Pyestock Cricket Club belatedly opened their 2018 season with a solid draw against Concorde CC within the ever-glorious confines of Sendholme.
With the sunshine beating down, Captain Chris Heath chose to field first with the green wicket offering much for the opening bowlers especially Neil Butler who found significant early movement through the air.
It seemed a good decision as home captain Jerry Wright departed early, Ben Armes taking the first wicket of the season, bowling the opener for 1 in the 6th over.
At the other end though new signing H.Sahir was proving more of a challenge and easily picked off any bad balls with ease, and was proving the primary contributor to the hosts run tally.
The 9th over saw Butler claim the wicket he thoroughly deserved by breaking the defences of Ashley Westem for 5. From then on however Pyestock found the going tough.
The Heath brothers replaced the openers after 12 overs with Dan having more success as Sahir and Tom Clover (who we may well encounter again at Ripley CC) patiently and comfortably added to Concorde’s tally.
As the score was approaching triple figures, it came as a surprise to all the the composed Sahir changed tactic and tried to launch a slower delivery from Dan over the leg side, but got in a terrible mess and was bowled for 46. Only only bad shot in a stylish innings.
Nick Freeman joined Clover at the crease, and Pyestock continued to toil. The heat and general fitness issues from it being their opening game of the season began to show. The bowling was rotated to try and maximise variation and freshness but despite good tidy spells from Sam Armes, Pete Harris, Ben Bromley and Jake Baldwin, no further wickets followed as batting became easier against the wilting visitors.
The innings closed after 44 overs with the score elevated to 196 for 3. Clover finishing with a very handy unbeaten 70, Freeman 40. Pyestock were to be congratulated on not losing control of the innings, despite the home side being on top.
After tea, Pyestock started well with Jon Ford and Jack Bromley adding 43 for the first wicket, against the bowling of Ashley Westem and the ever reliable Ian Cudworth (It was nice to see “Cudders” back on the field after missing the 2017 fixture!).
Bromley was first to depart, rather surprisingly after a comfortable start after being well caught in the slips, and was replaced by Dan Heath looking to start the season well after a disappointing 2017. He and Ford continued the good start as Pyestock eased past 50 and looked set for an opening victory.
Concorde however fought back well on a pitch that was becoming unresponsive and with tiring legs, pushed the match back into the balance with Ford succumbing to James Clover, before George Howard accounted for Sam Armes to reduce the visitors to 73 for 3.
With only 20 overs remaining Pyestock suddenly needed to put their foot on the accelarator requiring 124 runs, and Dan Heath and Neil Butler did just that with several big shots, including 2 huge sixes from Heath dragged the score to 112 for 3 with 11 overs to play. concorde counteracted this onslaught by introducing Sahir to the attack with a long run up and an extra yard of pace on every other player, the game hinged on the battle he would bring to the visitors settled batsmen.
Sahir would prove too strong for both as both Heath and Butler found themselves clean bowled, to dampen the fireworks, however the new age stars of Tom Threlfall and Ben Bromley ensured that the fight was not yet extinguished.
Continuing to battle on, the pair made good progress, but in the end the growing run rate proved too much and when Threlfall was caught for 11, the match was up. Pyestock closed on 141, 55 runs short of their hosts, but cricket was once again the winner in this now firm favourite fixture.
It was a promising start for a young Pyestock side, who will look to welcome back regulars Chris McGovern, Colin Butler and Jay Threlfall for next weeks return to Ewell CC which of course ended in a thrilling tie last season.
As always we look forward to visiting our friends at Concorde CC again,