A severely depleted Pyestock claimed an impressive 6 wicket victory in their inaugural visit to Ramsdell CC this Sunday over the Whiteditch Rams.
Missing Neil and Colin Butler, Jack Bromley and Jake Baldwin to holidays as well as Chris McGovern, Ben Armes, Jay Threlfall, Ben Bromley and Katie Threlfall it was almost as if Pyestock needed a second XI stamp as they took to the field in the now usual sweltering heat of the 2018 summer.
Pyestock started the game with only 8 players as Dan Heath and last minute call up Glenn Taylor were delayed and Chris Heath and Sam Armes set about limiting the damage early on as Sam and Dave Holbrook looked to take advantage.
The pair bowled well, but runs were easy to find in the gaps in the field. The hosts kindly lent the struggling visitors Gary Pricket (more on him later) to fill a hole and reformed admirably despite the Rams notching up 49 runs in the opening 9 overs.with Pyestock’s only chance squandered as a faint edge from the bowling of Heath not collected behind the stumps.
As the reinforcements of Dan Heath and Taylor arrived on the pitch the fortunes changed with the first set of bowling changes. Last week’s hero Ethal Hapu continuing with his mysterious spin (and presence) by coaxing Sam Holbrook into a wild slash into the leg side, where Armes held onto a towering catch.
It was at this point the 40 over contest was changed to 35 at the request of the home captain given the advanced time. No issue or complaint made by either side, but given the late 2:30 scheduled start time left a few pondering.
New man Cotterill was soon run out by the sharp Taylor at mid wicket before Dave Holbrook picked out Chris Heath at mid-on and suddenly the hosts were 73 for 3, and what followed was an intense period of pressure from the Pyestock bowlers and fielders that strangled the Rams batting duo of Atkins and Robinson as the run rate fell dramatically.
By the time the 100 was brought up, the innings was into the 27th over with Dan Heath, Pete Harris and Hapu all keeping matters extremely tight. The powerful looking Atkins was kept largely in his shell despite the infrequent but glorious off-drives that were occasionally allowed out of the locker.
In an attempt to combat this skipper Heath returned around the wicket and took just 3 balls to make the breakthrough, bowling Atkins for a patient 18. It was an awkward time for the skipper and his troops however after a lengthy conversation took place between bowlers, batsmen and umpires alike after the return of the original match ball which was lost in the deep undergrowth early in the match. In is almost new state, there appeared to be consternation within the home ranks that the other poorer quality ball should be replaced at this late stage in the innings.
Nevertheless Robinson, now joined by Rogers added 36 more before the innings closed with a last ball run out by Paul Bright. Pyestock requiring 137 for victory, the last pairing batting sensibly against some probing bowling from Dan Heath and survived some lethal deliveries from Jon Ford [that’s as much poetic licence as I’ve ever used] as the match reached the half way point.
After tea, Whiteditch Rams utilised the unorthodox but extremely effective bowling of Gary Pricket, as Jon Ford and Paul Bright looked to set the away side off to a good start, but after just two deliveries Ford was back in the hutch, adjudged to have edged behind to the wicketkeeper. It was an early blow for Pyestock, but it was to descend further as Bright and Charlie Eve also succumbed to the excitable Pricket. The bowler, and his teammates were joyous and loving the exuberant celebrations of the opening bowler, and even Pyestock could only enjoy the glee despite looking in trouble at 18 for 3.
Tom Threlfall and Sam Armes repaired the chase to some extent, before Threlfall was bowled for 21, by that man again, but the introduction of Glenn Taylor to partner Armes further settled manners and calmly put Pyestock in the driving seat.
Picking off the loose deliveries, Pyestock moved to 100 for 4 in the 21st over which also saw Taylor bring up his half century, and allowed a freedom to reign for the rest of the innings, as even Armes, who by now was capping off a fine all round performance cashed in with some fluent drives and pulls.
By the time victory was secured in the 26th over, Taylor had passed the 6,000 run mark in his Pyestock career, whilst Armes’ unbeaten 35, proved his career best in a season where the youngster improves game on game.
It was an enjoyable and rewarding match for Pyestock who recorded their first victory since the trip to Widmer End in June. It is hoped that we can return to Ramsdell and face the Rams again. thankfully, familiar names return for next week’s trip to Chobham, where Pyestock head to for the first time since 2016 after rain ensured there was no fixture last season.