Walsall Health CC (242-7) beat Poppyfields CC (213-9) by 29 runs
Walsall Health returned to their home ground to take on Poppyfields on a day where the weather couldn’t make its mind as to what it wanted to do. Due to the number of supporters the travelling side brought 12 months earlier, the home side decided to put on a lavish tea and make it a real occasion. Captain for the day was club pro Dan Dunn. He won the toss and elected to bat. Here’s how we got on
1. Dan Armstrong (101) : After apparently arriving in a somewhat disillusioned frame of mind, Dan soon put all his fears of a low score to one side as he went out and hit the first four balls for four 4s. He was calm and collected, playing a mixture of attacking shots along with safety shots. Eventually reaching a fabulous and well deserved 100. He also opened the bowling and with his express pace and height finished with figures of 1-19 off 8 overs.
2. David Preece (28) : Playing only his second game of the season, David looked comfortable at the crease, placing the ball all around the field and in doing so, building a steady partnership with Dan. David was unfortunately given out lbw by the umpire, a decision he couldn’t believe went against him. He too, bowled at the end of the innings when we were looking for that final wicket, but it just wouldn’t come. His final figures were 0-14 off 2 overs (including a very high full toss).
3. Andy Carrick (1) : Came in at 132-1, looking to build on a super start by the opening pair, but departed at 135-2 after he was given out lbw. This was a little bit of a shock, as he usually spends a good amount of time at the crease and gets a fair few runs on the board. Unfortunately, this was not his day with the bat. As the saying goes, “catches win matches” and what a catch Andy pulled off, fielding at slip. Many thought he was just saving a boundary, but when it stuck, some teammates had mixed emotions; elation (for the catch) and potential despair when he landed on his shoulder. Thankfully, he landed on the one that he didn’t dislocate. There were discussions that we had seen the catch of the season the week before at Wellington, this was one to rival it. Great stuff Andy. Better luck next time with the bat.
4. Dan Dunn (13) : The captain; the club-pro came out with lots going on. Boundaries being hit, wickets falling and smart running between the wickets. Dan batted fluently, getting in early strides and finding the boundary ropes with precision, picking the gaps and putting pressure on the bowler with smart running. Bowled towards the end of the innings (even though) he admitted he didn’t want to), he still ran in with the knowledge that one ball would end the Poppyfields innings. Despite his best efforts, their last stand stayed as rigid and defiant as Jimmy and Monty at Cardiff all those years ago. Well captained Dan.
5. Nathan Reeves (6) : Nathan went out with so much intent. This was from the very first ball, as he set out his mark, he swung his bat and the ball went for 6. Good start! Unfortunately, this was not to last as a few balls later, Nathan was back in the shed after he was caught going for another big shot. His efforts in the field were of the highest standards; stopping countless boundaries, that kept coming to him even with the sun’s glare coming right into him. Top work in the field and a good cameo with the bat.
6. Jack Lester (0) : After some early season runs in which he had a highest score of 40 n/o, Jack (or big Jack as he is sometimes referred as) was in and out quicker than a solar eclipse. In his assessment, he hadn’t done too well (the choice of language used was very different). He had finally joined the club for the season, but still a few behind the leading contender. Unlucky Jack. In the field, Jack seems to be getting better each game he plays as he becomes more and more confident. Keep it going Jack and before you know it, you might be a contender for fielder of the year.
7. Ian Chuck (52*) : After some early season jitters, Ian is starting to find some form. After his fifty the week before, he followed it up with another 50 this week. He came in with the score at 193 and settled very quickly into his stride. One particular member of his entourage could be heard on regular occasions cheering and applauding every run and twice as loud for each boundary. Due to the absence of regular wicketkeepers, Ian took the gloves and made his role behind the stumps look easy. He took most that came his way and was reward with catches off the regular spinners.
8. Dave Stephens (11) : Dave went out with just under 10 overs to go, playing some nice shots and some good running between the wickets (whether he intended to or not). In fact, only one of his 11 runs was a boundary. He was unlucky to get out, as he was caught going for another big shot in an attempt to up the run rate. I expect, if he had been there long, there might have been a few more 4s to his total. He also opened the bowling, and was the bowler to that fabulous catch by Andy later on in the day. He finished with figures of 1-40 off 8 overs. Well bowled and well batted.
9. John Nicholls (9*) : John Nicholls currently holds the record for DNBs. It is a feat that I don’t think anybody will catch anytime soon. However, this was one day he couldn’t extend that record. John batting was such a unique occasion that his first ball was caught on camera, as we do not know when it will happen again. But despite that lack of batting opportunities, John defied the odds and stuck around to score a very determined 9 n/o. Well batted John. There will be calls for you to bat up the order. Despite his composure with the bat, John is a completely different person with the ball. He has so often come on and changed the game in favour of the Health. His devious action can put batters of all calibre in a spot of bother. This day was no different. He came on and bowled a magical spell. Although it was only 4 overs, he managed to put the Health in a commanding position, taking three wickets for 6 runs, by far the best figures of the day. Well bowled John. Hopefully a few more of those before the season’s out.
10. Jonathan Preece (DNB) : JP was not to bat this week due to the clever batting of John and Ian, something he was more than happy with. However, despite making the number 10 or 11 position his own, he still managed to pad up when the Elf had lost their 5th wicket. Some things never change. The day that he doesn’t pad up early, will be the day that he needs to. However, JP isn’t picked for his batting (you wouldn’t believe it by his early padding up), it is meant to be for his bowling (although some are questioning that). JP came on early in the innings, replacing John at the car park end to try and keep it tight and build pressure. I don’t think he did either, but crucially, he managed to remove two batsmen before they got going. If only he could cut out the wides and no-balls, then his figures could be so much better. He ended up with figures of 2-50 off 8 overs.
11.Josh Butler (DNB) : Like JP, Josh was not needed to bat. However, when he does bat, he adds vital runs. Despite the lack of opportunities with the bat this year, Josh could easily bat further up the order. Not only that, but he could also make a good few runs in the process. But at the moment, his magic with ball in hand is unmatched. As with all spinners, batters will always go after them, thinking they are the easier option. But this is where Josh comes into his own and this is exactly what happened this time. Sending down slow left arm spin after slow left arm spin, Josh was able to get the batsmen in all sorts of trouble. Several times, they premeditated their shots and Josh was getting closer and closer. Eventually, his efforts paid off picking up two wickets before they could get going. Well bowled Josh.
A great day was had by all who attended both players and supporters. Poppyfields brought a good number of supporters and along with the Elf contingent, the atmosphere was fantastic. With legends from the past making coming down, it was a great opportunity for a catch up at the cricket. Not only was the cricket good, but the teas were super, with everyone pitching in. So much to choose from and I think most of disappeared by the end of the day. Hopefully, this will be a fixture for many years to come.