v Birmingham Unicorns (A) 22/05/22

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Walsall Health beat Birmingham Unicorns by 150 runs…..(At Lapworth)

For a change, lets do this review of our 4th win of the season in Player by Player order…(In batting order)

No1 Dan Armstrong…..They usually say save the best until last, but not this time. Dan Armstrong, now affectionately known as Dan “The Body” Armstrong, enjoyed another exceptional day at the office. If anyone is feeling generous, and wants to buy Dan a Christmas present, can we suggest asking Santa to gift wrap the Lapworth square? After turning up late, because he’d been fixing his girlfriends bed, Dan powered his way to another 50 with the bat, then became only the second bowler in Elf history to record back to back 5-wicket hauls. (John Nicholls achieved this feat back in 1998) Dan’s combined figures over the past two weeks read an eye watering 11 overs 4 maidens 10-20. A completely unique achievement, at the same away ground, but against different opposition. Really well done Dan….his face when the skipper said the words any good bowler dreads…”Have a blow” will live long in everyone’s memory.

No2 Ian Chuck…..How bizzare that by the 22nd May, Ian Chuck had yet to score a run this season. Since the first week in September 2021, the Chuck willow had been in a state of redundancy, still yearning for the 3 runs needed to become only the 4th player in the club’s history to score 4000 runs. It was a case of job done (finally) for Chucky. Although our opponents did think we had all gone slightly barmy for giving a standing ovation to a score of 3 not out. Well done Chuck, 4,000 runs at an average in excess of 50 is a tremendous achievement.

No3 Dan Dunn (Club Pro)….Dan Dunn was the unanimous winner of the inaugural “Nathan Martin, Bad day at the Office Award” There are many acute examples of personal misery during a game of cricket. Getting run out for a duck has got to be near the top of the tree. So lets discuss…. “The run”

Dan Dunn…he ain’t afraid of no ghosts.

The Club Pro walked with purpose to the crease, not entirely happy with Armstrong’s lethargic running between the wickets. “I’ll make him run” was Dan’s prediction. Always a man of his word, Double D hit a nice shot to the fielder at mid off, and set off like a scalded cat. However, there was a slight problem. Dan Armstrong at the non strikers end, was busy doing a good impersonation of a still-life model, with his bat super-glued to the crease. Strong Arm assured us all he called “No” which umpire Chris Hall can confirm. The only issue was, you would have only heard the call had you been in a library, or a participant in a sponsored silence. A shellshocked Dan Dunn was left high and dry. So the dreaded trudge off the pitch began, accompanied by the customary “What were you playing at?” backward glances to his former partner, followed by the traditional solitary lap of the boundary to work out the meaning of life, and a check on who was leading the Grand Prix. If Dan needed anything else rubbing into the wound, there was still plenty more salt kicking around. No catches for Dan this week, his first blank week of the season. Did not bowl. Even his high score at Pac Man (see photo) got toppled by Nathan Reeves just before the close of play…..Just three words spring to mind here….Thanks for coming.

No4 Nathan Reeves…..A quiet day for Nath which included a healthy discussion about what crisps are his current favourite. The first ball he faced got dispatched for four, before being bowled by Buckle for 7. Mini Doc didn’t see much of the ball in the field either, but was rock solid in keeping everyone up to date with the football scores. Nath also completed the perilous mission of hanging up the “ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK” sign, on our changing room door, just in case Dan Dunn was practicing a javelin technique with his bat.

No5 Alex Nunns (Captain)….Does this bloke Alex Nunns eat a cucumber for his breakfast every morning, because he’s certainly as cool as one. A composed third half century of the season, on a tricky pitch, was a real ship steadier. Another impressive Captain’s performance, and the catch of the day at third slip….think Gilchrist/Strauss Ashes 2005, it really was that good. Talking about the slips, it was a busy day for this area of the field. The Elf’s had some legendary slip cordons over the years, generally occupied by blokes who can’t move, see, or catch. But yesterday, our traditional weekly gathering of human sieves were replaced by the combination of Chuck, Hall and Nunns who took all three chances that flew off the edges of the Unicorns bats, which proved to be the pivotal stage of the game…..superb stuff.

No6 Mac Perager….Like so many others during the past two weeks, Mac perished to the slow and low pitch. The highlight of Mac’s game, an explosive burst of speed chasing a ball down to the third man boundary. This particular chase involved a fierce contest with a fellow team mate….Dan Armstrong. However, it was Mac who showed the superior pace, no photo finish required, it was a comfortable victory. Later in fines, Dan Dunn was quick to point out, that Mac was the second bloke aged over 60 this season, to have beaten Armstrong in a running race. We think the Club Pro might just have enjoyed pointing out this astonishing statistic.

