v SpringHill (H) 07/05/23


Walsall Health Won (134 all out)

On the coronation bank holiday weekend, months of planning, hard work and dedication came together in one glorious outpouring of joy for all who were there, memories made for a lifetime and all who were there will speak of it for years. We are of course talking about the first game of Walsall Health’s 2023 season  (well the third if we are including the first two that were washed out by the rain without a player making it to the ground let alone a bowl being bowled.)

There wasn’t quite a seventy something year gap between fixtures for the Health like their was between coronations but the wait felt that long on some of those long winter nights and two frustrating washed out weekends at the start the season. Fortunatly the weather for the Health’s match against Springhill was more than fit for a King. Their might be a new pair of royals on the throne but it was tried and trusted partneships for the Health that made this game for them. After the winning the toss and electing to bat, Dan’s Armstrong and Dunn made their way to a bowler friendly but drying wicket at Carter Park. Timing the ball was tricky against some tight opening bowling on green deck, and an unforgiving outfield mean’t runs were tough to come by for the pair. Back to back boundaries at the end of the ninth by Armstrong gave the innings a shot in the arm and pushed back against stubborn bowling.

With the pair closing in on a richly deserved 50 partneship Armstrong was bowled for 18 bringing Nunns to the crease who supported Dan Dunn excellently. Dunn’s eye was in after soaking up more early pressure than the outfield had rain the last few weeks and the boundaries were soon flowing for the opener flying past 50 and onto 63 from 75 balls before the Springhill attack bit back and clean bowled him, an excellent innings coming to an end on an afternoon where no other batsman would be make a score over 27.

From 102-1 Dunn’s wicket sparked a royal collapse on Jubilee weekend and quick as flash the Elf were down to 116-9 with ducks club making up for lost time accumulating no less than 4 new recruits for the 2023 season, bad news for the Reeves, Lester, Perager and Butler (who was particularly unlucky after a superb diving catch in the field. ) There was last wicket resistance from Dave Stephens and JP before a questionable call, and questionable agreement, for another run resulted in a run out, the Elf all out for a score of 135. Not quite where the Elf would’ve wanted to be in an ideal world but every run would prove valuable on a very tricky deck.

All had to go right for the Elf as they returned to the field to bowl and it was another strong opening partneship, this time from the bowlers Stephens and Armstrong who kept the scorers job simple and took regular wickets to always keep one end open. Fourteen overs from the pair bought seven maidens and the remaining seven overs only going for a run each, a superb effort to make 135 look lightyears away for the visiting side. Stephens finished his eight overs with a wicket, while Armstrong’s six overs bought two and set the mood for the rest of the innings.

A.Riley was sticking it out well for the visitors but after tearing a muscle on the first run of their innings and seemed to have found some support when Sufyaan arrived to the wicket at seven and started giving some back the Health bowlers in the middle overs. Fantastic fielding throughout the innings though from all in the Health lineup culminated in Sufyaan being run out after great work from D.Preece in the field and a sharp take and bail crashing from wicketkeeper Mac.

With wickets falling and the target getting further and further away, bad balls needed to be put away and even some good ones. Almost faultless spells by another partnership, the spin kings of JB and Josh Butler made sure there was hardly a bad ball to be punished, both bowlers kept tight lines and lengths, drawing panicked shots from batsmen in need of runs. Buttler finishing with 2 wickets and just 14 runs conceaded while JP finished with 4 wickets for 26 and potentially becoming the first Elf player in history to bowl a no ball on a hattrick delivery.

If JP’s hattrick ball was an anticlimax, his last ball surely wasn’t, crowning the innings and the game with a superb ball clean bowling the stubborn Riley for 27 and Springhill were all out for 100, a 35 run win for the Elf and richly deserved for some yard hards in the field by all. Carter Park may not quite be Buckingham Palace but the Elf will want to turn it into a fortress going into what plans to be an exciting 2023 season for the club. The next game for the Elf is away at Lapworth and we promise no more royal puns. 

William Lauchlan


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