Walsall Health hosted Lapworth for their final home match of the season. On a cloudy day with the forecast predicting showers later on, captain Dan Dunn won the toss and elected to bat. With the opposition only having 8 a massive hand must be raised to JP and Rich Fell who gallantly offered to help our opposition by fielding until the rest of their team turned up. It was commented by the openers of Stenson and Chuck loudly there would be no quick singles on their arms.
Anyhow, the innings started off poorly for WHCC as Jack Stenson edged his second ball which dollied up to Choudry who caught it one handed at slip. Welcome to the duck club Jack!
In came Captain Dunn who set about punishing bad balls with some excellent cut shots, this coincidently would take the ‘Club Pro’ past 1000 runs for the elf. Congratulations to D Dunn and we look forward to more milestones being reached.
Meanwhile, at the other end I Chuck, fresh from his recent holiday in the savannah, started off in his usual scratchy method, nicking two past slip and keeper as well as gloving one past the keeper, His wagon wheel was once again a lovely example of how to score runs behind square. It was then that the pitch claimed its first wicket of the match, a good length ball that nipped back and kept low struck Dan Dunn in front of the wickets, he did not even look up to be given out before walking back to the hutch with the score at 44-2. In came A Gorton at 4 who, survived 3 excellent Yorkers first up, then set about with Chuck to build an innings.
It was at this time that Chuck decided to start playing some aggressive shots much to the shock of the opposition and his own team. Even the weather seemed dismayed at this new aggression as it started to drizzle on and off, perhaps a sign that this aggressive mode of Chucks might be a bridge too far. Chuck reached his 50 when Choudry made a cunning bowling change. On came veteran T Fell, who bowled with cunning and guile and was rewarded with his first wicket of Chuck (54) when he tried to sweep a straight ball with WHCC on 91-3.
J Lester came to the crease and worked with A Gorton to progress the score along past 100 before he fell to F Choudry for 9. Next to bat was WHCC debutant Paul Bickerton. Paul had confessed to not holding a cricket bat for many years but he soon was rewarded when he hit the tight bowling of T Fell for a 4 for his first runs for the club. Sadly, his innings was not to last long as he had a big swipe at another ball from Fell only to lose his balance and be stumped for 4. Welcome to the club Paul, we hope to see more runs from you in the future. Next to the crease was Mac Perager who supported Gorton and rotated the strike well. With the clouds looming ever closer and the drinks being taken, T Fell was keen to complete his quotient of overs, some tight bowling and an inside edge saw the end of A Gorton for 30 and the elf on 133-6. Regrettably, this also saw the end of play as then the heavens opened and not even the covers could stop the outfield becoming flooded. During the rain break, both teams tucked into their packed lunches (and MacDonald’s) and some enjoyed a brew while watching the Brighton vs Leicester football match.
At about 4pm D Dunn looked out the window at the sodden ground with a flooded outfield and declared “No!” and that was that. No more cricket was played and the match was rained off.
Big hand to Mac who brought some another exemplary box of Samosas and Pakoras which were ravenously devoured by all those who remained and envied by those who did not. The elf travel to Springhill for the final match of this exciting 2022 season…If this season is anything to go on this last match might be one you would not want to miss!
WHCC 116 All out….Rob Hewlitt 23 Mac Perager 20 not out Dan Dunn 14 Jack Lester 12
Poppyfields 117-9….Dan Armstrong 4-24 John Nicholls 2-25 Dave Stephens 2-21 Nicka Dunn 1-19
A tough day for the lads, losing out to Poppyfields by the narrowest of margins, so lets tap into fines committee ( in batting order) for some insights on the days action.
Dan Armstrong (2 and 4-24) A mixed day for Dan. It soon became clear that after his brilliant century against Poppyfields earlier in the season, he was targeted as their prize wicket. A rare low score for Dan, but he more than made amends with the ball, taking a brilliant 4-24, advancing his tally beyond 20 wickets for the season, not an easy thing to achieve these days. Well bowled mate.
Jack Stenson (10 and Did not Bowl) Jack looked in good touch again, scoring 10 runs from the first over, but was unlucky to be bowled around his legs, before adding to his score. A quiet day in the field for Jack. But not so quiet in terms of Bails award contendership (if that’s even a word) Stuffing one of Mac’s samosa’s into his pockets as we were going out to field. Maybe this was why the ball was swinging so much? Don’t worry Jack, its all been noted.
Dan Dunn Capt (14 and 0-9. One catch) Defending a low total is never easy, but the Club Pro proved it was well within the range of his tactical repertoire, making good decisions aplenty. Keeping his cool as wickets fell, taking us to within touching distance of what would have been a well deserved victory. Stepping up to bowl in that key now or never moment of the match, and trapping the Poppyfields last line of defence for what we all thought was a certain match winning lbw. Sadly, it was not to be, as the umpire decided otherwise. We take these moments on the chin, the skipper, and the whole team could have done no more, in what was one of our best bowling and fielding performances of the season.
Rob Hewlitt (23 top score and Did not bowl) Rob played the best innings of the day, batting with the trademark Hewlitt positivity, and bleep test style running between the wickets, his 23 was worthy of a 50 on a less challenging track. Rob also made the shrewd observation at tea that despite being bowled out for a low score, we were still well in this game. A verdict which proved to be spot on as the game remained on a knife edge to the very end.
Mark Reynolds (0 and 0-6) Mark Reynolds picked a good game to make his seasonal debut. Unlucky to be out without scoring, then coming onto bowl at the real business end of the game. Never an easy task, but even more difficult was the challenge given to Mark before a ball had even been bowled. Assigned with the mission of putting Chris Hall’s body back together during the off season. Best of luck with that one Mark. The club’s leading wicket taker has already been prescribed to take a 50mg dose of retirement, once a week, most effective on Sundays.
Jack Lester (12, Did not bowl. One catch) Jack got back on the scoreboard this week, with a promising 12, any score in double figures was a good score on Sunday. Not the usual post innings despondency this time either. Shame really, because we all find the J.Lester trademark “Walk off” quite amusing. Maybe it was because he knew Macs samosa’s were on their way. A vision to lessen the blow of any dismissal.
