v Poppyfields CC (H) 26/06/22

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Walsall Health CC (242-7) beat Poppyfields CC (213-9) by 29 runs

Walsall Health returned to their home ground to take on Poppyfields on a day where the weather couldn’t make its mind as to what it wanted to do. Due to the number of supporters the travelling side brought 12 months earlier, the home side decided to put on a lavish tea and make it a real occasion. Captain for the day was club pro Dan Dunn. He won the toss and elected to bat. Here’s how we got on

Batting order

1. Dan Armstrong  (101) : After apparently arriving in a somewhat disillusioned frame of mind, Dan soon put all his fears of a low score to one side as he went out and hit the first four balls for four 4s. He was calm and collected, playing a mixture of attacking shots along with safety shots. Eventually reaching a fabulous and well deserved 100. He also opened the bowling and with his express pace and height finished with figures of 1-19 off 8 overs.

2. David Preece  (28) :  Playing only his second game of the season, David looked comfortable at the crease, placing the ball all around the field and in doing so, building a steady partnership with Dan. David was unfortunately given out lbw by the umpire, a decision he couldn’t believe went against him. He too, bowled at the end of the innings when we were looking for that final wicket, but it just wouldn’t come. His final figures were 0-14 off 2 overs (including a very high full toss).

3. Andy Carrick  (1) : Came in at 132-1, looking to build on a super start by the opening pair, but departed at 135-2 after he was given out lbw. This was a little bit of a shock, as he usually spends a good amount of time at the crease and gets a fair few runs on the board. Unfortunately, this was not his day with the bat. As the saying goes, “catches win matches” and what a catch Andy pulled off, fielding at slip. Many thought he was just saving a boundary, but when it stuck, some teammates had mixed emotions; elation (for the catch) and potential despair when he landed on his shoulder. Thankfully, he landed on the one that he didn’t dislocate. There were discussions that we had seen the catch of the season the week before at Wellington, this was one to rival it. Great stuff Andy.  Better luck next time with the bat.

4. Dan Dunn  (13) : The captain; the club-pro came out with lots going on. Boundaries being hit, wickets falling and smart running between the wickets. Dan batted fluently, getting in early strides and finding the boundary ropes with precision, picking the gaps and putting pressure on the bowler with smart running. Bowled towards the end of the innings (even though) he admitted he didn’t want to), he still ran in with the knowledge that one ball would end the Poppyfields innings. Despite his best efforts, their last stand stayed as rigid and defiant as Jimmy and Monty at Cardiff all those years ago. Well captained Dan.

5. Nathan Reeves  (6) : Nathan went out with so much intent.  This was from the very first ball, as he set out his mark, he swung his bat and the ball went for 6. Good start! Unfortunately, this was not to last as a few balls later, Nathan was back in the shed after he was caught going for another big shot. His efforts in the field were of the highest standards; stopping countless boundaries, that kept coming to him even with the sun’s glare coming right into him. Top work in the field and a good cameo with the bat.

6. Jack Lester  (0) : After some early season runs in which he had a highest score of 40 n/o, Jack (or big Jack as he is sometimes referred as) was in and out quicker than a solar eclipse. In his assessment, he hadn’t done too well (the choice of language used was very different).  He had finally joined the club for the season, but still a few behind the leading contender. Unlucky Jack.  In the field, Jack seems to be getting better each game he plays as he becomes more and more confident. Keep it going Jack and before you know it, you might be a contender for fielder of the year.

7. Ian Chuck  (52*)   :  After some  early season jitters, Ian is starting to find some form. After his fifty the week before, he followed it up with another 50 this week. He came in with the score at 193 and settled very quickly into his stride. One particular member of his entourage could be heard on regular occasions cheering and applauding every run and twice as loud for each boundary.  Due to the absence of regular wicketkeepers, Ian took the gloves and made his role behind the stumps look easy. He took most that came his way and was reward with   catches off the regular spinners.

8. Dave Stephens  (11) : Dave went out with just under 10 overs to go, playing some nice shots and some good running between the wickets (whether he intended to or not). In fact, only one of his 11 runs was a boundary. He was unlucky to get out, as he was caught going for another big shot in an attempt to up the run rate. I expect, if he had been there long, there might have been a few more 4s to his total. He also opened the bowling, and was the bowler to that fabulous catch by Andy later on in the day. He finished with figures of 1-40 off 8 overs. Well bowled and well batted.     

JDB – John Did Bat.

9. John Nicholls  (9*) : John Nicholls currently holds the record for DNBs. It is a feat that I don’t think anybody will catch anytime soon. However, this was one day he couldn’t extend that record. John batting was such a unique occasion that his first ball was caught on camera, as we do not know when it will happen again. But despite that lack of batting opportunities, John defied the odds and stuck around to score a very determined 9 n/o. Well batted John. There will be calls for you to bat up the order. Despite his composure with the bat, John is a completely different person with the ball. He has so often come on and changed the game in favour of the Health. His devious action can put batters of all calibre in a spot of bother. This day was no different. He came on and bowled a magical spell. Although it was only 4 overs, he managed to put the Health in a commanding position, taking three wickets for 6 runs, by far the best figures of the day. Well bowled John. Hopefully a few more of those before the season’s out.

This week’s reporter.

10. Jonathan Preece  (DNB) : JP was not to bat this week due to the clever batting of John and Ian, something he was more than happy with. However, despite making the number 10 or 11 position his own, he still managed to pad up when the Elf had lost their 5th wicket. Some things never change. The day that he doesn’t pad up early, will be the day that he needs to. However, JP isn’t picked for his batting (you wouldn’t believe it by his early padding up), it is meant to be for his bowling (although some are questioning that). JP came on early in the innings, replacing John at the car park end to try and keep it tight and build pressure. I don’t think he did either, but crucially, he managed to remove two batsmen before they got going.  If only he could cut out the wides and no-balls, then his figures could be so much better. He ended up with figures of 2-50 off 8 overs.

11.Josh Butler  (DNB) :  Like JP, Josh was not needed to bat. However, when he does bat, he adds vital runs. Despite the lack of opportunities with the bat this year, Josh could easily bat further up the order. Not only that, but he could also make a good few runs in the process. But at the moment, his magic with ball in hand is unmatched. As with all spinners, batters will always go after them, thinking they are the easier option. But this is where Josh comes into his own and this is exactly what happened this time. Sending down slow left arm spin after slow left arm spin, Josh was able to get the batsmen in all sorts of trouble. Several times, they premeditated their shots and Josh was getting closer and closer. Eventually, his efforts paid off picking up two wickets before they could get going. Well bowled Josh.

Great effort from all!

 

A great day was had by all who attended both players and supporters.  Poppyfields brought a good number of supporters and along with the Elf contingent, the atmosphere was fantastic. With legends from the past making coming down, it was a great opportunity for a catch up at the cricket. Not only was the cricket good, but the teas were super, with everyone pitching in. So much to choose from and I think most of disappeared by the end of the day. Hopefully, this will be a fixture for many years to come.

Batting
Bowling

v Wellington Friendly XI (A) 19/06/22

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WHCC 275-4 (Chuck 50, Nunns 49, Armstrong 48, Stenson 48)

Wellington 158-7 (Philpott 2-19, Chuck 2-27)

WHCC won by 117 runs

Full Album by Liz – https://photos.app.goo.gl/CqBbqRzWkwGetbsVA

The Elf made the lengthy trip to Shropshire to take on Wellington fresh from returning to winning ways at home to Beaumont. A first visit to the magnificent Orleton Park ground on the edge of the Wrekin certainly provided a scenic backdrop to what proved to be an enjoyable days’ cricket.

Under grey skies and with a forecast that looked dicey, the Elf batted first. Openers Jack Stenson and Dan Dunn accumulated at a steady rate as they negotiated the new ball, Jack passing 100 runs unbeaten, following on from his unbeaten 83 last weekend. The pair gradually began to go after the bowling, coming down the wicket on occasion but with the score on 36, Dan would then miscue one from Gunawardena when on 15 to mid-on for a well taken catch by Chohan (one, he reminded those in the scorebox with much dismay, which was the only successful catch of the innings amongst a few dropped efforts!)

This brought Ian Chuck to the wicket and he and Jack continued to play positively and run hard, turning several 1s into 2s and running some sharp singles in the ring. Jack in particular looked to get on with things as he approached his 50 (which would see him retire due to a captain’s agreement), hitting a succession of fours, however, he was bowled when trying to reverse sweep Edge for 48 to leave  the score 77-2 in the 14th over.

Chuck and Andy Gorton then set about establishing another partnership as two of the Elf’s all time leading run scorers manipulated the ball around well on a pitch that was just giving a little bit of encouragement to bowlers with some variable bounce- the long boundaries offering the chance for 2s and 3s. The pair took the Elf past 150 when Chuck ran the single which took him to his 50th run, at which point he retired and unknown at the time, caused chaos in the scorebox for a few overs as skipper Alex Nunns took his place at the non-strikers end and watch Gort (and not Alex!) get bowled by Chohan just 2 balls later for 34 (156-3)

Will Lauchlan came in at 6 and looked to play a shot a ball, knowing he had plenty of depth to come (with Dave Stephens due in at 10- one of the better number 10s in Elf history surely) and he managed to get a couple away to the fence, before being stumped by Recce off Srihivason for a 9-ball 11 (174-4)

One away.

