The annual fixture between the Valley of Peace and the Hawkeswood Magpies was hosted this year at the Valley. Conditions were overcast and humid so Hawkeswood’s decision to bat first on what at first appearances was a road of a pitch could have been their demise. Some superb swing bowling from Chris House and Kade Atkinson had them reeling at 3-3 as batsmen struggled with the movement both in the air and off the pitch. The metaphorical road could have been lifted straight from the back streets of Delhi as the ball seemed to stall off the pitch and was giving plenty of turn.
The Hawkeswood middle order dug in and was starting to wrest back some control when a slower ball left Pete Raynor fighting the invisible swordsman and saw Captain Eddy Norgate take the field. Despite some close LBW shouts early on, Ed survived and began to martial the troops. Hawkeswood had 80-5 at drinks and were under the pump thanks to some excellent bowling and fielding from the Valley team. Justin Haley had the ball on a string and got some prodigious turn and some able support from the other end with Hugo Davison and Tim Yardley bowling tightly to restrict the batsmens’ scoring options.
After drinks Chris House returned and had an immediate impact as Hawkeswood faltered further. It then became a bit of a juggling act as to who would bowl when as the Valley were 1 bowler light. This did however give Ben Sturman an opportunity to further his claims as a genuine allrounder. His ability and guile in using a range of different length deliveries gave the Valley fielding team several tough chances to mop up. At one stage Ben had seen 4 possible catches go down. Perseverance won the day and he snatched the wicket of Stu Dixon, who had patiently watched several of Ben’s signature DOU-BOU deliveries slide past before lashing out at a fuller ball. Hawkeswood was eventually back in the hutch for a total of 118.
Valley had bowled extremely well to restrict the scoring, ably supported by excellent fielding and panther like reflexes behind the stumps from Jim Smith and Dean Robinson.
Valley’s innings opened with Doc Jarman and Tom ‘Maverick’ Sturman. Doc showed superb control and defence early on to keep Hawkeswood’s strike bowlers quiet where as Tom indicated his intentions early. It was not to be his day however, as he fell to the two paced nature of the pitch trying to clear mid on. The Valley’s innings began to replicate Hawkeswood’s as batsmen fell trying to get on the front foot. Things were looking grim as the Valley lost 3 early wickets before the Auckland connection of Will ‘The Rock’ Tipping and Dean Robinson took command. They guided the team through to drinks at 51-3. Dean had given a couple of chances but had fought on stoically finding the boundary with ease. However, the drinks break gave him the opportunity to switch his bat, which he failed to use straight after to a full toss on his legs whereupon the umpire had no hesitation in raising his finger. Wickets fell as the Valley inched closer to the the target and the game looked in hand with Will Tipping still batting solidly, supported by Justin Haley.
The game had one more turn with Valley needing 9 runs for victory. Will’s stand was finally defeated by a ball that stayed low on him striking him in line. He had made a marvellous 56 showing concentration and control over 40 overs. Enter the Captain and last batsman. The sensible option on a pitch of this nature would have been to take the game with easy singles, but Ed Norgate’s inspiring piece of captaincy in bringing on Stu ‘Golden Arm’ Dixon to bowl the last few overs was too much of a temptation for Captain Wow. Patiently waiting for Stu to overpitch Hugo Davison went for the full ball only to fall for the same thing as so many had that day. Instead of lamping the ball over the back fence into the llama paddock, it tamely fell into the grateful hands of mid off. Valley lost by 5 runs.
It is hard not to use the usual drab cliché in describing this match but cricket was the winner on the day. The match had swung back and forth in favour of the two teams several times in the course of the day and everyone got some action. The game was played with fantastic spirit.
(defeated yet slightly wiser Captain)