Poppy Fields beat Walsall Health CC by 4 wkts
Another new fixture for the 2021 season, saw Poppy Fields arrive at Rushall for the first time. A very well supported club, with plenty of friends, family and pets in attendance, including a very fleet of foot black labrador who saved a well timed Ian Chuck drive from reaching the long off boundary, much to the amusement of our Matchday photographer Lizzie.
Captain for the day Chuck, won the toss and elected to bat, throwing debutant, Tom Bentley straight into the spotlight, with last weeks Centurion, the Club Pro, Dan Dunn. From ball one, Poppy Fields kept things very tight, bowling a good line and length, making it difficult for our batsmen to establish any momentum. After Dan Dunn departed for 10, Dan Armstrong and Tom Bentley steadily took our score past 50, in the 17th over.
The young leg spinner, Brotherton, bowled extremely well. Tying Dan Armstrong up in more knots than a cub scouts tea party, finally getting his man, caught and bowled for 33. From this point onwards, wickets fell steadily. Tom Bentley (14) Nathan Reeves (4) and the second debutant of the day Abz Hayat (8) were all back in the pavillion with our score on 88-5. But that cunning Saffa, Ian Chuck, had cleverly put himself and Gort down the order, for a counter attack, with the thought of giving everyone a game also in his thoughts. Gorts 23 off 25 balls, moved our team score into three figures, before perishing to a caught and bowled effort from Parks.
With one half of the “Steady the Ship” duo gone, the responsibility rested on Chucks shoulders to carry his bat and marshall the tail through to 40 overs. Dave Stephens hit a handy 21. Josh Butler looked rock solid until being well caught at short cover. But it was the returning Chris Hall, who caused some hilarity amongst the galleries, particularly DS and Gort. Batting at number 11, and confronted with facing the final ball of the 38th over. Chally, not really in any position to be running quick singles, insisted before walking out to bat….”I’ll just block it and Chuck can do the rest” It was a rather curious attempt at a block, with the ball fizzing off Rick Jarrams bat for four. Predictably, it was mentioned in fines. The skipper finished on a well made 37 not out, closing our innings on 172-9. The general consensus being, if Poppy Fields batted as well as they bowled, it was going to be a tight contest.
Well the WHCC brains trust got it spot on. Poppy Fields started their innings strongly, and its fair to say we were always on the back foot. Dave Stephens bowled his usual tidy spell, picking up a 2-for. Chucky had a luckless 4 over opening salvo (which included a first ball that went for 7) as did first change, Dan Armstrong, who cut Hayhurst in half with a jaffa. One of those “how did that miss moments” Back in travelator territory, Chris Hall, not really looking much like Chris Hall, bowled 8 very slow, steady and controlled overs picking up a wicket to move just one behind Tim Oliver’s all time club record, thanks to the ultra safe hands of Dan Dunn.
But to be honest, the “Main Event of the Day” was developing at the other end of the pitch. JP, who began proceedings on 97 wickets for WHCC, moved onto 98, courtesy of Gorts nifty glovework. Although later on in fines comittee, Dai Preece, a man who never minces his words, described the ball as “absolute rubbish” (that’s the parental guidance version) Number 99 soon followed, thanks to Chucky, who really was in no mood to be dropping important catches. So after years of toil and 110% effort, the door was now wide open for a historic moment. As Poppy Fields No6 batsman, Hadley misjudged the JP flight, the ball was in the air. Once again, it was Captain Chuck who sprinted in from the boundary like a man possessed to take a very good catch, giving a true club legend the moment he deserved. He has been called all sorts of names in the scorebook over the years…J.Breeze, J.Priest are the two that spring to mind, but lets be in no doubt, it was J.Preece who became only the 11th member of the 100 wkts club on Sunday 1st August 2021.
After all the on pitch celebrations ended, Poppy Fields closed the game out for a well deserved 4 wicket win. A great bunch of lads, who bowled, batted and fielded just that little bit better than us. But the result was immaterial. After the customary handshakes, a well deserved Guard of Honour was given to JP as he walked off the pitch. The career figures say it all…..
JP….355 Overs 15 maidens 2052 runs 100 wkts 20.52 ave 6-35 career best.