Walsall Health (104-1) Beat Lichfield Nomads (103) by 9 wickets
Today saw Walsall Health host Lichfield Nomads in a local match that has been a prominent fixture for many years. The weather was a typical English summer with plenty of clouds present and a fair breeze that had Andy Ince raring to bowl up the travelator. Alex Nunns won the toss and elected to bowl, a wise decision as the Elf had 9 able bodied bowlers present.
As the Elf took the field a comment was heard from the side-lines that raised a few eyebrows comparing Dave Stephens (DS) to West Indian spinner Rahkeem Cornwall, the jury is still out deliberating the reliability of this statement.
DS opened the bowling up the travelator and he started off perfectly first ball, trapping Gards in front, a decent appeal, not enough to register on appeal scale but enough to get the raised finger from the umpire. Out trotted Hutton to face the rest of the over. Meanwhile from the other end, club pro Dan Dunn came down the hill, not his preferred end, it has to be noted, and started off with a lovely delivery that caught the left handers edge but sadly wasn’t held. Both opening bowlers bowed well, giving few loose balls to the opposing batsmen. Dan Dunn tried a couple of shorter balls, which our resident South African was quick to pipe up reminding the youngster that “only fast bowlers bowl short”. As the over went by Hutton played a few nice strokes but for no reward due to the excellent fielding of the Health, eventually he was bowled by DS trying to go up and over.
Nomads continued to be put under pressure as DS and Club pro Dan Dunn continued their tight bowling and the runs trickled along slowly as the Elf took their first sanitizer break at 8 overs. Not long after this, Dan Dunn claimed his first wicket of the day when a shot from Terry (6) ballooned up to point where, Mark Reynolds making his debut game for the Elf, took the catch. Mahmood came to the crease and played some nice looking drives that interested the captain and slip cordon. Mahmood went for an extravagant drive, his back and front foot were well out of the crease, Gorts eyes lit up and the guillotine came down to stump Mahmood for 4. Balker and Stanley were watchful and played calmly waiting for bad balls to be put away, but these were few and far between.
After 6 overs each from our opening bowlers, Captain Nunns opted for a change and on came Chris Hall back for his first game after a long winter. He started where he left off last year, bowling his usual tight line and length. DS ended his spell with figures of 8-3-17-3. Replacing DS was Dan Armstrong who bowled with some nice pace and bounce that had the batsmen jumping around. Armstrong got the breakthrough when Stanley played one off his hip inches from the short leg, the ball trickled away and Balker called 2, little did he know that the fielder was none other than Greg Philpott who quickly gathered the ball and returned it to Gort who removed the bails with Stanley barely in the frame and out for 10. Turnbull made his way out to the middle and played a few power strokes off Armstrong that ticked the scoreboard over for Nomads. Armstrong continued to challenge the batsmen with his length and line and eventually claiming the wicket of watchful Balker 14, who left a ball only to realise that Armstrong had bowled his off cutter with the result being his off stump was almost removed.
Out came Rolfe, who in fine form had been winding up all Aston Villa fans before, during and after the match. Nunns was not impressed and opted for the King of Spin, JP, to teach this Baggies fan some manners. JP who bowled with plenty of guile and skill, was unlucky not to claim the wicket of Turnbull who hit one of JP long hops to Dan Dunn and wide long off. Club pro made the yards and got there but sadly couldn’t hold the catch, much to his disappointment to see his father smirking at him from the boundary commenting it was a ‘dolly’. Armstrong was replaced by Chall for his second spell who continued his lines of attrition. C Halls perseverance paid off when he removed Briars with a good catch by Gort behind the stumps for 18. But Chally wasn’t done yet, he then came in and removed Turnbull with some excellent bowling stump to stump, a good lesson for any youngster. 60 dot balls out of a set of 64 plus 2 wkts, in a spell that meant more to him, than any other he’s bowled for the club.
Hughes and Rolfe began to up the tempo taking some extra runs and pushing the Nomads total close to 100. Debutant Mark Reynolds came on to bowl his debut for the club. His spell reached its peak when he got Nomads Rolfe, caught by Greg for 17. With only one wicket remaining Dan Dunn was tossed the ball and he eventually removed Hoddy with a leg stump Yorker to end the Nomads innings on 103.
In response Ince and Chuck strolled out to the middle to begin the task of chasing down 103. There was drama within the first over as Hutton pulled a muscle in his lower back and after braving the final ball had to leave the field. The health would like to wish him a speedy recovery. As in the good spirit of the game, The Elf were happy to lend a fielder to Nomads with debutant Mark Reynolds and JP the willing volunteers, a big hand to them both. Turnbull opened up from the pavilion end and bowled without much luck. Replacing the injured Hutton, Briars came up the travelator and in his first over removed the dangerous looking Ince with a full ball that kept low and beat the left handers defences. Out swaggered Dan Armstrong who quickly set about his dominance in the middle. With a few powerful blows and a little luck from his top edge he quickly got the Health score rolling, while Chuck supported him at the other end nurdling balls around the outfield, mainly behind square, to support his batting partner. The two Rushall batsmen quickly set about chasing down the total of 103 with plenty of boundaries and a few big sixes from Dan Armstrong. Chuck seemed to enjoy the bowling of Mahmood as he hit 20 runs off his over in boundaries including a nick through the slip to take his total scored behind square to over 30 runs. Inevitably it was Armstrong who finished off the run chase with a huge six of Hoddy that nearly went onto Pelsall road. The innings ended with Chuck only outscoring Armstrong by 1 run!
Tales from the Travelator…
Dave Stephens is quickly becoming the master if this much maligned end with his persistent line and length bowling. Chris Hall seems to also profit from this end, where he claimed his wickets for the day.
Still bring your own lunch though and excellent showing of sandwiches were displayed by members of both teams. Questions into Chucks sanity have been raised with Sushi making its tea breakthrough and a mention to Dan Armstrong who lives only 5 minutes away from the ground, having to pop home to grab his lunch….because he forgot to bring it…..All in all, a very enjoyable game, a good all round effort from everyone. Well played guys.
In memory of Mary Hall, a much loved Mom who always took a keen interest in her son’s cricket throughout the years at WHCC. God bless.
Written by Ian Chuck