This left Dan Armstrong, unusually batting down the order, to join Alex and both accelerated the scoring rate considerably in the last ten overs with a series of boundaries and whilst Dan started off 11 runs behind, he soon caught up and a series of lusty blows from both set up a tense scenario of the Elf chasing our record score of 276 and both batsmen closing in on their individual half centuries. It was one of them, like the England 500 attempt against the Dutch in Friday’s ODI, where it seemed a long shot but gradually became more likely and with 14 off the 39th over, just 9 were needed to break the record, but a tight last over by Rabani kept it to 7 to leave us one short of equalling out best score (dubious as a wide in the 30th over was not added to the total) and left Alex 49 off 40 and Dan 48 off 30, both unbeaten. The score of 275-4 however, was still an imposing total and gave the bowlers plenty to work with

The Elf reaching new heights

Sadly, there was no tea report as it was bring your own but after what seemed a short interval, we were back out there, still in cold, overcast conditions and we got the perfect start first ball as for the 2nd away game in a row,  DS had a wicket 1st ball, trapping Mullard-Wilson absolutely stone dead lbw.

This brought Gunawardena to the wicket and he had sights on getting them all on his own, as he cracked some blistering shots away. At one stage he had all 24 runs for Wellington and made the most of a couple of lives to race to 48 by the time both DS and Dan Armstrong had finished their 8 over spells. The impressive young batsman, Eli, at the other end was quietly accumulating at the other end and steadily looking to increase his tempo to leave the hosts 61-1 at this stage. Gunawardena got the 2 to take him to 50 with the first ball of Josh Butler’s spell and he was replaced by Willis. The 2 batsmen now looked to take on the spinners Josh and Chuck, but a magnificent direct hit run out from mid off from Jack (his 2nd in just a handful of games) put an end to Willis’ stay for 5. This then sparked a bit of a collapse as the ever-accurate Chuck bowled both Reece (5) and Rowland (via an inside edge for 0) in successive overs to leave Wellington 84-4 at drinks.

At this stage, you might have felt the Elf would run through the middle order, but Eli found a capable ally in Chohan, the pair comfortably seeing out the rest of Josh’s and Chuck’s overs, mixing regular singles with the occasional big shot as they took their partnership past 50, before Chohan was finally undone by Greg Phillpott for 30. Rabani then fell in the same over for nought to one of the all-time great catches from Jack, on the run from long on to snaffle an absolute skier. The fielding award may as well have his name engraved on it already!

The last few overs saw an impressive spell from Dan Dunn to finally remove Eli for 39, taking a catch off his own bowling having almost took a stunner an over or two before off the same batsman, many of the Elf sportingly congratulating Eli on a fantastic performance as he left the field. Gunawardena and Edge managed to negotiate the last 6 overs successfully as Wellington closed on 158-7, still a very respectable effort in itself.

Good game – Great fixture.

What was pleasing is that there were many contributions so picking a man of the match was almost impossible. Whilst the shower club was a lower than in the past gathering, Greg reliably gave it a solid 7/10 and the beautiful double decker pavilion with its balcony gave a nice spot for the fines committee to discuss the days’ events. The bar has a solid section of bottles and lagers, a pity the ale pump wasn’t in action but reasonably priced nonetheless and one that hopefully we get to experience in the future.

So on to Poppyfields down at Rushall on Sunday. They brought a good support last year and made a real event of it. Hopefully the weather will allow for a good game and some food during the day

Up the Elf!

J Butler

v Beaumont (H) 12/06/22

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Walsall Health won by 6 wickets

After the previous weeks wash-out Walsall welcomed Beaumont to Carter Park the weather was set perfect for an afternoon of friendly cricket with the sun shining and blue skies all around even Dai turned up in shorts and a t-shirt! Walsall Health skipper agreed to let Beaumont bat first as they only had 7 players at the ground at the toss with 2 or 3 maybe on the way to make up the numbers.

The 2 Dave’s took the new ball for the Elf and both were soon on the money with very tight lines to create the pressure on the Beaumont openers.  The pressure soon told as DS forced an error from Clinton to play onto his stumps for 1, from the other Dave Clive who had yet to get his firsts wicket off the season was soon in on the act with an absolute peach of a delivery that came back a mile to bowl opposition captain Grainger for 10 it really was a beauty of a delivery think Simon Jones to Michael Clarke ’05 Ashes at Old Trafford a serious contender for ball of the season, it was that good that Dave admitted later on fines that he had no idea how he did it!!!! Both bowlers continued to apply the pressure and DS was in the wickets again as he had Hall caught behind by Mac, it was a superb catch behind the stumps by Mac diving low to his right grabbing it one handed it was just a shame that his family hadn’t arrived in time to see it. Not to be out done Dave Clive bowled Jandu for 0 in his next over as Beaumont struggled to score runs.  With the score on 22-4 DS very unselfishly asked to be taken off to give some of the other Elf bowlers a bowl as he feared the game wouldn’t last very long, BIG HAND DS! DS finished with figures of 2-10 from 5 overs.  Replacing DS was Ben Lester who soon found his rhythm from his first over and continued the good started by the 2 Dave’s.  JP replaced Dave Clive from the Pavilion end after Dave Clive with figures of 2-24 from 8 overs a top spell from Dave and good to see him back in the wickets.  Both Ben and JP aka the Wizard were soon in the wickets also Ben bowled Owen for 6 and JP trapped Jones LBW for 7 leaving Beaumont in big trouble at 34-6 at drinks.  Just before drinks Nicka had arrived with his hangover cure (a Big Mac and fries) but he was soon dashing off to get his kit as he had very kindly agreed to play for Beaumont to give them 10 men, Nicka soon had his pads on and was looking forward to dishing out some long handle treatment to the Elf bowlers but before then Beaumont batters Percival and Price began to re-build their innings as they look to take on JP and get the score moving.  With a few boundaries and a couple of extras Price & Percival had got the score up into the 80’s before Ben Lester trapped price LBW for 20 this brought Nicka to crease and he soon started to strike the ball to all parts of Carter Park with some clean hitting and accelerated the score onto 100.  Jack Lester replaced his brother Ben after Ben finished with 2-22 from 8 overs.  Nicka took an instant liking to Jack’s bowling and despatched the ball to boundary with ease as the score started to race along at the other end JP was starting to take some punishment but the Wizard stuck to his task and was rewarded with this 2nd wicket as he accounted for Percival again LBW for a well-made 35.  Last man Jandu joined Nicka at the crease with the score now on 130-8.  Nicka decided that he needed to up the scoring rate to give Beaumont a chance in the game so he went after the bowling of Lester and JP with 4’s coming regular.  JP finished his spell with 2-52 from 8 overs, replacing JP was Dan Armstrong, Nicka was keen to face Dan and soon showed him the Dunny dab down to 3rd for 4, Dan was not impressed! He was even less impressed next bowl when Nicka smacked back over his head for 4 to bring up his every 50 in cricket, it was a fantastic innings from Nicka and well deserved the Beaumont players were very appreciative of Nicka’s efforts as they gave him a BIG HAND!! Dan soon had his revenge as he got Nicka out in his next over LBW for 55 as Beaumont were all out for 168 it was a good recovery after the struggles at the start.  It was good effort in the field by all the Elf fielders as they chased everything to the boundary and backed up the bowlers well especially Will and Nath who both charged round the field to save every run.

Stenson ready to go.

Dan Armstrong and Jack Stenson opened the innings for Walsall Health and both Elf batters were soon picking up boundaries to get the innings off to a flying start as they looked to chase the target down.  The 50 partnership was soon up for the Elf openers as Dan despatched a big 6 into the neighbour’s gardens.  With the score now on 62 in the 7th over Dan again went for another big hit but could only find the safe hands of Nicka on the long on boundary off the bowling of Percival for 33.  62-1 soon became 77-4 as Will Lauchlan went for 0, Nath Reeves for 1 and Mac for 0 all to the bowling of Percival as Beaumont turned the screw and put the pressure back onto the Walsall Health batters.  Jack Stenson was still at the other end on 30 and looking in touch as he was joined by skipper Alex Nunns to steady the ship.  Jack and Alex started to re-build the innings and get the run chase back on track as they ran well and rotated the strike with some quick singles.  Beaumont rotated their bowlers as they tried to get the break-through but both batters batted calmly and soon the runs started to flow as Jack went to his first Elf 50 once past 50 Jack started to unleash and found the boundary with ease as the score quickly moved on.  Alex at the other end was happy to play second fiddle as picked up the singles to give the strike back to Jack, but as the target got closer Alex soon hit a couple of boundaries to finish the game off including a 6 to win the game for the Elf in a partnership of 92 to lead the team home.

It was another enjoyable game of friendly cricket played in great spirits by both sides and was enjoyed by all the spectators in the afternoon sunshine.  Big hand again to Nicka for helping out the opposition despite feeling a little delicate from the night before and truly epitomizing the spirit of Elf.

Also congratulations to Jonathan Preece who moved into the top 10 all-time Elf leading wicket takers.

Next week Walsall Health are back on the road as they travel to Wellington in Shropshire in another new fixture to add to the list.

