September was a busy month for the Napa Valley Cricket Club with games, assisting evacuees of the Valley Fire, and a member’s participation at an elite cricket combine in Indianapolis.

The club was looking forward to a break after its late August victory over visiting Sacramento, when the Valley Fire broke out on Saturday, Sept. 12. With the NVCC’s home field at the Napa County Fairgrounds in Calistoga being used as an evacuation site, the club decided to help the many who were in need. Club members Clive Richardson and Graham Jones in Calistoga gave the Napa-based members a list of needed supplies and a drop-off spot in North Napa was hastily arranged, withdetails shared by email and social media.

“Many folks were asking in those initial hours how they could get items that were needed up to Calistoga,” NVCC vice president Andrew Healy, “and we knew we had a club structure to call on to get the job done. In the end we sent up seven vehicles with canopies, sleeping bags, toiletries, water, large animal crates and much more. Some of the items we sent up were eventually left door-to-door in Hidden Valley Lake, and that’s a story that will continue to evolve over the winter.”

The following weekend, his son, NVCC member Caen Healy, traveled to Indianapolis after being invited to participate in the first-ever ICC America’s cricket combine. Healy was evaluated by world-class coaches on fitness, agility and strength in addition to the three areas of cricket – batting, bowling and fielding. The second-youngest attendee at the combine, he ended up playing in the B Final on Sept. 21 because he had finished in the middle third of 66 players from as far away as Canada and Argentina.

“It was a fantastic experience” said the Napa High senior and kicker for the Indians’ football team, “as I got to see how I compared with the other wicket-keepers out there. I learned a lot and I was particularly pleased with both my glove work – wicket-keeping – and how I stacked up in the fielding drills evaluations, where I was one of the strongest at the combine. What the weekend did highlight for me was that I need to put more effort into my batting and I plan on working on that over the winter in the nets with the NVCC.”

Napa Valley Cricket Club traveled to picturesque Piper Park in Larkspur on Sept. 26 for the third game of its 2015 series against the Marin Socials. With the annual series tied at 1-1, a tough game for NVCC was won by two great displays. John Leake with the bat scored 98 runs, while Andrew Healy with the ball took a historic “5 for” and set a NVCC club record with his bowling figures.

Club captain Rob Bolch lost the toss, which saw NVCC put into bat on an overcast Marin morning. Napa Valley openers Martin Mackenzie and Abhijit “Doc” Adhye opened strongly, until Mackenzie was out to a stunning slips catch in the fourth over that buoyed Marin. Napa Valley’s No. 3 batter, Bijoy Ojha, fell five overs later to another stunning catch in the slips just as he looked well set on 16 off 19 balls, with three 4’s already on the board. That brought Leake to the crease. As is his way, he settled in for a long and sensible innings. In partnership with Adhye, the pair put on 144 runs for the third wicket with

Leake contributing 98 off 79 balls. He fell agonizingly short of his fifth century of the season and his knock included an impressive haul off 11 fours and two huge sixes. By contrast, Adhye didn’t hit a single boundary in his well-constructed 45 and he lasted almost 31 over and two hours in the middle.

Leake and Adhye fell in consecutive balls to impressive Marin bowler Sridhar, with NVCC on 175 with just under 10 overs remaining. A series of NVCC batsmen contributed in getting the visitors to their final score of 225 – Phil Bourke (8 off 13), Bolch (18 off 18), Arjun Pandya (18, not out, off 17) and Tim Kay (3 off 4).

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“The NVCC total looked impressive but in previous encounters we’ve see the Marin boys chase down bigger targets,” Bolch said during the innings break.

Napa Valley opened its bowling with the strong and consistent antipodean pairing of Australian Pat O’Neil and Bernie Peacock. Marin started strongly, with batsmen Gowtham and Raman scoring well. But NVCC had three wickets by the 10th over and the tone was set for the day, as every time a Marin batsman looked to start scoring NVCC took their wicket. By drinks, NVCC had six of the Marin batsmen out – with two wickets for Bolch and Peacock, one for Mackenzie and some excellent catching in the field from from O’Neil, Kay and Healy. Napa Valley looked well set to wrap the game up as it faced the Marin tail-ender batsmen. But no one had an inkling of what was to come, as Bolch threw the ball to Healy for what would turn out to be four unforgettable overs of accurate slow bowling.

Healy’s figures of five wickets for the loss of only seven runs in fours overs (5 for 7 off 4) were all the more impressive, as three of his wickets were taken behind the stumps to slips and a keeper catch. In addition, he had a fine catch taken in covers from Ojha. The last wicket, stumped by wicket-keeper Bourke, wrapped up a truly impressive display of fielding from an NVCC team that backed up Healy’s pinpoint bowling on every ball. In the end, NVCC ran out winners by 120 runs and took back the annual series trophy after Marin had won it in 2014.

“The annual series against Marin has become a real tradition between the two sides,” Bolch said. “We’ve had some great matches and a lot of high scoring and great individual efforts over the years. With the 2015 series evenly poised at 1-1, we were determined to win and take home the newly inaugurated trophy this season. Although we didn’t win the toss, being asked to bat first wasn’t such a bad thing given the batting strength we had on the day. Leakey and Doc batted really well and set up a great foundation. John dominated again, and was unlucky to miss out on his fifth century of the season when he went out for 98. His performance this year is just a remarkable – in any form of cricket. Making many runs in a season just doesn’t happen very often. Our fielding and bowling was superb. I think that the fielding practice that we’ve been working on at training is paying off with people feeling confident in the field. And the bowling was awesome, no other word for it. Heals was outstanding with his 5 for 7 off 4, the best bowling performance in the club’s history. His bowling has improved incredibly. Every wicket was off a genuinely good ball. Fantastic effort.”

The Clos du Val “Man of the Match” for Marin was Australian Jim Pitman for four wickets that mopped up the NVCC batting efforts. The NVCC Compadres Rio Grille “Man of the Match” award went to Healy for his historic “5 for.”

On Sunday at the fairgrounds, NVCC will host the Marin Firsts at 10 a.m. and the LMS Yankies at 2:40 p.m. in Last Man Stands games. Each game is scheduled to last two hours.

The NVCC thanks sponsors Clos du Val, Silverado Resort and Spa, Compadres Rio Grille, Tonnellerie Saint Martin, Penfolds, St. Helena Optometry, First Priority Financial, Anchor Steam, Amcor, Ciatti, Joseph Cellars, Biagi Bros., Rebel Dog Hot Dogs, Stone Universe, Lyve Systems Inc., TricorBraun WinePak, 3 rock marketing, Calistoga Roastery, Napa Gourmet Foods, and Napa Valley Body Connect.

Visit napacricket.com for more information.

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