By Leona Lewis
After a two week hiatus, Pyestock Cricket Club returned to action at Worcester Park CC and produced a strong performance to claim a creditable draw against their talented opposition.
With he unusual situation of having a full compliment of players available, ex captain Neil Butler, brother Colin and fit again Jay Threlfall watched on from the sidelines as home skipper David Stemp won the toss and elected to bat on a good looking pitch and traditional large outfield, and the now traditional, but enjoyable lengthened time format.
Opposite number Chris Heath along with Ben Armes ensured a tight start with only 9 runs were found in the opening 7 overs as Nathan Andrews and Andrew Botting looked to find their feet, however Heath soon sent Andrews in his way as he clipped the ball to midwicket and only found the safe hands of Sam Armes.
Not to be outdone, brother Ben soon found his length as Botting was bowled and replacement Matt Smith caught and bowled as the hosts start flattered to deceive as they fell to 17 for 3.
Pyestock were on top and new batsmen Iqbal Jan and Dave Wilkinson had work to do to repair their sides chances and batted sensibly despite the visitors best efforts. Jan was lucky to survive after a Chinese cut narrowly missed his own stumps early on, but otherwise punished the bad balls well as the duo led the recovery.
Change bowlers Dan Heath and Jack Bromley both probed well as the increasingly settled batsmen and while keeping the run rate low, failed to take the fourth wicket the away side craved, and despite the lack of a breakthrough only managed to bring the score to 95 within the first 25 overs.
Eventually the fourth wicket did fall in the next over, and as predicted by Chris McGovern, who had made a point of reminding Jan of his involvement in a suicidal run out in 2016 during a period of play where the visitors were only fielding 7 players, the dismissal came about in the same way, Sam Armes reacting quickly to return the ball leaving wicket-keeper Tom Threlfall the easy job of removing the bails and Jan from the action.
Yasser Khan was the new man and after initially looking shaky and surviving a strong appeal for caught behind, attacked the bowling powerfully and provided the perfect partner for the more patient Wilkinson.
Sam Armes entered the attack as Pyestock continued to battle in what was turning out to be a long stint in the field, but Wilkinson and Jan continued to progress the scoreline. The score moved past 150 in the 37th over as Wilkinson reached a deserved half-century, despite not reaching the milestone in the most convincing fashion as a ball skied high into the offside was not held by the unfortunate Jon Ford.
Yasser also reached his half century in swifter fashion than his partner but was then bowled by Sam Armes as the score had reached 191 for 5, and this allowed the talented Mike Arundell free licence to attack the remaining overs as time began to run out for the home side. 29 in just 12 balls helped haul Worcester Park to a very respectable 240 for 5 after 57 overs, Wilkinson also taking the plaudits, finishing 84 not out.
After tea Chris McGovern and Paul Bright looked to set Pyestock on track and put their side in a position from which victory could be taken, With a lot of time still in the game, it seemed as if the visitors were in with a good shout on a batsmen friendly surface and the initial signs were good with Luke Sapey and Tom Williams unable to disturb the opening pair I. The early stages.
It was almost a surprise then, that Bright found himself departing in the 7th over as Sapey bowled the left hander allowing Tom Threlfall the chance to find form at number 3. The youngster immediately looking comfortable as he forged a 41 run partnership with McGovern before change bowler Mike Arundell, bowled the opener for 26.
Jake Baldwin, batting in his highest position for Pyestock was unable to keep out the impressive Iqbal Jan at the other end, but replacement Jack Bromley fought back with Threlfall to keep The visitors in the game with some positive shots, however the impressive Jan was keeping the bowling tight at one end with only 15 runs being lost from 6 overs.
As the announcement for the final 20 overs arrived Pyestock were behind the curve slightly with 154 runs required despite actually being ahead of where their opponents were at the same stage. A lot of work was needed to match the late onslaught provided by Worcester Park earlier in the day.
To their credit, Pyestock went for the jugular and started to attack. Even when Threlfall was stumped for 30 Dan Heath hit the ground running. Ironically however it was the actual running that proved the end of an entertaining cameo as an ill-judged second run saw the number 6 depart following a good throw by Arundell.
86 was now required in 11 overs, which, with the fluent Bromley at the crease was still not allowing Worcester Park to sit easy, and now partnered by Jon Ford, continued their chase. It seemed however that htge home side had just enough in the tank to hold Pyestock at arms length and once Bromley was caught well for an industrious 48, soon followed by Sam Armes it seemed the game was up.
There was still time for an entertaining cameo from Ben Armes who along with Ford added 42 for the 8th wicket and added an air of true respectability to Pyestock’s chase, as a deserved draw was secured. The margin at the close of play a mere 21 runs.
A good match with the correct resulted was once again obtained, and with another pleasant day hosted by Worcester Park it is hoped that we will once again return to cross swords, in the enjoyable extended format (89 overs were possible). Thank you to WPCC for the warm hospitality.