v Lichfield Nomads…12th August 2012

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Lichfield Nomads beat Walsall Health by 78 runs.

 

Congratulations from Chairman Keith Stanley.

September 13th 2020….The venue, Betley CC. A gentleman by the name of Pete Gardner, opened the batting for the team he has made over 600 appearances for, and scores 72. A pretty standard day at the office for the man we all know as “Gards”….or so you would think. But it was this innings of 72 that took one of our longest serving opponents beyond the milestone of 20,000 runs for his club Lichfield Nomads. Quite simply an amazing achievement.

Aftab. Looking full of ideas on how to get Gards out.

Since 2003, many Walsall Health players have seen Pete Gardner walk to the crease to face a variety of new ball bowlers. Nicholls, Jacob, Stephens, Hall, Oliver, Slym, Dunn to name but a few. After nearly 20 years, I’m still not sure we have really figured out how to bowl at him. We still hear the standard cliche’s of…. “We need to get this bloke early” or cries from the slip cordon…. “Full and Straight Jonty, Full and straight” All the usual puzzling dialogue us bowlers tend to ignore, when a good batsman takes his guard.

But as a celebration of Pete’s achievement, this archive match report remembers the game in 2012 played at Whittington between Nomads and The Elf. No need to refer to the dictionary for a superlative for this game, because in simple terms, it was a game where Pete Gardner hammered us.

Here is a list of the players for both sides…

Nomads…. P.Gardner. M.Heslington. L.Westwood. D.Moss. M.Pinfield. N.George. I.Hughes. K.Collins. P. Blackburn. G.Blackburn. J.Hoddy.

WHCC….A.Gorton. D.Preece. S.Stephens. K.Stanley. M.Danks. D.Pickering. R.Fell. D.Stephens. D.Atkins. A.Smith. C.Hall

Anyone fancy a game of cricket?

Now some of you Hawk Eyes, will spot the names Stanley and Pickering amongst the Elf line up. Club Captain at that time, Richard Fell would tell you all about this particular era. Most weeks, it was a struggle to get 11 players. For this particular game, following 76 voicemails, and 109 texts, Fell heroically managed to round up 9 by Friday. A Saturday recruitment drive using a Battlebus and a megaphone was planned, until the Nomads kindly offered us 2 of their own players. Reflecting the spirit of Sunday friendly cricket and the collective ethos of both clubs to get the game on.

A spot of early afternoon rain, meant the game was reduced to 35 overs per side. Nomads won the toss and elected to bat, unleashing Pete Gardner into the game nice and early. Now there is no need for a forensic analysis of this innings. Remember those pearls of wisdom about Gardner, and getting him early? Well on this day, we didn’t. Dan Moss 31. Mark Heslington 17 and N.George 28 not out, all played the able deputy role. But the Governor of this game was Gards, who finished on 118 not out. A classic innings, which included many customary late cuts, with anything dropping short getting punished. On this day, P.Gardner was simply too good. 98 runs were scored in the final 8 overs, taking the Nomads total to 240-4. A big target for a 35 over innings.

After a steady start to our reply, Gort 30 (top score) and Dave Preece 18…..we glanced at the scoreboard after 20 overs….75-3. I think its safe to say, we were slightly behind the run rate. One of those situations, where the Captain thinks to himself, the wheels haven’t completely fallen off, but the gearbox, clutch, windscreen wipers and suspension are all buggered.

It was left to Dave Stephens and Richard Fell to take us to a bit of scoreboard respectability. Dave 51 not out and Fell 19 not out, leaving us with a final score of 162-6…….78 runs short of the Nomads total who were well deserving winners. Pete Gardner’s 118 not out was the highlight of the game, and one of many times he posted a three figure score for his team.

The Gardner Factfile v WHCC

Following a browse through our scorebooks, Gards has amassed 754 runs over 25 matches. Including four 50’s and a century at an average of 31.41.

20,000? You cannot be serious!

But this is really just the tip of the iceberg…..20,000 runs for the Nomads. Which includes 124….50’s and 21….100’s, a highest individual score of 156 not out, and more club records than a HMV Megastore. No more words are needed after that, except a big Congratulations to Pete from everyone at Walsall Health CC.

Well batted Gards. (See you next season)

Written by Chris Hall.

 

 

 

V Alrewas A (20/09/20)

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Alrewas CC beat Walsall Health CC by 21 runs.

We had all been praying for good weather to grace this special fixture against Alrewas, so when we all arrived to clear blue skies, the omens felt in place for a fantastic day of Sunday friendly cricket. With over 20 years of Elf experience in the bank, Richard Fell was nominated to skipper a side blessed with a mixture of legends, youth, and a few players somewhere in between the two….I’ll leave it to all you players to figure out which category you fit into.

