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The Napa Valley Cricket Club played the San Francisco-based Seals in their fourth annual Vino Cup match on Aug. 26 at Napa Valley Expo.

Though the Seals only play a handful of matches each season, they showed all of their skill and ability with a comprehensive victory over their hosts.

Having lost his seventh consecutive toss of the 2017 season, NVCC captain Bernie Peacock and his team were put into bat. Given the forecast of 100-degree heat for later in the afternoon, it wasn’t a surprise to Peacock that his team would be in the field in the afternoon heat. To open, he sent out Martin Mackenzie partnered by Tim Marshall – who was finally able to don his whites for a match, having been injured in the spring while on vacation.

Mackenzie laid down an early mark with a four off the first ball of the match, but he couldn’t maintain with strong batting and was caught shortly afterwards by Cooper Lees off the bowling of Luke Ingham. Marshall played a watchful innings and stuck around to face 41 balls. However, in an effort to push on and up the scoring rate alongside fellow batsman Adriaan Foot, he was undone by the bowling of Sammy Davey to a catch by Jack Lucas, for 17 runs.

That brought Harjit Singh to the middle for NVCC and he dropped anchor to steady the NVCC innings, which was starting to look shaky. Singh batted with the style he has shown all season, adding a very respectable 33 runs off 44 balls. But he couldn’t find anyone to stick around with him in the middle, as a procession of NVCC batsman came and went cheaply – Tim Irwin (6 off 7), Leigh Ritchie (3 off 13), Adersh Maqsood (1 off 4), Dipen Modi (6 off 17), Scott Curwood (0 off 2), Pete Carson (8 off 14) and Rob Bolch (4 off 18).

It was left to Peacock, batting at No. 12, to add some respectability to the score. He knocked up a quick-fire 16 runs not out in just 21 balls that included two fours and some hard running between the wickets for a number of singles. Peacock’s efforts saw the NVCC to a total of 133 runs off their allotted 35 overs.

After lunch provided by club sponsor Compadres Rio Grille, it was the Seals’ turn to chase as the temperature at the Expo topped 102 degrees. It was going to take a strong effort in the field from the NVCC team to restrict the Seals. A couple of early wickets gave them hope, albeit false hope. With three wickets in the first five overs for NVCC where Mackenzie and Maqsood were kept busy – two wickets for Maqsood and a catch and run-out for Mackenzie – Peacock sensed that a couple more could swing the game in NVCC’s favor. It wasn’t to be, however, as the Seals’ middle order – Ben Dowdell (33 runs of 27 balls), Brad Busch (27 off 33) and Luke Ingham (39 not out off 25) – made sure that there was no way back for the NVCC.

Peacock tried everything, alternating between pace and spin with regularity. But his team couldn’t find wickets when it needed them and the Seals had three solid partnerships for wickets three, four and five that took the game away from NVCC. Seals wicketkeeper-batsman Liam Saunders brought the match home in convincing style for the visitors with 14 off the last three balls – four, six, four – in only the 23rd over. Maqsood came close to a five-wicket haul in the match, returning figures of four wickets for only 14 runs off his seven overs that included one maiden (no runs scored), and Irishman Andrew Healy picked up the only NVCC wicket with Dowdell caught by NVCC keeper Pete Carson.

After the match, Peacock presented the 19 Crimes Wine “Man of the Match” award to the Seals’ Luke Ingham for his excellent contribution to the match with both bat (39 not out) and ball (1 for 21 off 6).

“It was a tough match for us today,” Peacock said, “and the toss was the important thing to win. The Seals did, and they did the right thing by putting us in to bat. Honestly, we just didn’t get enough runs on the board, so we didn’t give ourselves much to defend, and despite another solid knock from Harjit, no one else really stepped up and showed the patience to grind out a decent innings for themselves or the team. As a result, we were always going to struggle with the ball and the Seals’ middle order was strong. Batsman after batsman came out and contributed solid knocks and, ultimately, they won the match at a canter. The match was played in great spirits and we love hosting the Seals here in the Napa Valley. Sadly, we’ll have to wait until 2018 to try and take back the Vino Cup from them.”

Napa Valley next hosts the Davis Daredevils at the Napa Valley Expo at 10:30 a.m. Saturday.

The NVCC thanks sponsors Clos du Val, Crown Hill Stone Supply, St. Helena Optometry, Anchor Steam, Azmera Consulting, Caliber Home Loans, Compadres Rio Grille, 19 Crimes Wines, Amcor, John Fearless, Bill Wagner Realtor, Lyve Systems Inc., Mechanics Bank, Stone Universe Inc., Napa Gourmet Foods, 3 rock marketing, ZAM Apps.

The Napa Valley Cricket Club is a California nonprofit with the purpose of establishing and running an amateur cricket club in the Napa Valley to further the social enjoyment and development of cricket and associated events within the area. Formed in 2012 and now in its sixth season, the Napa Valley Cricket Club welcomes adult players of all skill levels.

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