Mac Perager (20 not out and kept brilliantly, no byes) A seriously good day at the office for Mac. A strong red inker, including a big six, followed by a flawless performance with the gloves. The Samosa’s were a lovely treat too, even though Jack Stenson decided on a novel form of extra seasoning by stuffing one in his pocket for an emergency refuel. Big Hand Mac
Will Lauchlan (1 and Did not Bowl) Big hand to Will, sadly a broken one. But Warrior Will still helped us out bigtime, despite breaking his hand mid week, he was still happy to play through the pain. It was a difficult day for rotating the bowlers, so we still eagerly await what will happen when The Warrior bowls the 4th 5th and 6th balls of his WHCC career…..6 in 6 maybe?
David Ronald Stephens (5 and 2-21. One catch) New nickname alert….DS became DRS on Sunday, with Nicka deciding Ronald was the suitable option for the middle initial. There was a more low key impersonation of Jack Lester as Dave walked off the pitch looking a bit grumpy, after being given out lbw. Dave soon perked up after a “Hug your Hero” session with Jack Stenson, then proceeded to bowl another strong opening spell, laying the platform for a spirited fightback, even calling one of his deliveries “The Ball of the Century” Dave also took a rare catch. We had the usual “How many catches is that for me now” question….well its been checked and verified, and we can confirm it was Dave’s 15th catch for WHCC since his debut in 2006. (15 catches in 17 seasons)…..Josh Butler would be proud of that strike rate.
Nicka Dunn….(6 and 1-19) The man who has taken a shine to 50’s this season. Not content with a 50 for Beaumont earlier in the season, Nicka got the job done with the ball, reaching the 50 wicket milestone with a peach of a delivery. Its been an entertaining family rivalry between Nicka and Dan, who have been neck and neck for a few seasons now, as both closed in on victim number 50. There were several rumours floating around all week, plenty of Will he play? Wont he play propaganda. The story of son Dan being locked in Rushall’s toilet broke early on Sunday morning, car keys being hidden in Dan Armstrong’s box, all sorts of skulduggery was on the table. However, when it came to the crunch moment, it was the Senior Club Pro who secured the bragging rights. In a post match interview, Nicka described the moment as “The Greatest of his Cricketing Life” Also confirming he had “Never felt pressure like it” The final joyous postscript to this Clash of the Titans saga, is the news we had all been hoping for…….Drum roll time
Nicka Dunn “Fifty Shades of Play” The Autobiography, will be in the shops for Christmas. Santa might need a few extra helpers here. All book signing dates to be confirmed. (If we can find a biro that works) Enid Blyton fan, Dai Preece, is already planning to abort his trip to Australia, in order to get his tent pitched up outside the local Waterstones, lets hope he isn’t mistaken for a busker in that Goldfish coat.
RRP £19:50. (There’s even a 50 in the price)… but the smart call is to hang fire with your purchase, its one of those books that is bound to be in The Works by February for 2 quid.
John Nicholls (0 a rare quack and 2-25) No DNB for Jonty, a rare duck though. Based on pro rata rules, this places John right in the frame for the duck trophy….2 innings 1 duck. John pleaded in fines….”Don’t forget I got a 9 not out this season” Somehow, we don’t think this line of defence will stand up under the fierce cross examination and ridicule of a duck trophy speech. On the flip side, it was another quality 8 over stint from the Club Legend, taking 3 key wickets, and 3 maidens, just what the skipper needed. Brilliant bowling yet again….another big hand.
AOB….Nicka quite rightly was in fine form after the game, and decided to set Dan Armstrong a challenge. Something like….hit a hundred next week, or work on your slower ball you might think? Nowhere near…the quote goes something like this…..”Dan….I want you, just for 10 mins each day to stop eating”
It was the same Dan A who completed a fine stint of umpiring, but before he strolled back out to the middle for a spot of officiating, two bottles of lager had disappeared in double quick time. An interesting approach to rehydration techniques, or in this case….dehydration technique.
Coaches Corner…..With Chris Hall the newly appointed first team Head Coach, here is just one pearl of wisdom from the day…Unless you are partial to some treatment of the hairdryer kind, please please don’t ever play a sweep shot on a pitch of such variable bounce.
Nicka Dunn….The Tale of the Tape
Appearances 33 Wkts 50 Average 13.88 Economy 2.68 Strike Rate 30.96 Best 6-29.
And the current Club record holder for eating a full size tube of Pringles in the quickest time…. (9 mins 08 secs) For details on this astonishing feat see our website 2021 match reports v Lichfield Nomads 06/06/21……or wait for the Autobiography to hit the shelves, its all in Chapter 50.
It was a fairly comfortable win against the Unicorns, who have been a really good addition to our fixture list this season, a very friendly bunch, who play the game in the same way as we’ve always done. Possibly the hottest conditions we have played in? Drinks and Calippo Minis (kindly supplied by the Skipper) every 10 overs would suggest it was….so here are the highlights of a memorable day.
Dunn v Dunn…The race to 50 wkts…. Dan took the the penultimate round of this contest 2-1. Reducing the deficit to just two behind his Dad….. Nicka 49 v Dan 47. With Dan skippering this Sunday, there were strong rumours floating around about playing a time game, where the law states, a bowler can bowl unlimited overs, allowing Dan to bowl 20 from the end of his choice. Nobody has been brave enough to tell Dave Stephens yet, but at least it means he might not have to open the bowling for the first time in 21 seasons. The case continues.
6,000 runs for Gort…..The bar has been set. No player since our formation in 1987, has ever reached the 6,000 runs milestone. Gort has always been a man who knows how to get over the line, as rock solid as ever, Andy scored the 25 runs he needed, to make more club history. As the moment approached, Chris Hall decided to apply maximum pressure, prowling around the boundary, waiting to film the history making shot. On a sweltering hot day, not a bead of sweat could be seen on Gorts brow, cooly dispatching the historic boundary, with a customary “tickle around the corner” Job Done, bat raised to the appreciative galleries. A just reward for Gort, who played in our inaugural season (1987) and has since been an ever present member of the club. Six thousand runs are just one aspect of many contributions Andy has given to WHCC, both on and off the pitch. The word “Legend” springs to mind……the Biggest Hand you can find applies here.
