WHCC 275-4 (Chuck 50, Nunns 49, Armstrong 48, Stenson 48)
Wellington 158-7 (Philpott 2-19, Chuck 2-27)
WHCC won by 117 runs
Full Album by Liz – https://photos.app.goo.gl/CqBbqRzWkwGetbsVA
The Elf made the lengthy trip to Shropshire to take on Wellington fresh from returning to winning ways at home to Beaumont. A first visit to the magnificent Orleton Park ground on the edge of the Wrekin certainly provided a scenic backdrop to what proved to be an enjoyable days’ cricket.
Under grey skies and with a forecast that looked dicey, the Elf batted first. Openers Jack Stenson and Dan Dunn accumulated at a steady rate as they negotiated the new ball, Jack passing 100 runs unbeaten, following on from his unbeaten 83 last weekend. The pair gradually began to go after the bowling, coming down the wicket on occasion but with the score on 36, Dan would then miscue one from Gunawardena when on 15 to mid-on for a well taken catch by Chohan (one, he reminded those in the scorebox with much dismay, which was the only successful catch of the innings amongst a few dropped efforts!)
This brought Ian Chuck to the wicket and he and Jack continued to play positively and run hard, turning several 1s into 2s and running some sharp singles in the ring. Jack in particular looked to get on with things as he approached his 50 (which would see him retire due to a captain’s agreement), hitting a succession of fours, however, he was bowled when trying to reverse sweep Edge for 48 to leave the score 77-2 in the 14th over.
Chuck and Andy Gorton then set about establishing another partnership as two of the Elf’s all time leading run scorers manipulated the ball around well on a pitch that was just giving a little bit of encouragement to bowlers with some variable bounce- the long boundaries offering the chance for 2s and 3s. The pair took the Elf past 150 when Chuck ran the single which took him to his 50th run, at which point he retired and unknown at the time, caused chaos in the scorebox for a few overs as skipper Alex Nunns took his place at the non-strikers end and watch Gort (and not Alex!) get bowled by Chohan just 2 balls later for 34 (156-3)
Will Lauchlan came in at 6 and looked to play a shot a ball, knowing he had plenty of depth to come (with Dave Stephens due in at 10- one of the better number 10s in Elf history surely) and he managed to get a couple away to the fence, before being stumped by Recce off Srihivason for a 9-ball 11 (174-4)
This left Dan Armstrong, unusually batting down the order, to join Alex and both accelerated the scoring rate considerably in the last ten overs with a series of boundaries and whilst Dan started off 11 runs behind, he soon caught up and a series of lusty blows from both set up a tense scenario of the Elf chasing our record score of 276 and both batsmen closing in on their individual half centuries. It was one of them, like the England 500 attempt against the Dutch in Friday’s ODI, where it seemed a long shot but gradually became more likely and with 14 off the 39th over, just 9 were needed to break the record, but a tight last over by Rabani kept it to 7 to leave us one short of equalling out best score (dubious as a wide in the 30th over was not added to the total) and left Alex 49 off 40 and Dan 48 off 30, both unbeaten. The score of 275-4 however, was still an imposing total and gave the bowlers plenty to work with
Sadly, there was no tea report as it was bring your own but after what seemed a short interval, we were back out there, still in cold, overcast conditions and we got the perfect start first ball as for the 2nd away game in a row, DS had a wicket 1st ball, trapping Mullard-Wilson absolutely stone dead lbw.
This brought Gunawardena to the wicket and he had sights on getting them all on his own, as he cracked some blistering shots away. At one stage he had all 24 runs for Wellington and made the most of a couple of lives to race to 48 by the time both DS and Dan Armstrong had finished their 8 over spells. The impressive young batsman, Eli, at the other end was quietly accumulating at the other end and steadily looking to increase his tempo to leave the hosts 61-1 at this stage. Gunawardena got the 2 to take him to 50 with the first ball of Josh Butler’s spell and he was replaced by Willis. The 2 batsmen now looked to take on the spinners Josh and Chuck, but a magnificent direct hit run out from mid off from Jack (his 2nd in just a handful of games) put an end to Willis’ stay for 5. This then sparked a bit of a collapse as the ever-accurate Chuck bowled both Reece (5) and Rowland (via an inside edge for 0) in successive overs to leave Wellington 84-4 at drinks.
At this stage, you might have felt the Elf would run through the middle order, but Eli found a capable ally in Chohan, the pair comfortably seeing out the rest of Josh’s and Chuck’s overs, mixing regular singles with the occasional big shot as they took their partnership past 50, before Chohan was finally undone by Greg Phillpott for 30. Rabani then fell in the same over for nought to one of the all-time great catches from Jack, on the run from long on to snaffle an absolute skier. The fielding award may as well have his name engraved on it already!
The last few overs saw an impressive spell from Dan Dunn to finally remove Eli for 39, taking a catch off his own bowling having almost took a stunner an over or two before off the same batsman, many of the Elf sportingly congratulating Eli on a fantastic performance as he left the field. Gunawardena and Edge managed to negotiate the last 6 overs successfully as Wellington closed on 158-7, still a very respectable effort in itself.
What was pleasing is that there were many contributions so picking a man of the match was almost impossible. Whilst the shower club was a lower than in the past gathering, Greg reliably gave it a solid 7/10 and the beautiful double decker pavilion with its balcony gave a nice spot for the fines committee to discuss the days’ events. The bar has a solid section of bottles and lagers, a pity the ale pump wasn’t in action but reasonably priced nonetheless and one that hopefully we get to experience in the future.
So on to Poppyfields down at Rushall on Sunday. They brought a good support last year and made a real event of it. Hopefully the weather will allow for a good game and some food during the day
Up the Elf!