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Napa Valley Cricket: Club takes baby steps to normalcy

Napa Valley Cricket: Club takes baby steps to normalcy

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The Napa Valley Cricket Club has played two matches on the road and has been back in the practice nets as it looks to get back to playing competitively in its 10th season.

With all of the playing members now vaccinated for COVID-19, the club started practice nets at Newton's Law of Fitness in early May. It allowed many of the members to shake off the cobwebs after more than 18 months without cricket. Nets sessions continue on a weekly basis at 7 p.m. Tuesdays.

The club’s first competitive match was on May 22 against the Marin Socials at Piper Park in Larkspur. It was the first of three matches scheduled for 2021 between the longtime rivals, with NVCC running out easy winners.

With Club Captain Brendan Helme unavailable due to the birth of his daughter the evening before, NVCC was captained for the day by New Zealander Bernie Peacock — and he marshalled the team well.

Having lost the toss, NVCC was asked to bowl first and Peacock threw the ball to Adersh Maqsood to open the bowling. Maqsood repaid Peacock’s confidence by taking a wicket with his second ball, and another one in his third over. The second of Maqsood’s wickets brought Marin Chairman Nick Lynam to the crease and Lynam was in no mood for giving up his wicket. He ultimately put on 68 runs off 91 balls, playing a calm and steady innings while at the other end, Marin batsmen came and went in a steady procession.

Pick of the bowlers for NVCC were Karan Grewal and Andrew Healy. Grewal took 4 wickets for 19 runs off 8 overs, including 3 maiden overs, while Healy took 3 wickets for 28 runs from the 5 overs that he bowled. Remarkably, both bowlers were on hat-trick balls, but neither was able to convert and take that most coveted of accolades for a bowler. Marin ended up all out for 145 runs thanks to an excellent fielding performance. Napa Valley took a lot of their catches, with Jake Radloff and Nick Martin especially showing safe pairs of hands.

With the bat, Maqsood laid a solid foundation for the chase by retiring with 50 on the scoreboard to allow others to bat. Sorabh Das contributed a healthy 43, which included eight fours, and NVCC ultimately won the match with seven wickets and 13 overs to spare.

Peacock presented the 19 Crimes Man of the Match award to Lynam for his strong performance with the bat.

“It was great to play a game of cricket after all of the time we’ve had away from the game due to the pandemic,” said Peacock after the match, “and it was even better to win our first game back. Marin are always great hosts and the annual three-match series against them is always one of the highlights on our calendar.”

On May 29, Helme was back to captain NVCC as it traveled to Davis to play the Sri Lanka Lions in a 30 over match at Arroyo Park. Helme won the toss and chose to field first, given the strong bowling lineup at his disposal. His decision paid early dividends when Peacock took a wicket in the first over. That was all the success NVCC had early on, however, as the top of the Lions’ order put on a strong batting display. Scores of 31, 35, 64 (not out), and 25 set the Lions up for a solid innings. Napa Valley’s next wicket came from the very last ball of Peacock's six-over spell.

Despite some tight spin-bowling from Helme, he was unable to take a wicket. But he rotated his bowlers regularly and eventually made the breakthrough he was looking for, by bowling Grewal and Healy in tandem with each other. After their successful wicket-taking against Marin the week before, both recorded four-wicket hauls — Grewal again on a hat-trick ball, only to miss that and take a wicket with the next ball, for three wickets in four balls.

With a wicket in his NVCC debut, Jamaican-born Dayne Buddo lifted the NVCC spirits and they ended up wrapping up the Lions' tail with 189 runs on the board.

“The fast outfield here at Arroyo Park didn’t help us with our bowling, as the Lions batsmen took full advantage of any loose, or full, balls that we bowled,” Helme said at the innings break. “That being said, I think we stuck to our task well as a bowling unit and Karan and Heals did a great job taking wickets late on to slow their run rate and keep them to under 200 runs.”

Napa Valley started brightly in the chase with Abhijit “Doc” Adhye and Buddo opening the batting. After a solid 13 off 14 balls, Adhye fell to a rash shot that brought Vinay Madavan to the middle. Madavan played a solid and watchful innings, amassing 22 runs off 50 balls, with 39 of those dot balls. Buddo eventually fell for a solid 25 runs and, despite a strong effort from Grewal with the bat (32 runs off 25 balls), NVCC was always behind the required run rate and eventually all out for 156 as the Lions won by 33 runs.

After the match, Helme presented the 19 Crimes Man of the Match award to the Lion’s Chamin for his strong performance with the bat.

Napa Valley returns to Piper Park in Larkspur on Sunday for its second match against Marin, starting at 10:45 a.m.

The Napa Valley Cricket Club thanks sponsors 19 Crimes Wine, ASL Print FX, AZMERA Consulting, Bill Wagner Realtor, Balanced Business Group, Caliber Home Loans, Canyon West Dental, Crown Hill Stone Supply, John Fearless, NapaSport Steakhouse, St. Helena Optometry, Stone Brewing Napa, vinoEZ, 3 rock marketing, Blue Jean Black Design, Amale Oak Importers, and Napa Gourmet Foods.

The club is a 501(c)4 IRS designated 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, the Napa Valley Cricket Club welcomes adult players of all skill levels.

Go to bit.ly/2U3Z9Ef and bit.ly/3xhXI3n for YouTube videos explaining the game. Visit napacricket.com for more information.

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