v Lapworth (A) 14/05/23


Walsall Health 119-9 off 40 lost.

Driving in past Lotus and Rolls Royce garages, the Walsall Health team knew they were far from Carter Park but still arrived for their first away game, not be rained off this season, against Lapworth in confident mood. Despite the sun being out and the tempreture threatening to be described as ‘short sleeve’ the pitch was still one matching the early season wet and cold, though the outfield was quick and dry. Captain Alex Nunns walked out bullish for the toss and came back sheepish to let the Health know the toss had been lost and they would be batting first. Say what you want about the captain but he’s certinatly not a massive tosser.

The boundaries square of the wicket were a huge carrot for all batsman, one being incredible close in and the other down a slope on a fast outfield but with the pitch still being green and difficult to judge, it was always going to be a tough wicket to get in on. With that in mind the two openers for the Elf, last week’s batting hero Dan Dunn and new Elf opener Tom Bentley began an unenviable task of adapting to the wicket and setting the Elf up with a strong start. Against tough opening bowling the two dug deep against tight bowling but the pressure soon told, with Lapworth having a superb start with their ground fielding Bentley tried to go over the top and was well held to be out for 6. Jack Stenson playing his first game for the season took up the mantle and tried to get the scoreboard moving, bravely advancing down the wicket to the bowlers but with the ball keeping low, even by Stenson’s standards, good timing carried on being elusive.

With the Elf advancing to 47-1 off 12, the batsman looked to be getting to grips with the surface but Lapworth bounced back removing the dangerous Dunn and could’ve had Stenson not long after but put down an easy chance in the deep. Mac came to the wicket to replace Dunn and soon dug in with him including timing a 6 beautifully over the short boundary. Lapworth came back again though and the pitch seemed to become even more unsettled with Stenson getting out for 24, one of the star players for the Elf last season their should be plenty more to come from him this season. This bought captain Alex Nunns to the crease, who was later outed as dropping himself to number 5 in the order to prevent an Elf tradition of middle order collapses. However rather buck the trend he started the collapse himself chipping back to the bowler for 3. Not to be outdone by his captain’s quick dismissal Lauchlan walked out next, in the brink of his own collapse trying to master the grounds electronic scorebard, and promptly walked back after a three ball duck.

The future is now.

Mac was still chipping away at the other end and with help from Rich Fell, another playing thier first game of the season helped lift the Elf to 119-9 off their 40 overs. The half time huddle for the Elf carried the same message as the week before that while the batsman had missed out on a few runs themselves with good bowling backed up strong fielding, the Elf could be confident with defending a total. Bouyed by their one man Western Terrace of Dai Preece (who’s one man Full Monty tribute at the half way point must be in the running for oddest moment of any season) the Elf got to work and the opening pairing, again like the week before got the team off to a great start. Opening bowler DS and Josh Butler had the Lapworth top 4 out for single figures and the Elf could sense blood in the water. DS in particular finally getting his rewards in the wickets column for consistantly putting the ball in all the right areas, the Elf Mainstay finishing with 3-17 off his 8 overs.

With how well the opening Elf bowlers always seem to start it’s probably the hardest job in the team to be first change because the batsman know that they have to catch up and soon batsman Tanveer and the Lapworth captain Turner soon put all the pressure right back on the change bowlers Jonty, Fell and John Preece. Playing a shot a ball and with help of the short boundarys square and massive boundaries down the ground the scoreboard soon began ticking. Soon Tanveer was gone though and the Elf had an end to work with.

The Elf chipped away at the open end but the saying of cricket being an individual team game rang true as the Lapworth team were steered home by Turner almost single handedly, the batsman finishing with a superb 68*, over half of the teams runs. In the end the Elf came up just short against the strength of one batsman having a blinding performance and timing every ball on a tough pitch. A couple of tough chances not taken by the Elf and one batsman ended up being the difference in an exciting contest. Strong contributions came from all bowlers with Fell taking 2 wickets and a wicket a piece for Butler and Jonty.

The two teams play again at Carter Park later in the season and the Elf will be hoping to make their own home advantage count then. Until then, the Elf are back at home this coming Sunday against a new opponent for the club in Romseley and Hunnington and will hope to make it 2 in 2 at home this season and fortunately without an electronic scoreboard in site.

William Lauchlan


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