The Alrewas skipper offered us the option of bat or bowl first. Fell had no hesitation in going down the “Classic” WHCC route…”We will have a bowl, and throw the ball around” was the response to a really sporting gesture from the opposition. The 2 D’s, opened proceedings. Dave Stephens and Dan Dunn. But in a 35 over contest, the Alrewas openers, Burns and Scott got off to a flier on a quick outfield. With the first 50 runs coming quite quickly, it was time for the Captain to unleash the brains trust of our slip cordon on the game.

Gary Reeves (Legendary wicket keeper) Rick Jarrams (Specialist 1st slip) and Dai Preece (Expert 2nd slip)…. So I was reliably informed by the Doc, that a combined age of 200 years were present in the “Nick off” area. Their reactions might not be quite what they were, but what a job they all did. Just to add to all this nostalgia, it was John Nicholls who got us our first breakthrough. In his own words….a perfectly executed slower ball, which he was really really pleased with. And guess who bowled the only maiden of the entire innings? Jonty. Taking him to within four of that magic 400 total….78-1

With Jonty on fire at the pavillion end, Captain Fell nominated this moment to bring on an old bowling partner of our Maiden Machine…..Frank Jacob. We all watched in awe, as Sonic the Hedgehog (an old Franky nickname) casually strolled onto the pitch after an 8 year sabbatical from all forms of cricket, to land his first ball on the spot. Standing at mid on, all I could hear as Franky ran in (Well, ambled in) were screams of “I haven’t bowled for 8 years you know” Frank completed his first over, and did what Frank always did….went off to field wherever he liked.

.Frank. Read the riot act to Chally.

After a quick drinks break, a few wickets started to tumble. Chris Hall removing Burns for 48, then Lingwood for 4. Courtesy of catches from Chucky and Nathan Martin. But then a howler of a dropped catch off his own bowling, prompted Frank Jacob to dish out a bit of the Hairdryer treatment to his old team mate…..”Get angry! And steam in!” were Frank’s exact words. A chastised Chally took the bait, clean bowling Williams for 13. Cheers Frank…..160-4

Nath, better than a five-for.

Nathan Martin came into the attack, to join in the fun. The Friar Park Express started really well, until his 3rd over. The classy Tringham, reverse swept Nath for a couple of boundaries. There were rumours of a back injury, and the lad suddenly seemed a bit distracted. There was concern all round, was Nath ok? We need not have worried. That momentary lapse in concentration was down to the Mr Whippy Van arriving on the club car park. You know that feeling when one pitches on leg, then hits off stump? I think it was that level of euphoria. That elusive 99 would be waiting for the elated N.Martin at tea.

 

The final 5 overs were shared between the two J’S….Josh and JP. With Josh completely baffling Rowland in the flight, stumped by the quick hands of the Doc for 34. The G.Reeves had really warmed to the task, moving your back foot out of the crease at this stage, not really a wise move. JP twirled away at the other end, but was out of luck on this occasion, bowling most of his spell against the very good Alrewas 1st teamer, Cole. Who will get another mention later on in the report. The Alrewas innings closed on 234-6.

After the tea break we began our chase. But shortly after the resumption, the game was paused for a very special moment. Alrewas gathered both teams together, for a presentation. The speech was a thankyou to all the people who put in the hard yards to help make Alrewas CC run smoothly, and a celebration that through such a tough year, cricket was played with great success at a club who were fantastic hosts yesterday. I think the WHCC guys would agree with what was said in the speech….”He would hate the attention, and wouldn’t agree with the decision”…….

Alrewas Clubman of The Year……Andie Oliver…….Well done mate.

Andie Oliver. Alrewas Clubman.

In typical Andie O fashion, we were told to get back out there and play some cricket. Ian Chuck had certainly listened to the instructions, looking in great touch before being caught for an aggressive 39. Dan Armstrong was unlucky to pick out one of their strongest fielders, caught on the long off boundary for 4. Maybe Dan was a bit unsettled after taking one in the rib cage off one of the Alrewas female players? The Bodyline type hostility worked because she got him out, much to the amusement of Greg Philpott and the Club Pro, Dan Dunn…..62-2

Armstong had been peppered up before being snaffled in the deep.

At this point, Dan Dunn was joined by the in form Nathan Reeves. This week, Nath had selected 5:23pm for his tee off time, and once again, we were entertained by some brilliant maverick ball striking. 19 off 16 balls, including 3 fours, well batted Nath. At the other end, the Club Pro, who was looking well set on 13, got one of the balls of the day. Full, straight, right in the blockhole, a tough one to keep out.

Rick and Doc. Late contenders.

