Today saw the Elf host visitors Trent Valley at Carter Park. A huge hand to our opponents for wanting to get the game on in what can only be described as a scorcher. On Friday, with there being no fixture, a massive hand to Chris Hall who slaved away tirelessly to get a fixture. Both teams had 10 men each, with the elf lending a player to our visitors, David Preece was chosen to play for our opponents. After Alex strolled out to the middle and lost the toss, the only person who seemed slightly happy was Chucky, who was relishing the opportunity to try on the gloves for the first time… I think we can all guess where this is going.
M James and Dave Preece (Ex-health captain and 3 times batsmen of the year award) opened up for Trent Valley. The Elf opted for a star man with the ball and a man whom it can safely be said we were all pleased to see return to the field, welcome back Dave Stephens! Meanwhile at the other end A Dunn opened up bowling a maiden in true Nicka form. The pair continued to toil away for no reward for a few overs. It must be said at this point Chuck had already let 12 byes past him and had broken Gorts new gloves after only one full games use…this could become a costly fines for Chuck. James and Preece continued to dispatch balls away to the boundary and after 10 overs the score was nicely poised at 43-0. Both Stephens and Dunn bowled out with figures respectively (8-2-38-0) and (8-2-23-0). With the visitors set on 77-0 after 16 it was time for the Elf’s first bowling changes, step up Club Pro and the first son of the day, Dan Dunn. From his favourite end, he came up the travellator to release a barrage of furious bowling which was rewarded with 9 runs for the opposition in his first over. From the other end the second son of the day Sam Stephens came on to bowl and bowled with some pace and aggression that has not been seen for a week since Armstrong’s excellent spell against Lichfield Nomads. The second over from Dan Dunn saw the first wicket of the day, with the ball bending like a banana and seaming equally as far, it was by either luck or no luck that Dan had yet to claim his first wicket. Dann bowled the ball and James who had been batting well, skied the ball into the hands of Armstrong. In came Wooba, who looked solid, but against the pace of Stephens eventually fell for 8. In came B Sherriff who looked tidy but snicked off to a ball from Stephens and Chuck who behind the wickets had already conceded a fair few runs in byes held the chance. Meanwhile David Preece at the other end who survived an early edge to slip, continued to pile on the runs quickly approaching his 30. After about 20 overs, Nunns made the decision to bring on Jonny Preece to hopefully break the deadlock and claim the precious scalp of his brother. JP bowled his 8 overs with excellent control and some fantastic spinning deliveries but was unable to claim the all important wicket of his brother. Dave Preece on the other hand was proving masterful at finding the gaps, sneaking singles and dispatching balls to the boundary the score quickly progressed to well into the 70’s. At the other end Ash was also useful at rotating the strike and running well between the wickets. The opponents score was progressing higher and higher into the hundreds and approaching the double hundred. After a beautiful cover drive brought up his 100, David Preece took the honourable decision to retire and allow some of the other players the chance to bat. A massive hand to David, word cannot do justice to how well David played, offering very few chances and looking in supreme form. Hansh came into the crease and hit a few lusty blows to the boundary. With Stephens finishing his spell, Alex threw the ball to all-rounder Dan Armstrong who bowled with some pace and accuracy to remove Hansh for 12 runs. Next in came Beck who hit a nice boundary before he hit the ball into the air to the safe hands of Dan Dunn ‘Club Pro’ on the boundary. Nando was the next batsmen in who sadly fell to a good delivery off Armstrong for 0. The final batsmen who made it out the crease was B Sherriff who scored some excellent runs and supporting Ash was able to take the visitors to a very good total 234-6. On a good Rushall wicket with a fielder light, the elf went into tea feeling optimistic.
After a hearty lunch, it was the Elf’s turn to bat, Armstrong and Chuck opened up. After 2 overs Armstrong fell to a full delivery as he stepped across all 3 stumps only to hear the dreaded thump and A Dunn found no reason not to give him. Armstrong departed and in came Nunns. Chuck and Nunns set about scoring runs from some hostile fast bowling from young B Sherriff who bowled with good pace and set up a few traps for the batsmen, who were lucky not to fall into them. While at the other end Timmis bowled a handy line and length to the batsmen depriving them of any easy scoring opportunities. At 10 overs young Sherriff was taken off and can feel hard done not to have a wicket to his name. Spinner Beck replaced Sherriff and bowled a tight line to both Chuck and Nunns and continued to apply the pressure to both batsmen. Timmis was replaced by Nando who bowled stump to stump giving away even fewer scoring chances. After 14 overs the score progressed to a handy 68 -1.
Then disaster struck, Chuck who looked set on 37, struck a ball straight down mid-on’s throat who took an excellent catch on his shoulder. For the next 4 overs wickets fell every over. First Rob Hewlitt who played a Kane Williamson esque shot, played late, a touch too late and the ball tickled the stump and removed the bail for the first duck of the innings. Next to fall was Nathan Reeves who tried ‘the shot’ off Nando’s tight bowling to only be rewarded to hear the stump clunk, Nathan dismissed for 0 and the second duck of the innings. Next to fall was Alex Nunns for a well-played 31, he tried a big shot for the ball to go higher than the Eiffel tower and to fall into the hands of mid on who had made a superb catch low down to dismiss Alex. After that was Dan Dunn, similar to Rob’s dismissal, played the ball so late that he was similarly rewarded to see the bails removed for 0, the third duck of the game.
At the crease now were the father son batting pairing of Sam and Dave Stephens. Some big hits from Sam and Dave saw the elf total creep up beyond 100. Sam tried to continue his tactic of smashing the ball further and further out of the ground but was sadly dismissed after being caught at long off for a very well played 30. Dave Stephens was shortly dismissed after for 12. With the opposition circling like sharks around a wounded seal, Step up JP! JP played a few magnificent shots, including a drive that would have had certain members talking about this shot for years to come, and was rewarded with a few boundaries. Alan Dunn scored 1 more run than his son, making him outscore his son 2 days in a row…this could be a long week for young Dan Dunn. JP was finally dismissed by Hansh for 9, with no sign of Paddy Merrick in sight, the handshakes were all given and the game was over.
Once again, a huge hand to Dave Preece for his batting performance and general spirit on and off the pitch.
Some facts and figures for our readers.
This hundred is the 5th Hundred for Mr D Preece (whether this classes as Elf runs is a debate for another time). He has scored 2000 runs and is only the second person to achieve this feat with an average of over 40. A true reflection of a class cricketer.
3 Ducks on this game mean that our Duck trophy is suddenly up for grabs to few more contenders…who will be the (un)lucky person to achieve this highly sought trophy???
Tune in for next time! The Elf make their way up to a new fixture, Draycott and Handbury. A game I am sure will be another exciting game…if the weather holds out.