Alex Nunns

v Alrewas CC (A) 29/05/22

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Alrewas CC (192-4) beat Walsall Health CC (186-6) by 6 wickets 

Walsall Health participated in their annual game against Alrewas in memory of the late Andie and Tim Oliver. It was a game that promised to be a fun-filled day, as well as showing respect to legends of both clubs. While the weather didn’t quite match that of this fixture 12 months earlier, the fan park was full. Before the game, it was decided, that the Health would have four captains; Andy Gorton, Dave Stephens, John Nicholls and David Preece. However, as it transpired when the Health were in the field, it was our Chairman, Ian Chuck making all the calls.   

It was decided that Walsall Health would have a bat, but with a squad of 15 players to choose from, the openers for the Health were Andy Ince and regular opener Dan Armstrong. They started off with intent and played some nice shots finding the gaps, with clever running between the wickets keeping the scoreboard ticking. However, with the score on 18, Andy Ince picked out square-leg and was on his way for 11. Heading out to the middle was none-other than the club-pro Dan Dunn, who was aiming to put the events of seven days earlier behind him. It just so happened that man at the other end was the one who didn’t run the week before. Any early jitters by Dan Dunn were soon put to bed as the two Dan’s started to show their class at the crease. They built a steady partnership and the score started to motor along nicely from an Elf’s perspective. The pair were on course to reach 100 for the 2nd wicket, when with the score on 95, Dan Dunn was caught by Scott off the bowling of Kwant for a patient 23. Dan looked in good knick, but he wasn’t able to capitalize on a promising start. Well batted Dan.

Doc and Mini Doc…middle order dynamo’s

Next to the crease was batting stalwart Gary ‘Doc’ Reeves. It was an opportunity for the Doc to roll back the years and punish any ball that was slightly off line or length. Could he build another partnership with Dan Armstrong? The answer was no as Armstrong was next to go with the score still on 95. A well batted 60 for Armstrong, who completed back to back 50’s following his 59 against Unicorns last week. The departure of Armstrong brought to the crease fielding phenomenon N. Reeves (son of Gary). While it doesn’t happen very often, it is always nice to see a father /son combination at the crease (just make sure no quick singles are called). Nathan entered the crease with the confidence that he could build a quick-fire partnership with his father. It started off well as he slotted the first ball down fine leg for four runs. He’d got off the mark early. Was he going to go on and make an invaluable score? Unfortunately, the next ball went between bat and pad and clattered into his stumps off the bowling of Burrows. It would have been nice for the two of them to spend more time at the crease, but when the ball came down the pitch, Nathan felt confident he was going to connect with it. Another day, it might have sailed back over the bowlers head, but it was not to be and N. Reeves departed for 4. This left the score at 99-4, but there was still batting left.

In at number 6 was Jack Lester. Always eager to impress in front of his watching parents, he went out looking to start where he finished last week with a well played 40 against Birmingham Unicorns. An interesting start by Jack suddenly turned into runs. It was a nervous start from a player that seven days ago, almost reached his 50. He started getting bat on ball and it looked as though he and Gary were gradually building a steady partnership. However, when the score reached 125, Lester was unfortunately caught and bowled by Burrows for 7. Lester’s disappointment was evident when he came off giving a frank assessment of his batting performance. Unlucky Jack.  Better luck next time.

In at number 7, was Ian Chuck; a player who has scored plenty of runs for the Health, but has found run scoring hard to come by this year. He set out to make quick runs, hoping to build a competitive total for Alrewas to chase. Gary Reeves was still at the other end and there was still an opportunity for the Health to reach 200. However, with the score on 145, Gary had to depart for 29 as he was bowled by the opening bowler Walker. It was a steady knock, but with partners running out, Gary felt he had to force the pace, but it was one ball too many. Well batted Gary. On his return to the pavilion, another club stalwart in John Nicholls asked Reeves snr if he was glad he batted, Gary’s response was simply “I’m glad it’s over”. Hopefully, Gary will play more often for the Health as he stated later in the day “I’m back in the fold now” Always a pleasure to have you around Doc. With Gary’s departure, David Preece arrived at the crease, for his first game of the season. With 9 overs to go and 145 on the board, there was still a chance the Health could reach a target of 200, although, it would be a difficult task. But with two supremely confident batsmen, anything was possible. Both batted well with composure and an understanding of each other’s game. As the innings was drawing to a close, the two started to pick up the run-rate and by the end of the 40 overs, they had got the Health to a respectable 186-6, maybe a total that was defendable? Time would tell.   

Another DNB for Jonty…..Double Nicker Bocka.

A somewhat changed Health XI entered the field after a brilliant tea, so kindly put together by Alrewas, to defend the total they had set, knowing that a fast start was needed. With that in mind, I. Chuck, who had assumed the captain’s armband, threw the ball to the ever-dependable Dave Stephens and Josh Butler. DS, who was so unlucky not to pick up a wicket last weekend, was out to show that was a one-off. It proved to be the perfect start as DS had opener, and Alrewas legend, Tim Aston, caught by wicketkeeper Andy Gorton for a first ball duck. Exactly what the Health required.  Andy had a good day behind the stumps, stopping everything that came his way as well as offering plenty of encouragement to the bowlers. It’s what we expect from a keeper who has made the position his own with countless takes and stumpings over the year. Whoever replaces him when he does eventually hang the gloves up is going to find it a difficult act to follow.     

Next in was Scott. With the Health buoyant at the early breakthrough, new batsman Walker joined opener Burns to hopefully steady the ship. Despite the two batsmen being new to the crease, both players went after the bowlers from the off with a mixture of boundary hitting and quick running between the wickets. While DS was doing his best to keep the scoring down, Josh Butler, who had never opened the bowling for the Health started to cause the Alrewas pair a few problems, that on another day he would have been rewarded with at least one wicket. Josh and Dave’s efforts were rewarded when Stephens had Walker caught after he lofted the ball in the air and into the safe hands of I Chuck. This was amid calls from another of the Health new boys Will Lauchlan yelling “Chuckies” as the ball came down. Good catch Chucky. DS, eventually finished with figures of 2-38 off 6 overs. Unfortunately, Josh Butler was not so lucky and his figures were 0-19 off 3 overs. Good effort guys.

With the score at 56-2 off 9 overs, DS and Josh were to be replaced by I Chuck and La La himself; John Nicholls. The latter could always be called upon to remove a batsman with one of his deadly deliveries.  While Chuck and Jonty went about their business, Burns and Scott were growing into their innings with each shot they played. Wherever, Chuck put his fielders, the two batsmen found the gaps scoring boundaries regularly, backed up by quick running between the wickets. They had obviously seen several Health batsmen run well between the wickets and had similar ideas. Chances came for the Health in the field, but unfortunately they weren’t taken. It could have been so different. Like Butler, both Chucky and Jonty were not rewarded for valiant efforts and finished with figures of 0-9 off 3 overs and 0-36 off 6 respectively.

Next to come on, replacing Chuck, was ‘the wizard’ Jonathan Preece. Fresh from his 4-13 against Birmingham Unicorns and finding out he was two wickets away from entering the top 10 all-time WHCC wicket takers, he was hoping for similar success. However, all the hype and expectation around JP’s bowling evaporated after the first ball when a short ball down leg-side was put away for 4. Things did not get much better as his first over went for 15. This was not the start JP was hoping for. He never seemed to recover as he went for 32 in three overs without taking a wicket. It could have been so different if brother David had managed to stay within the field of play when he took a calm catch on the boundary’s edge. Instead of figures of 1-26 off 3, JP finished with 0-32. With the score at 160-2, club pro Dan Dunn entered the attack with Alrewas on course for victory. It was only a matter of time, but they still needed to score the runs. He must have felt reasonably confident after he batted well earlier on in the day. Dunn, who has maintained his preference to batting rather than bowling, showed why he was good enough to do both. Consistent line and length from the club pro wielded no reward as he went for 23 off 3 overs. The other end saw opening batter Dan Armstrong enter the attack, who was looking for a third 5-for in three weeks after his exploits in the previous 2. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be and Dan went the way of most of the Health bowlers as he ended up with figures of 0-22 off 2.2 overs. Unlucky Dan. Better luck next time. Well batted though.

While all this was going on, there was one bowler who had a milestone in his sights. Enter the original ‘Ice Man’, Chris Hall. He had already broken Tim Oliver’s record to become the leading all-time WHCC wicket taker last season with 388 wickets, but now, the target was 400. It was a decision that reaped the rewards. With very few runs to play with, Hall came into bowl just slightly fired up, getting wicket number 399 with only the second ball of this eagerly awaited spell, clean bowling Burns for 76. A super batting performance full of composure and skill. But that was not the end of it. With the scores level on 186, Hall was under maximum pressure not to concede the winning runs. So with the penultimate ball of his second over, Hall struck again to remove his 400th victim. Once again, hitting the middle stump of Gardner. The historic moment was greeted with that characteristic fist pump we have all seen so many times, and a yell of “Yes” ….to become the first bowler in the clubs history to take 400 wickets. All in a game of such huge significance for Chris, the relief was evident for all to see. If only he had been brought on earlier, the game might have gone in a different direction.  Chris Hall finished with figures of 2-9 off 2 overs. Well bowled Chris. Super effort. Unfortunately, it was Dan Armstrong who conceded the winning runs, as Scott hit a massive six to win the game inside 30 overs.  An innings that started off with a bang with a first wicket from DS finished off with a comprehensive defeat. A big hand to Alrewas, who were as ever, brilliant hosts, and well deserving winners.

