A busy few weeks for the Napa Valley Cricket Club saw them host three matches including their showcase match, the Napa Valley World Series of Cricket, at the Napa Valley Expo in downtown Napa. Matches against local club teams from both Bradshaw and Marin both took place at McGrath Field on the grounds of Napa State Hospital and saw NVCC win one game convincingly, and record a historic tied match in another.
NVCC played Bradshaw CC, who are based just south of Sacramento, with thoughts of making amends for two defeats in the 2016 season and NVCC were well balanced in all departments in pursuit of the win. Having lost the toss NVCC were asked to bowl first, a decision that worked well with captain Bernie Peacock’s game plan as the pitch at McGrath Field is still bedding in. Peacock opened the bowling with Karan Grewal and Mustafa Safdari and the pair had the opening batsmen for Bradshaw tied down. An early wicket for Safdari, clean bowling Bradshaw’s Balli for a solitary run was to be a theme in the Bradshaw innings. With only three of their batsmen getting into double figures Bradshaw struggled in the face of the variation of the NVCC bowling attack. Peacock used eight bowlers and alternated between pace, medium pace, and spin to keep the Bradshaw batsmen unsettled. Pick of the NVCC bowlers was Australian Brendan Helme whose haul of wickets sucked the life out of the Bradshaw middle order. Helme’s figures of four wickets for 20 runs off six overs were assisted by some great fielding at long-on by Pete Carson who took two great catches. Fellow NVCC spinner Kiranpreet Singh notched up two wickets to his name for only seven runs off five overs while Safdari took a great caught and bowled near the end of the Bradshaw innings to help wrap them up for a total of 111 of 30.5 of the allotted 35 overs.
In reply, Peacock sent out New Zealand batting pair Jeff Keene and Martin Mackenzie to open for NVCC. Left-handed Keene, known for this slow and methodical innings, batted well with the big hitting Mackenzie. Both fell to the bowling of Bradshaw captain Harvi Dhugga in the sixth and eight overs but not before Mackenzie has pummeled his way to 24 runs, with five fours and some odd singles to set a strong base for the NVCC chase. A quick-fire 16 runs off 13 balls from Chandanpreet Singh was followed by the game winning partnership from Grewal (30 off 36) and Kiranpreet Singh (21 off 27) with Grewal showing the patience that has been missing in previous innings to hit the final runs, a six, for victory in only the 22nd over.
The NVCC held their sixth annual Napa Valley World Series of Cricket, their annual showcase match, on the Silverado Green at the Napa Valley Expo in late July. This annual match pits members of the club against each other based on their country of birth and usually attracts a large crowd over the course of the day. The recently laid field meant that the outfield surface was world class and the crowd, in excess of 250, was treated to a hard fought match with almost 370 runs scored. Napa Mayor Jill Techel officiated the toss with team captains Bernie Peacock of the Rest of the World (RoW) team and John Leake of the Australia / America (AA) team. Leake called heads, won the toss, and decided to put the RoW team in to bat.
Leake must have been delighted with his decision as his opening bowlers, Tim Irwin and himself each claimed an early wicket with Adersh Maqsood and Abhijit ‘Doc’ Adhye both dismissed for one run apiece. Sadly, for Leake, and the rest of the AA team, there wasn’t much to celebrate after that. Harjit Singh dug in for an impressive innings falling one run short of a 50 with 49 runs off 41 balls and he was partnered for his time in the middle by Amritpal Bhatal who finally delivered for the RoW team in a World Series match. Bhatal showed the skills he is renowned for with his vast array of shots but more importantly he showed real patience in building his innings which was the bedrock of the RoW teams final score. His 61 off 85 balls included five fours and three sixes and after Harjit’s dismissal, he continued to score freely while partnering Karan Grewal and sensible swapping of the strike allowed Grewal to play himself in. A score of 220 plus looked possible for the RoW team but Leake marshaled his limited bowling resources well and a flurry of late wickets kept the RoW score to 198 in their 35 overs. A standout performance in the field from Irwin saw him take four catches in addition to his three wickets.
