by Dinah Washington
Okay, maybe not a day, but 364 since Pyestock were rumbled badly in a 9 wicket defeat in their inaugural match up with the ever-pleasant Ripley CC, the tables turned and a surprise 3 wicket victory, helped by a half century from Glenn Taylor and 4 wickets from debutant Steve Puttock was recorded in an absorbing contest.
After last weeks seemingly random wash-out, the scorching temperatures were back and with both sides desperate to win the toss, it was home captain Rupert Baddock that triumphed and sent his counterpart Chris Heath and his team into the field on a green wicket surrounded by a dry and dusty outfield.
Chris Heath and Ben Armes opened the bowling and a tight start was rewarded in the 4th over as Neal Panting hooked into the leg side, and only succeeded in picking out Dan Heath at square-leg, the 8 runs scored at this point, all scored by the outgoing opener.
This however brought A.Pound to the crease to join Toby Baddock and the pair started cautiously, however soon displayed a high level of quality in shot selection and an array of splendid drives moved the scoreboard along, even though they also came across the immovable object that is Jack Bromley in the covers who showed his worth in the position by saving countless runs with multiple fine stops to frustrate the home sides batsmen.
The score moved past 50 as both opening bowlers were replaced and in just the blink of an eye Bromley’s contribution in the field amplified to turn the innings on its head. Steve Puttock, often a foe in various appearances for Farncombe Wanderers over the years, marked his first appearance in Pyestock colours with 2 almost identical wickets, as first Baddock, and remarkably two balls later Pound, played equally ugly off drives, which were totally not in keeping with the rest of their respective innings, and that man Bromley took two catches to reduce the scoreline to 54 for 3.
Suddenly Pyestock were now on top and at the other end, Dan Heath joined in the party by bowling an advancing James Clover without scoring before Ben Armes took a ridiculous catch at second slip to dismiss Toby Zapp as the hosts seemed in trouble at 82 for 5 after 19 overs, and events went from bad to worse as Puttock then broke the defences of Alex Osborne and Mark Clover in consecutive balls to reduce Ripley to 86 for 7.
Dan Osborne survived the hat-trick ball and with Thomas Clover, sensibly started to rebuild the innings by ably seeing off the remainder of Puttock and Heath’s overs (combined figures of 6 for 39) and began to score from the replacement bowlers Ethal Hapu and Pete Harris. Cleverly the pair steered their side out of trouble without taking any undue risks, and added a vital 62 for the eighth wicket before Hapu dismissed Osborne with a smart stumping by Jake Baldwin. At the other end, Clover had secured a deserved half century before gaining a life as Baldwin failed to hold on to a faint edge, and he and Rupert Baddock ran everything hard for the remaining deliveries as Pyestock began to wilt in the scorching temperatures, pulling their side to 178 for 8 at the end of their 35 overs. Both sides had competed well during the innings, and the same was hoped for in the second half.
After a tea containing surely some of the best cake at any cricket ground in the country, Pyestock set off in pursuit of their target, although subconsciously, the initial objective was to avoid a repeat of last seasons performance that saw the visitors fall to 26 for 7 within just 12 overs in the 2017 fixture, and thankfully chief tormentors Khurran Nasseer and Harry Jamil were not in the host’s line up this year and the opening bowlers Thomas Clover and Dan Osborne seemed in far more generous mood as Pyestock raced to 28 without loss within 5 overs.
The expensive Osborne was unceremoniously withdrawn after just a 2 over spell, and was replaced by Toby Zapp who exercised a far greater level of control and produced the innings’ first wicket as Paul Bright, who was playing more supportive role to some exuberant hitting by Jack Bromley, edged through to Alex Osborne for 7.
This brought Glenn Taylor to the crease, and he and Bromley worked well to keep pace with the required run rate despite the tight bowling of both Clover and Zapp. After 11 overs Pyestock had reached 54 for 1, identical to Ripley’s effort, and pressed on as James Clover replaced his namesake and despite an untidy second over that went for 7, picked up the crucial wicket of Bromley, caught in the deep by Toby Baddock. If ever there was a moment to appreciate the fine lines thrown up by the game of cricket, if the ball had been a foot higher, the opener would have been celebrating a swashbuckling half century instead of trudging off for 44.
Jon Ford joined Taylor, who now took the initiative and started finding the boundary more regularly as Pyestock passed the 100 mark in the 18th over, as Zapp finished his 7-over spell. This sparked a double change from the home side as Colin Gibbons and Dan Osborne, now operating from the pavilion end of the ground were introduced. Osborne’s fortunes could not have been more diverse from his earlier spell as he bamboozled Ford who was subsequently stumped by Alex Osborne, before Taylor was bowled for a fundamental 62, and then setting up the day’s second hat-trick attempt by also castling Ben Armes next ball as the visitors fell to 123 for 5.
Pete Harris and Jake Baldwin provided adequate support as Puttock continued to tick off the runs, and he was joined by Dan Heath in the 30th over as the match took 1 final swing with the visitors still requiring 24 runs from 32 balls.
Thomas Clover produced a tight over to finish his spell and this was followed up well by Gibbons final over only conceding 3, but Ripley’s gamble of trying to find wickets had failed and their 4 main bowlers had now completed their allotted overs with the away side needing 15 from 3 overs with both Puttock and Heath looking settled.
A huge six from Heath settled a lot of nerves in the 33rd over as Pyestock emerged as victor’s, finally securing a fantastic win with 5 balls remaining, it was a truly wonderful game of cricket that lurched one way and then the other as both sides outperformed each other at various stages. Baddock was gracious in defeat admitting that Pyestock had outfielded his side, while Chris Heath acknowledged that Ripley were somewhat hamstrung in the bowling department.
Handshakes and drinks all round and talk of a return in 2019 all very much welcomed as Pyestock finally rectified the disaster of 2017. Any return to this beautiful setting in the future will be undoubtedly eagerly awaited.
What a difference a year makes!