Will Lauchlan Hat-Trick….What did John McEnroe used to say? “You cannot be serious?”
Since 1987, we have only ever seen 2 hat-tricks on Sundays. John Nicholls in 2007 and Nathan Martin in 2019. On a scale of rarity, they compare to JP bowling a maiden or Josh Butler taking a catch….they really are that rare!! But on Sunday, Will Lauchlan joined that select group of rare species. (Or as Nicka put it….”Lucky So and So’s”….that’s the edited version.
Lets point one thing out here though…..Jonty and Nath had plenty of bowling experience behind them when they took their own 3 in 3. For Will, this was the first time he had ever…ever, bowled a cricket ball in match conditions. With the Unicorns score on 102-7, skipper Alex made the ingenious decision to throw Will the ball. What followed, was a moment that will almost certainly never happen again. Three balls and three wickets later…cue bedlam. In the moments that followed, Will Lauchlan hat trick was trending fiercely on twitter, while Midlands Today tried to call Dave Stephens for a quote, sadly he didn’t pick up because he thought it was another Dai Preece stitch up. This was 100% a JFK moment. Everyone present on this day, will remember where they were, when Will Lauchlan took his hat trick…..(a feat almost as impossible as trying to spell his surname correctly)
Our 300th win…….
10/05/87. A.Oliver, S.Fewtrehill, S.Fell, A.Hobster, V.Singh, R.Jarrams, F.Jacob, C.Florkowski, R.Colley, M.Langford, A.Kirby…..the 11 players who posted our first victory all those years ago against a Streetly 3rd XI…. Which included our Club President, Rick Jarrams.
14/08/22. A.Nunns, D.Dunn, A.Dunn, A.Gorton, J.Stenson, J.Butler, W.Lauchlan, D.Stephens, S.Stephens, R.Hewlitt, G.Philpott….The current 2022 version
Over 36 years, 585 games, and 236 players later, we reached our 300th win, with a game that showed all the hallmarks of WHCC. A friendly game, played in the right spirit, expertly handled once again, by Alex and Dan. Will’s hat-trick epitomized the spirit of the club, he got it because he was given the opportunity. There were two Father/Son combinations on the pitch, Dave and Sam Stephens, Nicka and Dan Dunn. And how fitting it was, that our President, Rick Jarrams, was in attendance to enjoy the day, and watch this team flourish. The lifeblood of the club for so many years, and one of only two people to have made over 300 appearances, throw in all the hours of work off the pitch, making sure we always got the game on, Fixtures, PU’s, Tours, Trophies, Teas, its all on the Jarrams CV. So we hope you enjoyed this one Rick.
The Skipper…..Alex Nunns has had a textbook season. Great Captain, plenty of runs and catches, a really nice guy. He’s so nice, he even lets the opposition win the toss every single week. But seriously, its been a flawless season for Alex…..until now (did you honestly think this wouldn’t get mentioned?) Recently, there have been a few comments about Alex’s likeness to Jonny Bairstow. So we were all baffled, as he decided to sprint out to the crease with positivity and purpose. Very much in the style of Joe Root. After the returning Rob Hewlitt was given out, it was time for Alex to reveal his brand new “Walk On” His perfect season was about to implode in the most dramatic of circumstances.
Compare this to a Wimbledon Final…Nunns leads 6-0 6-0 5-0…40-0…..and lost. Not one sound of ROOOOOOOOOOT could be heard, just an explosion of hysterical laughter, as our Skipper broke into the Root sprint, then tripped, taking the mother of all falls as he attempted to reach the middle. A banana skin moment? Maybe that’s what he slipped on? It was more Jeremy Beadle than Joe Root. Just how badly does this guy want to win the Bails Award we all enquired? So for the second time in the space of a few weeks, Alex was back on the deck, sprawled face down, chewing some grass. Thankfully, no nose was potentially broken this time, just a large chunk of pride. Maybe this was just one of those days, where things we had never seen or done before kept happening. Has anyone ever fallen over whilst walking out to bat? Answers on a postcard please. Credit to Alex though, he soon recovered his composure, to finish on 13 not out, which carried us over the line. Did anyone give him any credit for a minor steadying of the ship? Nope, just a barrage of mockery as he walked off the pitch.
AOB….Its hard to say who enjoyed the day the most. Josh Butler must be near to the top of the list. After giving the Unicorns batsman several headaches with his dazzling repertoire of mystery spin, Josh travelled home with one big smirk on his face. Red hot favourite for the Bails Award since walking out to the middle without his bat, earlier in the season (triple lol)… Josh may have been given a lifeline. If anyone has backed Josh ante post, it may be wise to throw your voucher in the nearest bin, and send Alex Nunns the bill for a refund.
The Club Pro was in a relaxed mood after the game, revealing his new favourite beverage to be a Pina Colada. Can somebody let Andy Ince know?
We asked the question earlier…just how much does Alex want to win the Bails Award? If there was any doubting the skippers steely determination to get this coveted prize on his mantlepiece, well listen to this…. Just as the sun was setting over the Rushall horizon…he only goes and admits he loves watching Love Island…..enough said. You can only admire a man on a such mission.
Hat-Trick History…..just so Will realises what he achieved on Sunday, here is the very short list of bowlers to have taken a hat-trick (on Sundays) for WHCC since 1987.
John Nicholls 2007 v Blackwood (Aldridge bottom pitch) with the 25th 26th and 27th balls of his spell
Nathan Martin 2019 v Bharat Parivar (Rushall) with the 38th 39th and 40th balls of his spell
Will Lauchlan 2022 v Birmingham Unicorns with the 1st 2nd and 3rd balls of his WHCC career!!!!!
Now if anyone asks (and its guaranteed somebody will)…. Has anyone ever took a quicker hat-trick than Will Lauchlan? Maybe enquire about taking a refresher course in GCSE Maths.
I think we can all safely say, that was a decent day at the office for the Elf. Our very own version of a London 2012 Super Saturday, with the only difference being it all took place on a Sunday. So we roll on back to Rushall this week to play Poppyfields for the second time this season. Dan Dunn is already there…. busy marking his run up…..all it would take is 3 in 3 to reach wicket number 50 Dan, if you need any tips, Will’s your man.
