Walsall Health C C won by 26 runs
Walsall Health 182-7 – Kinlet 157-9
The ELF travelled to the beautiful village of Kinlet in Shropshire (not Dudley) for their first away game of season. It was decided to meet at the nearby pub called the Eagle & Serpent, not one to miss an opportunity Dan Armstrong decided to test the local cider pre game, not once but twice. Once Dan had finished his sampling the team made their way up to the ground for the game. There were seasons debuts for skipper Alex Nunns, left arm seamer Nath Martin and club legends Chris Hall and John Nicholls (Jonty playing a game in April). Skipper Alex Nunns won the toss!!!! and elected to bat first on the advice of the opposition captain.
The two Dan’s opened up hoping to make amends from last week’s first ballers. Dan Armstrong fuelled by his 2 pints of cider despatched the 2nd ball of the game onto the roof of the home changing room for 6. Dan’s aggressive batting soon raced the score onto 32 before he was caught at deep mid-wicket for 18 from 17 balls bringing Alex Nunns to the crease to join Dan Dunn, unfortunately Dan Dunn was also soon back in the shed adjudged LBW to a ball that kept low for 14. Nath Reeves was the next man and after a couple of sighters he soon sent one massive 6 over deep mid-wicket into the next field, Nath continued to go on the attack and soon raced to 20 before being bowled by Ken. The score had moved onto 73-3 but the Elf were then soon in trouble at 74-4 when Mac was caught behind for a second ball Duck again off the bowling of Ken. Next batter in was the returning Nath Martin and looked in good touch despite not playing for over a year, Nath punched his 2nd ball off the back foot through the covers for 4 but both Nath and Alex had to dig in and re-build the innings both batted sensibly and ran well together as runs were hard to come by the score had reached 94 before Nath became Ken’s 3rd victim of the afternoon when he was undone by the lack of pace and was bowled for 5. Dave Stephens joined Alex in the middle and pair started to get the score moving once they had got to grips with the pace of the pitch Alex gaining more confidence struck a big straight six onto the roof of the away changing room followed by another six straight over the bowler’s head, Dave also clubbed away a couple of boundaries to bring up the 50 partnership between to the 2 batters. Alex brought up his 50 with another single but was then out for 51 caught at long off trying to push the score on with only a few overs to go the Elf knew that they were still a few short of a good score so with this in mind DS got the long handle out and hit 21 from the 39th over, Dave was out for 38 from the first ball of the 40th but the damage had already been done. JP joined Josh in the middle for the last 5 balls of the innings and after a couple of quick singles JP managed to hit the 5th ball away for 4 through the covers to finish 5 not out and Josh 3 not out. Elf finished the innings on 182 – 7.
Tea was taken for the first time in 2 ½ seasons as our hosts very kindly offered to provide tea and it didn’t disappoint a wide range of sandwiches, cakes and pizzas along with pork pies and sausage rolls. A sign of a good tea is the amount of times that people go back up for seconds and plenty of the Elf members certainly did this. It rated at a solid 9 out of 10.
The Elf set about defending their total of 182 with openers DS & Nath Martin quickly finding their lines & lengths which built the pressure on the Kinlet opening batters and the pressure soon told as Dave found the edge of Crook and the ball flew to first slip reign where Chris Hall took a stunning one handed catch (most definitely a contender for catch of the season) Nath Martin followed this up with a wicket in his next over bowling the other opener for 1. Both Nathan and Dave continued to keep things tight and kept the runs down but neither could find another break through but both finished their spells with respectable figures DS 1 for 23 off 8 overs and Nath 1 for 11 from 6 overs (including 4 maidens) Skipper Nunns then called upon club legends Chally and Jonty to work their magic and it didn’t take long for Jonty to do so, a first ball Laa-Laa accounted for Bishop as he chipped a full toss high into the air and Alex Nunns did the rest. From there Kinlet re-built their innings with a good partnership from Bowyer & Wallace, Bowyer in particular took a liking to Jonty’s bowling and despatched him for a few 6’s into the next field but Jonty kept to his task and finally got his reward by bowling Bowyer for a well-made 58 a knock that brought the hosts back into the game. Chally kept things tight from the other end despite still carrying a slight injury produced a wonderful spell of 0-18 from his 8 overs with Jonty also contributing 2-34 from 6 overs it was time to turn to the spin twins of JP & JB both spinners knew that their lines & lengths had to be tight especially with the short boundary on the one side and the Kinlet batters looking to go on the attack after being pegged back by the Elf seamers. Both Jonathan & Josh stuck to their tasks brilliantly and were well supported in the field especially by last season’s fielder of the year Nath Reeves who patrolled the short boundary as if his life depended on it. Josh was first to get in on the act as he bowled Kinlet captain Yapp for 13 as he played on, then JP took centre stage as he had Mooney stumped by Mac for 10 and then the dangerous Wallace caught behind again by Mac for 35 with the pressure now back on the Kinlet batters the Elf spin twins started to turn the screw and Josh picked up his 2nd & 3rd wickets in consecutive balls first wicket was caught in the deep by Dan Dunn running in at full pelt (top catch Dan) and the second was stumped as the batsman was beaten in the air and Mac did the rest behind the stumps for his second stumping of the day. Josh was now on at hat-trick and very unselfishly he said he didn’t want to go for it but he was persuaded otherwise by his teammates as all the Elf team surrounded the bat only for the number 11 batter to comfortably turn it around the corner for a single but the drama wasn’t finished there. Josh then found the edge of the Kinlet number 10 and ball looped to Dan Armstrong who decided to stay at slip after the hat-trick ball only for Dan to attempt to take it one handed but unlike Chally earlier in the innings this one didn’t stick and hit Dan on the head before hitting the floor (I think Dan must have been dreaming of those ciders). The innings came to close as Kinlet finished 157-9 off 40 overs. JP finished with figures of 2-36 off 6 overs and Josh 3-35 from his 6 overs.
After the game had finished both teams headed to the Eagle & Serpent to sample some more local cider again Dan Armstrong didn’t miss out as he came back with 3 pints which soon disappeared before fines could be taken our hosts very kindly brought out hot dogs and chips for us all to enjoy again there were more than one visit to the table so much so that Nath Martin decided to cancel his Chinese takeaway that he was going to order on his way home.
All in all, it was a great day all round and a BIG BIG hand has to go to our hosts Kinlet CC for their very kind generosity and hospitality, we hope to be back again next season and also a big hand to Chris Hall for organising this fantastic fixture.
Next week Walsall Health return to their home ground at Carter Park.