However, that was not the end of it. After the game, Chris Hall was presented with a T-Shirt by Tim Aston, and was officially inducted into the Andie Oliver Cricket Academy. Another lovely touch from Alrewas, and very much appreciated by Chris. Something to treasure more than any of those wickets. Later on, he mentioned to our match reporter… “Since my ankle injury in February this one day has always been the target. Getting to Alrewas with a realistic chance of reaching 400 in memory of Andie and Tim” When you play for a long time, with two blokes of their calibre, no more motivation was needed.

 Only James Anderson and Stuart Broad lie ahead of WHCC’s finest bowler.  


Well played Alrewas. A great day that was played in the right spirit; one that Andie would have been proud of. We look forward to seeing you all again next season…..well played guys.
 

C.Hall in figures

Debut2002
Matches252
Wickets400
Most wickets in a Season record holder47 (2006)
Bowler of the Year Winner 2004,06,10,12,14,15,16, 2020,20219 times
Career Bowling Average13.55
             An icon of the club, Dai Preece, who promised so much in the week leading up to the day, but when the crunch came, was not needed.  

v Birmingham Unicorns (A) 22/05/22

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Walsall Health beat Birmingham Unicorns by 150 runs…..(At Lapworth)

For a change, lets do this review of our 4th win of the season in Player by Player order…(In batting order)

No1 Dan Armstrong…..They usually say save the best until last, but not this time. Dan Armstrong, now affectionately known as Dan “The Body” Armstrong, enjoyed another exceptional day at the office. If anyone is feeling generous, and wants to buy Dan a Christmas present, can we suggest asking Santa to gift wrap the Lapworth square? After turning up late, because he’d been fixing his girlfriends bed, Dan powered his way to another 50 with the bat, then became only the second bowler in Elf history to record back to back 5-wicket hauls. (John Nicholls achieved this feat back in 1998) Dan’s combined figures over the past two weeks read an eye watering 11 overs 4 maidens 10-20. A completely unique achievement, at the same away ground, but against different opposition. Really well done Dan….his face when the skipper said the words any good bowler dreads…”Have a blow” will live long in everyone’s memory.

No2 Ian Chuck…..How bizzare that by the 22nd May, Ian Chuck had yet to score a run this season. Since the first week in September 2021, the Chuck willow had been in a state of redundancy, still yearning for the 3 runs needed to become only the 4th player in the club’s history to score 4000 runs. It was a case of job done (finally) for Chucky. Although our opponents did think we had all gone slightly barmy for giving a standing ovation to a score of 3 not out. Well done Chuck, 4,000 runs at an average in excess of 50 is a tremendous achievement.

No3 Dan Dunn (Club Pro)….Dan Dunn was the unanimous winner of the inaugural “Nathan Martin, Bad day at the Office Award” There are many acute examples of personal misery during a game of cricket. Getting run out for a duck has got to be near the top of the tree. So lets discuss…. “The run”

Dan Dunn…he ain’t afraid of no ghosts.

The Club Pro walked with purpose to the crease, not entirely happy with Armstrong’s lethargic running between the wickets. “I’ll make him run” was Dan’s prediction. Always a man of his word, Double D hit a nice shot to the fielder at mid off, and set off like a scalded cat. However, there was a slight problem. Dan Armstrong at the non strikers end, was busy doing a good impersonation of a still-life model, with his bat super-glued to the crease. Strong Arm assured us all he called “No” which umpire Chris Hall can confirm. The only issue was, you would have only heard the call had you been in a library, or a participant in a sponsored silence. A shellshocked Dan Dunn was left high and dry. So the dreaded trudge off the pitch began, accompanied by the customary “What were you playing at?” backward glances to his former partner, followed by the traditional solitary lap of the boundary to work out the meaning of life, and a check on who was leading the Grand Prix. If Dan needed anything else rubbing into the wound, there was still plenty more salt kicking around. No catches for Dan this week, his first blank week of the season. Did not bowl. Even his high score at Pac Man (see photo) got toppled by Nathan Reeves just before the close of play…..Just three words spring to mind here….Thanks for coming.

No4 Nathan Reeves…..A quiet day for Nath which included a healthy discussion about what crisps are his current favourite. The first ball he faced got dispatched for four, before being bowled by Buckle for 7. Mini Doc didn’t see much of the ball in the field either, but was rock solid in keeping everyone up to date with the football scores. Nath also completed the perilous mission of hanging up the “ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK” sign, on our changing room door, just in case Dan Dunn was practicing a javelin technique with his bat.

No5 Alex Nunns (Captain)….Does this bloke Alex Nunns eat a cucumber for his breakfast every morning, because he’s certainly as cool as one. A composed third half century of the season, on a tricky pitch, was a real ship steadier. Another impressive Captain’s performance, and the catch of the day at third slip….think Gilchrist/Strauss Ashes 2005, it really was that good. Talking about the slips, it was a busy day for this area of the field. The Elf’s had some legendary slip cordons over the years, generally occupied by blokes who can’t move, see, or catch. But yesterday, our traditional weekly gathering of human sieves were replaced by the combination of Chuck, Hall and Nunns who took all three chances that flew off the edges of the Unicorns bats, which proved to be the pivotal stage of the game…..superb stuff.

No6 Mac Perager….Like so many others during the past two weeks, Mac perished to the slow and low pitch. The highlight of Mac’s game, an explosive burst of speed chasing a ball down to the third man boundary. This particular chase involved a fierce contest with a fellow team mate….Dan Armstrong. However, it was Mac who showed the superior pace, no photo finish required, it was a comfortable victory. Later in fines, Dan Dunn was quick to point out, that Mac was the second bloke aged over 60 this season, to have beaten Armstrong in a running race. We think the Club Pro might just have enjoyed pointing out this astonishing statistic.

No7 Andy Gorton….The club’s all time leading run scorer took charge of the gloves, taking two very sharp chances standing up to Dan Armstrong and JP, confirming the guillotine remains as sharp as Chuck’s razor. During a lively fines committee, Dai Preece observed that “It was great to have Andy back after not playing for ages” Clearly, Dai must live in a different time zone to the rest of us, seeing as Gort played against Peopleton just 3 weeks ago. But we concur with his sentiments wholeheartedly.

No8 Jack Lester…..One of the highlights of the day was Jack’s 40 not out, sharing in a match winning partnership of 89 with the skipper. Early nerves and a hangover were soon swept away, with Jack growing in confidence as the scoreboard ticked over. With a bit more time, a maiden 50 looked on the cards, but this was exactly what the club wants to see, new players getting involved and doing really well. Jack was even given a new nickname by Chucky…. “The Jester from Lester” even though he lives nowhere near the place. Well batted Jack.

No9 Dave Stephens….A tough old day for Dave, who bowled one of his best ever spells, conceding just 7 runs from his 8 overs. (One of the most economical returns since the 40 over format began) On the spot from his first ball to the last. You would have to consult Miss Marple to explain how DS didn’t take at least 3 or 4 wickets. Dave constantly bowled at the Unicorns left hander, who seemed intent on dropping anchor… (9 not out off 28 overs) It may be wise to avoid sending Dave a Youtube montage of Gower, Gilchrist and Ganguly’s best bits. Lets hope Alrewas have a few right handed batsmen on Sunday.

No 10 Chris Hall….The man who just plays for DNB’s these days. Chally chilled out on the bench with Dan Armstrong instead of getting padded up to bat, then steadily turned his arm over for 4 overs, picking up another wicket. There were early detections of steam coming out of ears, when Dan A dropped a catch off the metronomes bowling, but all was forgiven as Dan made no mistake when the next chance came along. Has anyone ever seen Chally bowl a wide deliberately? Well he did yesterday. Round the wicket, over the wicket, quicker balls, slower balls, a Shane Warne style amble up to the crease, anything to tempt the Unicorns left hander into playing a shot, but to no avail. What a party pooper aswell, taking the wicket JP needed to complete a 5 wicket haul. Were there any signs of regret or remorse after the match? Absolutely none…..still as single minded as ever.

No11 JP…..Its hard to recall a player who has ever been more prepared than JP. Historically, JP usually bats somewhere south of No 10. Maybe he just thinks our batting is rubbish, its the only explanation we can offer as the pads, gloves, thigh pad, box and helmet all went on, just before Dan and Chuck were taking their guards with our score on 0-0. Maybe we’re exaggerating a bit, but you get the picture.

Bowling wise, JP had a good game, picking up another four wickets, although Father Dai, assured everyone in fines, “From side on, it looked bloody awful” JP’s spell resembled a bag of Woolworths Pick n Mix….good balls, bad balls, moon balls, wide balls, even Ed Balls nearly qualified for the list. However all that counts is what goes in the book, just ask Dave Stephens what he would give for figures of 4-13 at the moment.

Dai Preece….said no to the Top Job.

