The Napa Valley Cricket Club (NVCC) wrapped up a very busy 2015 season recently with a narrow loss to local rivals Sonoma Gullies a comprehensive win against touring Merion CC from Philadelphia. Having been comprehensively beaten by the Gullies earlier in 2015 NVCC were hoping to make amends and ended up tantalizingly close, in the end falling just nine runs short.
Both recent games saw occasional NVCC player Amritpal Bhatal shine with both bat and ball. Bhatal’s contribution in the game against Merion with his maiden century for the NVCC was backed up by two crucial wickets.
The NVCC renewed their trans Mayacamas rivalry against the Sonoma Gullies with captain Rob Bolch buoyed by the availability of a strong team. With the Gullies batting first Bolch opened the bowling with pacey left-armer Moe Maqsood and Bhatal. This paid early dividends for NVCC with each of them taking the wicket of the Gullies openers with barely any runs on the board. Big hitting Sushil Kumar for the Gullies added a solid 59 runs off 50 balls including five maximums but he was frustrated by Bolch’s tactics of getting his bowlers to tempt Kumar outside his off stump. Bolch himself accounted for three of the Gullies middle order including Kumar having him caught by Pete Carson, one of four catches Carson took on the day. The Gullies limped onward after Kumar’s dismissal and were looking to pile on the runs in the last few overs. But they couldn’t cope with the deceptive slow bowling of NVCC’s Andrew Healy who had Inderjeet Singh caught by Carson at “cow corner” while Healy bowled the remaining two batsmen to leave the Gullies with 150 runs in 29.5 of their 35 overs.
By co-incidence NVCC opened their batting with the same pair who opened the bowling and Maqsood and Bhatal looked to be motoring towards the target of 151 runs. The pair had scored 45 runs by the ninth over when Maqsood went for 25 runs off 32 balls. Maqsood’s brother went cheaply shortly after but the boat was steadied by Martin Mackenzie who alongside Bhatal put on 29 runs for the third wicket. Mackenzie’s dismissal in the 19th over started a collapse of the NVCC middle order and in quick order NVCC lost four wickets – Bhatal 32 off 61, Tim Kay 4 off 1, Phil Bourke 0 off 2 and Carson 0 off 4. It was time for a captains innings! Bolch obliged and with strong support from Hardeep Takhar the pair put on 56 runs. With 12 required to win the game off the last over Bolch and Takhar were well set to snatch an unlikely victory but hadn’t reckoned on the pinpoint bowling of Inderjeet Singh who kept them to only two runs in that final over. Their numbers – Bolch 36 off 37 and Takhar 15 off 30 – helped the NVCC run the Gullies close but in the end they were denied by some great bowling.
“The Gullies had a really strong team, and they’ve proven to be a very hard team to beat historically” said NVCC Captain Bolch “The ‘Wine Country Cup’ has become a tradition between us, and so far they have the upper hand. It was really competitive game and we were very happy to get them out for 150 given their batting line up. It was great all-round performance by our bowlers and fielders.” continued Bolch “We made a good fight off it in the run chase but we just lost a few crucial wickets in the middle order, that put us behind the eight ball in the run chase. But, to only fall short by 9 runs was a really great effort in the end. Amritpal played great all-round game – bowled really well, fielded excellently and batted solidly.”
The Clos du Val ‘Man of the Match’ for the Gullies went to Sushil Kumar for his batting. The NVCC Compadres Rio Grill ‘Man of the Match’ went to Amritpal Bhatal for his great all round effort.
Sunday 18th October, 2015 – Napa Valley CC vs Sonoma Gullies at The Fairgrounds, Calistoga – Full Scorecard
Napa Valley CC 141 / 7 lost to Sonoma Gullies 150 all out by 9 runs. (35 over game / 11 batting)
Napa Valley CC Batting – Rob Bolch 36 runs not out off 37 balls (3 x 4), Amritpal Singh 32 off 61 (3 x 4), Moe Maqsood 25 off 32 (1 x 4, 2 x 6).
Napa Valley CC Bowling – Andrew Healy 3 wickets for 21 runs off 2.5 overs, Rob Bolch 3 for 62 off 7, Amritpal Singh 1 for 10 off 5.
For their last game of their 2015 season the NVCC hosted the touring Merion CC (MCC) from Philadelphia. Merion are the second club from Philly to travel to the Napa Valley with Philadelphia CC making the trip in September 2013. Like Philadelphia CC, Merion have a long and storied history having been founded in 1865 and they celebrated their 150th anniversary with a tour to the West Coast having played against Marin CC the day before their encounter with NVCC.
