v Ward End Unity (31/8/2014)

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Ward End Unity beat Walsall Health by 4 wickets.

Guest match reporter Matt Wright talks us through a brave effort by The Elf on a troublesome wicket.

Chris Hall - magnificent figures from The Iron Man.

Chris Hall – magnificent figures from The Iron Man.

Today’s away fixture saw Walsall Health on a four game winning streak travel to Ward End Unity in Birmingham.

We were greeted by a ground that had a topography that would challenge an A* GCSE Geography student. The boundaries also rather short.

With Stuart Slater constantly moving between time zones and international borders he lost track of the start time, along with the pre-declared tardiness of Mat Danks, the skipper duly won the toss and elected to bat.

Dave Preece and Dave Stephens opened the batting on what was immediately clear would be a challenging surface after the first balls were bowled.

After clean hitting straight to the field Stephens fell to the bowling of Ahmed.

The partnership of Preece and Ian Chuck worked hard and began to eek out a little progress.  The outfield was very slow and boundaries hard to come by, running three virtually impossible on the slow compact ground.

The skipper, Preece, nicked an inside edge onto his stumps after facing 51 delivers and top scoring for ‘The Elf’ with 20 runs (alongside guest batsman ‘Extras’ who also scored 20).

Shane O'Callaghan - respectable knock in his batting dayboo for The Elf.

Shane O’Callaghan – respectable knock in his batting dayboo for The Elf.

From here on in the score card does not make great reading as wickets tumbled Rob Hewlitt faced a delivery that pitched up by his shoulder, the next kept deceptively low trapping him LBW for a second ball duck.

Shane O’Callaghan actually looking composed at the crease had the potential to salvage things a little making a respectable 6 runs from 10 deliveries.  That was until a double appeal when given not given out for LBW but caught behind when the ball hit his pad.  Later confessions from the home team admit that it never hit his bat, would have been nice to have seen him called back for the spirit of the game at this level.

Chuck trapped LBW was another key wicket as he had staved off 49 deliveries and again an impressive amount of time at the crease.

There were few highlights from the lower order totalling nine runs between them.  Other than Nathan Martin once again drawing level with Hewlitt in the duck hunt of three each for the season! (Please note: these figures have not been verified and will be subject to a stats update in the next 48 hours) Slater get one of the rare boundaries on the day and Matt Wright achieving his first ever not out at the end of an innings.

69 was the total posted and with a quick turn around ‘The Elf’ went about trying to snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat.

And – just for a moment – the collapse looked on.

Catches from Wright, Hewlitt and Chuck and a clean bowled all from the bowling of Iron Man Chris Hall had Unity 4 down for only 9 runs.  And as Tipton’s Tony Stark steamed in for his hat trick ball, the most unlikely of victories was beginning to look a possibility. With The Elf piling on the pressure, Chuck grabbed the pick of the catches with a sharp diving low one-handed effort.

Dai Preece - brilliant performance by the stand-in Legend.

Dai Preece – brilliant performance by the stand-in Legend.

Great hustle in the field, playing for each other and believing as a team were key, embodied by Rob Hewlitt and seasoned campaigner Dai Preece, making several impressive run saving contributions, proving that class and experience go beyond age!

Nathan Martin also picked up a wicket off some good bowling after settling down after a couple of wayward looseners, notably a first ball beamer, trapping his man LBW.

Ward End Unity can thank Mills for this victory who proved to be the difference on the day, making his way to a match-winning 56 not out with his fellow six batting partners contributing only six runs between them.

This would have been the key wicket, but despite our best efforts we could not get it to fall.

Jonathan Preece - came closest to taking the scalp of the match-winning

Jonathan Preece – came closest to taking the scalp of the match-winning Mills

Dave Stephens and Chris Hall were valiant in their efforts to contain the big-hitting match winner.  Sadly today spin was not the key to unlocking the door.  Although Jonathan Preece arguably came closest to taking the prized scalp of Mills tempting him down the wicket and creating a stumping opportunity.

Another winning streak comes to an end on a peculiar wicket, although positives can be taken from the game.

Talking to the assembled media post-match the skipper made these comments: “Good effort today. It’s never ideal to get just 69 on the board and in all honesty we didn’t bat as well as we could, but great determination to drag ourselves back into it (Hall 4-6) and great commitment in the field from the guys, particularly emergency replacement David Preece Snr. Let’s work to improve ourselves for next game.”

Batting Runs
Preece, Dave b Idress

20

Stephens, D b Ahmed

0

Chuck, I b Idrees  14
Hewlitt, R b Ahmed  0
O’Callaghan, S lbw Atkinson  6
Hall, C st Atib  3
Slater, S b Barzan  4
Martin, N b Atkinson  0
Preece, J ct b Atkinson  0
Wright, M not out 1
Preece, Dai b Barzan  1
Extras

20

Walsall Health

 69

Bowling Overs Maidens Runs Wickets
Martin, N

2

0

4

1

Stephens, D

6.2

1

22

0

Hall, C

8

5

6

4

Chuck, I

2

0

16

0

Preece, J

1

0

17

0

Man of the match: Chris Hall

Top bat: Dave Preece

Top bowler: Chris Hall (six runs and four wickets off eight overs)

Rachel Hangover Rating: Two Jugs was absent today due to family commitments, however, at a musical festival on Saturday, we like to think it would be at least a solid 7/10.

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