Campbell River Cricket Club Masters team travelled down to Cowichan Cricket Ground Aug. 15-16 for a match against The Wicket Maidens, an all-female team based out of Victoria.
This had been a regular fixture in the past, and CRCC was pleased to be able to revive the tradition despite the restrictions of COVID-19. The Wicket Maidens are one of the best female club sides in Canada, at one time boasting eight of the Canadian National Women’s side in their squad, and this weekend they brought three National squad players with them, so CRCC knew they were going to be in for a tough match.
The Masters batted first and got off to a bright start. The match rules required that when a Masters player reached 25 runs he was obliged to retire, but could return if the rest of the side was bowled out, in order to give every player a chance to bat. Opening batsman Adam Panziera rattled off his 25 quickly. A sweepstake during the match gave the players a chance to win a cash prize if they could hit a small net placed on the boundary and Panziera tried to direct every shot in that direction, even if the ball didn’t want to go there!
Panziera’s retirement brought Agalya Kathirvelu into the game. CRCC are proud to have Agalya as their first female player in this new era and, though inexperienced, Agalya was able to weather some steady, accurate bowling from Carly Barrett and Laura Jones of the Maidens before finally being caught. Agalya was partnered first by Eiko Jones, who was well caught off some good bowling by Manasa Challa, then Ravi Bhatia, who crashed his way quickly to his retirement. The loss of Agalya and retirement of Bhatia brought old-timer Jim Bagley up to bat, partnered by Farmer Daz.
Some accurate bowling by the Maidens, particularly by debutante Sophie Dixon, who only conceded 10 runs off her first three overs of competitive cricket, slowed the run rate right down. Being unable to accelerate the scoring, the venerable Bagley was run out after a slow amble down the pitch in order to give some of the Masters’ better hitters the chance to pick things up with 10 overs still to come. Things don’t always go to plan, however, and after Daz completed his 25 runs, Jos Bell, Jimmy Andrews and Sijo Jose were all out for a total of 11 runs between them. Veterans Joe Myers and John Jepson added 28 useful runs, but the Masters’ Score of 147 gave the Maidens a viable target to aim at.
Myers and Daz opened the bowling for the Masters and quickly had the Maidens reeling, taking three wickets for 19 runs in the first three overs. Jaime Sharpe will have been particularly disappointed to see her fizzing drive caught by Sijo Jose low off the ground. But this brought the indomitable Kate Gray up to bat Gray punished any ball that was not perfect in line and length and hit 11 fours on her way to a total of 50 runs (the 25-run retirement rule did not apply to the Maidens).
With half their inning remaining the Maidens were in a strong position to win the match early, but some tight bowling by the Masters steadied the ship, with Bell taking three valuable wickets and Jose bowling some great balls, many of which missed the wickets by millimetres. In addition, Andrews and Jepson both produced some very tidy bowling. With eight overs to go the match had swung back in favour of the Masters, as the Maidens still needed 40 runs to win the match, with seven players already out and two inexperienced players left out of the last three. But when Laura and Carly fell – along came Jo.
Canadian National player Jo White made a careful start knowing that she was the last strong batsman left, and survived several overs of tight fast bowling from Jose, who was trying every trick in his book to get her out. However, the runs were piling on, and the target was getting closer. Holding up the other end was new player Sophie Dixon, who managed to block some accurate bowling from Myers and Daz. A flurry of fours from Jo White, however, left Myers the unenviable task of trying to bowl her out in his last over with only three runs needed. This was not to be, however, and Jo and Sophie passed the Masters score to a rapturous reception from the balcony and respectful applause from the CRCC players. White finished with a score of 36 runs with six fours in the total.
A special thanks should go to Carly, Kate, Laura, Shefali and Tanvi, the five players from Meraloma Women’s Cricket Club who travelled over from Vancouver to join the Wicket Maidens side (though the CRCC boys would have been happier if they had left Kate Gray behind). This game was the epitome of a great cricket match, with the game ebbing and flowing over the six hours.
Despite the dampener put on so many of us by the COVID-19 outbreak, cricket can be played in a safe, socially-distanced way and CRCC are now looking forward to hosting the first competitive match on their new wicket at Carihi School against Metchosin on Aug. 22. Start time is Noon.