having 35 more minutes to add to their 134 runs.
Pyestock then also lost Threlfall, who had amassed 35, as Josh Burt became the 5th Abinger bowler to claim a wicket, as Pyestock desperately tried to add late runs, but without having the necessary time to play themselves in on a track where it would be advised, also lost veteran Paul Heath for a duck.
Somewhat fortunately for the visitors, numbers 8 and 9 in the batting order were filled by Jack Bromley and Tom Threlfall, both in good form and in positions perhaps belying their talent, and the pair worked brilliantly together in the closing stages to post a rapid unbroken partnership of 30 consisting of quick singles and well executed boundaries, to see Pyestock set 180 for 7 at the half way stage.
After a sumptuous tea, including brie and cranberry sandwiches, Mark Houghton and Richie Tizzard wasted no time in signalling their intent with 14 runs smashed off of the first 2 overs, as Chris and Dan Heath struggled to find their length and extract maximum assistance from the wicket.
The over exuberance told however as the Pyestock captain accounted for both openers as Tizzard misjudged a straightening delivery and Houghton was caught at mid-on as Jack Bromley clung on to a towering shot.
At 33 for 2 Pyestock needed to kick on, and when Glenn Taylor pounced to snaffle Webster, the visitors appeared to be on their way.
Sam Solt however was now joined by his captain Gunner and with carefully built a partnership that was to put the home side in the box seat. Jack Bromley and Jay Threlfall bowled well, but remained wicketless as Abinger reached halfway at 90 for 3 as the umpires called the final hour and 20 overs remaining.
Glenn Taylor was introduced to the attack in an attempt to break the partnership but despite some effective and economical bowling, could not find the breakthrough.
Eventually, with 14 overs remaining, a bowling change did do the trick as Paul Heath bowled Gunner for 16, bringing Gear to the crease. The defensive set-up of the number 6 practically ended any hope of a Pyestock victory as the overs ticked down, but heightened hope that a draw could be salvaged thanks to a decreasing run rate.
As it happened though Solt expertly managed the strike and punished every bad ball Pyestock bowled, and with every passing over Abinger looked stronger favourites to take the game.
With 5 overs remaining, Pyestock required an unlikely 6 wickets while Abinger needed just 19 runs, and Solt took matters into his own hands, smashing Taylor for three boundaries as the game slipped away. Pyestock did manage to drop the number 3 in this over, but by this time the damage was done. The scores were level and Solt was celebrating a well early century.
The only dampener in the youngsters innings was that he was unable to bring his side over the line as he was caught, by Taylor trying to win the match in style. In the end a bye provided an almost anticlimactic end to a superb game of friendly cricket.
Pyestock proved themselves competent in all disciplines but we’re outperformed by a home side that are clearly talented and know how to win games. It was a truly hard fought match, and it is hoped Pyestock get the chance to avenge the defeat soon.