No7 Andy Gorton….The club’s all time leading run scorer took charge of the gloves, taking two very sharp chances standing up to Dan Armstrong and JP, confirming the guillotine remains as sharp as Chuck’s razor. During a lively fines committee, Dai Preece observed that “It was great to have Andy back after not playing for ages” Clearly, Dai must live in a different time zone to the rest of us, seeing as Gort played against Peopleton just 3 weeks ago. But we concur with his sentiments wholeheartedly.

No8 Jack Lester…..One of the highlights of the day was Jack’s 40 not out, sharing in a match winning partnership of 89 with the skipper. Early nerves and a hangover were soon swept away, with Jack growing in confidence as the scoreboard ticked over. With a bit more time, a maiden 50 looked on the cards, but this was exactly what the club wants to see, new players getting involved and doing really well. Jack was even given a new nickname by Chucky…. “The Jester from Lester” even though he lives nowhere near the place. Well batted Jack.

No9 Dave Stephens….A tough old day for Dave, who bowled one of his best ever spells, conceding just 7 runs from his 8 overs. (One of the most economical returns since the 40 over format began) On the spot from his first ball to the last. You would have to consult Miss Marple to explain how DS didn’t take at least 3 or 4 wickets. Dave constantly bowled at the Unicorns left hander, who seemed intent on dropping anchor… (9 not out off 28 overs) It may be wise to avoid sending Dave a Youtube montage of Gower, Gilchrist and Ganguly’s best bits. Lets hope Alrewas have a few right handed batsmen on Sunday.

No 10 Chris Hall….The man who just plays for DNB’s these days. Chally chilled out on the bench with Dan Armstrong instead of getting padded up to bat, then steadily turned his arm over for 4 overs, picking up another wicket. There were early detections of steam coming out of ears, when Dan A dropped a catch off the metronomes bowling, but all was forgiven as Dan made no mistake when the next chance came along. Has anyone ever seen Chally bowl a wide deliberately? Well he did yesterday. Round the wicket, over the wicket, quicker balls, slower balls, a Shane Warne style amble up to the crease, anything to tempt the Unicorns left hander into playing a shot, but to no avail. What a party pooper aswell, taking the wicket JP needed to complete a 5 wicket haul. Were there any signs of regret or remorse after the match? Absolutely none…..still as single minded as ever.

No11 JP…..Its hard to recall a player who has ever been more prepared than JP. Historically, JP usually bats somewhere south of No 10. Maybe he just thinks our batting is rubbish, its the only explanation we can offer as the pads, gloves, thigh pad, box and helmet all went on, just before Dan and Chuck were taking their guards with our score on 0-0. Maybe we’re exaggerating a bit, but you get the picture.

Bowling wise, JP had a good game, picking up another four wickets, although Father Dai, assured everyone in fines, “From side on, it looked bloody awful” JP’s spell resembled a bag of Woolworths Pick n Mix….good balls, bad balls, moon balls, wide balls, even Ed Balls nearly qualified for the list. However all that counts is what goes in the book, just ask Dave Stephens what he would give for figures of 4-13 at the moment.

Dai Preece….said no to the Top Job.

Earlier in the day, after an emergency AGM, it was agreed that Dai should be appointed our new First Team Head Coach. The wage structure was simple….a lifelong free membership into the Dan Armstrong fan club. The news was greeted with delight, but sadly, our very own Brendon McCullum resigned from the position with immediate effect, after being told about his first three duties……

  1. Coach the Two Dan’s the art of the quick single.
  2. Teach Rick Jarrams how to play a forward defensive shot
  3. Tutor Dave Clive how to land the first ball of a spell on the pitch…..some jobs are just too difficult.

Another good win for the Elf, against new opponents, Birmingham Unicorns. It was great to see Nicka, Rick and Jonty pop along to support. It was El Presidente himself who originally sourced us the Lapworth venue. Over ten years later we are still playing at this lovely ground. It was also the first time Rick had ever seen the place he found for us all those years ago.

Jonty to Rick….I’ve bowled a few La La’s from that end.

The margin of victory doesn’t really reflect how the game went. Two passages of play were the defining moments of the match. The brilliant partnership of 89 between Alex and Jack after we had been in trouble at 107-6, followed by two quality opening spells from Dan Armstrong and Dave Stephens, backed up by an electrifying burst of slip catches we so rarely see at this level of the game. A great match, played in the right spirit. We look forward to hosting the Unicorns at Rushall later in the season

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