Earlier in the day, after an emergency AGM, it was agreed that Dai should be appointed our new First Team Head Coach. The wage structure was simple….a lifelong free membership into the Dan Armstrong fan club. The news was greeted with delight, but sadly, our very own Brendon McCullum resigned from the position with immediate effect, after being told about his first three duties……

  1. Coach the Two Dan’s the art of the quick single.
  2. Teach Rick Jarrams how to play a forward defensive shot
  3. Tutor Dave Clive how to land the first ball of a spell on the pitch…..some jobs are just too difficult.

Another good win for the Elf, against new opponents, Birmingham Unicorns. It was great to see Nicka, Rick and Jonty pop along to support. It was El Presidente himself who originally sourced us the Lapworth venue. Over ten years later we are still playing at this lovely ground. It was also the first time Rick had ever seen the place he found for us all those years ago.

Jonty to Rick….I’ve bowled a few La La’s from that end.

The margin of victory doesn’t really reflect how the game went. Two passages of play were the defining moments of the match. The brilliant partnership of 89 between Alex and Jack after we had been in trouble at 107-6, followed by two quality opening spells from Dan Armstrong and Dave Stephens, backed up by an electrifying burst of slip catches we so rarely see at this level of the game. A great match, played in the right spirit. We look forward to hosting the Unicorns at Rushall later in the season

v Lapworth CC (A) 15/05/22

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Featured image – Facebook – @LapworthCricketClub 

Walsall Health CC beat Lapworth by 9 wickets.

We travelled to Lapworth to visit one of our longest serving opponents, always a lovely ground, and a welcoming bunch of lads. The first shock of the day…..no sign of Lapworth club legend Tim Fell. Too busy calculating if he is older than Jonty maybe? We were told he is in good spirits, but Lapworth had 18 players available, so Tim wasn’t selected. Even village cricket can be a tough school.

Our skipper for the day, Dan Dunn, lost the toss, so Lapworth elected to have a bat. Their openers, Dickinson and Ingram started fluently. Both batsmen, hitting the ball hard, nothing aerial either. All four corners of the ground had said hello to the red cherry as early as the 6th over. DS, DC and Ben Lester all bowled tidy spells, but anything that wasn’t quite on the spot got the full treatment. Things were starting to look quite bleak. Talking of bleak, poor old Dave Clive took a fierce blow to the nether regions whilst fielding at short mid off. No need for a blackboard and a piece of chalk to explain this any more graphically. After the ball poleaxed Dave, it was Dan Armstrong who decided to show his caring side, rolling around the pitch in fits of laughter, while his stricken team mate slumped to his knees, semi hunched over, praying for the pain to pass. Admittedly, it was hard not to chuckle, but later in fines, a fully recovered Dave Clive came out with a quote of the day contender….”Its ok lads, I’ve already got three kids” Top man.

First wicket in the bag for J Lester

Lapworth motored along to 73-0, looking well set for a big total. However, the impressive skipper, making his 50th appearance for WHCC, kept a cool head and a clear mind. The Club Pro’s decision to bring on Chris Hall and Dan Armstrong paid dividends. From the moment Chally bowled the talented young left hander Ingram, the whole game turned on its head. The electronic scoreboard, positioned at the far side of the ground experienced a type of sudden metamorphosis. That pipe and slippers position of 73-0, became 95-9 in the blink of an eye. The combination of a bit of pace at one end, with accuracy and guile at the other was a smart ploy. Armstrong and Hall’s combined figures made quite pleasant reading…..13 overs 3 maidens 9-21, with Danny Arm taking career best figures of 5-10. A crestfallen Lapworth lost their last man to Jack Lester, his first wicket for the club. A final score of 113 all out seemed unthinkable only 45 minutes earlier…..well bowled lads.

Our fielding was good, catches were snaffled, and our Wicket Keeper, Ian Chuck, had his best game behind the stumps so far. The keepers role has become a bit of a pass the parcel job lately, but the Chairman enjoyed a solid day with the gloves on. Although he did enlighten a fellow team mate at drinks with some pearls of wisdom….”Never ever wear Gorts inners, your hands will stink for a week” Thanks for the heads up Chuck.

After a lively tea, we set about chasing down 113. Debutante, Alex Macmillan started promisingly, but perished to another ball that stuck in the pitch. We were now starting to wonder if the track had been rolled overnight by a King Size Pritt Stick. However, any thoughts of a collapse were snuffed out mercilessly by another quality innings from Andy Ince, (65 not out) well supported by the tenacious Dan Dunn. (19 not out) The winning runs were hit by a powerful lofted drive from Andy, which meant a well deserved 100 partnership was completed. A fine effort in tricky conditions. Incey remains unbeaten at this ground, with a cumulative score of 201 not out. We think he might just be available for this one next season. Well batted lads.

Andy and Dan superb 100 partnership

The Verdict

A very good day at the office for the Elf, turning a game around in such spectacular fashion is always a satisfying way to win. This Dan Dunn is one cool customer, another very assured performance from the Skipper. Dan Armstrong showed once again, what a mercurial talent he can be with bat or ball. A big hand must also go to Ian Chuck, who seems to be taking on the role of Club Chameleon lately. Wicket keeping in his gardening gloves. (Village) Driving around in other players cars. Now scoring has been added to the Chucksters ever expanding CV. However, Chucky may need to pay a visit to the Josh Butler Scorers Academy in Boston, for an emergency refresher course, because four of the five catches we took were awarded to the wrong players in the book. A catastrophic blunder that will give our statistician Chris Hall sleepless nights for the rest of the month. (Don’t panic, its all been corrected)

AOB…..Alex Macmillan debut

Dan Armstrong…Career best figures 5/10. (The first 5-for since September 2019)

Dan Dunn….50th appearance. Chris Hall…250th appearance

Andy Ince’s current Elf career average….smack on 150. Its a shame we can’t introduce Central Contracts.

Ian Chuck updated his Facebook status to “In a relationship with a Mach 3 Turbo”….RIP the beard

Nathan Martin Update….The Friar Park Express is more like Del Trotter’s three wheel van at the moment, but the early recovery signs are encouraging, keep your chin up Nath…..see you soon.

Get well soon Nath

We are back at Lapworth next Sunday for round two, where we play another new team, Birmingham Unicorns.

Chris Hall

Bowling
Batting

v Springhill CC (H) 08/05/22

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Walsall Health CC beat Springhill CC by 6 wickets

Springhill CC 121 – 10 30.2 overs

Walsall Health CC 122 – 4 30.3 overs

Walsall Health returned to their home ground this week as they welcomed Springhill to Carter Park.

The Health made 6 changes from the previous week; including in those changes were 4 debutants, a new Health record and also testament to the clubs recruitment drive during the winter months.

With the overhead conditions likely to favour the Elf swingers skipper Nunns was keen to make first use of the new ball and conditions and he got his wish when Springhill captain called incorrectly Nunns did not hesitate when inserting the opposition to bat.

The 2 Dave’s took the new ball and soon had it moving around.  Dave Stephens bowling up the travelator we his usually control and cunning line and the length made runs hard to come by for the Springhill opening batters, DS was well supported at the other end by Dave Clive with some beautiful in-swinging deliveries which keep the batters and Mac behind the stumps on their toes.  The break through soon came for the Health as DS had Sabz trapped in front for LBW for 15 with the visitors 22-1 Dave Clive was unlucky not to get the 2nd wicket in his next over as he forced an error from new batter Dee, in was a very clever slower ball from Dave Clive the batter mistimed his shot and the ball looped up to backward square leg to JP, Jonathan was charging in and dived forward only for the ball to fall agonisingly short of JP it was a great effort from the Elf wizard.  Walsall Health kept things tight in the field and supported the bowlers well the energy from the 4 debutants certainly made a big difference.  Dave Clive continued to mix things up with big in-swingers and slower balls but he couldn’t get the wicket that he deserved, Dave finished his spell with 0-27 from 5 overs.  Nunns turned to club Pro Dan Dunn to replace Dave from the pavilion end for his first bowl of the season, despite not bowling for a while it didn’t take Dan long to find his rhythm.  DS continued to keep control from the other end and picked up his 2nd wicket of the day when he bowled Qad for 15 and finished off with figures of 2-39 from 8 overs Dan Dunn also got in on the act as he bowled Dee for 13 leaving Springhill in trouble at 55-3 number 4 batter Jabz came in and went on the attack with some big blows to get the score moving.  Josh Butler replaced DS from the dog kennel end and Jabz soon took a liking to his bowling by hitting a couple of big sixes into the neighbours gardens, Jabz was looking dangerous and had moved the Springhill score into the 80’s the Elf knew that they needed a wicket so with drinks approaching Dan Dunn came up with a plan which he executed superbly, a brilliant slower ball bamboozled Jabz that he could only chip it back to the club pro to be caught & bowled for 33 this after having a life as he was dropped at mid wicket by Nunns the previous over.  Dan finished his spell with fine figures of 2-11 from 5 overs.  With Jabz now back in the pavilion Josh soon settled into his spell and found some turn which made it very difficult for the new batters and his reward soon came as he had Marlon caught very smartly by debutant Jack Stenson at mid on, Jack was in the action again 2 balls later as new batter Ali hit Josh high up into the sky Jack back peddling from mid on to the boundary dived full length and nearly clung onto what would have been a stunning catch unfortunately Jack admitted to getting a finger on it so under Elf rules it goes down as a drop unlucky Jack.  Replacing Dan Dunn from the pavilion end was going to be JP but the wizard had an idea and very unselfishly asked skipped Nunns to throw the ball to another debutant Ben Lester big hand JP.  Ben and Josh continued to apply the pressure to the Springhill batters and the pressure soon told as Josh took his first ever caught & bowled as he got Banks for 2 Springhill were now 6 down with 100 on the board.  Ben Lester managed to get through his nervous first over and started bowling some beautiful deliveries to back the pressure that Josh was creating at the other end.  Ben was soon rewarded with his first Elf wicket by bowling Chris for 0 and then 2 balls later Ben picked up his second wicket when he bowled Richie also for 0 not before Josh picked up his 3rd wicket by having George caught at slip by Nunns for 2.  With Springhill now 9 down danger man Ali tried to get their score moving but the Elf starved him of the strike and kept the pressure on the last batter.  Desperate to get on strike Ali tried to take an unlikely single to Jack at mid on Ali was sent back by number 11 Zakey but it was too late as Jack swooped in picked up the ball and executed a superb direct hit to run out Ali for 14 to leave Springhill all out for 121 in 30 overs.  It was a fantastic effort from the bowlers and fielders the 4 debutants all contributed in the field and they energy rubbed off on the other Elf fielders as everybody was throwing themselves around to try and save runs.  Josh finished with 3-26 from 7.2 overs and Ben 2-16 from overs.

