Our Valley XI lined up against a relatively youthful and skillful Police XI on a hot day with the ground looking as picturesque as ever. Hopes were high as the Valley XI selected had a good mix of all round talents, although the Police are known as very tough opponents.
In the 22 years since I captained any cricket side, I have never heard an opposition captain choose to bat so quickly. A split second after the coin hit the ground, Dave Robertson chose to send his openers out on a grassy wicket. It is fair to say the Mike Pauling and particularly Nick Johnston look to have been studying the Big Bash as they led an onslaught that saw balls flying to paddocks, creeks and roads surrounding our ground in literally all directions. Valley opening bowlers Ben Larter and Dan Vann stuck to their task well and in the seventh over a false stroke led to a towering catch being offered up. This chance was to go down and what followed was 8 similar instances before the drinks break. Police were 138/3 after 25 overs, two LBW’s and one sole snaffled catch being our bowlers reward.
Our improved second half performance in the field saw the Police finish their innings on 253, a host of their players getting starts. Our bowlers toiled hard, Andrew Levenger bowling excellent line and length to snare 2 for 35 while debutant Chris Clarke, our new groundsman, used the conditions well to get 2 for 37. Both bowlers bowled 8 on the trot in temperatures in the high 20’s. The key to the innings was our fielding however. We finished the 50 overs with a 29% strike rate at taking catches, 4 from 14 just won’t get it done against quality opposition with particularly the top order benefiting from this form of Valley generosity.
The Police opened up with Premier grade pace bowler Paddy Sullivan and Adam Chambers which proved a challenge. Sullivan’s double breakthrough in the 8th over saw the Valley slip to 19/2. Dan Vann, in his first Valley game for some time, then played some exquisite shots, one, best described as a forehand cross court over extra cover, will live long in the memory from my vantage point at the non-strikers end. We had the run rate back to 5 runs an over but unfortunately the loss of Vann, Collins and then Music slowed us up to be 109/5 at drinks. Ben Larter and Bert Walker both got starts and looked likely and while there was some good strokeplay and resistance from Chris House and Andrew Levenger, in the end 155 was all we could muster. Fair to say not too many fielding chances were missed by the Police, and the leg side stumping by East Shirley Seniors Captain Nick Johnston was another highlight of the day.
So a 98 run defeat this year, a 12 run improvement on the corresponding fixture in 2015 (last year was a wash out)! While well beaten, my Valley side had some ability and if we had held some catches, signs were good that we could perhaps compete.
To Dave Robertson, Mike Pauling and the Police XI, thanks for the excellent match played in excellent spirit, both on and off the pitch. To our match hosts, groundsman and committee behind the scenes, my thanks for all you did to assist me on my debut as a Valley captain. Particular thanks to our Patron John Waters, who took the time to call with a message of good luck before the match. I join with all club members I am sure to wish him all the very best.
While hopes were high, my personal cricketing record (at various venues) since April 2015 of Played 9 Won 0 Lost 7 Washed out 2 has now been extended to double figures! I still look forward to my next outing, and hopefully a chance to take on the Police XI again in 2018.
Tom Music – Valley Captain for the day.
Christchurch Police XI – 253 for 8 (50 overs)
Johnston 39, M. Pauling 38, J. Beveridge 37, N. McHugh 40, A Chambers 34 not out, A. Levenger 2 for 35, C. Clarke 2 for 37
Valley of Peace Cricket Club 155 all out (38.3 overs)
Music 27, B. Larter 22, B. Walker 20, Extras 28, P. Sullivan 3 for 12, J. Beveridge 2 for 22