By Frankie Ballard
Pyestock fell to a 31 run defeat in last Sunday’s match up with Ewell CC as yet another low scoring match between the sides saw the hosts successfully defend their score of 155.
Winning the toss, Chris Heath elected to field despite missing Jay Threlfall who earlier in the day pulled out injured, whilst son Tom was delayed and missed the start. Despite this the 9-men started well as the captain and Ben Armes kept things tight against Debonil Chowdhury and Umer Farooq.
Despite the slow start, no breakthrough could be found, until Neil Butler entered the fray early thanks to a shoulder issue with Heath and instantly added more threat and like countless times before removed both openers with unplayable inswinging deliveries.
This brought the stubborn ex-captain Phil Hales to the crease alongside bruising Phillip Woolston and the pair took Ewell past 100 as Pyestock rotated their bowling options in search of a third breakthrough, however despite remaining economical, neither Pete Harris nor Sam Armes could dislodge the talented pairing.
Pyestock toiled on the large outfield and began to wilt, however fought back incredibly well to keep the hosts to a realistic target, preventing the onslaught in the final ten overs as wickets were taken at crucial times in the acceleration.
in the 32nd over, Sam Armes claimed his first ever Pyestock wicket by brilliantly breaking the home sides resistance, bowling Woolston for 22, with the score 117 for 3, before Jack Bromley struck twice in the 37th over to add some respectability to the wicket column, whilst incredibly ensured that Pyestock’s first EIGHT wickets of this season were all bowled.
This run came to an end however in the final over as the returning Chris Heath tempted Alfie Francis to ski into the covers only to be superbly caught by Ben Armes, who is fast making towering catches his trademark specialty. this closed the home innings on 155 for 6, a very decent total on a pitch which has only yielded a maximum score of 164 in the previous 6 matches between the two sides. Pyestock should be proud of their efforts as they stuck to their task well, with some of the more irregular bowlers in the side stepping up well, and a very impressive performance behind the stumps from young Jake Baldwin augers much promise for the future.
Pyestock responded after tea with a slow and careful approach, looking to keep wickets in hand, but Ishants and Jhahiar had other ideas as the ring-rusty Chris McGovern was caught well by Ian Wyatt and Jon Ford soon followed his partner back to the pavilion to leave the visitors 28 for 2 after 9 overs.
Ben Armes boosted the run rate with some flash shots including 2 huge sixes and looked to be building a handy partnership with Jack Bromley before the introduction of the wily Wyatt, who used all his experience and guile to dismiss Armes and Pete Harris within his first over.
The game wasn’t up despite the score falling to 45 for 4, as Neil Butler joined Bromley at the crease and both used their skill and patience to eek out runs where possible as Pyestock moved ahead of the required rate.
Disaster however struck in the 18th over with the score on 67, as Bromley was bowled by new bowler Govin. The ball turned wickedly off of the surface adding a new threat to the chase, Murmurings surrounding the off-spinners action did the rounds and in a league fixture, may have caused more concern, but given the good-natured spirit of the game, Pyestock took it in their stride and attempted to stand tall to the challenge, however lost their 6th wicket as Colin Butler was adjudged LBW leaving Pyestock 20 overs to score 76 with only 4 wickets in the bag.
Ever improving Tom Threlfall was Butler’s next partner, just looking for someone to accompany him at the crease, and provided excellent support in adding 29 runs with his former captain, before being stumped. Further wickets for Alfie Francis that accounted for Jake Baldwin and Sam Armes meant that Pyestock somewhat limped into 3 figures and left Butler and last man Chris Heath needing 46 runs in 9 overs.
The pair gave it a go, and looked to be making progress, however with fatigue setting in, after several hurried 1’s and 2’s, a tired shot shot from Butler, who had held the innings together superbly, resulted in the final wicket as Phil Hales took a regulation catch of the faintest of edges.
Pyestock finished on 124 and suffered their first defeat of 2018, however in a fully enjoyable encounter, all seem happy just to be playing cricket once more after the long cold and dark winter months.