The Godfather. Lord of the Rings. Fury vs Wilder. Walsall Health vs Penn. They all have a ring to them. The latter trilogy might have been over in terms of a best of 3 with Penn having already beaten the Health twice this season but this was by no means a nothing game with the Health hoping to avenge a couple of tight defeats earlier this season and hoping for a change in their luck.
Some things that never change this summer though are baking temperatures following Walsall Health games and captain Nunns losing the toss on the hottest of days, Penn gleefully batting first. The Penn openers were rightly cautious early on with the greenest part of the field reserved for the 22 yard stretch between the batsman and opening bowlers Armstong and Stephens. Both bowlers bowled a tight line and length giving hardly anything to the visiting batsman who themselves dug in well to negate the spells of the prolific Health opening bowlers. The two bowlers will still be wondering how they came out of the 16 over spell with only 1 Penn wicket between them, a wiley slower ball from Stephens chopped on by the Penn captain Bywater for 18.
With the score at 64-1 after 16 overs something had to give after a tense opening exchange and as Clive came in to bowl the Penn batsman made their intentions clear to begin making up for lost time and accelerate the scoring. The next over would be bowled by last minute addition and debutant Bateman who wasted no time writing himself into the Health record books, and gave unofficial club historian Chris Hall hours of fun trawling through the clubs stats, by becoming (potentially) the first person to take a wicket with their debut ball for the Health. The wicket with a fine catch taken by Stenson, himself quickly turning the clubs catch of the year award into his own personal greatest hits reel, this time a superb sprinting catch coming round at cow corner and with it putting the game into the balance.
The new batsman Ricky and Mangat soon took to the Health bowlers though with some fine footwork and hard hitting to the boundary side of the drinks break, leaving the Health bowlers with some undeserved damage to their figures. With 300+ looking a real possibility the Health called on Butler and Ince to finish the innings off. The change brining a good result as Buttler too took a wicket with his first ball of the game a fine catch in the outfield taken by, yepp, you guessed it, Jack Stenson (one drop and a one caught over the boundary would follow but that’s a problem for the fines committee, not the match report) Mangat continued the attack and declared on reaching his century. Wicketkeeper Mac then produced a fine stumping from Butler while tight and threatening bowling from Ince somehow didn’t yield a wicket for the returning club pro. The two kept the scoring to 273-4 at the end of 40 overs.
With a fast start needed, two of the top performers with the bat this season in Armstrong and Stenson went out to open and immediately got the Health up with the required rate of almost 7 an over. The two batsmen looked set and were scoring well against a strong bowling line up. As is the way with the wonderful Rushall bounce though, no batsman is ever truly in on the track and Armstrong was soon walking back for 28 LBW from a low and straight ball, no possible way it could’ve been anything other than out with the umpiring finger of Dave Stephens given a rare raising.
This wicket bought Nunns to the crease who managed to carry his form with the toss over to this game but couldn’t bring much of the fine batting from this season as well, unfortunate to be out for 9 off a fine delivery, an even finer edge and the ball hitting every part of the opposing keeper before nestling in the gloves. Ince came in next at 4 and wasted no time showing his class, some fine cover drives keeping the Health up with the rate and in with a chance of chasing a tough score, a long partnership seemed inevitable but just as the two batsmen had looked set, Stenson was bowled through the gate for 27. Lauchlan then came to the crease just before the drinks break. With two opposition fielders missing and a set, ex semi pro batsman at the other end all he had to do was bat sensibly and keep Ince on strike, so it was no shock to see him throw the kitchen sink at a few, attempt to run his partner out then get bowled through the gate for a well edged 10 runs.
Edmunds then followed in at six, the wickets starting to take their toll on the scoring rate, Edmunds too began to try for the big shots and unfortunately top edged one into the sky, if it hadn’t have been such a stiflingly hot day, it would have come down with snow on it a fine and difficult catch ending Edmunds day.
Wicketkeeper Mac then came to the crease and the job got harder still for the Health as the well set Ince pulled up with a groin injury. Mac took this as a prompt to immediately try for a number of quick singles and at the risk of Ince’s leg snapping and Cheslyn Hay’s finest pub being without their landlord’s left leg a runner was sent for and Nunns returned to the crease. This led to a surreal site of their being 2 less fielders and 1 more batsman out there. The Health soon tried to amend this by taking turns, at running, not running, ball watching and in general trying to remember the ancient art of synchronized running with someone several metres the wrong way.
Mac was then out for 2 bringing Stephens to the crease who looked to support Ince who scoreboard and injury dictated needed to go for boundaries, he was smartly caught going for a big 6 off the pads, a good catch on the second attempt. Ince could walk off with his head held high and bat raised after a fine knock, Nunns maybe not so much, not that this put the captain off. Stephens and Clive followed the boundary bothering lead, taking on the Penn bowlers with Stephens (11) and Clive (22) eventually getting out the end was nigh as usual scorer and Walsall’s Health’s own Fillius Fog Butler, in the middle of his voyage to go around the world in 80 day savers, swapped the pen and bus pass for a somewhat dusty bat and was the last man out for 3. The Health finished up on 203 all out.
All in all it was a spirited display by the Health against tough conditions, opponents and availability problems in holiday season, like all trilogies the end couldn’t quite live up to the hype for the Health and they look to start a new saga of their season against Birmingham Unicorns at home on Sunday hoping that game is a bit more Return of the King than Godfather 3.
A tough day at the office for the Elf lads against Sportsman, who are always a difficult opposition….here are a few random reflections of the days action.
Nicka Dunn, what a spell from our Senior Club Pro, stepping in to play at the last minute, Nicka’s first 24 balls were all dots. Jonty’s club record of 44 consecutive dots looked in serious danger, until a lucky slog by the desperate batsman evaded the field and went for four. A top opening spell of 8 overs 4 maidens 3-21, taking Nicka to 48 wickets (3 in front of son Dan in the race to 50 contest) The Beaumont legend also has the best current Elf bowling average amongst our active players of 13.95….take a bow.
