by Chuck Berry
Pyestock CC unexpectedly returned to Ewell CC this weekend and recorded their first victory over their now regular opponents in 5 attempts with vice-captain Jon Ford lynch-pinning the victory with a stylish and unbeaten 54.
Fielding first on an unseasonably chilly June day, captain Chris Heath and brother Dan opened the bowling against Simon Parker and Alfie Francis as Ewell looked to pile on some early runs, but the tight line and length strangled the batsmen as the visitors started on top.
The first drama of the match revolved around Sam Armes who dropped Francis at square leg, before the same batsmen was reprieved once again after a regulation catch was not taken at slip, as it looked to not be Pyestock’s day, however in an unusual twist it was Parker who departed in the 6th over, retiring hurt after tweaking a calf while running between the wickets.
The Heath brothers continued to keep the shackles tightly on the Ewell batsmen as the score crept to only 27 after 14 overs, before Dan Heath claimed the first wicket of the day as home Captain Phil Hales drove loosely to be caught well by Louis Rogers diving forwards at short cover.
This breakthrough enticed the Pyestock skipper to persevere with his opening pairing until they were both fully bowled out, but no further successes left Ewell 40 for 1 after 16 overs with the remaining bowlers in the team tasked with completing the remaining overs.
Ben Armes and Jay Threlfall proved adequate replacements and despite Francis and Phillip Woolston starting to add some positivity to their sides innings, they could not break loose and just before the drinks break, a superb throw from Jack Bromley saw Woolston run out for 14. Ewell were 61 for 2 at the halfway stage in their innings.
This wicket brought number 5 Kumar to the crease and instantly looked comfortable against the Pyestock bowling attack , who turned to Louis Rogers to provide some variation, however it was Threlfall who struck next as the stubborn Francis drove straight back at the bowler who took a good catch to claim his first wicket of the season. New man Ruddell, also perished in the next over as Colin Butler took a solid one handed catch as the hosts slipped further into trouble at 76 for 4.
Mikshan joined the comfortable looking Kumar at the crease, and despite looking shaky to start with, soon grew into the innings with some positive an powerful strokes as the innings finally received the spark it required as some much needed acceleration as Rogers and Threlfall suddenly found themselves under attack and needing to defend the boundaries against some powerful hitting.
The pair, were suddenly giving the Pyestock fielders the runaround as no fewer than 101 runs were plundered from the final 10 overs as boundaries rained down. The visitors did not help themselves with some disappointing fielding, but their heads did not drop and Kumar did eventually fall to the final ball of the innings as he sliced to Paul Bright at fly slip as the innings closed on 197 for 5. Pyestock certainly thankful for the relative calm in the opening 30 overs, which somewhat dissipated the carnage of the last 10.
In reply Pyestock turned to their eighth and ninth different opening batsmen of the season as the rotation policy adopted for 2018 shows no signs of fading into obscurity, Dan Heath and Tom Threlfall initially looking calm and composed against the home sides opening bowling pair of Tahir and Nishanth, smashing 17 from the opening 13 balls. It was at this point, that the match looked to swing massively in Ewell’s favour as 3 wickets fell in just 9 balls as Pyestock’s habit of losing early wickets continued. Firstly Threlfall was bowled by Tahir before Nishanth cleaned up Dan Heath and Paul bright to leave the away side staring at embarrassment at 21 for 3.
By now however last seasons regular opener Jon Ford was at the crease and injected a level of calm to proceedings and he and Ben Armes slowly rebuilt the innings. Cautiously, the pair saw off the remainder of the opening partnership without due alarm as Pyestock climbed to 60 for 3 after 12 overs.
As with many games this season, Pyestock continued to score runs at more than the required rate, meaning the danger lay in the wickets column, and memories were stirred of the earlier match up between the two sides, where Chris Heath’s side were seemingly cruising to victory but could not stop the flow of wickets and eventually ran out of batsmen in and fell to defeat, therefore it was refreshing in this instance that Ford and Armes looked solid in building a partnership of 62 before Armes was caught off the bowling of Govind in the 17th over. Luois Rogers followed soon after as he was bowled by the same man, as the same worries reemerged, but Jack Bromley joined Ford and between them moved Pyestock slowly back into the match.
Ford was now fully comfortable at the crease and nudging singles almost at will as Bromley looked to be the more attacking of the pair and survived a couple of scares as he tried to take the game to the hosts, Armstong finished his 4 wicketless overs just as Pyestck moved into 3 figures at the halfway point, and seemed right on track to complete a fabulous chase.
Ewell responded by introducing Mikshan to the crease and despite an untidy start where his first 2 overs produced 24 runs, he smartened up his spell well and after Francis had snaffled Bromley for 33 thanks to a smart catch by wicket-keeper Phil Hales, claimed a valuable wicket by bowling Colin Butler for 17 as Pyestock lost their 7th wicket with 35 runs still to find.
New batsmen Sam Armes, who had already proved no slouch with the bat in his short but growing Pyestock career, targeted the bowling of Mikshan and Francis, and with Ford again playing the supporting role to superb effect, moved the visitors into pole position as the runs required began to tumble. In the 33rd over, Ford, the the delight of his team-mates pulled a shorter ball from Francis away to bring up his 16th half century for the club and moved Pyestock to within 20 of victory.
Nishanth was reintroduced for the 35th over, but it was too little and too late for the home side as Sam Armes slammed the ball to the extra cover boundary as Pyestock completed their biggest run chase since scoring 213 to beat Tadworth 12 months previously.
All in all, it was another very pleasant trip to Ewell, with the run chase as unexpected as the second visit in 5 weeks. We thank our opponents for their hospitality once again, and look forward to locking horns again in 2019, or who knows, maybe even earlier.