The Debutants, Jack Lester, Ben Lester, Jack Stenson, Will Lauchlan. Welcome to the Elf’

The sun came out as the Elf began their innings skipper Nunns wanting to continue his early season form opened with new man Jack Stenson.  The pair made a good start as the Elf chased down their target of 122.  With the score on 37 Jack nicked one behind off the bowling of Saqib to be out for a well made 15.  Vice captain and club pro Dan Dunn joined Nunns at the crease and continued the good work started by Jack the pair ran well and picked up some quick singles as well as a few boundaries to bring up the 50 partnership between the captain and vice captain with the score moved onto 87 Nunns thinking about drinks at 20 overs missed the next ball and was bowled by Jabz for 36.  Debutant Will Lauchlan joined Dan in the middle.  Will was very cautious at first and took his time to get in but soon registered his first run with a single both batters looked at ease at the crease and took the score onto 106 before Dan Dunn was out caught by Dee off the bowling of Ali for a very good 37 to top off a very good all round performance from Dan, living up to his nickname.  Jack Lester was the next batter for the Elf and was off the mark second ball with a 4 through third man.  With the score on 118 it looked like the 2 new players were going to see it through to the end but it was not to be as Jack Lester became Ali’s second wicket of the day as he was bowled for 7.  Mac joined Will but he wasn’t required and didn’t face a bowl as Will hit the winning runs next over as he cracked a superb 4 through the covers as Walsall Health reached their target of 122 in the 31st over.  Will Lauchlan finished 11 not out on debut.

It was an enjoyable game played in very good spirits.  It was also a good day for Walsall Health as they welcomed 4 new players to the club who all played a part in the game and settled in brilliantly.  It was nice to see lots of supports at the club from both teams and our regular support from Dai Preece who said before the game that we hadn’t got a lot of bowling today!! Walsall Health then proceeded to bowl the opposition out in 30 overs!

Next week Walsall Health travel to Lapworth in Solihull, good luck lads.

Alex Nunns

Bowling

v Peopleton (A) 01/05/22

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Peopleton CC (222-6) defeated Walsall Health CC (192-8) by 30 runs (35 over game)

Walsall Health travelled down to Peopleton for a game that was originally scheduled to be played at Rushall CC. However, because of the torrential weather, it proved to be the right decision as we were able to get a full game in. Before the game started Nathan Reeves said something along the lines of “I’ve only played here once apart from the previous two times”. Not only that, but regular traveller Dai Preece (with all his experience in the game) asked which pitch we were playing on. Normally, that wouldn’t have been a problem, but the covers were still on!    

Dan Dunn, as vice captain, went out for the toss due to the fact regular captain Alex Nunns had not turned up for a 12:30 meet. Officially, he was late. In his defence, he wasn’t driving. The toss was won and Dan elected to field. Alex managed to arrive in time to lead the team onto the field. The new ball was tossed to the ever dependable Dave Stephens and Nathan Martin. All that hope that built up was quickly knocked back as the two Peopleton openers Blatherwick and Lam set the tone and started to put on a decent partnership, with both players batting very sensibly but picking the gaps and manipulating the field. Both Martin and Stephens did create several chances and on another day, those chances would have stuck. Eventually, after some tidy bowling, Stephens broke the partnership by getting the wicket of Lam for 14. DS eventually finished on figures of 1-27 off 8 overs. This was a despite a thunderous shot being hit straight back at him, causing some pain on his hand. Nathan was still struggling and eventually finished on 0-38 off 6 overs (unlucky Nath).

The two opening bowlers were replaced by club legend Chris Hall (who radically decreased his run up from last year) and season debutant Dave Clive. As with all bowlers on their season debuts, Clive was a little bit rusty and was unfortunately punished by well-set batsmen who had got their eye in. Hall bowled at a steady pace, not leaving the batters many free shots. Despite this, the batsmen were still able to rotate the strike regularly forcing Elf captain – Nunns – to constantly change the field. Chris, however, finally got his man as Waller was bowled for 8. Hall was starting to think about reaching 400 wickets for the Health. A magnificent achievement when he finally reaches that milestone. He finished with figures of 1-43 off 8 overs, while Clive’s figurers were 0-53 off 4 overs.

Knee update – 04/05/22. Thanks for coming.

Dan Armstrong, so reliable with the ball – and bat for that matter, came on to replace Clive and gave the batsmen something else to think about. He removed the new man at the crease Thirlby for 0. This was after Blatherwick retired after hitting a superb 100 not out. In the midst of such a great knock, the Elf were a man down as opening bowler Nathan Martin, in a brave attempt to stop a certain boundary off a Dan Armstrong ball, only succeeded in landing awkwardly and twisting his knee. It was later confirmed in the evening, that it was just a sprain and not a break. Best of luck Nath. Hopefully a speedy recovery. Nathan would be taken straight to hospital thanks to the quick thinking of the Preece’s, thanks to the two of them. A big hand must also be given to Peopleton for offering one of their fielders for us. Dan added to his wicket tally by dismissing Morris for 14.  

After making a good start, Peopleton had a shaky patch losing several wickets for not many runs. They built a good steady partnership with Blatherwick reaching his century and Mucke reaching his 50. But this shaky patch continued when Nunns brought on the unpredictable, sometimes erratic, JP. His first over consisted of 2 wides. The second was far more controlled and got the wicket of the half-centurion Mucke for 53, when he was caught by Dan Armstrong at mid-off. The next of JP’s victims wasn’t long in coming.  In the second ball of his 2nd over, JP had Billington caught for 1 by Dan Dunn, less convincingly than both bowler and fielder would have liked.  JP finished for 2-21 off his 3 overs.

The final two batsmen – Harrold and Powell hit 16 off the last two overs to take the score to a competitive 222 for 6. After the start they made, Peopleton might have thought a score of 250 was in their sights. Credit must go to the Health for pulling it back a little.

Due to the break in play in the first innings, before they knew it, the two Health opening batsmen were out facing the Peopleton attack with the two Dan’s at the crease. Before captain Alex had time to sit down and observe the bowlers, he found himself out in the middle after Dan Armstrong flashed the first ball of the innings to one of the 5 slips Peopleton had set. It was a fabulous one-handed catch by Cameron off the bowling of Thirlby. It was the second golden duck of the season for Dan. There was enough pace on his shot that a couple of inches higher, it would have gone to the boundary and no doubt, Dan would have gone onto a big score. 

This brought Alex to the crease with the Health in a spot of bother. He needed a captain’s knock, if the Health were going to mount a serious challenge. Both he and Dan made a steady start and the initial elation amongst the Peopleton XI started to wane a little. Like Peopleton, these two began to find the gaps and the quick single on several occasions. The two batsmen looked so assured, rotating the strike and looked set for a big partnership, passing 50 after 10 overs and looking to go on.

How big was that 6 Nath?

 However, cricket is a funny old game. You can look secure one minute and then you can find yourself several wickets down with not many more runs on the board. In the 16th over, with the score at 62-1, Dan was back in the pavilion after being bowled by Powell for 33. A decent knock , but this was a start of things to come. Out came big hitter Nathan Reeves, who meant business. After a superb all-round effort in the field, Nathan’s scoring shots were 4,4,6,1,6. Despite his big hitting, he also played some nice safety shots and left the ball on a couple of occasions. One of his sixes almost took out a member of the Health fan club, which soon followed with a “Sorry Babe” being yelled from the middle. Thankfully no one else was needed to go to A&E. Nathan was soon out for a quick fire 21 – after he was bowled by Powell (for his second wicket of the day), that put the Health back on course.

Quack quack.