With the cost of living crisis in full swing, even Dan Armstong’s bowling figures have suddenly become much more expensive. 60 runs conceded from 8 overs…ouch! It was mentioned in fines that Dan’s new nickname (the 276th one this season) should be JP Armstrong. It was certainly a good impersonation of our No1 spinner, a true Bertie Bassett spell that had all allsorts, just less the liquorice. Dan had better fortune with the bat, looking in seriously good touch, timing the ball beautifully, until one stuck in the pitch for a caught and bowled. Dan’s score of 39 was our top score of the day, well batted.
Matt Smith took two stunning catches, both running backwards. Difficulty level 10/10. Both would not look out of place in our new Catch of the Season shortlist. A big hand must go to both Matt and Dave Smith for helping us out yesterday, along with Elliot Stenson (Jack’s brother) All our new players this season, have had a really positive impact on the club. Ben Lester deservedly got the Man of the Match vote, a seasons best performance with both bat (which included a huge six) and ball (3-22) Big Hand Ben. We’ve now had eleven players make their debuts this season, all eleven have been a pleasure to welcome to the club.
Duck Trophy update….Two more ducks yesterday, taking us up to a phenomenal 18 for the season (just 6 short of the club record) A fuming Jack Lester (he calmed down afterwards) and Nicka, made useful contributions to the quack tally. Nicka’s being a Golden Duck, which according to current Duck Trophy Rules (Golden’s count as double) The rules to this award are quite simple….there aren’t any.
Milestone Men….Both Dan Armstrong and Dan Dunn are closing in on significant personal milestones.
Dan A….Or rather JP Armstrong is now only 51 runs short of becoming the youngest player to score 2,000 runs. Meanwhile, Dan Dunn, is only 34 runs away from his 1,000th. Double D might just be the youngest player to achieve this, beating Dan Armstrong’s record…its getting complicated now, but date of births will need to be checked before adjudication is completed. Lets throw in another one for good measure….John La La Nicholls only needs 3 more inactive games with the bat, to complete a ridiculous 150 DNB’s
Fines…..Fines Committee was done during Extra Time of the Euro’s Women’s Final. And the best stitch up of the season so far, came in the guise of Dai Preece (who is in Australia at the moment) deliberately ringing Dave Stephens phone whilst fines was in full swing. Heavy penalty time…. Now who had told Dai to do this, remains a mystery, but the plan worked a treat. DS, who had an eventful day, took it all in good spirit, (he still doesn’t know Dai reversed the charges yet) and produced a masterful display of staff training on the new Rushall Card Reader. Dan Dunn decided it was the perfect day to bolster the PU fund, and with swearing aplenty, took his mate Armstrong to the cleaners for a nice round tenner. Ouch again!! A moment of brutality that even left one of the Lionesses shellshocked (see title photo)
This Sunday, we visit Penn CC for the first time, the skipper is back, so if anyone can find a double headed coin, it would be much appreciated.
Summary…..Our 32nd meeting with old friends and rivals Lichfield Nomads proved to be a very enjoyable day, in front of the packed galleries. Gorway is a quality venue, and there was certainly some quality performances out there in the middle. Just how many more miraculous catches is JP going to take? Another brilliant reflex caught and bowled was added to the Preece portfolio, but as ever, the hard taskmaster, Father Dai, (First team head coach) demanded a thorough explanation for the one JP dropped a few overs later.
Some good bowling from the two Dan’s, Jonty, JP, Greg and Jack Lester restricted the Nomads to 158 on a tricky wicket. A mid range total, that could have been a difficult target. However, the quality of Armstrong and Dunn was the deciding factor in the match. Both lads hitting half centuries to help break our all time club record for 50’s in one season. Setting a new mark of 17. The Gorway Guru, Dan Dunn, was particularly impressive at a ground he adores. The Club Pro now averages 95.5 at this venue, and its fair to say that Dan was the only batsman who looked totally at ease, compiling an impressive, match winning 58.
Jay Edmunds became our 7th debutante of the season, producing an accomplished fielding display. Jay also impressed our Head Coach Dai, with a useful batting display against the dangerous Nomads paceman, Marcus Hutton. But the game concluded with a scriptwriters dream, as Andy Gorton, making his 250th appearance for WHCC, hitting the runs that gave us victory, Club legend Gort, becomes only the 4th player in our history to pass this milestone (Click History/Long Service, on our website for full list) As one of the few remaining active players, to have played in our first season in 1987, this was a well deserved moment for Gort, and a testament to his longevity, loyalty, and numerous contributions to WHCC, both on and off the pitch.
A big thanks must go to all the supporters who came to watch, the whole day had a nice family atmosphere. Another big hand must go to the Nomads, who provided a cracking tea for everyone to enjoy. They are always excellent, welcoming hosts, and we look forward to our next meeting in 2023.
Bayshill 238-4 from 35 overs, Walsall Health 234-6 from 35 overs.
Walsall Health travelled to Bayshill C C this week, based in the beautiful village of Winchcombe in the Cotswold. With the temperature forecasted to reach record highs many questions were raised before a ball was even bowled, such as will it be too hot to play??, can we have a reduced overs game??, how many drinks breaks will there be??, will Alex ever win a toss on a hot day??, will Dan Armstrong ever be on time?? etc. etc. all of these questions were soon to be answered as both captains made their way out to the middle for the toss, a toss that nearly didn’t take place as neither captain had a coin to use, fortunately Dai was on hand to lend the Bayshill captain a £2 coin, he soon asked for it back once the toss had taken place and we all thought Dai was a Welshman not a Yorkshireman!! Amazingly Alex won the toss! But with the forecast set to get hotter and hotter later in the day he decided to bowl first while there was a nice breeze blowing through. It was also decided at the toss that we would play a 35 over a side game, with drinks at every 12 overs and for those wondering Dan Armstrong was late!!
So with both teams all set, they made their way out to the middle for what turned out to be another thrilling game of friendly cricket in stunning surroundings.
Here’s how we got on in batting order.
No 1 – Andy Ince (27) – The classy left hander returned to the top of Elf order for his 3rd outing of the season. Andy batted well but found run scoring difficult on a wicket that was up & down and sometimes 2 paced but still scored at a good rate in an opening partnership of 70 with Jack Stenson. Andy wasn’t required to bowl but was involved in a couple half chances at slip one of which palmed up of Mac’s wicket keeping gloves but didn’t stick in Andy’s out stretched hand, Andy was also involved in a slightly controversial incident at the end of Bayshill innings whilst fielding at deep square leg Andy attempted to take a catch but was adjudged to have been over the boundary when in control of the ball and 6 runs we’re given, it was a tough call but one that was to prove critical in the run chase.