In reply, the AA team got off to a rocky start losing their first three wickets inside seven overs with only 17 runs on the board. Peacock took the wicket of Phil Bourke, caught by Chandanpreet Singh, in addition to that of Brendan Helme, LBW (leg-before-wicket). Batting at number four for the AA team captain Leake came to the middle with extra pressure to perform given the relative collapse of the opening three. Leake, who is probably the strongest batsman the NVCC has ever had in its ranks, dug in for a long stay at the crease. After a brief partnership of 17 with American Peter Cameron, Irwin joined Leake in the middle and the pair attempted to save the match for the AA team. Their partnership of 90 runs for the fifth wicket, with Leake scoring 35 runs off 49, got the team score to 123 in the 26th over. With 75 runs still needed off the remaining nine overs, Irwin looked to up the run rate but was undone by the bowling of Bhatal and a sharp reflex catch at head height by Adhye who had been positioned at first-slip by Bhatal for just that reason. After Irwin’s departure, a procession of AA batsmen came and went in a forlorn attempt to chase down the total. Leigh Ritchie added respectability to the AA total with a quick-fire 13 off 15 including a towering six to deep mid-wicket but in the end they ended up 31 runs short of victory.
The win for the RoW team means the annual contest is now all square with three wins each. The large crowd included members of the Napa Valley Expo board, John Dunbar, and Jeri Gill, who took some time out from watching their first ever cricket match to share with those in attendance plans for the future of the Expo site.
After the match the Man of the Match awards were presented to Bhatal for the Rest of the World team – 2 wickets, 61 runs, one catch – and Irwin for the Australia & America team – 3 wickets, 52 runs, four catches.
“It was a great day out for the cricket club today as we hosted our first World Series match here at the Expo in downtown Napa” said NVCC vice president Andrew Healy “Playing the match on the beautiful surface that is the Silverado Green added to the spectacle and we’re delighted that we had such a large crowd in attendance over the course of the day. The cricket itself was of a high quality with some great batting, bowling, and fielding so we hope the crowd, many of whom were at their first ever cricket match, enjoyed the event”
With memories of the World Series still lingering NVCC hosted North Bay rivals, Marin CC Socials (MCC) at McGrath Field in Napa State Hospital. The match, the second in the annual three-match series that the clubs play, ended in a nail-biting finish and a historic tie, the first in the six-year history of the NVCC.
Asked to bat first NVCC opened with Jeff Keene and Mujtaba Safdari. Keene shone with the bat and ground out a typical openers innings ending up with 26 runs off 70 balls. His innings set the tone for the match as runs were in short supply for both teams and every run scored was well and truly earned. Five NVCC batsmen, including Keene, made it into double figures with the slow outfield at McGrath Field meaning boundaries were at a premium. Harjit Singh scored 22 runs off 34 balls while Karan Grewal (17 off 23), Leigh Ritchie (16 off 28), and Peter Sander (22 off 30) all contributed with decent knocks to the total. With extra’s – 26 in total – NVCC reached 151 in their 40 allotted overs.
Early success with the ball for NVCC had MCC reeling as wickets tumbled at regular intervals while there were precious few runs to trouble the scorer. At drinks – 20 overs – MCC had scored 40 runs for the loss of five wickets and looked down and out. The initial wickets were spread across the NVCC bowling attack with one each for Grewal, Safdari, off-spinner Pete Carson, and two for Brendan Helme. It all changed after the drinks break as MCC batsmen Prasad Dande and Vishnu Chapalamadugu decided that if they were going to go down, they were going to go down swinging. The pair added 63 for the sixth wicket and turned the match on its head. After Dande fell in the 30th over Chapalamadugu continued the assault on the NVCC bowlers eventually falling for 42 off 51 bowled to Grewal with the score at 111. MCC continued apace to chase down the NVCC total and arrived at the final over with 10 runs needed to win. A cliff hanger of a final over saw Shabeer scamper through for a single run on the second ball of the over, that was followed by two dot balls leaving nine required to win off two balls. A towering six by Vinay Mehra swung the match back in MCC’s favor and two runs off the final ball of the match saw a pulsating climax to the match end in a tie.
The Napa Valley Cricket Club wishes to acknowledge the assistance of the following sponsors