Campbell River Cricket Club Masters (CRCC) Eleven held on to win a thrilling first competitive match on their new pitch at Carihi Secondary against a select side of Victoria District Cricket Association (VDCA) players on August 22. Jim Wenman, President of the VDCA, brought up a strong side of over-40s players selected from clubs throughout the Victoria region to play against the local side.
After some torrential rain the previous two days CRCC was pleased that their new playing surface held up well and dried out quickly. The visitors won the toss and elected to bat first, and as several of their players were carrying injuries, Campbell River loaned one of its players, Ravi Bhatia, to balance the sides. They came to regret this early on when Bhatia contributed 29 runs in a 62 run first wicket partnership with octogenarian Jim Schofield, who could boast more than 60 years of high-level cricket.
Wenman’s team accumulated the runs steadily throughout the 40-over match, and while there were no large individual scores, every player chipped in to give a first innings total of 135 runs for seven wickets. Some profligate bowling by CRCC gave them 40 of those runs in extras such as wides and no-balls. Best of CRCC’s bowlers was Syed Arfan who only conceded 13 runs and took two valuable wickets in his five over spell.
This target looked very achievable, and CRCC started their inning with optimism. This however soon turned to consternation when Patrick Ryan took three wickets for no runs in the first over of the match. Ryan bowled with accuracy and at a slower pace than several players were used to, causing Jos Taylor and Ruwan Heenatigala to mistime shots and get bowled out. Eiko Jones was run out without facing a ball by a stunning throw from, you might have guessed it, loanee Bhatia.
Good bowling from skipper Wenman accounted for Arfan and Jimmy Andrews, leaving CRCC reeling with a total of five runs with five wickets down at the end of the fourth over. Aadil Dahnsay and CRCC skipper John Jepson steadied the ship somewhat and had pushed the score on to 48 runs when Dahnsay was caught behind in the 15th over. Another good partnership between Jepson and Aaron O’Shannessy accelerated the score to 88 runs, before O’Shannessy was caught on the boundary by, yes, none other than that man Bhatia.
Simon Deller suffered a similar fate to Arfan and Andrews, being bowled by a slower delivery from Jim Wenman with the CRCC score standing at 95 runs, and when Jepson retired after scoring 30 runs (a match rule, though the retiring batsman is allowed to return at the end of the inning) final pair Kiran Nair and Jim Bagley still required 40 runs to save the match and 41 win, knowing that if either fell, there would only be one wicket left. Nair took the bulk of the bowling, tactically running quick singles with Bagley at the end of each over to maintain the strike where possible, and punishing the bad deliveries.
The score ticked on and the gap was closing, and a few costly spells of bowling from non-regular bowlers on the visitors’ team brought an unlikely victory in sight. Eventually CRCC managed to grab the winning run with four overs to spare. The official scorebook claims that Bagley got three runs, though he can’t recall getting any runs at all.
The visitors stayed on for a period of socially-distanced conviviality, fondly recalling many past occasions when Campbell River Cricket Club had hosted visiting sides in more relaxed circumstances and have promised a return fixture as soon as it can be arranged.
Coming up: CRCC have a busy month ahead and over the long weekend, the Masters play a Cowichan Masters on the Saturday while the First team will take on a Victoria Select on the Sunday. Both games are to be played at the Cowichan Cricket Club. CRCCs next home game will see a mixed team of Masters and First Team players take on Fulham CC of the VDCA mid-week league on Sept. 12 at noon.