THE annual cricket season opener for Whitchurch CC at their Parsonage Meadow ground saw the Haynes, Hanson and Clark Wine Merchants backed side take on an experienced John Dennett XI in a memorial match.

The home side decided to bat first on a soft, challenging track and the John Dennett team, made up of a collection of ex-Whitchurch players and close friends of Dennett were on top from the start.

Wickets fell at regular intervals, as Stewart Samways and Nick Payne took three wickets each.

Whitchurch skipper Tom Trinder offered sturdy resistance, making a solid 36, but the rest of his side succumbed in their quest for quick runs on a two paced pitch.

Other experienced bowlers were introduced and the legendary Martin brothers Pete and Rick bowled in tandem for a spell, taking a brace of wickets, and Tom Dodd and Eddie Treble also bowled tidily.

Two run outs ended Whitchurch’s resistance as they were all-out for 144 from the allotted 35 overs.

Early wickets fell in the John Dennett XI’s quest for glory, as Jeff Williams (7), Andy Bennett (8) and Ollie Burt (0) all departed quickly.

Tom Dodd had other ideas and dug in and Pete Martin (11) joined him, introducing himself with a huge six that landed in the adjacent field, narrowly avoiding a parked police car.

At Martin’s unfortunate demise, Dodd was briefly joined by Treble (1), before he was bowled by James Hayward.

Visiting captain, Richard Osmond, joined Dodd with the score at 41-5 and in harness the two batsmen started to slowly chip away at the target.

Dodd batted especially well, heaving Jim Bevan for an enormous six into the railway bank.

However, Bevan got his revenge, taking a magnificent diving catch on the boundary rope to send the brave Dodd packing for a well-constructed 33.

Osmond decided to up the ante with a flurry of bold shots as the overs started to run out and with the support of Rick Martin (6) and the chirpy Nick Payne (8 not out), John Dennett’s XI successfully reached their target with two balls to spare, Osmond finished unbeaten on 68.

Another successful and enjoyable day was had by all and the crowd, which included John’s wife and family.

Ellen Dennett thanked all those who attended and played in John’s memory and presented the memorial cricket cloth cap to the winning side.

Money raised at the game will be split between a donation to Cancer Research UK and the cricket club that John loved.