The annual cricket season opener at Parsonage Meadow took place this bank holiday weekend. Whitchurch CC took on an experienced John Dennett XI in what turned out to be the perfect tonic for the season ahead.

Whitchurch decided to bat on a soft, challenging track and the John Dennett XI, a collection of ex-Whitchurch players and close friends of John, seemed to favour fielding first because it gave them the opportunity to line up in a healthy slip cordon and indulge in a variety of cricket reminiscence concerning glory days of old.

In between the conversation, wickets fell at regular intervals. Stewart Samways and Nick Payne bowled with the necessary vim and vigour and three wickets apiece silenced the youth element, who had felt they were past their prime.

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. The legendary Martin brothers (Pete and Rick) bowled in tandem for a spell taking a brace of wickets and Tom Dodd and Eddie Treble bowled tidily.

Two run outs belied the advanced years of the visiting side and put paid to any further Whitchurch resistance, concluding their innings 144 all out from the allotted 35 overs. Early wickets fell in John Dennett XI’s quest for glory but Tom Dodd had other ideas and dug in. Pete Martin (11) introduced himself with a huge six that landed in the adjacent field narrowly avoiding a parked police car and at Martin’s unfortunate demise, caught at cover, Dodd was briefly joined by Eddie Treble.

Visiting captain, Richard Osmond, joined Dodd with the score at 41-5 and in harness the two 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 upper 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 reached the target with two balls to spare, Osmond ending 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 event will be split between a donation to Cancer Research UK and to the cricket club that John loved.