The Napa Valley Cricket Club dropped its season opener at Marin on May 17, a day of many firsts for the club. First loss of 2014. First loss to Marin since June 2012. First game of cricket for new American member Brett Weis. First time the Napa Valley club had batted all the way down its order in 2014.
On a cool day compared to the preceding week, NVCC captain Marin Mackenzie won the toss and opted to put Marin into bat at picturesque Piper Park. His decision paid off quick dividends as opening bowler Bernie Peacock had Marin batsman Jason Wright caught off the last ball of the first over by Bijoy Ojha.
This bright start by NVCC was muted by a fine partnership between Marin batsmen Minesh Govenji (69 off 68 balls) and Jim White (13 off 41). The pair laid a strong foundation for Marin and, despite the excellent bowling of Peacock, Mackenzie, Inderjeet Singh and Dale Moorehouse, Napa Valley didn’t get another wicket until the 14th over as Govenji and Pitman put on 61 runs for the second Marin wicket.
From that point on, NVCC had more success with the ball and wickets at regular intervals as Peacock, Ojha, Singh and Moorehouse helped keep Marin to a very chasable target of 210 runs in the allotted 40 overs. Napa Valley was strong in the field, with catches taken by American Brett Weis, Irishman Andrew Healy, Ojha and Mackenzie, two fine takes from wicket-keeper Jeff Keene, and a stunning caught and bowled by Peacock.
After lunch, NVCC set out to chase its target with captain Mackenzie opening the batting with Healy. The pair started solidly, if cautiously, with the highlight of its seven over partnership a majestic 6 by Healy that sailed over “cow corner.” Healy’s departure brought Keene to the crease and the New Zealander partnered up with his compatriot Mackenzie to good effect, adding 34 runs for the second NVCC wicket.
Napa Valley was looking strong at this stage, but a succession of cheap wickets — Keene (13 off 26), Ojha (2 off 6), Moorehouse (4 off 5) and Singh (4 off 4) — saw the visitors falter. Mackenzie fell to the slow bowling of Australian Craig McIntyre and Napa Valley limped to the 20 over drinks break with only 87 runs for the loss of 6 wickets.
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Napa Valley club president Phil Bourke (30 off 38) sparked a resurgence of sorts in his team’s run chase and, with fellow Australian Scott Curwood (18 off 22), added valuable runs. But it was Pete Carson (32 off 31) who, with support from the tail-enders, added a degree of respectability to the NVCC’s final score. Carson clubbed the Marin bowlers to all corners of the field in a valiant attempt to salvage the game. He was supported on debut by American Weis who himself added some valuable runs in his first ever game of cricket. His five runs off seven balls that he faced saw him contribute more to the team’s score that many seasoned players who had batted above him in the order. NVCC ultimately ran out of time and batsmen and ended up with a score of 180, falling 29 runs short of Marin.
The traditional Clos du Val “Man of the Match” Award went to Minesh Govenji of Marin for his great performances with the bat that laid the foundation for a strong team total.
“We always look forward to playing Marin,” said Mackenzie. “They are a great bunch of guys and the ground is one of the most pleasant we get to play at. Unfortunately, we were unable to extend our winning run against them. Despite a tidy effort in the field, some disciplined and varied spin bowling half way through our inning undid our batsmen. On the bright, side all our team got a chance to have a bat, with most of our less likely players, including our latest American recruit Brett, outshining the established batsman and getting amongst the runs”
Napa Valley’s next home game is June 14 at Napa County Fairgrounds in Calistoga against Marin at 10:30 a.m.
Napa Valley Cricket Club is sponsored by Clos du Val, Cork Supply USA, Tonnellerie Saint Martin, Biagi Bros., Oracle, go vino, Chandon, The Ciatti Company, Rebel Dog Hot Dogs, and Calistoga Roastery.
Visit napacricket.com for more information on the NVCC.