No 2 – Jack Stenson (42) – Jack continued his good form for the Elf with another classy innings of 42 in an opening partnership of 70 with Andy, he looked set for a big score before being caught behind off the bowling of Saunders. As ever in the field Jack was reliable and throwing himself around to try and save as many runs as possible, he had a couple of unfortunate bobbles that he couldn’t have done anything about but Jack did take a brilliant running catch on the boundary off JP to remove the dangerous Alex Van Dyke for 53.
No 3 – Dan Armstrong (28 & 0-14 from 5 overs) – A rare wicket-less day for Dan but his spell of 0-14 from 5 overs was one of his best in what is turning into a very good season with the ball for the Elf all-rounder the Bayshill batsmen had no answer to him as they struggled to lay a bat on it. With the bat Dan came out all guns blazing as he looked to keep the Elf up with the run rate but unfortunate Dan couldn’t keep it going as he was caught & bowled by Bayshill skipper Pierce for a quick fire 28, an innings that gave the Walsall Health innings some momentum.
No 4 – Mac (42 & 1 catch behind) – The day started well for Mac as he took a catch of DS from the first ball of the game, it was a tough day behind the stumps for Mac as he could have had a couple more catches of DS as he stood up the stumps but unfortunately they didn’t stick in his gloves but never the less his head didn’t drop as he continued his impressive debut season for Elf. Mac came out to bat with Walsall Health under pressure and helped steady the ship with an impressive innings of 42, his top score this season, an innings that included six 4’s and a very flat 6 into the next field. (well batted Mac).
No 5 – Jack Lester (4) – The younger of the Lester brothers was in at number 5 this week and started well with a beautiful straight drive for 4 off the bowling of Pierce but unfortunately that was all Jack could manage with the bat as he became another victim for Pierce as he was caught behind a few balls later going for another big shot (unlucky Jack). In the field Jack chased down everything that he could and gave his all to back up the Elf bowlers, it was a great effort especially in the heat. Big hand Jack.
No 6 – Alex Nunns (46*) – For the second week in a row Elf skipper Nunns found himself in the middle for the crucial stage of the run chase but frustratingly he couldn’t see his side home as Walsall Health fell just short again. Nunns was in good form again as he scored 46* that included six 4’s and plenty of ones and twos. In the field Nunns didn’t really have a lot to do but did own up to getting a finger to chance off the bowling of JP, so it goes down as a drop (Elf rules).
No 7 – Ben Lester (0 & 0-34 from 5 overs) – Ben opened the bowling for the first time in his Elf career and settled in well with the new ball but unfortunately he couldn’t make the break-through that the Elf required, he created a couple of half chances but it didn’t go Ben’s way on another day he could have ended with a couple of wickets to his name. With the bat Ben came to the crease with the score 172-5 with the run rate creeping up and the pressure on, unfortunately Ben was run out for 0 as he attempted a quick run (unlucky Ben).
No 8 – Dave Stephens (23* & 1-33 from 7 overs) – DS was soon into the action as he took a wicket with the first ball of the game, it’s not the first time Dave has done this and I’m sure it won’t be the last either. But despite the early wicket DS couldn’t add to his tally for the day as he had a couple of nicks behind that didn’t stick and some that just fell short of the fielders none the less DS finished with figures of 1-33 from 7 overs it was a top effort in the heat, DS also continued his good form with the bat has he scored another quick fire 23* in the run chase and added 60 with Nunns for the 7th wicket as the pair nearly led the Elf to victory for the second week running.
No 9 – Dave Clive (DNB & 1-45 from 7 overs) – Dave was nearly back to his best with a good spell of bowling as he took a wicket with his first ball also, it wasn’t the best ball that Dave will have bowled but they all count as DC claimed in fines. Dave’s spell was full of a mixture of deliveries that included some leg cutters that nearly bowled a couple of batsmen around their legs like Shane Warne used to do in his prime. Dave finished his spell for 1-45 from 7 overs again it was another top effort in the hot conditions.
No 10 – Jonathan Preece (DNB & 1-48 from 4 overs) – JP added to his tally of DNB’s as he sets his sights on catching Jonty with the most DNB’s in the club (he has a long way to go though). Unlike the previous week JP struggled to find his length as the Bayshill batsmen took advantage of the short boundaries and despatched JP’s first over for 24! But to his credit JP kept his head up and fought back well to finish with 1-48 from 4 overs that included the wicket of Alex Van Dyke. JP’s thoughts may have been elsewhere as he took a call from his mother Mrs Preece early in the Elf innings regarding his packing for his upcoming holiday, we’ll spare the details but he’s nearly ready to go.
No 11 – Josh Butler (DNB & 1-60 from 7 overs) – Another member of the DNB club for the man from Boston. Josh was eager to get into the game after seeing a very dry and crumbly wicket to operate on, his left arm spin was used to effect as he found some nice bounce and spin from the start of his spell and started to tie down the Bayshill batsmen as he kept things tight from his end. His figures of 1-60 from 7 overs didn’t really do him justice as he bowled better than they suggest. Again Josh was another of the Elf bowlers that on another day he could have easily picked up 2 or 3 wickets but it was still a good spell. Well bowled Josh.
As the sun blazed away all day and temperature continued to rise the game ended with a nail biter as Walsall Health finished just short of the target of 239 but it was another great game to be involved in as both sides played it in great spirits and shared a beer or 2 after the game and to also arrange the fixture again for next year.
This coming Sunday Walsall Health travel locally to face old friends Lichfield Nomads at Gorway in Walsall in what will be another good game of cricket between the 2 sides. We hope to see as many people there as possible.
This week saw the Elf welcome Old Moseley Fitmen to Carter Park on a glorious hot day. Walsall Health’s team chopped & changed several times throughout the week due to a lot of players coming down with Covid but in true spirit of the Health they managed to rally around and get 11 players on the park BIG HAND to Nicka for stepping up on Sunday morning and offering to play despite bowling 13 overs straight through and consuming several cans of cider the day before.