With the score at 96-4, we really had waited long enough. Gary Reeves and Rick Jarrams were both padded up and ready for action. Sadly, neither of these club legends managed to get off the mark. Doc got a good ball and was caught at slip, followed by Rick who was bowled by Williams. Now there was some light hearted chat about duck trophies after the game. Would we really be that harsh?

While all the carnage was happening, Dave Preece was calmly going about his business. Dave Stephens proved to be a very able partner, blasting a quick 21, taking us to 159-7. Captain, Rich Fell was unlucky to be run out for 3 trying to keep us up with the scoring rate. Then Jonty departed for a French cricket style 6…….173-9

They sometimes say you save the best until last. So as Frank Jacob (who had borrowed Docs gloves and pads) strode out to bat, hopes were high of a resurrection. It wasn’t long before Dave Preece became engaged in a few…Yes, No, Wait Frank calling. I reckon it took 3 balls for the….”Remember the game Frank ran out 4 players in a Cup semi final” story to be told. Blissfully unaware of the hysterics on the boundary, Frank and Dave Preece edged us ever closer to the Alrewas target of 234. The brave effort finally ended after Frank was bowled for 5. A 10th wkt partnership of 40, with Dave ending the game unbeaten on a superb 60. WHCC 213 all out to conclude a memorable days cricket.

Quote of the day…..

This has to go to Josh Butler.…..as mentioned earlier, near the end of the Alrewas innings, Josh picked up the wicket of Rowland. Realising his supreme effort meant that the rather decent Alrewas 1st team batsman, Cole was now walking out to bat. He just looked like one of those batsmen you just know is going to smack you everywhere if he wants too. With 5 balls remaining in the Butler over, Josh made the shrewd observation….”Well at least he can only hit me for 30″……Brilliant

Spectators update…..

The game was once again really well supported. Nicka was one of the first men on the scene, armed with a King Size bag of Wotsits. The Preece family, Bob Plant, Greg, Sam and Jade with young son Sebastian, who was noted taking a walk around the boundary, already planning to take his Dad’s coveted Number 3 position in the batting order in a few years time. I think its safe to say that the generous offer on at the bar of £1 for a beer was really appreciated by all the players and spectators who came to Alrewas.

Milestone update…..

It has to be mentioned that this game saw an extremely unique achievement for 5 of our longest serving players. (Left to right) John Nicolls, Rick Jarrams, Gary Reeves, Frank Jacob and Andy Gorton . Maybe Enid Blyton should write a book about our very own “Famous Five” becoming the only WHCC players to have played in all 5 decades since the reformation in 1987. Well done lads

The Famous Five.

Now I asked the Captain Richard Fell to say a few words about yesterday, so here he is with his own take on the day…..

“It was an absolute honour and pleasure to Captain the team packed with people I’ve grown up with, people who I admire, and people who I look up to. The Health has been a huge part of my life, and will be, as long as it continues. The values the club were founded on were on full display at Alrewas, smiles on faces, everyone taking part. A lot of people who were there yesterday, not only taught me how to play cricket, but how to be a man. Long Live the Elf”

There was quite a lot to write about today, but what a game to finish our 2020 season. Great venue. Great hosts. I had a good chat with Andie, we spoke about a few things, but I’d like to close the season and the final report with something I mentioned to him, that he wasn’t aware of. A photo…..The very first game since the reformation in May 1987. Chasing just 50 runs to win…..look who faced the first ball, then steered us home.

Winter well lads

Written by Chris Hall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

v Aldridge CC (A) 13/09/2020

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Aldridge CC beat Walsall Health CC by 90 runs.

On a glorious September afternoon, The Elf returned to their home of many years, to play a strong Aldridge XI on their top pitch. Skipper Alex Nunns won the toss, and elected to give his bowlers the use of the new ball. Recalling that the pitch was usually a nice track for batting, but wanted to give the bowlers the best opportunity to take a few early wickets.

Dave Stephens and Dan Armstrong opened up, with 2 solid spells. Dave struck twice with figures of 2-46. You might think this is a tad expensive for Dave, but the outfield was like an ice rink, so anything that beat the ring usually ended up somewhere over the rope. It was a tough 8 over spell, up the slope, during the hottest part of the day, so well bowled Dave.

