By Barbra Streisand
Long Ditton and Pyestock successfully avoided a terrible weather forecast to complete this Sunday’s fixture against the odds, but it was the hosts who triumphed comfortably in this 35 over contest.
Fielding first after losing the toss. Chris Heath’s side made an exceptional start in the grey and drizzly surroundings as Freddie Goodyear was caught behind from the very first ball of the match as Neil Butler immediately announced his return after missing the previous four matches, and in the very next over Jon Ford clung on to a catch in the gully as Chris Heath claimed the wicket of Felix Williams as the hosts fell to 5 for 2.
Despite the bowlers and fielders keeping proceedings tight. No further wickets fell in the first half of the innings as Chris Neely and captain Tom Leaning repaired the damage by patiently waiting and punishing the loose deliveries. Pyestock had their chances as Dan Heath and Chris Heath were amongst a few players failing to hold onto chances presented, as Butler in particular was unfortunate to not add to his wicket tally.
The pair pressed on and despite surviving a close run out call following quick thinking from Chris Heath, both batsmen passed 50 as Dan Heath bowled well without success, while 2 over spells from Jack Bromley and Mark Smith failed to find a breakthrough, but in the 23rd over Ben Armes illuminated the away teams performance with 2 wickets in his first over as Leaning could only find a leading edge back to the bowler, whilst 2 balls later Chris McNicholl was bowled without scoring as 103 became a sticky scoreline for the hosts.
This however brought the powerful Ollie Leaning to the crease and whilst targeting the offside with an array of powerful drives and punches, forced Pyestock to dig deep to prevent the run rate getting out of control.
Despite their best efforts, 72 runs were added in the final 10 overs as Pyestock struggled with Long Ditton intensity. Only Jack Bromley picking up the wicket of Leaning in the 32nd over as the hosts closed their innings on 191 for 5.
The reply from the visitors started steadily with Paul Bright and Jack Bromley looking comfortable against Adam Barlow and Chris McNicholl, and it appeared that a firm base was being set, but in a disastrous 26 ball spell Pyestock fell from 24 without loss to 41 for 3 as Bromley (9), Dan Heath (6) and Mark Smith (2) all fell to Barlow and the rebuild job was on.
Jon Ford joined Bright at the crease and looked patient but was also soon on his way as Tom Leaning took a regulation catch, before Paul Bright unluckily played on to impressive young spinner Ollie Carter, who returned excellent figures of 2 for 21 from his allotted 7 overs.
The job of digging Pyestock out of this deep hole fell to skipper Chris Heath and Pete Harris and despite some unnerving moments both survived into the second half of the innings, although both unable to raise the scoring rate to the required level.
Just as both were appearing more comfortable disaster struck as a calling mix up in the 26th over saw both batsmen at one end and the innocent Pete Harris was forced to depart.
With Pyestock still requiring 112 from 9 overs, the game played out to its conclusion without the result being in doubt. Freddie Goodyear made up for his earlier golden (diamond?/platinum?) duck by picking up the wickets of Neil Butler and last years hero Chris McGovern, while Ben Armes holed out at mid off with 2 overs remaining, leaving Chris Heath and Ethal Hapu the task of seeing out the 35 overs without the ignomy of being bowled out before time.
Pyestock lost the game by a large 70 run margin and no complaints can be had over the result as Long Ditton were superior in all departments throughout the afternoon. In truth, both teams ended up pleased just to get a game of cricket, which given the appalling forecast certainly didn’t look possible at the start of the day.