Walsall Health 216-7 (40 overs) beat Peopleton CC 199 all out (37.5 overs)
The Elf travelled to Peopleton in good form after two very comfortable recent victories. However, the team were all too aware that this game would provide a far sterner test. Historically, Peopleton have always been tough opponents, a good all round team, aggressive in the batting department, with an accurate bowling attack. As everyone arrived at the picturesque ground, the sun broke through the clouds, cranking the temperature up to what felt like 30 degrees, this wasn’t going to be an easy game.
Returning skipper Rob Hewlitt lost the toss, but was happy to be put into bat. With the fast outfield, a total of 200 is the minimum requirement against these guys, so a good start was what we all hoped for, but the early departure of Gort, lbw for a duck, put the Elf on the back foot. Dan Armstrong looked in good touch as he always does, but was unlucky to play the ball onto his stumps for 25. Chief ship steadier David Preece walked to the crease with the score at 32-2, but was dismissed for the second duck of the day, leaving us in the precarious position of 42-3.
Amongst all this carnage, The wise man, Alex Nunns stayed calm. With the added incentive of starting the day just 75 runs short of his first 1,000 runs for the club. A promising partnership with Greg Philpott began to develop. Greg looking as good as we’ve seen him bat this season, was just starting to look well set before being bowled by Taynton for 14.
Shortly after Greg’s departure, Alex reached a well deserved half century, including six 4’s and a 6. His seventh 50 for the club, leaving him with just 25 runs to go to reach an Elf career 1,000. It was tough to score early on against some handy bowling with the new ball so this 50 deserves extra merit. Well batted Alex.
With the score now at 103-5, the Club Pro Dan Dunn, joined skipper Rob Hewlitt, who was already starting to accelerate the innings. The pair added 27 before Dan was bowled by Haaziq for 10….130-6. Chris Hall walked out to join Rob, with just 8 overs remaining, and it was starting to look like we would struggle to reach the 200 runs needed to be competitive. But Chally was in no mood to hang around, swiftly straight driving the Peopleton quickie, who had returned for a second spell, for 4. After a long spell on the sidelines, Chris confirmed that Rick Jarrams bat still has a fantastic middle. The tone was set for the partnership which put us right back in the contest. Rob Hewlitt smacked the ball to all four corners of the ground, reaching his 7th 50 for the club in quickfire time.
This entertaining stand of 78 off 7 overs finally came to an end when Rob was bowled by Tanner for 64. Leaving Dave Stephens to club 2 more boundaries off the remaining 3 balls, walking down the pitch to pummel the Peopleton Skippers final ball, for 4,…. one of the shots of the day. With Chris Hall left at the other end on 23 not out, the final tally for the Elf…216-7
After tea, Peopleton started their innings fluently, as they usually do. 44 runs were soon on the scoreboard, and the signs were starting to look ominous. Until Club Pro, Dan Dunn bowled Harrold for 14. Now most bowlers after hitting the stumps, will often come up with some sort of waffling analysis, usually old chestnuts like…that one just nipped in a touch, or I bowled that one cross seam. Not our Club Pro though, his response to this crucial breakthrough was simple…..I’m level with my Dad now (34 wkts each for WHCC) Superb stuff.
Peopleton continued to bat well, still scoring at a decent rate, despite some excellent Elf fielding.
Chris Hall came on, and tightened things up, getting another important breakthrough, Alex Billington caught behind by Gort for 26…..81-2. The opposition Skipper, Ben Tanner, was still looking dangerous, reaching a well made 50. At 106-2, Peopleton still looked in the driving seat. But then came one of the moments of the match, with the introduction of the King of Spain JP. Tanner hadn’t bargained for the guile and variety of our Premier spin bowler, and miscued his shot, into the hands of JP’s brother Dave. The catch was spectacular, and ensured this historic entry went into our scorebook….Caught D.Preece, Bowled J.Preece.
JP continued to cause problems for the next batsman, poaching his 2nd wkt of the day, caught by the safe hands of Rob. If it was possible for the JP smile to get any wider, it certainly did when informed by Chris Hall that this was his 80th wkt for the club. Well bowled.
Peopleton were now wobbling on 112-4. Now when an innings has stuttered, the last vision you would want to see, is the sight of Club legend John Nicholls warming up to bowl. Guess where his first ball landed? Yep, it was on the spot. Jonty and fellow legend Dave Stephens, who was returning for a second spell, started to turn the screw. Jonty picking up the wickets of Hamid (14) and Taynton (4) with Dave dismissing Brooks, caught by Dan Armstrong for 11…..Peopleton 168-7
The home side hadn’t given up hope of winning this game, and with the fast outfield, the required run rate still hovering around 6.5 an over, the match still hung in the balance. 20 runs were added quickly, was the contest swinging back Peopleton’s way? Not if Club Pro Dan Dunn had anything to do with it. With the added incentive of overtaking his Dad, Nicka in the wkts column, Dan steamed in to bowl the dangerous Morris for 24. Dan didn’t allow his concentration to wander, (a true hallmark of a Club Pro) producing a magical piece of fielding, in the 37th over, sprinting round to pick up the hard driven ball, and spearing in a laser throw to the non strikers end to run out Haaziq for 5. Peopleton 195-9.
After such heroics from the whole team, on a sweltering hot day, it was left to Chris Hall to take the final wicket, Michael Taynton, spooning one up in the air to the ever reliable hands of Greg Philpott at mid on, Peopleton 201 all out, for an exceptional WHCC 15 run victory.
Fielding update….You really have to field well on this ground. And there were some exceptional performances, from David Preece, Dan Dunn, Alex Nunns, Greg Philpott, the list goes on, these guys spent all afternoon, sprinting around the ground, saving runs, taking our fielding to a different level, it made all the difference in such a tight game. And what a highlight to see John Nicholls diving full stretch at third man, to save a certain boundary. It was that sort of game.
Wedding Ring update…..It couldn’t go without being mentioned could it? Alex Nunns, after a brilliant diving stop at mid on, soon realised his heroics had come with consequences. His treasured wedding ring was no longer on his finger. Don’t tell the ECB, but we decided to use any sanitiser breaks to look for Alex’s ring instead. It was looking pretty desperate, there was even talk of having to see if Insurance policies were still valid. Step forward Dave Stephens, using all his army experience. A post game search of military precision began. Even the cows in the neighbouring field were asked to join in. Thankfully it was our very own human metal detector, David Preece who found the missing ring to the relief of our Vice Captain. Well spotted Dave.
The Dunn family update….
A big thank you to Nicka, for travelling over to score today. Well worth the trip as he got to witness a changing of the family Guard…lets make it official.
Dan Dunn 161 overs 30 mdns 35 wkts 18.42 ave
Nicka Dunn 200 overs 47 mdns 34 wkts 15.05 ave
The Verdict….A superb game of cricket, a hard fought, hard earned win. All 11 players contributed, with the quick rotation of the bowlers by the Captain proving to be extremely effective, in the hot conditions. A win against Peopleton on their home ground doesn’t happen very often, so enjoy this one boys.
Written by Chris Hall