v Highwood Park (29/6/2014)


Walsall Health beat Highwood Park by 141 runs.

Dave Preece - a brilliant knock by the returning skipper

Dave Preece – a brilliant knock by the returning skipper

Walsall Health squared their three-match series with Highwood Park with a comprehensive win after last week’s defeat.

The Elf welcomed back skipper Dave Preece and opening bowler Sam Stephens while Gary Fitzpatrick donned the gloves as wicketkeeper.

Outstanding batting performances by Andy Gorton (85) and Dave Preece (95 not out) provided The Elf with the platform necessary to build a commanding total which the multi-faceted bowling attack by the home side was able to ensure was never really threatened.

Despite the impressive total of 223 set by The Elf, Highwood Park’s opening bowling attack did a magnificent job of pegging back the openers Preece and Gorton.

After nine overs The Elf had managed to notch up just 13 runs, with Olly Holliday (8 overs, 4 maidens, 18 runs for no wickets) producing arguably the best spell of bowling faced this season which deserved a wicket.

As the overs ticked by the runs began to flow, with Gorton producing an array of aggressive strokes to reach his fifty first.

Turner finally trapped Gorton LBW for 85 in the 29th over with The Elf on 134, opening the way for the returning Sam Stephens to step into the breach.

Mat Danks - late cameo.

Mat Danks – late cameo.

Stephens provided the heavy foot for the runs accelerator, driving the skipper along towards his century, before he was caught on the boundary off the bowling of Ralph for 28.

A late cameo appearance by Mat Danks – adding five not out, running out of overs just as he was looking good for a ton – saw The Elf set 223, a marked contrast to last week’s effort.

The pincer attack of Sam and Dave Stephens set about Highwood Park from the off with Sam’s effort (a miserly five runs off six overs for one wicket) alongside a virtuoso spell by Dave (eight overs, three maidens, eleven for one) setting the tone.

It was Dave Stephens who drew first blood, claiming Tallis for one thanks to a nifty catch by Tony Forrester in the fourth over.

Stephens Junior was next, forcing Turner to chip to Dave Preece for six in the eighth over before Ian Chuck struck with the first ball of his spell, claiming Ralph caught and bowled for four.

John Preece - two wickets for Champ.

John Preece – two wickets for Champ.

Then it was the turn of John Preece to do the damage, first claiming the wicket of Greenway LBW for seven and then claiming the scalp of Lapper for nought thanks to another brilliant catch by Forrester.

With the required run rate in excess of ten an over, top scorer Stephen Beattie creamed a succession of shots to the boundaries – including some magnificent cover drives – on his way to a head-turning top score of 23 before he was clean bowled by one of Chuck’s devious deliveries.

Meanwhile, Holliday, who had caused so much frustration for The Elf with the ball put on 11 before Forrester claimed his first wicket thanks to a catch from Sam Stephens.

Rob Hewlitt - first wicket of the season in his first spell.

Rob Hewlitt – first wicket of the season in his first spell.

Forrester claimed his second wicket, trapping Hutton LBW for a duck during a spell of devastating bowling which saw him claim two wickets in two overs for ten runs.

There was time for Rob Hewlitt to take his first wicket of the season in his first bowling spell, claiming the wicket of Hipkiss with a catch from Gorton and Matt Wright claimed the prized wicket of Shaun Allsopp thanks to a stumping by Fitzpatrick.

The 141 run victory levelled the three-match series (with the decider set for August 17) and paved the way for posh soap-based shower celebrations.

Batting Runs
Gorton, A lbw Turner


Preece, D not out


Stephens, S c Hipkiss b Ralph


Danks, M not out


Forrester, T did not bat
Stephens, D did not bat
Hewlitt, R did not bat
Chuck, I did not bat
Fitzpatrick, G did not bat
Preece, J did not bat
Wright, M did not bat


Walsall Health


Bowling Overs Maidens Runs Wickets
Stephens, S





Stephens, D





Preece, J





Chuck, I





Forrester, T





Wright, M





Hewlitt, R 2 1 4 1


Man of the match: Dave Preece

Top bat: Dave Preece (95 not out)

Top bowler: Hard to say, pick the bones out of the stats above and chose for yourself

Rachel Hangover Rating: 8.5/10 – a really impressive return to form after an all-dayer in Digbeth.

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