On a beautiful warm sunny morning, the Valley captain won the toss and invited the Peninsula Goat Herders to bat, but then things soon started to unravel! Star bowler Stan Wooliscroft only bowled 2 overs before eventually leaving the field and having to go home, feeling unwell, while Greg Jones bravely played, despite a groin strain (sustained on Friday night at touch rugby), but was unable to bowl his normally accurate mediums. And later another of our bowlers, Paul, wasn’t feeling well enough to bowl his full quota of overs.

And to compound this the captain dropped aggressive opener Richard Breitmeyer twice (one a sitter straight to him at mid-off), who needed no further invitation to cut loose even further against our depleted attack! Joined early on by his brother Mike, the two attacked in such fashion that 84 was up after just 10 overs! Eventually, when Richard retired and Mike was out after they’d enjoyed a swashbuckling 90 run partnership, we had a little bit of relief. But then skipper Ben Prain and Simon Whitherford both hit quick 20s, followed by Jamie Sumner smashing a rapid 38. So after 33 overs, the score was 200/4 – and with 12 overs still to go, we seemed to be staring down the barrel of a very big score of likely 270 or more.

But just after this Hamish Anderson junior bowled Sumner with a beautifully flighted ball, then the captain (only bowling because he’d run out of other choices!) had some unlikely success – helped by 2 very good catches by Ben Aveyard, both running in from the boundary. So we fought back very well in the field, to get their last 6 wickets for just 28 and keep them to 230 – with 4.2 overs unbowled. It was a hot tough day in the field, with 5 of our bowlers going for 7-8 an over, while easily the pick of them were our seamers Ben Aveyard (7 0 21 2) and Ben Larter – who had 3 catches dropped off him, beat the bat regularly but somehow couldn’t get a wicket?! While 6 of their wickets were bowled and Ben Aveyard caught the other 4 – one a c&b and the other 3 all very well judged outfield catches.

After the usual splendid lunch and with the temperature by now over 30 degrees, we obviously needed a good start – but their opening bowlers were accurate and penetrating, so at 35/3 we had a mountain to climb, However at this stage, Ben Larter joined young Nick Gibb and they both batted beautifully, to get us back into the game. Nick was eventually out for 47 (1 x 4 &16 x 2), after some very polished stroke play. While Ben, after taking his time to get himself in, cut loose in typically muscular style before retiring on 53 (9 x 4 & 4 x 2). And Hamish junior carried on the good work, getting to a very promising 29 and us into a most competitive position, now needing just over 60 runs off the last 10 overs.

But as the Goat Herders were perhaps starting to wilt a bit in the heat, and now with their own injury concerns – Bob Masefield sub fielding for big Bob Davidson (gone with a calf injury) and at least one other fielder limping badly – there came a turning point. Skipper Ben Prain was in the midst of a very accurate spell when Hamish drove him powerfully towards cover, where Jamie Sumner picked up a superb low diving catch, just off the grass! Greg (with 22) and our keeper Tony Danenberg (with 12) then batted bravely and tried hard, but the bowling and fielding had tightened up and the run rate climbed. And when they were eventually out to 2 good bits of fielding Graham Aveyard and the captain then both tried to hit out at everything, with mixed success. But with 13 eventually required off the last over it was always a long shot and Matt Hamett, who had earlier bowled very well, duly made sure of it. Matt finished with the best figures (7 1 25 3) while Ben (6 1 15 1) and Simon (7 0 27 1) also bowled particularly well.

So the Valley finished just 7 runs short at a valiant 223/8 in a terrifically enjoyable game played in all the best traditions of the Valley, the match was played in the best possible spirit, everyone got a bat and a bowl (who could!), 453 runs were scored on an excellent pitch and the game went to the last over. Accordingly all credit to (lead from the front captain) Ben Prain and his excellent Goat Herders team, always just the best and most enjoyable of opposition. And no day at the Valley would ever be complete without the also excellent team behind the bar – so in this case big thanks to Scotty, Ollie and Barry (king of the caterers!).

Short scoreboard:

Goat Herders 230 (R. Breitmeyer 54*, M. Breitmeyer 38, J. Sumner 38, B Walker 4-16, B. Aveyard 2-21 and 4 catches) beat
Valley of Peace 223/8 ( B; Later 54*, N Gibb 47, H. Falls-Anderson 29, M. Hammett 3-25) by 7 runs.

Bert Walker (losing Captain!)