Penn CC (149 -3) defeated Walsall Health CC (147) by 7 wickets
Walsall Health CC began their 2022 season with the visit of Penn CC. The action started before a ball was bowled (or even before we got into the ground). At 11:50am, cars were parked at the entrance of the club, waiting for the gates to be opened. Maybe it was a subtle tactic to unnerve the opposition on the Health’s part. However, as we were to find out later, it possible affected a few of the elf members more.
Thankfully, the game started on time with Penn winning the toss and electing to field. Out strolled openers Tom Bentley and regular smasher Dan Armstrong. All that hope and expectation that had built up during the week had been punctured immediately, as Dan went first ball off the bowling of Dillon. Somehow, a reasonably powerful shot went more airborne that distance and nestled into the hands of the fielder at mid-off. The Health began at 0-1. Tom and no 3 batter Andy Carrick (a batter of great technique and patience) had to steady a nervy ship and started to knock it around a little bit. Each ball, they grew in confidence, but at 19-1, Bentley was trapped on his crease lbw by Dillon for 6. Andy was starting to get a feel for how the pitch was playing.
At 19-2 off 7 overs, the Elf needed someone to stick around and support Andy. Out strolled the skipper for the day and club-pro, Dan Dunn, feeling confident enough that he was going to be that person to help guide the home side through a difficult patch. Dillon had other ideas as he sent Dan back with the second golden duck of the innings. Now, the Elf were reeling at 19-3 with Dillon on a hat-trick. Coming out to face that hat-trick ball was none other than Nathan Reeves. Dillon raced back to his marker and charged in. Reeves – not one for hanging around, set himself and hit Dillon right back over his head. Was Nathan going to be the batsman to hang around with Andy? Unfortunately, the answer was no, as a few balls later, he went for one shot too many, and was cleaned bowled by Suri. This left the home side at 34-4. It was looking very much like an England batting collapse of recent times. However, there were questions as to whether 5 or 6 balls of the over had been bowled. After some discussion, it was agreed the umpire had counted correctly. I expect the umpire wishes he hadn’t called the wide. More to the point, I expect Nathan wished he hadn’t called it.
Andy was still in control of his innings, playing sensibly as the situation required. In at number 6, was Health debutant Mack Perager. The two of them started knocking it around sensibly and started to build a decent partnership. Andy managed to reach his 50; a well deserved, patient knock whilst rotating the strike. For a spell, the Penn bowlers had no answers. Perager eventually went for a hard fought 17 after he was caught of the bowling of Patel. Despite only getting 17, it was noted that he did exactly what was needed and occupied the crease for a considerable amount of time. He and Carrick managed to take the score from a precarious 34-4 from 10 overs up to 106-5 off 29 overs; an incredible effort that was cut short when Perager had to depart.
Andy was still there. The general feeling was that if the Health were going to post a defendable score, he was going to have to stick around for the next 10-15 overs. Dave Stephens, a trusted opening bowler went out to build on the good work done by the men in form, began confidently, by defending the first ball and getting off the mark with his second. Unfortunately, his stay at the crease was ended far too prematurely when he was bowled by Rahl. While Rahl was delighted to get his first wicket of the innings, he was to have more success near the close of the innings. Stephens departed with the score at 127-6. Even though Dave had only scored 3, he was able to support Andy in his quest to reach a well deserved 100. Was anyone going to stick around long enough to help him?
Next in at number 8 was Jonathan Preece. He wasn’t used to coming in this early in the order. He came out with the intent of staying at the crease, frustrating the bowlers, and picking up a few runs here and there. His defence seemed sound enough as he kept out several good length balls and making sure the ball didn’t get through his guard. Andy decided to take the initiative during a change of overs and decided to take more of the strike. Not a bad idea if the Health were going to get 150. However, after some quick intelligent running between the wickets, Preece was out lbw for 1. This moved the score onto 135-7. The Elf were slowly creeping towards a target of 150. Could someone stay with Carrick to the end? The next man in was another debutant James Wintrip. There was still time for targets to be met, but at 148-7, Carrick eventually had to depart on 87 after succumbing to Rahl who was visibly delighted to dismiss the batsman of the innings. As he left the field, Andy was met with handshakes from the opposition and a standing ovation from the boundary in front of watching family members.
