Sportsman CC beat Walsall Health by 84 runs.
Sportsman returned for the second time this season to Aldridge, in muggy, humid, overcast conditions. Surely a day for the bowlers we all thought. So after Captain Rob lost the toss, and was asked to bowl, an orderly queue was formed to take the new cherry. But after a few overs, the sun emerged from behind the clouds, and the ball only swung in one direction… straight. We suddenly realised it might just be a tough afternoon against a side who always bring some talented attacking batsmen.
Nathan Martin opened up, and soon picked up the wicket of the dangerous Waqas Ahmed who shouldered arms to a ball that cut back to hit off stump. Arguably the ball of the day, on a track that wasn’t offering much assistance to the bowlers. Sportsman legend, Calvin Williams then joined Amar Sodha, and immediately played with a positive intent, rifling anything short of a length to the boundary with some proper Calypso style batting. Dave Stephens produced a fine spell with the new ball to check Sportsman’s early momentum (5 overs 2 maidens 0-8) and was unlucky not to earn a reward for some accurate bowling. Leo Chuck then had a go at breaking the partnership of Sodha and Williams, but to no avail.
With the score on 114-1 it was time for some more line and length bowling from Nikka and Chris Hall. Bowling as a partnership, the two metronomes pegged Sportsman back, with Chally’s 8 overs going for just 20 runs. Nikka attacked from the other end, trapping Sodha lbw for 45 and clean bowling Calvin for 56, reducing the opposition to 121-3. A useful effort from the big man, who became the 6/4 favourite with Paddy Power for the Bails Award, after turning up to the game, with his face painted as a cat. Nikka claimed that even 3 bars of Cussons Pearl wouldn’t wash it off. Now us wily bowlers have plenty of tricks up our sleeves, but this was taking gamesmanship to another level.
With 30 overs gone, and the run rate slowed down, we hoped we had Sportsman on the ropes. But they always bat deep, so thanks to Vijay Chandramani 45 not out off 50 balls, and Samjay Patel 31 off 26 balls, they wrestled back the momentum to take them over the 200 mark in the 40th over. Tom Davies picking up a couple of wickets at the death 2-48, and oh so close to a hat-trick, supported by Dan Armstrong 0-37, who bowled well against some aggressive batting. A superb effort, with some excellent ground fielding. Particularly Leo Chuck, and Nathan Reeves, who both sprinted round the field all afternoon, attacking the ball to save plenty of runs for the team.
After the tea interval where Nikka devoured a Sachet of Sheba, followed by some IAMS Biscuits for refueling purposes, we set about chasing down the target of 203. We started well, with Alex Nunns and Gort taking our score to 30-0. But from here, things started to go wrong. Gort drilled one straight to cover, followed by the in form Dan Armstrong who perished, lbw for the first duck of his Elf career. Captain, Rob Hewlitt was bowled by the accurate Calvin Williams for 12, followed by Nathan Reeves who was bowled for 4. Suddenly 30-0 had become 58-4. Alex Nunns and Leo Chuck held things together for a while, until Alex chipped one to Sodha off the bowling of Greaves for our top score of 36. Dave Stephens was bowled by Bardha for 1 to leave us wilting at 85-6. Leo Chuck (19) and Nathan Martin (10) stayed positive with some good running between the wkts, but were both caught trying to increase the run rate, followed by Chris Hall (4) going for a big shot over mid on. With the score on 111-9, Nikka joined Tom Davies to take us to 119, but was caught off the bowling of Mangat for 4, leaving Tom with a nice red inker, leaving Sportsman with a deserving victory. Well played.
Tea Update….Decent. Nice addition of scones smothered in jam, to replace the Victoria Sponge. Rating 7/10
Injuries update….An eventful day. Firstly, Dave Stephens got his finger stung by a wasp whilst re-hydrating with a glass of orange squash. Nikka injured a paw towards the end of the Sportsman’s innings. Nathan Reeves, as brave as ever, took a blow to the ankle. This was all followed by a freak accident later in the game. As Gort was umpiring, Sportsman’s mid on fielder, threw the ball back to the bowler who had started to walk back to his mark, only for the throw to drop down from a great height to land flush on the crown of Gorts head, poleaxing our stricken keeper. Both men live to fight another day. Maybe borrowing a couple of Nikka’s nine lives in the process.
Love Island Update….The 2018 series is long gone, but that didn’t stop an enthusiastic spectator falling head over heels for Dan Armstrong. Mid-way through a jovial fines committee, a boisterous young brown and white gun dog, bounded towards Dan for a hug and a kiss. After taking some tap with the ball, and posting a first Elf duck, it was time for Nikka to get the Rushall Karaoke machine out again to sing a stirring rendition of…”He found love in a hopeless place” It was one of those days.
The Verdict….A good game, played in a good spirit. Sportsman batted well to post a challenging target of 203. Which proved too much for us to chase down on the day, but all in all, some good cricket was played by both teams.
Written by Chris Hall