by Richard Hawley
Pyestock CC continued their winless start to the season this Sunday with a narrow 13 run defeat at Grayswood CC in an enjoyable fixture hastily arranged after the disappointment of losing the annual match up with Kings.
Despite consecutive defeats, 2018 has started in high spirits, with maximun levels of engagement and no shortage of fun and lighthearted banter. Friendly cricket seems alive and well.
Winning the toss for the third week in a row, captain Chris Heath elected to bowl first, once again, hoping to make early inroads into the home batting order. A more than gentle slope and very lopsided boundary were the challenges presented for the fielders and bowlers alike as the match got underway.
Another issue came in the form of Heath himself still not shaking off a shoulder problem resulting in an early bowling change after 5 overs, and openers Tom White and Cameron Kent looking untroubled despite varying styles of play. Whilst White was happy to play the supporting role, the impressive Kent punished any bad ball to maximum effect, and almost single-handedly moved the score onto 51 from the opening 10 overs.
Despite being in “attack mode” an intriguing battle was developing between Kent and Dan Heath and the Pyestock all rounder can count himself unlucky not to pick up the already prized wicket as a faint edge was not capitalised upon by the slip cordon, whilst a high swirling chance was put down by Pete Harris at long-on.
Heath did finally manage to claim a deserved wicket as Harris redeemed himself with a low catch to dismiss the patient White in the 20th over with the score on 93, and just like London buses, suddenly Heath found himself on a hat-trick with Ben Carter failing to get in line and perish for a golden duck.
In the next over. Jack Bromley found a little magic to dismiss Jonny Dow and the innings had seemingly turned on its head with 3 wickets falling for just a single run.
Pyestock looked to seize the initiative but Kent continued his onslaught and was now partnered by Henry Hind. And the rebuild began, as the pair took Grayswood past the 100 mark, but the introduction of Glenn Taylor, making his first appearance in a Pyestock shirt of the season finally gave Pyestock the wicket they craved after an audacious attempt at a reverse sweep saw the end of Kent’s entertaining innings as he ended on 93, a fabulous effort considering only 116 runs were on the board by the time the opener had trudged to the pavilion. Pyestock were left wondering what could have been had the earlier chances been taken.
A super spell from Pete Harris also produced his first wicket of the season as James Perrin was undone for just 5 but as Pyestock tired on the large fast outfield, Hind and Neil De Bruin took advantage with a late onslaught that undid a lot of the work from the away side to bring the run rate under control. No fewer than 47 runs were plundered from the final 4 overs to further hammer Pyestock’s chances of victory into the dirt. By the time 40 overs were up the score board had ticked along to 248 for 5 with Hind smashing a brutal unbeaten 84 from just 69 balls.
After tea, Jon Ford and Chris McGovern set about starting the chase in positive mind, but in just the 8th over, with the score on 32, Ford was caught and bowled by the impressive and economical Max Beckett. Unfortunately this triggered a chain reaction as MccGovern followed in the next over as he presented a simple catch to Neil de Bruin, before debutant Tom Mortimer, who had earlier impressed in a fully committed and energetic fielding performance, could not trouble the scorers as he was bowled by Prabin Kharel.
This left Pyestock 37 for 3 and seemingly out of the contest, however the tactic to leave back various big-hitters began to pay dividends as the match began to become extremely interesting. Firstly Glenn Taylor wasted no time in settling into his innings as Becketts figures were cruelly ruined with 1 for 7 from 6 overs was dismantled with 4 boundaries in successive balls before Harry Cronk removed Chris Heath for 5.
Dan Heath joined Taylor at the crease and rapidly added 19 runs before he too was dismissed by Cronk to leave Pyestock 95 for 5 with 23 overs remaining. it was at this point that the match really reached fever pitch as Jack Bromley joined Taylor and the pair went on the attack with devastating brutality and for the first time in the afternoon, the away side looked like favourites.
As the ball started disappearing to all parts of the small Surrey village, the run rate fell and Grayswood were forced to introduce Cameron Kent to the attack, who instantly added a few yards of pace, and may not have expected to bowl given the large target being defended. After a few length deliveries were comfortably dispatched by Taylor, now past the half-century mark, a shorter ball suddenly changed the game, as it slipped past Taylor’s pull and clattered into the stumps, destroying a bail in the process.
Pyestock now 173 for 6 thanks to the powerful partnership were now reliant on the lower order to support Bromley as the chase pressed on, young Jake Baldwin showing maturity and technique beyond his years to not only survive, but assist Bromley as the runs required column continued to drop.
The chase appeared to still be on once Bromley had dispatched a huge six over into the neighbouring field, to bring up his 50, but just 2 balls later the fun was over for the number 7 as a good catch from Jonny Dow producing Grayswood’s seventh wicket.
the catch of the day though belonged to Cameron Kent who was staking a strong claim for man of the match, as he somehow clung on to the ball at mid-on whilst back peddling to cut off a lofted lob from Ben Armes. a stunning effort and one that effectively ended Pyestocks chances of victory at 193 for 8 with only 52 balls remaining.
Jake Baldwin and Sam Armes ensured however that the entertainment was not over with a range of flamboyant and positive strokes, against some of the more part time home bowlers kept the game alive. It would have been interesting in a time-based scenario to see whether the visitors could hold out, however with the shackles off, the pair enjoyed putting on an unbeaten partnership of 43 as Pyestock closed on 236 for 8, just 13 runs short of victory.
In truth, Grayswood held Pyestock at arms length for the majority of the fixture and were deserved winners, but the atmosphere, and good nature of the fixture meant all considered the day a success. We thank Grayswood CC for hosting the fixture and hope that a return visit can be arranged in the future.