NVCC captain Rob Bolch won the toss and decided to ask MCC to bat first on an autumnal Calistoga morning. With a wealth of bowling options available to him Bolch went with Pat O’Neil and Tony Parrish to open the bowling. While O’Neil went wicket-less his accuracy ensured that pressure was built on the MCC batsmen and his five overs included an impressive maiden over – an over with no runs scored of it. Parrish got the first wicket and from there MCC wickets continued to fall at regular intervals. The backbone of the MCC innings was an impressive 70 runs off 49 balls from Nadeem Solanki that included four 6’s. Solanki anchored the innings for the tourists and despite being dismissed when the scoreboard read 145 Merion’s tail-enders managed to contribute healthily with the bat and push them to a total of 203 in their 35 overs.
Standout wicket-takers for NVCC included Parrish 2 wickets for 27 runs off 5 overs, Amritpal Bhatal 2 for 25 of 7 including 1 maiden and Martin Mackenzie 2 for 35 off 5. The prized wicket of Solanki was taken by American member Peter Cameron who had Solanki play the ball onto his own stumps as he stepped out to club a “beamer” out of the ground!
“Merion put on a great total of 203, which is a really good score on the Calistoga ground” said NVCC captain Bolch at the mid-innings break as he looked to a strong batting line up to chase it down.
The NVCC openers Moe Maqsood and Bill Nancarrow both lost their wickets cheaply – 0 and four runs respectively – and that brought Bhatal to the crease for what would turn out to be a historic innings for him in NVCC colors. His maiden century for the NVCC was 109 not out and included 12 fours but surprisingly only one 6. Bhatal was partnered through his milestone innings by a number of NVCC batsmen who also made substantial contributions to the NVCC chase. O’Neil hit a very solid and watchful 37 runs off 25 balls while Cameron hit an impressive 20 runs from the 19 balls that he faced. Bhatal brought it home in the 29th over for NVCC in style with a four as he deservedly took an ovation from both sets of players for his innings.
“In the final NVCC game of the year, it was really great to host the Merion Cricket Club from Philadelphia who are celebrating their 150 year anniversary. They were a pleasure to play against and true gentleman, both on and off the field. They even brought their own support all the way from the East Coast and we were more than happy to show them all some warm Napa Valley hospitality” continued Bolch “Our batsmen got off to a really good start in the run chase and were always ahead of the run rate with plenty of wickets and batting to come. In the end we got the runs fairly easily thank to a superb innings of 109 from AP who had great support from both, Pat and Peter. AP’s century was obviously a huge highlight and factor in NVCC winning the game. He has been a great club man since we started the Club and really deserved his first ton for the club. He has shown so much promise and is a really classy batsman.”
Merion CC Tour Manager Jamie Johnson added “We were bowled over by the setting, organization and hospitality shown to all of us by the Napa Valley Cricket Club” continued Johnson “on the field we felt we set a respectable target, but we ran into a batsman in irresistible form”.
The Clos du Val ‘Man of the Match’ for Merion CC went to their captain Tahir. The NVCC Compadres Rio Grill ‘Man of the Match’ went to Amritpal Bhatal for maiden century for the NVCC.
Sunday 25th October, 2015 – Napa Valley CC vs Merion CC at The Fairgrounds, Calistoga – Full Scorecard
Napa Valley CC 205 / 6 beat Merion CC 203 all out by 4 wickets. (35 over game / 11 batting)
Napa Valley CC Batting – Amritpal Bhatal 109 runs not out off 96 balls (12 x 4, 1 x 6), Pat O’Neil 37 off 25 (7 x 4), Peter Cameron 20 off 19 (2 x 4).
Napa Valley CC Bowling – Amritpal Bhatal 2 wickets for 25 runs off 7 overs incl. 1 maiden, Tony Parrish 2 for 27 off 5, Martin Mackenzie 2 for 35 off 5.
The Napa Valley Cricket Club wishes to acknowledge the assistance of the following sponsors
Clos du Val, Silverado Resort, Compadres Rio Grille, Tonnellerie Saint Martin, Penfolds, St. Helena Optometry, First Priority Financial, Anchor Steam Brewing, Amcor, Joseph Cellars, Ciatti & Co., Biagi Bros., Rebel Dog Hot Dogs, Stone Universe, Lyve Systems Inc., Calistoga Roastery, TricorBraun WinePak, 3 rock marketing, Napa Gourmet Foods, Napa Valley Body Connect.