Old Moseley Fitmen’s captain won the toss and had no hesitation in batting first, Elf skipper Nunns headed back to the changing rooms dreading telling his team mates that they had to field first in the heat and wondering if he would every win a toss on a hot day!!
Here’s how we got on.
No 1 – Dan Armstrong (0 & 2-29 from 7 overs): A mixed day for the Elf all-rounder bowled a superb spell in the heat up the travellator as he picked up a couple of wickets and bowled with control as he had the OMF batters hopping around at the crease but unfortunately that was as good as it got for Dan as he registered another duck for the season and is now leading the duck race as he was bowled by Assad in the 2nd over of the Health innings some say he was in a rush to get back to the pavilion to finish off his Big Mac.
No 2 – Jack Stenson (72): An unusual quiet day in the field for Jack compared to previous weeks but batted superbly to hold the Elf innings together with a well-made 72. Jack started slowly as wickets fell around him but soon found run scoring easier with some lovely clips through the leg side for 4 and some good running turning 1’s into 2’s which helped re-build the innings, involved in 2 good partnerships 42 with Mac & 62 with Alex Nunns. With scores of 83 and now 72 this season I’m it won’t be long before little Jack reaches the big 100.
No3 – Dan Dunn (4 & 0-0 from 0.3 overs): Fresh from a full 90 mins football before the game Dan was setting the example in the field by running around & chasing down everything and also keeping everybody else going in the heat, had a couple of direct hits in some close run out calls, came onto bowl at the end of the OMF innings and was involved in a run out for the 10th wicket as Dan fielded off his own bowling and threw the ball to Andy and Gort did the rest. Despite also being fuelled by McDonalds at tea Dan could only manage to score 4 with the bat as he became Assad’s second victim as he was caught and bowled to ball that stuck in the pitch and just looped back to the bowler unlucky Dan.
No4 – Will Lauchlen (1): Will was given the difficult task of patrolling the big boundary in the heat and to his credit he stuck to his task well as he chased everything, even balls that he knew he probably wouldn’t catch was also pleased to find some shade as the innings worn on. But as always Will give’s 110% in the field and never lets his head drop top work buddy. With the bat Will was Assad’s 3rd wicket of the day as he was bowled by a ball that kept a little low and breached his defence but still avoid the dreaded duck.
No5 – Mac (6 & did not keep): Mac was back fresh from his holiday and also from the previous days’ celebrations for Eid. Mac found himself without gloves this week so was in the outfield something that he’s not that used to but did not let himself or his team mates down as he fielded superbly stopping everything that came his way and also took a good catch on the boundary off JP, good hands Mac, came into bat with the score 24-3 and the Health in trouble but helped Jack to re-build the innings in a solid partnership of 42 before being bowled by Bal for 6.
No6 – Alex Nunns (65*): Health skipper Nunns came to the crease with the score 66-4 and with plenty of work to do. He soon got the score moving with a flurry of boundaries as he and Jack added 62 in 10 overs for the 5th wicket and then added another 53 with DS for the 7th wicket before running out DS (Sorry Dave) but despite his best efforts he couldn’t see his side home as they just fell short but Nunns was proud of the effort that everybody had put in despite the tough weather conditions and was certainly in need of a drink or 2 at the end of the game.
No7 – Andy Gorton (0 & a stumping and run out): Andy returned to side after recovering from Covid and still not feeling 100% (he is negative) kept well behind the stumps in the heat as he stood up to the stumps to all of the bowlers and was rewarded with his 50th stumping for the club, I’m certain that’s a record that won’t be beaten. But unfortunately with the bat Gort became the Health’s second duck of the day as he was plumb LBW to Cuthbert, in fact he was so plumb that I think he practically walked but the clubs all-time leading run scorer is closing in on another record and I’m sure it won’t be long before he reaches that landmark.
No8 – Dave Stephens (28 & 2-12 from 8 overs): The ever so reliable DS was on the mark from the off as always and was unlucky not to have taken a wicket with his second ball as he found the edge of Mould’s bat but unfortunately it didn’t stick but none the less Dave was soon in the wickets as he had Sharif caught at mid-on by Nunns and then bowled Nicks the very next ball to be on a hat-trick with all the Elf fielders surrounding the bat for Dave’s hat-trick ball willing it to happen but unfortunately it didn’t despite the ball wrapping the batsman’s pads and all of the Elf fielders appealing and pleading with the umpire to give DS his hat-trick it just wasn’t to be (unlucky DS) Dave bowled his 8 overs straight threw (big hand) and finished with figures of 2-12. With the bat DS continued his good form and made a quick fire 28 before being run out by Nunns (again sorry Dave) in a partnership of 53 from 9 overs which nearly won the game. Top effort DS.
No9 – Dave Clive (13* & 0-81 from 8 overs): A tough day at the office for DC, had 2 spells of 4 overs from both ends but struggled to find his rhythm as the opening bat Mould took a liking to short pitched bowling and despatched it to the leg side boundary but to his credit Dave didn’t let his head drop and continued to toll away and bowled some beautiful back of the hand slower balls, on another day he may have picked up a wicket or 2. With the bat DC came to the crease knowing that he had to put bat on ball and he did so with a quick fire 13* that nearly saw the Health home in the run chase with Nunns.
No10 – Alan Dunn (DNB & 3-40 from 8 overs): Stepped up at the last minute to make sure that the Health had 11 players but Nicka wasn’t there just to make up the numbers. He was soon into the action bowling 1st change from the pavilion end and bowled the dangerous Mould for 48 and then followed that up by bowling Thaper first ball to also be on a hat-trick and bring the control back to the Elf unfortunately the hat-trick wasn’t to either for Nicka as the ball from just back of length kicked up and missed the batsman’s edge and thumped straight into Andy’s chest behind the stumps (well taken Gort) despite the heat Nicka was in the hunt for more wickets as he bowled his 8 overs straight threw and was rewarded with 3-40 and now leads the race to 50 wickets between himself and Dan. Nicka was also rewarded with a Big Mac & fries at tea as he became the 3rd Elf member to tuck into a McDonalds. Rumours are circulating that Ronald McDonald is in talks to become the clubs sponsor next season.
