Walsall Health beat Lapworth by 28 runs.
On a mildish September afternoon, Walsall Health welcomed Lapworth to Aldridge top pitch for the penultimate game of the 2018 season. After playing on this ground two weeks ago, batting first felt like the best option after a successful coin toss. Ian Chuck, looking refreshed after a good holiday in South Africa, opened the batting with Dan Dunn. Dan should get a bigger round of applause than Alastair Cook got from The Oval crowd. He stuck his hand up to open the batting at 1pm. Then go and play football for Walsall Phoenix FC at 2:30pm. Only to return to bowl and field for us at 4pm….Attitude 10/10. Thanks Dan.
The Elf got off to a solid start, with Dan and Chuck sharing a partnership of 32 before Dan was out for 13. Leo Chuck joined his brother, but was unlucky to face a bowler he openly admitted to hate facing… slow and steady. Sadly, Leo perished, bowled by Faber for 2. Captain Rob Hewlitt joined Chuck to steady the ship, but after hitting 2 nice boundaries was lbw to Faber for 11. Greg Philpott was then bowled by Croston for 2, to leave us in a spot of bother at 70-4.
Gort walked out to join Chuck, who was in his usual accumulate mode, fully aware a good partnership was required. Exactly what the two men delivered, with a very important stand of 60. Gort was out for 25, caught and bowled by Butler, followed by JP, who was caught at cover for 0. Nathan Martin has enjoyed some good partnerships with Chuck, but on this occasion, it was not to be, bowled by Payne for 1. In the blink of an eye, 130-4 had become 131-7 with 8 overs still remaining. Chris Hall joined Chucky, who had already posted the 21st half century of his WHCC career, passing 500 runs for the season. They shared a valuable stand of 23 before Chally was bowled for 13….154-8.
Enter The Boston Strangler, Josh Butler, who decided to play like Jos Buttler. Attempting an audacious reverse sweep, great bottle for attempting this, but Josh hit fresh air, trapped plumb in front for 3. Unlucky. So after carrying his bat for the whole innings, Chuck was finally dismissed for 75, including 11 boundaries, in the 39th over, leaving Tom Davies to fulfill the red inker role. Welcome back I.J.Chuck. Elf’s final total of 166 All out was a competitive one.
After tea, Lapworth started with a positive intent, reaching 24-0 in no time. But it was Leo Chuck, who got a vital breakthrough. Yorking the dangerous looking Hadden for 11. This was a big moment so early on, as this batsman looked capable of taking the game away from us in double quick time. Well bowled Leo. The Friar Park Express, Nathan Martin, had decided to become Thomas the Tank Engine for the day. But joking aside, this was a clever ploy, to reduce his pace on a slow pitch. Nathan bowled really well again, for no reward, in a probing 5 over spell. Another frustrating day for a top bowler. Keep your head up Nath.
With Lapworth moving the score along to 67-1 and the deficit under 100, it was Tom Davies who got another big wicket of Turner, caught behind by Gort for 26. It was here that Captain Hewlitt turned to the mystery spin of Josh Butler. A smart move, as Josh made an immediate impact taking 2 wickets with bowling that Agatha Christie would have trouble figuring out. The second one, courtesy of a sharp catch by Rob at mid wicket. We were right back in the match.
As the score advanced to 127-4, Tom Davies returned to produce the over of the match. This was a high quality spell of swing bowling from Tom, trapping Williams and Payne to leave him on a hat trick for the third time this season. Somehow, a full and straight hat trick ball was kept out by Faber, who perished in the next over, bowled by Hall for 1. These two overs flipped the game back in our favour, with Lapworth on the brink at 130-7. With the pressure cranked up, Josh Butler ran out Long for a duck. As mysterious as ever, the run out was executed using no hands. Kicking the ball onto the stumps like a Harry Kane penalty. Never in doubt. Captain Hewlitt now turned to Dan Dunn, who looked ready to help clinch us a victory. The plan worked. With opener, Buckle still well set on 63, the game was still alive. However, Buckle was no match for a Dunn outswinger, losing his balance, Gort whipped off the bails for a stumping. The finisher role was left to JP, who bowled a tight first over to maintain the pressure, followed by the winning wicket with the first ball of his second over. Croston misjudging the JP flight, Rob Hewlitt made no mistake, taking his second catch of the game. Lapworth 138 all out….A cracking game of cricket, played in a good spirit, between two closely matched teams.
Tea update…Mixed comments this week. Plus the scones and jam have disappeared after a cameo appearance two weeks ago. Meanwhile, the Lapworth boys were spotted munching on a King size Domino’s pizza at the drinks break, so maybe they weren’t convinced over the tea quantity either?…7/10
New barmaid update…Some interesting developments at tea. Some of the players seemed more interested in the new girl behind the bar, than the swiss roll and garlic bread. Greg Philpott’s roving eye zoomed in on his target with its customary precision, while a player who shall remain nameless, suddenly had no interest in orange squash or a cup of tea. Instead, preferring to order a pint of ale for his mid match rehydration, whilst assessing the customer service standards at Aldridge CC. I got the feeling, that moving to Rushall next season has suddenly gone from 5/2 to 25/1.
Impersonations update… It was a day where some of our players aspired to be someone else. Rob Hewlitt/Mike Brearley….Dan Dunn/Daley Thompson….Andy Gorton/Barry Chuckle. (Don’t ask)… Leo Chuck/Dickie Bird. But the winner has to be Josh Butler who performed a medley of Jos Buttler/Harry Kane/Agatha Christie. A remarkable performance.
The Verdict…A really good game of cricket. Where the result was in the balance all day. Maybe a WHCC first with 9 bowlers being rotated in one innings? A superb team effort again, with good support from Dai, Gail, Andy Carrick and Richard Fell. Thanks to Ian Chuck who brought two new match balls to the game, brother Leo for an extended spell of umpiring, and Dan Dunn for stepping in at the last minute, which in a tight game, made all the difference between victory and defeat. See you all at Rushall this Sunday.
Written by Chris Hall.