On a field as green and flat as a billiard table and in a setting reminiscent of an English village ground, Napa Valley Cricket Club narrowly lost a low scoring match against the historic Philadelphia Cricket Club. This despite an elusive hat-trick (the taking of three wickets in consecutive balls) by NVCC bowler Tim Ford, the first in the club’s history.
The representative team from NVCC travelled to Philadelphia to play against one of the oldest cricket clubs in the USA. Philadelphia Cricket Club was formed in 1854 at a time when cricket was the dominant summer sport in North America. Over the years the club evolved into a country club offering multiple sports and, reflecting the demise and then recent re-emergence of cricket more broadly in America, stopped playing cricket in the 1920s before taking up the bat and ball again in the 1990s.
The NVCC team was welcomed with a lunch on the club’s verandah and warmly greeted by Philadelphia Captain Tom Culp, who shared some of the history of the club and expressed his gratitude to NVCC making the long cross-country trip to Pennsylvania.
After overnight and morning rain threatened the game, NVCC went out to bat under overcast conditions and was soon in trouble, losing a wicket in the opening over. The pair of Michael Rule and Alastair Martin dug in and slowly moved the score along to 22 before Rule fell to a catch. This was the first of three partnerships of about 20 runs that moved the score along to five wickets for 82, but the lack of a longer partnership hurt NVCC.
After Tim Ford fell for an innings high 37 runs NVCC lost three more wickets in quick succession slumping to eight out for 97 before Clive Richardson helped the tail wag putting on 19 runs to help NVCC to 121 at the end of their 30 overs.
With the clouds dispersing and sunshine warming the ground, Philadelphia began the chase in swash buckling form racing to 53 in nine overs, with opener Mark Marsan hitting 36 off 31 balls, before losing two quick wickets. The NVCC bowlers began to restrict the Philadelphia scoring and the game started to even up. Philadelphia had reached 94 for the loss of just four wickets, thanks largely to a steady 32 from Riz Ishmail, in the 23rd over when Tim Ford struck with his hat-trick, all the more impressive as all three were cleaned bowled. An even more remarkable double hat-trick was almost achieved with the fourth ball but the catch to first slip was dropped.
At seven for 94 the game was evenly poised, however George Connelly for Philadelphia wrapped the game up with a rapid-fire 20 off 14 balls to give the home team victory with 15 balls to spare.
After the game Napa touring captain Colin Nolan presented Mark Marshan of Philadelphia with the traditional Clos du Val Man of the Match award and NVCC president Phil Bourke presented Philadelphia captain Tom Culp with a signed bottle of Clos du Val wine to commemorate the trip.
Englishman Nolan reflected on the tour saying “The team felt honored to play on a beautiful ground that was reminiscent of many cricket clubs in England. In addition, to play against a team of absolute gentlemen made the experience somewhat special. While Napa Valley Cricket Club lost the match after a good comeback, our players will always remember the tour with the fondest of memories. To top the day off with a Philly cheese steak, put the icing on the cake!”
Saturday December 6th, Napa will be participating in the Quarter Finals of the Last Man Stands US Championships at Piper Park in Marin.
Sponsors – The Napa Valley Cricket Club wishes to acknowledge the assistance of the following sponsors – Clos du Val, Cork Supply USA, Tonnellerie Saint Martin, Biagi Bros., Oracle, go vino, 3 rock marketing, Domain Chandon, Napa Point Brewing, Joseph Cellars, Cornerstone Cellars, Ciatti & Co., Rebel Dog Hot Dogs, Napa Gourmet Foods, Treasury Wine Estates, Lyve Systems Inc., Calistoga Roastery, IPC Hospitalist Group, Taltarni, 707 Embroidery Zone and TricorBraun WinePak.