No11 – Jonathan Preece (DNB & 2-55 from 6 overs): JP the wizard started his spell with some beautiful flighted deliveries that had the batters second guessing whether to advance down the pitch to him or try play off the back foot but they started to work him over and picked up 1’s & 2’s with the odd boundary but JP never one to give in soon had reward as he had the dangerous Cuthbert stumped for 35 it was a key wicket as it broke the partnership between Cuthbert and OMF skipper Martin. Martin had started taking a liking to JP’s bowling as he swept him for a couple of boundaries to move onto a well-made 50 for OMF but JP like the 90’s WWF wrestler the Mountie always gets his man and had Martin caught on the boundary by Mac attempting another sweep. JP was also in the action in the field as always nothing gets past him and nobody would dare take on his rocket arm but this JP took a brilliant catch off the bowling of Dan Armstrong the ball hung in the air for an age but it gave JP enough time to steady himself underneath it and he was never going to drop it (top catch JP!) the determination and concentration on JP’s was everything that we all know and love about JP but unfortunately his father Dai missed the catch as he was very kindly getting the drinks ready for the players.
All in all, it was a good game of cricket that went down to the last ball of the 80th over of the game. Games against Old Moseley Fitmen are always close encounters as years gone by have proven. Big thanks to those that came to watch and support and a big hand to Mac and his family for the lovely samosas, pakoras and paneers that they brought along at the end for all of the players from both sides to enjoy they went down a treat.
Next week Walsall Health travel to Bayshill in beautiful Winchombe.
Usually the hard work on a home match day begins for the Walsall Health is working out which of the thousands of keys opens the clubhouse doors and keeping tabs on who is the last person to arrive for the game. However this week the toil started much sooner than that. With the news late on Friday that the clubs original opponents Trent Valley were unable to field a team, it fell to club legend Chris Hall and other members of the Walsall Health to scamper through the contacts book and try and raise a team with just over a day’s notice. Penn CC answered the call and after some last minute organisation a 10 vs 10 game was put together and the spirit of the Elf to get the game on no matter what shone through.
For the seamers who did manage to make it they would be richly rewarded with an overcast Sunday morning and a pitch with more than a hint of green to it. Penn CC will have been delighted to have bowled first and get first use of the pitch. All worries of a bowling paradise seemed to have been quashed early as Dan Armstrong opening for the Health after a stunning century last week picked up where he left off taking 13 off the second over of the day including a stunning six off the fourth ball of the over. Penn came back strongly though and had him caught with a sharp catch at backward point off the next over.
This brought skipper Alex Nunns to the crease who continued with a fine season of good form building a 50 partnership with opener Alex McMillan. McMillian batted carefully and assuredly and seemed well on his way to a big score before falling to the leg spin of Morby for 28. Will Lauchlan was next at four but was quickly out for 5, a sharp seaming ball nipping back through the gate and taking the top of leg stump.
Joining Nunns at the crease at five was Ian Chuck, himself enjoying a fine run of form. With Chuck and Nunns at the crease quick ones and twos became the order of the day before Nunns fell for a historic 55, the 300th half century in the Health’s history no less, a brilliant achievement for the captain and very fitting that it was the clubs skipper who was the one to reach the landmark.
This brought Ben Lester to the crease, a bit of a rare sight as he seems to be chasing club legend Jonty’s record for most DNBs. Unfortunately he could only add a single to the score before becoming another victim to a sharp seaming ball coming back through the gate, the ball even taking a chunk out the middle stump as it crashed through.
Dave Stephens joined Chuck and a new stump at the middle and soon set to work putting the Penn bowlers to the sword for the last few overs of the of the Health’s innings. 300 half centuries in the clubs history quickly rolled over to 301 as Chuck bought up his own half century, perhaps wishing he had batted 3 instead of 5. The boundaries then started flowing as the two added a quick fire 90 partnership including a superb hit from Stephens, crashing the ball back over the bowler’s head with the umpire nearly giving a maximum without even turning to see it fly out the ground. Chuck was soon gone though for a well batted 63, the bowler Mangat claiming his second with an LBW that nipped back sharply into the pads. This brought Josh Butler to the crease who added a few more runs with Stephens with the Elf finishing on a solid 219-6 from their 40 overs.
With the clouds rolling away, there was risk of a summer’s day breaking out at the halfway point, quick wickets were needed for the Elf with Penn having a number of dangerous batsmen at the top of their order. Dan Armstrong obliged early, superbly bowling the Penn captain Bywater for 8. But the toil (and blood) for the Elf was only just beginning.
With the Elf on the crest of a wave after getting the Penn captain earlier, a sharp ball from Armstrong found the edge of a Penn bat, the edge of wicketkeeper Chuck’s fingers before immediately stopping, with force, on Nunns nose at slip. If solid batting and smart bowling have been the two stalwarts for the Elf this season, blood injuries must be a close third and with Nunns blooded and unable to continue 10 turned to 9 and a thankless job in the field became even tougher.
In the spirit of the Elf though no heads went down and Stephens soon got his reward for his usual consistent bowling with a simple catch and bowled before numbers 3 and 4 for Penn put the Health to the sword. Good bowling in the middle overs from Lester and Jonty was cruelly dispatched as the two batsman made quick work of the Elf’s total and took full advantage of a depleted field and the now bright sunshine, the two batsman manipulating the field well and often bypassing it all together with some good stroke play and lusty blows. Soon Shah (101*) and Prabjhot (58*) retired out in the spirit of everyone getting a game. This brought some reward for the Elf bowlers as Josh Butler was rewarded for some accurate bowling with a high catch from Lester and McMillian recorded his debut home wicket taking the wicket of the dangerous Dhillon for 22.
J Preece came on towards the end and bowled a tight and tidy over but the game was already beyond the tiring Elf players and the game was sealed with superb 6 giving Penn CC a deserved victory.
It was a day where the result might not have gone the way of the Elf but it was a brilliant example of the clubs never say die attitude both in getting the game on in the first place and a high standard of fielding right until the end. The Health are at home again on Sunday as they welcome Old Moseley Fitmen for a 14:00 start and will be hoping for a little less sweat and toil and, especially, a lot less blood.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.