Team Boon was welcomed back to the Valley of Peace, sporting their usual beige attire in the field and a youthful line up fresh from competing in Division 4 of the CMCA Saturday competitions. As per those match conditions, a 40 over match was agreed. Captain Phil Watson called incorrectly and his team was asked to field, the customary reception of 9 slips and a gully facing our opening batsman.

The cricketing gods (a.k.a. the VOP selection committee) and last-minute ring-in co-ordinator Hugo Davison had handed me a multi-talented all-round team (with two over 70 NZ reps in the fold), and even with some last-minute changes, hopes were high for a strong showing.

What followed was a cricketing demolition, destruction, devastation, desolation and devastation (I ran out of printable D Words) to match the five ducks recorded on the way to a total of 50. It could have been worse, because at 12 for 7 after 11 overs a certain captain who had batted (2 runs) and already been umpiring for 4 overs really felt that the only good thing would be that apart from the weather, he may never be invited to partake in leadership ever again.

Hats off to Gordon Fulton for his 8 not out, holding firm for 19 of the 26 overs we faced. Chris Nicholson, his first time at the ground, top-scored with 18 batting at number nine.

But the plaudits really go to the Team Boon bowlers. Their captain acknowledged that they bowled superbly but the ball from Welsh to our opener would have accounted for most, the run out by the same player a feat of great athleticism. Not content, the brute of a ball that gloved Ben Larter to remove our dangerman was near unplayable. His figures of 4-3-1-2 are slightly false; the only run he conceded was with the “Team Boon” field in place second ball. O’Dwyer’s in-ducker to Hugo really did come back two feet off the seam, the off-spinner from Withers to bowl Sam Clark-Hall did the same. Really great pieces of cricket from a very good side. What was the captain thinking batting first?

I know what you Valley readers are expecting. Music would use his vast cricketing nous to engineer a comeback win for the ages. Well, sadly no, not this time.

Patton and Stribling put on an entertaining opening stand of 35 and with McKay’s nice hitting to follow, the win was completed with Captain Watson at the crease after little more than 11 overs. Lunch was still not ready to be consumed. Congrats to Phil and his lads, a comprehensive trashing was metered out.

But wait there’s more

Some slick negotiating, aided by the fact that it was just after 1pm, meant 22 players and officials were in agreeance that a T20 rematch be played after lunch, which by now was being served with its normal delicious fare on offer.

Watson won the “toss” and Team Boon would bat first.

It will be surprising to readers that Music was retained as captain, my first ever T20 game at any level held a chance at some redemption. The VoP squad responded to this second chance with aplomb, although losing our keeper Gould to a calf strain after his first catch (thanks to Team Boon for playing in the spirit of the game and providing a sub fielder) we got amongst the wickets early of a re-jigged Boon line up. Five of their players made double figures but none passed 20 as they posted a decent 107 all out . James Hamilton bowled well at the start and death for three scalps while John Kerrison excelled with a wicket in his only ever planned one over comeback spell in our 16th over. We were all learning the intricacies of the T20 game Valley style!

Putting Sam Clark-Hall (Valley debutant) out to open was a masterstroke. What choice did I have, he had put together a well compiled 3 in the first match which in fact meant he was overqualified for the role. However, it was James Hamilton facing the first ball, to left-arm spinner Patton. The look on umpire Music’s face matched Hamilton’s as the first ball pitched on leg and clipped the top of the off stump, much to the delight of the 5 slips, 2 fly slips, gully and two leg slips gathered behind the wickets.

Fear not, Clark-Hall and Davison to the rescue. Hugo’s 30 was the high score of the day, with some great hitting displayed. Larter came in and showed the form previously displayed when the Cricket Show came to the Valley on the occasion Team Boon were playing 3 years ago and he made a century, the “gentle” timed pulls for 6 are a highlight to watch then and now.

The VoP T20 inexperience then started to show with the finish approaching. Larter’s dismissal and a run-out saw 11 runs off 13 balls needed. Clark-Hall managed a couple of boundaries before getting run out in a scramble for the winning run with 5 balls remaining.

So somewhat poetically after a poor day, Music managed to knock his second ball to the boundary (through the much-protected gully region) for a famous victory with three balls to spare. The Boon bowling was spread, literally, around their whole team but again they showed some great talent coupled with seasoned fielding.

The history books might (or might not ) show a 5 wicket win in the T20 but it was a pleasure to host Team Boon at the Valley and look forward to a (single) rematch in the years to come. The raffles were also drawn one apiece, another small victory for our club. Thanks to Scott for his fine work with lunch, behind the bar and in the lead up to the game. I think he may have been pleased that there was no super over – coloured clothing, T20 and that in the same day may have been a bit much for some of our past members.

Great day enjoyed by all (except maybe one).

Tom Music
Valley Captain