v Highwood Park (22/6/2014)

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Highwood Park beat Walsall Health by six wickets.

Walsall Health’s unbeaten start to the season came to a halt with a defeat against local rivals Highwood Park in an entertaining and hard-fought game.

Nathan Martin - impressive performance with bat and ball.

Nathan Martin – impressive performance with bat and ball.

Missing several senior players, The Elf lined up an unusual looking starting eleven including Gary Fitzpatrick making his first appearance of the season and Tony Forrester making his first appearance since 1975.

Batting first, the Elf’s opening batsmen had varied results as Park’s strike bowling pair of Duncan and Holliday put the pressure on straight away.

Rob Hewlitt fell first, firing a handsome looking shot to mid-on where he was handily caught for four.

Hewlitt’s tally was matched by the world’s second most infamous South African number three, Ian Chuck, as he was trapped lbw by Duncan.

Tony Forrester - the last time he turned out for an Elf side The Osmonds were number one with 'Love Me For A Reason'.

Tony Forrester – the last time he turned out for an Elf side The Osmonds were number one with ‘Love Me For A Reason’.

At the other end, Andy Gorton was looking in excellent shape and capable of shoring up the below-strength batting order before he too fired a shot to the field and was caught for 26.

A spell of rebuilding and consolidation was required with The Elf in a precarious position of 43-3 after 13 overs.

The efforts of Danks (5), Wright (scoring two on his batting dayboo) and – in particular – Nathan Martin (17) and Stuart Slater (16), helped the Elf stabilise to 87-5 and look to build something approaching a challenging total.

The pairing of Slater and Martin was especially valuable, and also featured some of the finest comedy running between the wickets, producing slapstick not seen since Laurel and Hardy last trod the boards.

Sadly, The Elf were unable to produce any major tail-end heroics, although the 16 runs added by the last four batsmen (with Gary Fitzpatrick fooled by Highwood Park legend Chris Brownhill’s notoriously dangerous slow ball) proved vital in setting a total of 121.

NO BALL! Highwood Park legend Chris Brownhill bowls his legendary slow ball which bamboozled Gary Fitzpatrick.

NO BALL! Highwood Park legend Chris Brownhill bowls his legendary slow ball which bamboozled Gary Fitzpatrick.

Such a vulnerable total left The Elf with little wriggle room but a decent fist was made of trying to preserve it.

Against an opening attack of Martin and Dave Stephens, the Highwood Park dangermen of Shaun Allsopp and Olly Holliday looked reasonably comfortable in repelling the onslaught.

It took until the 11th over and the introduction of Ian Chuck into the attack that the breakthrough came, trapping Allsopp lbw for 11.

Number three Hipkiss was in no mood to hang around and was caught by Matt Wright at mid-off for two.

Ian Chuck - excellent bowling performance

Ian Chuck – excellent bowling performance

However, it would be Holliday who would be the danger man, notching up an impressive 37, which provided the visitors with an excellent platform on which to take the win.

He was joined by Evans, who endured a torrid time early on but settled in well to add on 32, including some impressive big shots.

Spin demon Wright eventually accounted for Holliday and John Preece’s bowling saw a magnificent one-handed catch by Hewlitt to give The Elf a glimmer of a chance of preserving their slender lead.

But the pairing of Ralphs and Hocknall were calmness personified, chipping away with a display of excellent batting under pressure to see their side home.

The Elf will have a swift opportunity to extract revenge as Highwood Park will be back at Aldridge next week for the Second Test.

Batting Runs
Gorton, A c b Duncan

26

Hewlitt, R c b Duncan

4

Chuck, I lbw Duncan

4

Danks, M  b Hockrell

5

Slater, S b Craig

16

Wright, M lbw Hockrell 2
Martin, N c b Ralph 17
Forrester, T c b Ralph 4
Fitzpatrick, G b Brownhill 3
Preece, J not out 5
Stephens, D lbw 4
Extras

30

Walsall Health

 121

Bowling Overs Maidens Runs Wickets
Forrester, T

5

0

21

0

Stephens, D

8

1

18

0

Preece, J

3

0

15

1

Martin, N

7.1

1

14

0

Wright, M

5

0

15

1

Chuck, I 8 0 18 2

Man of the match: Nathan Martin

Top bat: Andy Gorton (26 not out)

Top bowler: Ian Chuck, 18 for 2

Rachel Hangover Rating: 0/10. As promised, setting a good example to the rest of the team. Strongly suspect we could be looking at a 9 or 10 next week, however….

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