v Darley Abbey (4/5/2014)

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Walsall Health beat Darley Abbey by 21 runs.

After a late cancellation saw a hole appearing in Walsall’s early season schedule, excellent work by Sam Stephens led to a first appearance by The Elf at Darley Abbey’s ground on the outskirts of Derby.

Nathan Martin - scowered on his dayboo for The Elf.

Nathan Martin – scowered on his dayboo for The Elf.

Thoroughly delightful people, a magnificent picturesque setting (with the tranquil peace shattered only by a foul-mouthed ginger outburst in the Elf batting innings) and – frankly – the best tea seen by even the most food-obsessed visitor, made for a great sunny Bank Holiday encounter.

Due to the hastily arranged fixture, and with regulars absent (including Andy Gorton flying to India to appear for IPL franchise Goa Geriatrics and with record-busting Chris Hall at the world snooker final) it was an unfamiliar Elf line-up.

Thankfully, three guests from the opposition – Uzzi and Allon Scotton and wicketkeeper Amy Jepson – and debutant Nathan Martin all had a day to remember while Elf stalwart Sam Stephens – who also turns out for Darley Abbey on a Saturday – enjoyed mixed fortunes.

Jamie Icke - man-of-the-match showing with both bat and ball.

Jamie Icke – man-of-the-match showing with both bat and ball.

It was debutant Nathan Martin and Elf (semi) regular (and Darley Abbey mainstay) Jamie Icke who perhaps made the most telling contributions in a tight, tense, low-scoring affair.

Batting first, it appeared that the visitors were well set with openers Icke and Rob Hewlitt successfully carving out runs on a pitch that was tough to score on.

But with Hewlitt out for an impressive 25, the tide turned and the Elf found themselves in something of a pickle.

The usual dangermen – Sam Stephens, Dave Stephens, Mat Danks and Dave Preece – were all out for just one run between them, with Danks claiming 100% of that accumulative total.

Thankfully, Icke was able to continue scoring, eventually building a total of 45 before being bowled, while Ian Chuck chipped in with a valuable ten and debutant Martin added a vital 13 to the low Elf total (smashing some cultured drives along the way).

And these runs would prove crucial later on as The Elf battled to a total of 122.

Despite the relatively low target, The Elf did at least have the comfort of having skipper Dave Preece for a full game this week and a handy bowling arsenal to call upon.

Dave Preece - Captain fantastic managed a full game this week to the delight of everyone.

Dave Preece – Captain fantastic managed a full game this week to the delight of everyone.

The big guns in that arsenal, the Stephens pincer movement, put the screws on the home side from the off.

During their combined 16 overs, the father and son duo of Sam and Dave Stephens leaked a mere 32 runs for 3 wickets with Dave on 23-2 and Sam at his miserly best at 9-1.

Dave Stephens saw off opener Edwards (who had done much of the damage with the ball) for two which set up the partnership which would be the foundation of much of their response.

The partnership of Smith and Gillet, although pegged down by the unerring accuracy and high-pressure bowling served up in particular by the Stephens’, Icke and Martin (who might have grabbed a wicket with his first ball but for a sharp catch dropped at slip), frustrated attempts to remove them.

That was until Icke finally saw off Gillet with a monster delivery for 23.

And then guest player Allon Scotton – who had been not out for four with the bat – took the prize wicket of Smith for 37 thanks to a nifty catch behind the sticks by Jepson.

Scotton’s bowling – and all-round performance was immense – and his figures of 7 for 1 off six overs actually didn’t do justice to his contribution.

With Smith gone, it was a relatively straightforward affair as the pressure built by The Elf both bowling and in the field forced the home side into riskier shots than they would have perhaps liked.

Sam Stephens accounted for the wicket of Wilkinson – who ground out his 11 runs in challenging circumstances – while Ian Chuck contributed an awesome display of tight spin bowling that not only caused all sorts of problems for the batsmen but also saw him nab two wickets key wickets.

Ultimately, the home side fell 21 runs short as The Elf continued their unbeaten run of two games in a fixture that, without exception, all members of the visiting side hope will become a regular affair.

We are particularly grateful to Isaac, Allon and Amy for making themselves available and for their sparkling performances for The Elf which will do their chances for Darley Abbey no harm at all.

Batting Runs
Icke, J b Thomas

45

Hewlitt, R c Darkins b Wilkinson

25

Stephens, S c Hodgson b Thomas

0

Danks, M run out

1

Stephens, S lbw Wilkinson

0

Chuck, I ct b Edwards

10

Preece, D run out

0

Scotton, I ct b Edwards

0

Martin, N b Da Silva

13

Scotton, A not out 4
Jepson, A lbw  Da Silva 0
Extras

24

Walsall Health

 122

Bowling Overs Maidens Runs Wickets
Stephens, S

8

3

9

1

Stephens, D

8

1

23

2

Martin, N

4

0

16

0

Chuck, I

8

2

11

2

Icke, J

6

0

23

2

Scotton, A

6

3

7

1

 

Man of the match: Jamie Icke

Top bat: Jamie Icke (45)

Top bowler: Allon Scotton 7 for 1

Dai Preece Hangover Rating: 9/10 (Rachel would have been proud, and it showed in that the scorebook was far more accurate than normal)

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