Valley of Peace v Deans X1
Match Report George Fulton

Sunday, March 19th, 2023

Prain for Better Fortunes

The passing of time usually tempers the perspective of a victorious Valley captain, but not this time round.

This match has a rich legacy, originating in 1934. This year the match carried a hint of trepidation, because only 12 months ago a Valley team styled as the Fulton X1 was given a fearful thrashing by the Deans X1 at Glentunnel.

That encounter was truly reminiscent of the lovely dictum in the Valley dressing room: “The floggings will continue until morale improves.”

But a year is a long time in Valley cricket, and in 2023 we assembled a more traditional blend.

On paper, the Valley’s original lineup looked strong, but a handful succumbed to injuries or competing pursuits, including a bowls championship and SailGP. One would-be Valley player was even heard to apologise: ‘Sorry, but I’m going yachting, believe it or not’.

The designated Sunday dawned fine, if dewey, and the toss was delayed by 15 minutes to allow droplets to bake. Deans skipper Chrispen won the flip of the coin and decided to insert the Valley into the shade.

Fortunately, Valley had recruited that archetypal 11th player confirmed at 11pm the previous evening. Rangiora High School’s Archie Prain went to town early, splashing the field with boundaries until caught behind for 31.

At this point the Valley looked destined for anything up to 200 in their allotted 40 overs but we were rattled by the loss of Michael Davidson, Nick Johnstone and John Fulton for more modest scores.

John’s son George knuckled down, showing a nice ability to let the ball come to him – glancing, parrying and driving with growing confidence.

Supported by Tony Penny, who didn’t run out a single young Fulton in this match (see Valley v Swannanoa CC report, February 2023), George hit a well-earned 41.

The other breakout star was Tom ‘Yeller’ Byrne, who batted with such nonchalance in the second half of the innings that he passed 50 without anyone realising it. We did congratulate him publicly at the end of the day, although it appears by that time he was out the back of the pavilion chopping firewood.

Valley happily consumed Scott and Tina’s lunch with 171 on the board but would it be enough against a youthful-looking Deans?

After careful consideration of who should open the bowling, Archie marked out his run. And man, did he run – smooth, quick and accurate. Before long, Deans were about 30 for 4 and Archie had the lion’s share of the wickets.

Logically, after four overs of carnage, the skipper then spelled him.

Then, in the great tradition of cricket, the game started to turn. A bloke called Digger let loose. Strong of frame – apparently a decent option on the crash ball on a rugby paddock – Digger smote everywhere.

Logically, the skipper was soon asked when he would bowl. ‘Not yet boys, not yet’, he replied, with only the team’s best interests at heart.

To be fair, Digger had a lot of work to do as wickets fell steadily around him, but he kept Deans in the reckoning until George, darting his off-spinners, nabbed his wicket just before the drinks break. A bruising 50 or so was finally over.

Tim, feeling his confidence rising, then bowled his customary 1 over before returning the ball to George. In the end, Deans fell about 50 short and we retired to the late afternoon sunshine beside the Watershed.

Everyone had their moments for the Valley, including another schoolboy player, Tom Lumber, who galloped about the field with vigour and bowled tidily.

Thanks especially to the Deans X1 for continuing this fine traditional match. We were happy to meet new faces among them, including many North Island family taking a break from the ravages of Cyclone Gabrielle. It was a lovely day for cricket.

Tim Fulton

Captain, Valley of Peace X1