Four catches in the deep from Alfie Hellings proved the difference in Sunday as Odiham & Greywell CC punished some very sloppy fielding and naive batting by Pyestock CC and claimed an entertaining 9-run victory.
Bowling first on a damp wicket, in otherwise beautiful surroundings, skipper Chris Heath was unlucky to see no less than three opportunities to remove openers Cox and Shooling go down in the outfield in the opening overs, as the batting pair took full advantage.
At the other end, after a wayward spell from Jack Bromley, Jay Threlfall was having equally poor luck as a further dropped catch followed by an embarrassing collision in the field by Heath and Scott Taylor for a fifth reprieve for the Odiham batsmen who had put on 31 for the first wicket, before Shooling was finally caught by Jack Bromley at extra cover ironically and arguably the toughest chance in the game so far.
Threlfall doubled his wicket tally in the 13th over as Le Roux was bowled for 16 and in his final over Heath eventually managed a deserved wicket as the safe hands of Colin Butler took a good catch at square leg and Coz eventually departed for 34.
With the score on 67 for 3, Pyestock looked to push on and introduced Ben Armes and Scott Taylor to proceedings, but new batsman Kyran Munt, looked very capable and found the boundary with considerable ease.
Armes was bowling well, but with wickets hard to come by, Bromley was reintroduced, and despite continuing to be expensive, found the breakthrough in the 26th over as Henry Shooling was bowled for a patient 10 runs, the left handed providing very able support to the more attacking Munt.
The experienced captain Graham Jones now partnered Munt and the run rate began to increase, as a mixture of picking the bad ball and rotating the strike, paid dividends for the home side. The score had rocketed to 162 in the 30th over when Munt holed out to an excellent catch by Ben Armes at long off. The Odiham number four made his way to the pavilion with 69 runs to his name.
Jones now partnered Hellings and added 25 runs in a frantic final 5 overs, as Bromley, Armes, and both Glenn and Scott Taylor looked to keep the home side quiet, and despite Hellings (5) and Harry Daysh (1) perishing the experience of Jones who finished unbeaten on 28 enabled his side to set Pyestock a tough target of 192 for victory.
The reply could not have got off to a worse start for the visitors as both Jon Ford, who played on to his own stumps, and Chris McGovern, holing out to mid-off, both departed within the first 12 balls as Pyestock slumped to 3 for 2, but slowly and surely the away side got to grips with the chase and in-form Glenn Taylor and Jay Threlfall led the recovery against Sean Merryman and Alfie Hellings.
Hellings was to become the star as in the eighth over he accounted for Threlfall LBW, but is was the young mans fielding which would turn the game into the home sides hands later in the day, as in the meantime Taylor and Jack Bromley took charge with a strong display of counter-attacking batting as Pyestock looked to recover from 26 for 3.
The pair showed that in not the easiest batting conditions on a rapidly wearing pitch, concentration and strong shot selection could prove beneficial as Odiham & Greywell suddenly looked short of answers. The bowling of Cox, Henry Shooling, Adrian Green and Kyran Munt looked ineffective as the Pyestock duo added 91 for the fourth wicket before skipper Jones took charge and forced Taylor into a more lofted drive than intended, Hellings under the catch at long-on.
Unfortunately, the wicket of Taylor, was to be Jones’ last contribution to the match as a firm drive by Bromley in the 23rd over was well stopped by the bowler, but revealed a nasty and serious looking injury to the Odiham skipper, hospital the only option as he missed the conclusion to a match heading the full distance.
This wicket, with the score on 117, meant Pyestock required 75 runs from 14 overs, but unfortunately for the away side, the wickets soon started to tumble. Dan Heath was bowled by Munt without scoring in the next over, before evergreen Colin Butler provided much needed resistance and an able partner for Bromley as the pair edged Pyestock closer to victory. The partnership of 30 looked invaluable as the target neared, before Butler edged behind for 13, with 44 still required for victory from 47 balls.
Captain Chris Heath then provided Hellings with his second catch at long-on as the captain looked to go big from a loose delivery from Adrian Green, but just two balls later, Pyestock’s hopes took a major blow as Bromley, who had just celebrated his fourth half-century of the season, departed in copy-cat circumstances, as Hellings again proved his hands are safer than safe.
To compound the misery, Tom Threlfall followed suit in identical circumstances as Pyestock failed to heed the warnings. Hellings now had an incredible four catches and Chrsi Heath’s side now found themselves 165 for 9, with 23 balls for last pair Scott Taylor and Ben Armes to eek out the remaining 27 runs, and to their immense credit almost pulled it off as a pair of boundaries and some quick single brought the visitors within 13 runs of an unlikely win with 2 overs remaining.
Cox had other ideas however and produced some wonderful death bowling, culminating in Armes being bowled by the last ball of the 34th over as Pyestock were dismissed for 182.
A very enjoyable first outing to Odiham & Greywell CC ends in narrow defeat for Pyestock, who not for the first time this season fail to manage the game correctly when chasing a target that had been made achievable by a strong partnership in the middle of the innings, as well as a collective failure to be ruthless enough in the field earlier in the day. We did all enjoy a nice beer after the match though, and thoroughly enjoyed our day. It is hoped that Graham Jones makes a full and swift recovery from his hand injury, and hopefully we will be invited back in 2018.