Brighter Days!

Forest Green
By Saint Raymond

Pyestock recorded their first victory of 2018 with a convincing 137 run win over luckless Forest Green CC within the beautiful surroundings of the Surrey Downs this Sunday.

Losing the toss for the first time this season, Chris Heath was forced to pick a batting line up to take on the unknown quantity of their new opponents and during the initial stages the signs looked like another tough afternoon awaited with Yogesh Bhanushali in particular causing early problems with his swing bowling in hot and muggy conditions.

The opening bowler accounted for both openers in his first 4 overs as Jack Bromley was caught at slip before Colin Butler also clipped a wide delivery behind to reduce the visitors to 22 for 2.

Bhanushali was unlucky not to add to his haul with further chances not taken as Chris McGovern in particular was handed a lifeline as the hosts started on top. At the other end Matthew Burgess picked up the wicket of Pete Harris as Pyestock looked in trouble.

As with other games this season however the batting order did hold back some power in reserve and debutant Paul Bright started slowly but began to show positivity once the openers had been seen off.

Despite this however, the first round of bowling changes kept the run rate down, with Pandey in particular proving difficult to get away with his sliding angled deliveries, and with the subsequent pressure claimed the wicket of Chris McGovern for 12 who was caught behind by wicket keeper James Whitmarsh.

Pyestock were now 47 for 4 but the introduction of Neil Butler to accompany Bright who was now 11 not out, proved the catalyst for Pyestock’s innings as the ex-captain showed the way with some brutal shots for which Forest Green struggled to find an answer for.

The second set of change bowlers Currin and Andy Lawrence were brutally dispatched in such that the pair of them were swiftly removed after just 3 overs that cost the hosts 42 runs as Pyestock suddenly looked powerful.

Bhanushali was quickly reintroduced in an attempt to stem the flow of runs however the full pitched length played into Butler’s hands and the scoreboard continued to climb.

Pyestock continued their assault and Bright passed 50, now fully comfortable with his surroundings and Butler looked certain to join him until Bhanushali gained his revenge and gained a wicket his persistence deserved by removing his victim thanks to a good catch for 48.

Pyestock were now 154 for 5 and with enough time for some exhibition hitting provided by Bright and Dan Heath. Sixes began to rain down over the small pitch as the batsmen targeted all balls in an attempt to bring Pyestock to a total that could be defended whilst probing for wickets in this timed format.

In the 43rd over a tired looking Bright was finally dismissed just 7 runs short of his century as Stewart Francis claimed a wicket and Pyestock finished their innings on 209 for 6. A special mention to Yogesh Bhanushali whose 3 for 45 from 14 overs was an exceptional effort in the conditions and circumstances and had given his side a chance at the interval.

After a splendid tea Pyestock looked to make early breakthroughs as only by bowling out their hosts could victory be assured, and could not have got off to a more perfect start as the very first ball from Neil Butler was fended loosely to gully by Anthony James, where Jack Bromley took a decent catch.

After a long delay where it was obvious the Forest Green number 3 Andrew Burgess had been caught unprepared by this early wicket, Butler steamed in again and astonishingly Burgess chopped his first ball straight down onto his stumps. 0 for 2 from 2 balls and Butler was on a hatrick!

Out came Yogesh Bhanushali, and with no fear or nerves, takes the close Pyestock fielders by surprise by launching himself at the hatrick ball and skies it to mid off where if falls agonisingly over the head of Pete Harris. The home side on the board with a single despite perhaps not coming in the most convincing circumstances.

Forest Green attempted to stabilise with Bhanushali and the shell-shocked skipper James Whitmarsh at the other end, but in the 4th overfurtger disaster struck. Whitmarsh played and missed at a length ball from opposite number Chris Heath and a feint noise suggested the ball had hit the stumps but the bail took an age to fall that you could only feel sorry for the home captain as he trudged from the field.

3 balls later and Heath had his second wicket as Andy Lawrence drove hard at silly mid off Chris McGovern who took a ridiculous instinct catch to reduce the home side to 8 for 4. Everything was going the way of the visitors.

Not to be outdone, Butler dismissed Pandey with a good, if not juggled catch by Paul Bright before Heath made it 3-3 as the aggressive Bhanushali, who had no designs in drawing the match, having just dispatched a huge 6 to the top of the adjoining oak tree, was yorked to leave the hosts in an impossible position at 25 for 6.

This brought Matt Burgess to the crease at number 8, and it was he who added some respectability to the innings, but not before namesake Stewart holed out to Glenn Taylor as the attacking philosophy continued.

In the 12th over a bowling change allowed last resort Ethal Hapu a chance to turn his arm over and became the second Pyestock player disappointed not to claim a hatrick as both of his first two deliveries were put down, Pete Harris in the deep and Chris Heath at silly mid off the culprits. Redemption swiftly followed however as the Hapu’s combined to dismiss Dixon for 1.

At 29 for 8 it was only a matter of time before victory was now secured as Pyestock had ample time and options to claim the remaining two wickets. In keeping with  the style of play adopted by those before him, Burgess went on the attack and bludgeoned 24 runs off of Hapu’s 2nd, and final over as he single-handedly dragged his side past 50, before Jack Bromley became the next Pyestock player to join the attack.

As the final 20 overs were announced somewhat academically, Forest Green required 147 runs, and despite a fifth maximum from Burgess, in the 17th over, it was Bromley who took the ninth wicket by bowling Burgess for 40, a decent effort in the circumstances.

This wicket prematurely ended proceedings with last man Currin opting against taking to the crease as to not further aggravate a hand injury sustained whilst fielding, meaning Pyestock here handed (sorry..!) a handsome and deserved victory.

Fate certainly played a part with the outcome as the top order were blown away with a combination of good bowling and rotten luck, but the sheer power and ruthlessness of the middle order of Pyestock’s batting line up, lynch pinned by Paul Bright ensured the visitors were able to go after early wickets to ensure a crack at that elusive win.

Forest Green were superb hosts and tea, surroundings, and after match sausages and beer very much appreciated. We certainly hope it will not be our last visit to the village!

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