Ben George holds the cricket stump he smashed with a throw from the boundary during the Campbell River Cricket Club’s first game in five years last weekend in Qualicum Beach. Image provided

Campbell River Cricket Club rises from the ashes

CRCC battles to victory during first match in over five years

How long should a match report be in the local paper? A fair system of comparison might, perhaps, relate to the length of the game. For example, a professional game of soccer lasts 90 minutes (a bit longer if the scores are tied at the end of regular time).

The longest-ever professional baseball match was when the White Sox beat the Brewers seven to six in 1984. It comprised 33 innings and lasted eight hours and six minutes. So, half a dozen short paragraphs should do justice to a baseball game.

The longest international cricket match was between England and South Africa in 1939. The game lasted nine days, but ended in a draw, despite South Africa scoring 1,111 to England’s 970 runs. England had to leave the match early to catch the last boat out of South Africa before the outbreak of World War II.

This is the first match report of a Campbell River Cricket Club (CRCC) game for more than five years, so we hope you’ll indulge us for a few paragraphs and enjoy the story. CRCC was founded in 1992 and had several successful seasons before ebbing and flowing in the intervening 25 years. A rejuvenated side held our first competitive match last weekend, when we played Arrowsmith Cricket Club in Qualicum Beach.

To set the scene, the cricket pitch in Qualicum Beach is in a natural amphitheatre, amongst baseball diamonds and soccer pitches. The outfield is long and lush, indeed so lush that, unless the ball is hit high in the air towards the boundary, a shot that would naturally produce four runs becomes trapped in the grass and the batsman is grateful to score a single run.

Sunday afternoon was hot and humid, perfect for sitting on the deck sipping a few cold brews, but quite a challenge to be playing a six-hour game of cricket.

CRCC batted first with great expectations. Our opening batsman (and ferocious fast bowler) Ben George had hit every ball served up to him for miles during practices at Carihi School, and we relaxed on the boundary, ready to have some fun. Unfortunately, because Qualicum Beach was short of a couple of players, we had enlisted Steve Cannon, one of our player’s mates from Australia, to help the opposition out, and he was both an accomplished bowler and batsman. Cannon had our top prospect caught out without scoring a single run on the first ball of the match. Disaster? Possibly, though getting a fast bowler out with the first ball of the match might well come back to haunt the opposition.

Aadil Dhansay and Matt Wooff steadied the ship for CRCC for the next 20 overs of our scheduled 40, patiently wearing down a top-class bowling attack and putting on 40 runs to the halfway point. Nick Arnold, Joe Myers, Josh Taylor and John Jepson all helped put a spurt on after the midway point of the game, before Adam Panziersa smashed the ball to all corners, scoring 14 runs in a single over and pushing us towards a decent total, before our veterans, Jim Bagley and Quentin Dodd managed to add a couple more runs to end with a respectable total of 133 runs.

When Qualicum Beach’s opening batsmen came out, with George Higham sporting a cricket helmet, immaculate kit and a new bat, we knew we had a contest in the making. But George was fired up after his early dismissal and fired down a few thunderbolts, ably assisted with John Jepson bowling at the other end, and we reduced Qualicum Beach to sixteen runs with three wickets down in the opening eight overs of the match. Wooff and Dhansay took up the attack with an intelligent spell of bowling, only conceding 26 runs between them and taking another two wickets in the next 10 overs. One of those wickets was the most spectacular I have seen in 50 years of playing cricket. Higham had just hit the ball right to the edge of the boundary, which would normally have been a certain four runs if not for the long grass, and was comfortably strolling back for a second run, when a bullet throw from George from more than 60 yards not only hit the stumps at the end he was running to, but struck with such force it broke the stump in half, running him out and turning the game in our favour.

Some smart bowling from Joe Myers and Nick Arnold brought us to the brink of victory, before George and Jepson came back into the attack to mop up the Qualicum Beach final batsmen for what turned out to be an emphatic 31 run win.

Cricket is experiencing a great revival in Campbell River, with more than twenty players on the roster turning out for regular practices at Carihi School. The emphasis of our team is on fun and inclusion (which is likely the only reason why this humble scribe was allowed to turn up for the game without having lifted a bat for more than 30 years). We are hoping for a great season next year with fixtures against teams from throughout Vancouver Island, much as we had in previous incarnations, and are seeking approval from the City to establish a permanent pitch in town, as well as looking to sparking interest from youngsters from the local schools.

Contact Jim at bagley@shaw.ca if you would like to join CRCC.

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