Next in was another season debutant, the one and only I Chuck. He was hoping to build another good partnership with captain Nunns, who looked as focused as a Lion on a hunt. Chuck went out, and returned next ball after the umpire judged him to be out lbw off the bowling of Powell. Chuck wasn’t happy, but he said he accepted the umpire’s call. It was his first Elf duck in his 99th innings. Chuck was hoping to make a good start to the season, but as someone said later, “there’s always next week”. In came the second of three season debutants: the ever dependable WHCC stalwart, Andy Gorton. He went out with the composure of a man who scored runs freely throughout his career. However, Powell, who was on a hat trick, had other ideas as once first ball, the batsman’s defence was breached and Powell wheeled away deliriously after claiming a superb spell culminating in 3 wickets in 3 balls. Andy would have felt confident after putting in a great display behind the stumps in testing conditions. Better luck next time Andy. 

Dave Clive, who had had a difficult time with the ball, came into bat at number 7, but was up against a man in form. His first aim was to defend the first ball, but that was about as good got for Dave as he soon followed Andy to the pavilion with another 0 to the scoreboard after he was bowled by the man of the moment – Powell (who finished with 5-31 off 6 overs). He had been struggling with injuries, and that might have played a part in his game. Hopefully a fully fit Dave will have better days. Nice to see you back. Hopefully see you in the Elf XI far more this year. While all this was going on, Alex Nunns had made his way past 50 and looked good for 100. From a score of 92-2, the Health found themselves in all sorts of trouble at 100-6 and there were still 15 overs to go. Someone had to stay with Alex to rebuild another match defining partnership. In came opening bowler DS, who on another day, could have had more than the solitary wicket with the ball. He managed 4 runs, but more importantly he occupied the crease for 8 overs, supporting Alex in his aim to get to three figures.  The contest for the duck trophy is already hotting up and it’s only the start of May!

Stephens eventually fell to Billington, as he was trapped in front lbw making the score 135-7. He was to be replaced by Chris Hall, a very good batsman, who, because of his bowling achievements, goes under the radar when it comes to batting. A good spell with the ball was followed by a solid 4 not out. However, in the 40th over, as Alex was edging towards his 100, a ball jumped up at him off the uneven ground and he top-edged it to square leg and Alex had to depart for a very well played 90. The Elf contingent on the boundary were so flat, you could have heard a pin drop. He returned to the changing room with a standing ovation from the crowd. Next in at number 9 was JP who had 4 balls to keep out. Thankfully, no more wickets fell and the Elf finished on 192-8.

A great knock by captain Alex Nunns, who deserved to reach 100.


Unfortunately, another defeat for the Health, but the game was played in the right spirit, both on and off the field. Well kept at it Elves, on what was a tricky day in more ways than one. 


Moments of the Match

  1. Alex’s  superb knock of 90
  2. 4 ducks in the innings

                  

J Preece.

Batting
Bowling

v Kinlet CC (A) 24/04/22

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Walsall Health C C won by 26 runs

Walsall Health 182-7 – Kinlet 157-9

The ELF travelled to the beautiful village of Kinlet in Shropshire (not Dudley) for their first away game of season.  It was decided to meet at the nearby pub called the Eagle & Serpent, not one to miss an opportunity Dan Armstrong decided to test the local cider pre game, not once but twice. Once Dan had finished his sampling the team made their way up to the ground for the game.  There were seasons debuts for skipper Alex Nunns, left arm seamer Nath Martin and club legends Chris Hall and John Nicholls (Jonty playing a game in April).  Skipper Alex Nunns won the toss!!!! and elected to bat first on the advice of the opposition captain. 

Not a bad place to toss one up.

The two Dan’s opened up hoping to make amends from last week’s first ballers.  Dan Armstrong fuelled by his 2 pints of cider despatched the 2nd ball of the game onto the roof of the home changing room for 6.  Dan’s aggressive batting soon raced the score onto 32 before he was caught at deep mid-wicket for 18 from 17 balls bringing Alex Nunns to the crease to join Dan Dunn, unfortunately Dan Dunn was also soon back in the shed adjudged LBW to a ball that kept low for 14.  Nath Reeves was the next man and after a couple of sighters he soon sent one massive 6 over deep mid-wicket into the next field, Nath continued to go on the attack and soon raced to 20 before being bowled by Ken.  The score had moved onto 73-3 but the Elf were then soon in trouble at 74-4 when Mac was caught behind for a second ball Duck again off the bowling of Ken.  Next batter in was the returning Nath Martin and looked in good touch despite not playing for over a year, Nath punched his 2nd ball off the back foot through the covers for 4 but both Nath and Alex had to dig in and re-build the innings both batted sensibly and ran well together as runs were hard to come by the score had reached 94 before Nath became Ken’s 3rd victim of the afternoon when he was undone by the lack of pace and was bowled for 5.  Dave Stephens joined Alex in the middle and pair started to get the score moving once they had got to grips with the pace of the pitch Alex gaining more confidence struck a big straight six onto the roof of the away changing room followed by another six straight over the bowler’s head, Dave also clubbed away a couple of boundaries to bring up the 50 partnership between to the 2 batters.  Alex brought up his 50 with another single but was then out for 51 caught at long off trying to push the score on with only a few overs to go the Elf knew that they were still a few short of a good score so with this in mind DS got the long handle out and hit 21 from the 39th over, Dave was out for 38 from the first ball of the 40th but the damage had already been done.  JP joined Josh in the middle for the last 5 balls of the innings and after a couple of quick singles JP managed to hit the 5th ball away for 4 through the covers to finish 5 not out and Josh 3 not out.  Elf finished the innings on 182 – 7.

Top Tea, MVP Fruit cake.

Tea was taken for the first time in 2 ½ seasons as our hosts very kindly offered to provide tea and it didn’t disappoint a wide range of sandwiches, cakes and pizzas along with pork pies and sausage rolls.  A sign of a good tea is the amount of times that people go back up for seconds and plenty of the Elf members certainly did this. It rated at a solid 9 out of 10.

The Elf set about defending their total of 182 with openers DS & Nath Martin quickly finding their lines & lengths which built the pressure on the Kinlet opening batters and the pressure soon told as Dave found the edge of Crook and the ball flew to first slip reign where Chris Hall took a stunning one handed catch (most definitely a contender for catch of the season) Nath Martin followed this up with a wicket in his next over bowling the other opener for 1.  Both Nathan and Dave continued to keep things tight and kept the runs down but neither could find another break through but both finished their spells with respectable figures DS 1 for 23 off 8 overs and Nath 1 for 11 from 6 overs (including 4 maidens) Skipper Nunns then called upon club legends Chally and Jonty to work their magic and it didn’t take long for Jonty to do so, a first ball Laa-Laa accounted for Bishop as he chipped a full toss high into the air and Alex Nunns did the rest.  From there Kinlet re-built their innings with a good partnership from Bowyer & Wallace, Bowyer in particular took a liking to Jonty’s bowling and despatched him for a few 6’s into the next field but Jonty kept to his task and finally got his reward by bowling Bowyer for a well-made 58 a knock that brought the hosts back into the game.  Chally kept things tight from the other end despite still carrying a slight injury produced a wonderful spell of 0-18 from his 8 overs with Jonty also contributing 2-34 from 6 overs it was time to turn to the spin twins of JP & JB both spinners knew that their lines & lengths had to be tight especially with the short boundary on the one side and the Kinlet batters looking to go on the attack after being pegged back by the Elf seamers.  Both Jonathan & Josh stuck to their tasks brilliantly and were well supported in the field especially by last season’s fielder of the year Nath Reeves who patrolled the short boundary as if his life depended on it.  Josh was first to get in on the act as he bowled Kinlet captain Yapp for 13 as he played on, then JP took centre stage as he had Mooney stumped by Mac for 10 and then the dangerous Wallace caught behind again by Mac for 35 with the pressure now back on the Kinlet batters the Elf spin twins started to turn the screw and Josh picked up his 2nd & 3rd wickets in consecutive balls first wicket was caught in the deep by Dan Dunn running in at full pelt (top catch Dan) and the second was stumped as the batsman was beaten in the air and Mac did the rest behind the stumps for his second stumping of the day.  Josh was now on at hat-trick and very unselfishly he said he didn’t want to go for it but he was persuaded otherwise by his teammates as all the Elf team surrounded the bat only for the number 11 batter to comfortably turn it around the corner for a single but the drama wasn’t finished there.  Josh then found the edge of the Kinlet number 10 and ball looped to Dan Armstrong who decided to stay at slip after the hat-trick ball only for Dan to attempt to take it one handed but unlike Chally earlier in the innings this one didn’t stick and hit Dan on the head before hitting the floor (I think Dan must have been dreaming of those ciders).  The innings came to close as Kinlet finished 157-9 off 40 overs.  JP finished with figures of 2-36 off 6 overs and Josh 3-35 from his 6 overs.

After the game had finished both teams headed to the Eagle & Serpent to sample some more local cider again Dan Armstrong didn’t miss out as he came back with 3 pints which soon disappeared before fines could be taken our hosts very kindly brought out hot dogs and chips for us all to enjoy again there were more than one visit to the table so much so that Nath Martin decided to cancel his Chinese takeaway that he was going to order on his way home.

Caught red handed.

All in all, it was a great day all round and a BIG BIG hand has to go to our hosts Kinlet CC for their very kind generosity and hospitality, we hope to be back again next season and also a big hand to Chris Hall for organising this fantastic fixture.

