Aldridge CC beat Walsall Health CC by 90 runs.
On a glorious September afternoon, The Elf returned to their home of many years, to play a strong Aldridge XI on their top pitch. Skipper Alex Nunns won the toss, and elected to give his bowlers the use of the new ball. Recalling that the pitch was usually a nice track for batting, but wanted to give the bowlers the best opportunity to take a few early wickets.
Dave Stephens and Dan Armstrong opened up, with 2 solid spells. Dave struck twice with figures of 2-46. You might think this is a tad expensive for Dave, but the outfield was like an ice rink, so anything that beat the ring usually ended up somewhere over the rope. It was a tough 8 over spell, up the slope, during the hottest part of the day, so well bowled Dave.
Dan Armstrong had no luck at all, being the recipient of a few drops from Josh Butler, who endured a torrid first 10 overs fielding at point. Don’t worry Josh, we’ve all had those sort of games when
nothing sticks. Your exploits weren’t in vain though, as a SERIOUS contender for quote of the season emerged. I casually mentioned to Dave Stephens that the Butler route to Aldridge had involved 3 buses. To which Dave replied…”At least he caught them then”….brilliant…..(Big hand to Josh though, who had a tricky journey, gave his all, and helped out with the scoring. You really can’t ask for anything more from a team mate)
It was now time for the Friar Park Express, Nathan Martin to arrive at Aldridge Central for his first bowl of the season. Although Nath did admit he felt more like Severn Valley Steam after a lockdown diet of ale and cheesecake. The class is still there though, Nathan bowled a good spell, getting that familar Martin inswing, earning him a deserved wicket, courtesy of the John Nicholls bucket hands.
It was tough going out there, as the Handsaker brothers continued to score quite freely. Chris Hall bowled Jack for 56, while Josh was unlucky not to pick up a wicket from the other end with his mystery spin. So with the Aldridge score approaching 200, Skipper Alex turned to Mark Reynolds and JP……It proved to be a wise move, as Mark, playing in only his second game for The Elf, took the prize wicket of George Handsaker for 104, with the help of Dan Armstrong who took a fine catch. Dan keeping his cool in front of a boisterous crowd on the boundary. Good hands.
Meanwhile, Rob Steadman was teeing off at the other end. Stedders employed the “Strictly” approach, with plenty of dancing down the track, trying to hit JP to all four corners. But as ever, it was JP who got his man, caught behind by Gort for 65. The King of Spain went on to post the best figures of the day, 3-30. Well bowled.
Aldridge finished their innings on 286-8, a good total. But it was Nathan Martin who couldn’t contain his disappointment, not at the Aldridge score though. Earlier in the innings, the eagle eye of our Website Master had spotted “Serial Athletes” Nicka and Dan Dunn, strolling around the boundary, demolishing 2 ice creams. “I’ll get me one of those at tea” Was Nath’s confident prediction. Sadly though, it was not to be. The dream was shattered in the 39th over, as Nath spotted the Mr Whippy Van disappearing over the horizon, back in the direction of Walsall. You will rarely see any man so gutted.
After plenty of rehydration, our innings began…..And what a start it was. It was great to see Dan Armstrong returning to his best form. After scoring a 50 at Rushall the previous day, Dan’s eye was clearly in. Aldridge were silenced, as Dan blasted 20 runs off the first over, including a massive six. His attacking strokeplay didn’t end there. Dan continued to pummel boundaries, as the Aldridge fielders spent the first 12 overs chasing leather.
The blistering Armstrong 50 came after just 32 balls…..By now, you should all know what happens next. I must have heard this question 33 times in the space of 2 minutes….”Is that the fastest ever 50 Chally?” “Is it? Is it?” Repeat. Repeat….Well after checking the scorebook…. Dan you will like this, I can confirm it is the fastest 50. Another record smashed for Danny Arm, to add to his fastest 100 last year against Lapworth.
To be fair, the whole Elf innings was built around Dan. Everyone chipped in, Gort was happy just to stay there as his opening partner, to share in an opening stand of 80. Alex Nunns, still looking in good touch, couldn’t quite get the ball over mid on, and was caught for 14. Mark Reynolds hit his first boundary before being bowled for 4. So with the score at 125-3, Nathan Reeves came to the crease, and in typical Reeves fashion, tee’d off from Ball 1. It was a superb cameo from Nathan. The second highest score of our innings (16) and passed 500 career runs for the Elf, to the delight of all his team mates and spectators.
As the light started to fade, Dan Armstrong was approaching a well deserved century. But on 93 (off 72 balls) Dan was bowled by the off spinner Patel. It was an innings which had entertained everyone, 17 fours and a six tells its own story. Its well worth a mention, that Dan put any disappointment behind him, coming straight back out to do a stint of umpiring for the team. Top effort.
By now, conditions were getting a bit like the famous Test Match in Karachi in 2000. But our very own Graham Thorpe and Nasser Hussain, came in the guise of Nathan Martin (9 not out) and Josh Butler (7 not out) who made sure Aldridge didn’t bowl us out, as we finished our innings on 196-8, to complete a really enjoyable game of cricket.
Spectators and Stats update……
I don’t think I can ever recall so many people coming over to support the team yesterday, it made for a great atmosphere. Richard Fell stepped up to umpire some of the second innings, which was much appreciated and gave the players a bit of time to rest after a long stint in the field…. Thanks again to everyone who came along. The stats questions have descended into farce again, for some reason yesterday, everyone wanted to know how many runs they had scored compared to John Nicholls…work that one out. Dai Preece informed a perplexed Mark Reynolds, that he now only needed 581 runs to overtake Mr DNB.
I couldn’t not mention our fielding. Hot Day, fast outfield, step forward the Skipper Alex Nunns. A top class effort, from Alex, taking a good catch, saving several boundaries, and so nearly pulling off the catch of the season. Plucking a missile out of the air at mid on, diving one handed, one of those they either stick or they don’t. Jonty ran around the field like a teenager, while Nathan Reeves produced his standard whole hearted effort, chasing everything down that came his way.
Shock of the Day….
Dai Preece applauded one of our players hitting a boundary, and didn’t call out “Shot Tom”…..Wow
A really good hard fought game of cricket, against a strong side. Well Captained by Alex, who led by example in the field, and got everyone into the game at some point. Smiles all round. Back in the day, we would have called that one an honourable draw… The final word and a big thanks goes to Aldridge CC who brought us all a drink after the game, for the donation we made to their club earlier in the year. 10/10
Written by Chris Hall