Peopleton CC (222-6) defeated Walsall Health CC (192-8) by 30 runs (35 over game)
Walsall Health travelled down to Peopleton for a game that was originally scheduled to be played at Rushall CC. However, because of the torrential weather, it proved to be the right decision as we were able to get a full game in. Before the game started Nathan Reeves said something along the lines of “I’ve only played here once apart from the previous two times”. Not only that, but regular traveller Dai Preece (with all his experience in the game) asked which pitch we were playing on. Normally, that wouldn’t have been a problem, but the covers were still on!
Dan Dunn, as vice captain, went out for the toss due to the fact regular captain Alex Nunns had not turned up for a 12:30 meet. Officially, he was late. In his defence, he wasn’t driving. The toss was won and Dan elected to field. Alex managed to arrive in time to lead the team onto the field. The new ball was tossed to the ever dependable Dave Stephens and Nathan Martin. All that hope that built up was quickly knocked back as the two Peopleton openers Blatherwick and Lam set the tone and started to put on a decent partnership, with both players batting very sensibly but picking the gaps and manipulating the field. Both Martin and Stephens did create several chances and on another day, those chances would have stuck. Eventually, after some tidy bowling, Stephens broke the partnership by getting the wicket of Lam for 14. DS eventually finished on figures of 1-27 off 8 overs. This was a despite a thunderous shot being hit straight back at him, causing some pain on his hand. Nathan was still struggling and eventually finished on 0-38 off 6 overs (unlucky Nath).
The two opening bowlers were replaced by club legend Chris Hall (who radically decreased his run up from last year) and season debutant Dave Clive. As with all bowlers on their season debuts, Clive was a little bit rusty and was unfortunately punished by well-set batsmen who had got their eye in. Hall bowled at a steady pace, not leaving the batters many free shots. Despite this, the batsmen were still able to rotate the strike regularly forcing Elf captain – Nunns – to constantly change the field. Chris, however, finally got his man as Waller was bowled for 8. Hall was starting to think about reaching 400 wickets for the Health. A magnificent achievement when he finally reaches that milestone. He finished with figures of 1-43 off 8 overs, while Clive’s figurers were 0-53 off 4 overs.
Dan Armstrong, so reliable with the ball – and bat for that matter, came on to replace Clive and gave the batsmen something else to think about. He removed the new man at the crease Thirlby for 0. This was after Blatherwick retired after hitting a superb 100 not out. In the midst of such a great knock, the Elf were a man down as opening bowler Nathan Martin, in a brave attempt to stop a certain boundary off a Dan Armstrong ball, only succeeded in landing awkwardly and twisting his knee. It was later confirmed in the evening, that it was just a sprain and not a break. Best of luck Nath. Hopefully a speedy recovery. Nathan would be taken straight to hospital thanks to the quick thinking of the Preece’s, thanks to the two of them. A big hand must also be given to Peopleton for offering one of their fielders for us. Dan added to his wicket tally by dismissing Morris for 14.
After making a good start, Peopleton had a shaky patch losing several wickets for not many runs. They built a good steady partnership with Blatherwick reaching his century and Mucke reaching his 50. But this shaky patch continued when Nunns brought on the unpredictable, sometimes erratic, JP. His first over consisted of 2 wides. The second was far more controlled and got the wicket of the half-centurion Mucke for 53, when he was caught by Dan Armstrong at mid-off. The next of JP’s victims wasn’t long in coming. In the second ball of his 2nd over, JP had Billington caught for 1 by Dan Dunn, less convincingly than both bowler and fielder would have liked. JP finished for 2-21 off his 3 overs.
The final two batsmen – Harrold and Powell hit 16 off the last two overs to take the score to a competitive 222 for 6. After the start they made, Peopleton might have thought a score of 250 was in their sights. Credit must go to the Health for pulling it back a little.
Due to the break in play in the first innings, before they knew it, the two Health opening batsmen were out facing the Peopleton attack with the two Dan’s at the crease. Before captain Alex had time to sit down and observe the bowlers, he found himself out in the middle after Dan Armstrong flashed the first ball of the innings to one of the 5 slips Peopleton had set. It was a fabulous one-handed catch by Cameron off the bowling of Thirlby. It was the second golden duck of the season for Dan. There was enough pace on his shot that a couple of inches higher, it would have gone to the boundary and no doubt, Dan would have gone onto a big score.