Next week Walsall Health return to their home ground at Carter Park.

Alex Nunns

Leave you with this.

                  

Batting
Bowling

v Penn CC (H) 17/04/22

Standard

Penn CC (149 -3) defeated Walsall Health CC (147) by 7 wickets


Walsall Health CC began their 2022 season with the visit of Penn CC. The action started before a ball was bowled (or even before we got into the ground). At 11:50am, cars were parked at the entrance of the club, waiting for the gates to be opened. Maybe it was a subtle tactic to unnerve the opposition on the Health’s part.  However, as we were to find out later, it possible affected a few of the elf members more. 

Thankfully, the game started on time with Penn winning the toss and electing to field. Out strolled openers Tom Bentley and regular smasher Dan Armstrong. All that hope and expectation that had built up during the week had been punctured immediately, as Dan went first ball off the bowling of Dillon. Somehow, a reasonably powerful shot went more airborne that distance and nestled into the hands of the fielder at mid-off. The Health began at 0-1. Tom and no 3 batter Andy Carrick (a batter of great technique and patience) had to steady a nervy ship and started to knock it around a little bit.  Each ball, they grew in confidence, but at 19-1, Bentley was trapped on his crease lbw by Dillon for 6. Andy was starting to get a feel for how the pitch was playing.

 At 19-2 off 7 overs, the Elf needed someone to stick around and support Andy. Out strolled the skipper for the day and club-pro, Dan Dunn, feeling confident enough that he was going to be that person to help guide the home side through a difficult patch. Dillon had other ideas as he sent Dan back with the second golden duck of the innings. Now, the Elf were reeling at 19-3 with Dillon on a hat-trick. Coming out to face that hat-trick ball was none other than Nathan Reeves. Dillon raced back to his marker and charged in. Reeves – not one for hanging around, set himself and hit Dillon right back over his head.  Was Nathan going to be the batsman to hang around with Andy? Unfortunately, the answer was no, as a few balls later, he went for one shot too many, and was cleaned bowled by Suri. This left the home side at 34-4. It was looking very much like an England batting collapse of recent times. However, there were questions as to whether 5 or 6 balls of the over had been bowled. After some discussion, it was agreed the umpire had counted correctly. I expect the umpire wishes he hadn’t called the wide. More to the point, I expect Nathan wished he hadn’t called it.

Andy was still in control of his innings, playing sensibly as the situation required.  In at number 6, was Health debutant Mack Perager. The two of them started knocking it around sensibly and started to build a decent partnership. Andy managed to reach his 50; a well deserved, patient knock whilst rotating the strike. For a spell, the Penn bowlers had no answers. Perager eventually went for a hard fought 17 after he was caught of the bowling of Patel. Despite only getting 17, it was noted that he did exactly what was needed and occupied the crease for a considerable amount of time. He and Carrick managed to take the score from a precarious 34-4 from 10 overs up to 106-5 off 29 overs; an incredible effort that was cut short when Perager had to depart.

Andy was still there. The general feeling was that if the Health were going to post a defendable score, he was going to have to stick around for the next 10-15 overs. Dave Stephens, a trusted  opening bowler went out to build on the good work done by the men in form, began confidently, by defending the first ball and getting off the mark with his second. Unfortunately, his stay at the crease was ended far too prematurely when he was bowled by Rahl. While Rahl was delighted to get his first wicket of the innings, he was to have more success near the close of the innings. Stephens departed with the score at 127-6. Even though Dave had only scored 3, he was able to support Andy in his quest to reach a well deserved 100. Was anyone going to stick around long enough to help him?

Next in at number 8 was Jonathan Preece. He wasn’t used to coming in this early in the order. He came out with the intent of staying at the crease, frustrating the bowlers, and picking up a few runs here and there. His defence seemed sound enough as he kept out several good length balls and making sure the ball didn’t get through his guard. Andy decided to take the initiative during a change of overs and decided to take more of the strike. Not a bad idea if the Health were going to get 150. However, after some quick intelligent running between the wickets, Preece was out lbw for 1. This moved the score onto 135-7. The Elf were slowly creeping towards a target of 150. Could someone stay with Carrick to the end? The next man in was another debutant James Wintrip. There was still time for targets to be met, but at 148-7, Carrick eventually had to depart on 87 after succumbing to Rahl who was visibly delighted to dismiss the batsman of the innings. As he left the field, Andy was met with handshakes from the opposition and a standing ovation from the boundary in front of watching family members.

Andy Carrick with a brilliant 87 that had patience and fair throughout.

Next in was Alan ‘Nicka’ Dunn. He was hoping to get some early season runs and not suffer the same fate as son Dan. Well, he kept the first ball out, but failed to keep the second ball out, as it clattered into the stumps for 0 by Singh. This left the Elf at 148-9. When he returned to the pavilion, Nicka didn’t hold back, stating “At least I lasted more balls than Dan”. In at number 11 was the very much travelled Josh Butler. He had done a magnificent job with the scoring (making sure it all added up at the end). Was he able to add to the total? Despite coming in at number 11, he set off to the crease with the confidence of a number 4 or 5. However, no sooner was he at the crease, Butler returned with a pen in his hand. He had obviously forgotten to put the pen down and pick up his bat. However, no sooner had Josh had got out there, with bat in hand, both batsmen were back in the pavilion as Wintrip was bowled by Rahl for 1. The innings ended and the Health finished on 148 all out.

The bat that Josh meant to go out with first time round.

While it was going to be difficult, a score of 148 was defendable. If they were going to succeed, the Health needed a similar start to Penn’s, with early wickets necessary. Dan decided to go with the tried and tested senior opening bowlers of Dave Stephens and Nicka Dunn. The first three overs went for a respectable 8 runs, with one boundary. The Health looked agile in the field and it looked as though they were up for the fight. However, after a couple of overs, Penn’s opening pair; Bywater and Shah looked set for a long partnership.  That was until the 6th over when Shah was caught by captain Dan Dunn off the bowling of ‘Nicka Dunn for only 5. That made the score 20-1. Shah had looked comfortable and then tried to replicate N. Reeves from the first innings, but only succeeded in finding the safe hands of the stand-in skipper. Was this going to be the start of the recovery? The wicket brought some renewed energy to the Health who felt another wicket was just round the corner. Unfortunately, the next wicket didn’t arrive soon enough. Despite the efforts in the field, Bywater and Rahl knuckled down and batted with patience and precision. They were able to play their shots and found the gaps.          

They were going along nicely at 69-1 when all of a sudden two quick wickets fell. Dunn decided to bring on Wintrip for Stephens (figures of 0-23 off 6 overs). A decent effort from Dave, who kept the batsmen guessing and didn’t give them any free hits. After a shaky start, Wintrip got his wicket as Rahl, like Shah earlier in the innings, went over the top, but only succeeded in finding the hands of an ecstatic Butler. The look on his face showed he enjoyed that moment. It wasn’t just the fact he caught it, but he had to make sure he knew where his feet were. One more step back and it would have been six. Super effort Josh, and congratulations James for claiming your first Elf wicket. Wintrip eventually finished on 1-35 off 4 overs. Rahl had put on a good partnership with Bywater, taking the score to 69-2. Rahl departed for a well earned 27, a score which helped Penn well on their way to victory. No sooner had the second wicket gone down, the third Penn wicket arrived an over later. Dan was considering taking off Nicka when the latter pleaded to have one more over with a new batsman at the crease. Dan’s decision to keep him on was vindicated as the very first ball of Nicka’s next over saw Singh bowled for one. Nicka eventually finished on 2-39 off 8 overs. 

Nicka was eventually replaced by last year’s leading wicket taker, J. Preece. Despite all the net practices and the preparation, the first ball was not what he’d planned. It went down leg side for 4. Not the first impressions that JP wanted to make. After that he tided-up somewhat, finding his line and length. He eventually finished on 0-21 over two overs. The batsmen were eager to finish the innings off in double quick time. There was still enough time for Bywater to reach his 50 and retired after a brilliantly controlled knock. He was replaced by J Dhillon, who wanted to make up for lost time. Rather than just trying to settle in, he went big from the very beginning. A mixture of good running and boundary hitting, Dhillon amassed 41 runs, dealing mainly in 4s and 6s. The Health didn’t have any reply to his big hitting. Wintrip was replaced by opening bat D. Armstrong, who was trying to rebuild his reputation after the calamitous first-ball duck. He came steaming in. The first three balls were on the spot and kept the batsman on his toes. However, like the start of the innings, the batsmen picked up the bowler’s length and started playing their shots again. Butler, who fielded superbly and took that superb catch, came on to bowl. Unfortunately, the batsmen were set and were determined to finish the game off. They decided to go the areal route. This resulted in successive sixes and a four, which helped Penn knock off the runs inside 23 overs. Armstrong finished on 0-11 off 2 overs and Butler finished off with figures of 0-20 off 1.2 overs. Unlucky Josh. You just happened to be there at the end.  

A well deserved win for Penn and played in the right spirit.

Moments of the Match

  1. 87 from Andy Carrick
  2. First ball ducks from Dan Armstrong and Dan Dunn
  3. Josh going out to bat (without his bat)                    
Batting
Bowling