Next in was Alan ‘Nicka’ Dunn. He was hoping to get some early season runs and not suffer the same fate as son Dan. Well, he kept the first ball out, but failed to keep the second ball out, as it clattered into the stumps for 0 by Singh. This left the Elf at 148-9. When he returned to the pavilion, Nicka didn’t hold back, stating “At least I lasted more balls than Dan”. In at number 11 was the very much travelled Josh Butler. He had done a magnificent job with the scoring (making sure it all added up at the end). Was he able to add to the total? Despite coming in at number 11, he set off to the crease with the confidence of a number 4 or 5. However, no sooner was he at the crease, Butler returned with a pen in his hand. He had obviously forgotten to put the pen down and pick up his bat. However, no sooner had Josh had got out there, with bat in hand, both batsmen were back in the pavilion as Wintrip was bowled by Rahl for 1. The innings ended and the Health finished on 148 all out.
While it was going to be difficult, a score of 148 was defendable. If they were going to succeed, the Health needed a similar start to Penn’s, with early wickets necessary. Dan decided to go with the tried and tested senior opening bowlers of Dave Stephens and Nicka Dunn. The first three overs went for a respectable 8 runs, with one boundary. The Health looked agile in the field and it looked as though they were up for the fight. However, after a couple of overs, Penn’s opening pair; Bywater and Shah looked set for a long partnership. That was until the 6th over when Shah was caught by captain Dan Dunn off the bowling of ‘Nicka Dunn for only 5. That made the score 20-1. Shah had looked comfortable and then tried to replicate N. Reeves from the first innings, but only succeeded in finding the safe hands of the stand-in skipper. Was this going to be the start of the recovery? The wicket brought some renewed energy to the Health who felt another wicket was just round the corner. Unfortunately, the next wicket didn’t arrive soon enough. Despite the efforts in the field, Bywater and Rahl knuckled down and batted with patience and precision. They were able to play their shots and found the gaps.
They were going along nicely at 69-1 when all of a sudden two quick wickets fell. Dunn decided to bring on Wintrip for Stephens (figures of 0-23 off 6 overs). A decent effort from Dave, who kept the batsmen guessing and didn’t give them any free hits. After a shaky start, Wintrip got his wicket as Rahl, like Shah earlier in the innings, went over the top, but only succeeded in finding the hands of an ecstatic Butler. The look on his face showed he enjoyed that moment. It wasn’t just the fact he caught it, but he had to make sure he knew where his feet were. One more step back and it would have been six. Super effort Josh, and congratulations James for claiming your first Elf wicket. Wintrip eventually finished on 1-35 off 4 overs. Rahl had put on a good partnership with Bywater, taking the score to 69-2. Rahl departed for a well earned 27, a score which helped Penn well on their way to victory. No sooner had the second wicket gone down, the third Penn wicket arrived an over later. Dan was considering taking off Nicka when the latter pleaded to have one more over with a new batsman at the crease. Dan’s decision to keep him on was vindicated as the very first ball of Nicka’s next over saw Singh bowled for one. Nicka eventually finished on 2-39 off 8 overs.
Nicka was eventually replaced by last year’s leading wicket taker, J. Preece. Despite all the net practices and the preparation, the first ball was not what he’d planned. It went down leg side for 4. Not the first impressions that JP wanted to make. After that he tided-up somewhat, finding his line and length. He eventually finished on 0-21 over two overs. The batsmen were eager to finish the innings off in double quick time. There was still enough time for Bywater to reach his 50 and retired after a brilliantly controlled knock. He was replaced by J Dhillon, who wanted to make up for lost time. Rather than just trying to settle in, he went big from the very beginning. A mixture of good running and boundary hitting, Dhillon amassed 41 runs, dealing mainly in 4s and 6s. The Health didn’t have any reply to his big hitting. Wintrip was replaced by opening bat D. Armstrong, who was trying to rebuild his reputation after the calamitous first-ball duck. He came steaming in. The first three balls were on the spot and kept the batsman on his toes. However, like the start of the innings, the batsmen picked up the bowler’s length and started playing their shots again. Butler, who fielded superbly and took that superb catch, came on to bowl. Unfortunately, the batsmen were set and were determined to finish the game off. They decided to go the areal route. This resulted in successive sixes and a four, which helped Penn knock off the runs inside 23 overs. Armstrong finished on 0-11 off 2 overs and Butler finished off with figures of 0-20 off 1.2 overs. Unlucky Josh. You just happened to be there at the end.
A well deserved win for Penn and played in the right spirit.
Moments of the Match
- 87 from Andy Carrick
- First ball ducks from Dan Armstrong and Dan Dunn
- Josh going out to bat (without his bat)