This brought Alex to the crease with the Health in a spot of bother. He needed a captain’s knock, if the Health were going to mount a serious challenge. Both he and Dan made a steady start and the initial elation amongst the Peopleton XI started to wane a little. Like Peopleton, these two began to find the gaps and the quick single on several occasions. The two batsmen looked so assured, rotating the strike and looked set for a big partnership, passing 50 after 10 overs and looking to go on.
However, cricket is a funny old game. You can look secure one minute and then you can find yourself several wickets down with not many more runs on the board. In the 16th over, with the score at 62-1, Dan was back in the pavilion after being bowled by Powell for 33. A decent knock , but this was a start of things to come. Out came big hitter Nathan Reeves, who meant business. After a superb all-round effort in the field, Nathan’s scoring shots were 4,4,6,1,6. Despite his big hitting, he also played some nice safety shots and left the ball on a couple of occasions. One of his sixes almost took out a member of the Health fan club, which soon followed with a “Sorry Babe” being yelled from the middle. Thankfully no one else was needed to go to A&E. Nathan was soon out for a quick fire 21 – after he was bowled by Powell (for his second wicket of the day), that put the Health back on course.
Next in was another season debutant, the one and only I Chuck. He was hoping to build another good partnership with captain Nunns, who looked as focused as a Lion on a hunt. Chuck went out, and returned next ball after the umpire judged him to be out lbw off the bowling of Powell. Chuck wasn’t happy, but he said he accepted the umpire’s call. It was his first Elf duck after 99 innings avoiding the dreaded quack. Chuck was hoping to make a good start to the season, but as someone said later, “there’s always next week”. In came the second of three season debutants: the ever dependable WHCC stalwart, Andy Gorton. He went out with the composure of a man who scored runs freely throughout his career. However, Powell, who was on a hat trick, had other ideas as once first ball, the batsman’s defence was breached and Powell wheeled away deliriously after claiming a superb spell culminating in 3 wickets in 3 balls. Andy would have felt confident after putting in a great display behind the stumps in testing conditions. Better luck next time Andy.
Dave Clive, who had had a difficult time with the ball, came into bat at number 7, but was up against a man in form. His first aim was to defend the first ball, but that was about as good got for Dave as he soon followed Andy to the pavilion with another 0 to the scoreboard after he was bowled by the man of the moment – Powell (who finished with 5-31 off 6 overs). He had been struggling with injuries, and that might have played a part in his game. Hopefully a fully fit Dave will have better days. Nice to see you back. Hopefully see you in the Elf XI far more this year. While all this was going on, Alex Nunns had made his way past 50 and looked good for 100. From a score of 92-2, the Health found themselves in all sorts of trouble at 100-6 and there were still 15 overs to go. Someone had to stay with Alex to rebuild another match defining partnership. In came opening bowler DS, who on another day, could have had more than the solitary wicket with the ball. He managed 4 runs, but more importantly he occupied the crease for 8 overs, supporting Alex in his aim to get to three figures. The contest for the duck trophy is already hotting up and it’s only the start of May!
Stephens eventually fell to Billington, as he was trapped in front lbw making the score 135-7. He was to be replaced by Chris Hall, a very good batsman, who, because of his bowling achievements, goes under the radar when it comes to batting. A good spell with the ball was followed by a solid 4 not out. However, in the 40th over, as Alex was edging towards his 100, a ball jumped up at him off the uneven ground and he top-edged it to square leg and Alex had to depart for a very well played 90. The Elf contingent on the boundary were so flat, you could have heard a pin drop. He returned to the changing room with a standing ovation from the crowd. Next in at number 9 was JP who had 4 balls to keep out. Thankfully, no more wickets fell and the Elf finished on 192-8.
Unfortunately, another defeat for the Health, but the game was played in the right spirit, both on and off the field. Well kept at it Elves, on what was a tricky day in more ways than one.
Moments of the Match
- Alex’s superb knock of 90
- 4 ducks in the innings