Dan Armstrong had no luck at all, being the recipient of a few drops from Josh Butler, who endured a torrid first 10 overs fielding at point. Don’t worry Josh, we’ve all had those sort of games when 

Josh. Caught superb...on the way to the game

Josh. Caught superb…on the way to the game

nothing sticks. Your exploits weren’t in vain though, as a SERIOUS contender for quote of the season emerged. I casually mentioned to Dave Stephens that the Butler route to Aldridge had involved 3 buses. To which Dave replied…”At least he caught them then”….brilliant…..(Big hand to Josh though, who had a tricky journey, gave his all, and helped out with the scoring. You really can’t ask for anything more from a team mate)

It was now time for the Friar Park Express, Nathan Martin to arrive at Aldridge Central for his first bowl of the season. Although Nath did admit he felt more like Severn Valley Steam after a lockdown diet of ale and cheesecake. The class is still there though, Nathan bowled a good spell, getting that familar Martin inswing, earning him a deserved wicket, courtesy of the John Nicholls bucket hands.

It was tough going out there, as the Handsaker brothers continued to score quite freely. Chris Hall bowled Jack for 56, while Josh was unlucky not to pick up a wicket from the other end with his mystery spin. So with the Aldridge score approaching 200, Skipper Alex turned to Mark Reynolds and JP……It proved to be a wise move, as Mark, playing in only his second game for The Elf, took the prize wicket of George Handsaker for 104, with the help of Dan Armstrong who took a fine catch. Dan keeping his cool in front of a boisterous crowd on the boundary. Good hands.

Meanwhile, Rob Steadman was teeing off at the other end. Stedders employed the “Strictly” approach, with plenty of dancing down the track, trying to hit JP to all four corners. But as ever, it was JP who got his man, caught behind by Gort for 65. The King of Spain went on to post the best figures of the day, 3-30. Well bowled.

See ya Nath.

Aldridge finished their innings on 286-8, a good total. But it was Nathan Martin who couldn’t contain his disappointment, not at the Aldridge score though. Earlier in the innings, the eagle eye of our Website Master had spotted “Serial Athletes” Nicka and Dan Dunn, strolling around the boundary, demolishing 2 ice creams. “I’ll get me one of those at tea” Was Nath’s confident prediction. Sadly though, it was not to be. The dream was shattered in the 39th over, as Nath spotted the Mr Whippy Van disappearing over the horizon, back in the direction of Walsall. You will rarely see any man so gutted.

After plenty of rehydration, our innings began…..And what a start it was. It was great to see Dan Armstrong returning to his best form. After scoring a 50 at Rushall the previous day, Dan’s eye was clearly in. Aldridge were silenced, as Dan blasted 20 runs off the first over, including a massive six. His attacking strokeplay didn’t end there. Dan continued to pummel boundaries, as the Aldridge fielders spent the first 12 overs chasing leather.

The blistering Armstrong 50 came after just 32 balls…..By now, you should all know what happens next. I must have heard this question 33 times in the space of 2 minutes….”Is that the fastest ever 50 Chally?” “Is it? Is it?” Repeat. Repeat….Well after checking the scorebook…. Dan you will like this, I can confirm it is the fastest 50. Another record smashed for Danny Arm, to add to his fastest 100 last year against Lapworth.

To be fair, the whole Elf innings was built around Dan. Everyone chipped in, Gort was happy just to stay there as his opening partner, to share in an opening stand of 80. Alex Nunns, still looking in good touch, couldn’t quite get the ball over mid on, and was caught for 14. Mark Reynolds hit his first boundary before being bowled for 4. So with the score at 125-3, Nathan Reeves came to the crease, and in typical Reeves fashion, tee’d off from Ball 1. It was a superb cameo from Nathan. The second highest score of our innings (16) and passed 500 career runs for the Elf, to the delight of all his team mates and spectators.

Armstrong. The Man is back.

 

As the light started to fade, Dan Armstrong was approaching a well deserved century. But on 93 (off 72 balls) Dan was bowled by the off spinner Patel. It was an innings which had entertained everyone, 17 fours and a six tells its own story. Its well worth a mention, that Dan put any disappointment behind him, coming straight back out to do a stint of umpiring for the team. Top effort.

 

 

By now, conditions were getting a bit like the famous Test Match in Karachi in 2000. But our very own Graham Thorpe and Nasser Hussain, came in the guise of Nathan Martin (9 not out) and Josh Butler (7 not out) who made sure Aldridge didn’t bowl us out, as we finished our innings on 196-8, to complete a really enjoyable game of cricket.

Spectators and Stats update……

I don’t think I can ever recall so many people coming over to support the team yesterday, it made for a great atmosphere. Richard Fell stepped up to umpire some of the second innings, which was much appreciated and gave the players a bit of time to rest after a long stint in the field…. Thanks again to everyone who came along. The stats questions have descended into farce again, for some reason yesterday, everyone wanted to know how many runs they had scored compared to John Nicholls…work that one out. Dai Preece informed a perplexed Mark Reynolds, that he now only needed 581 runs to overtake Mr DNB.

Fielding update….

I couldn’t not mention our fielding. Hot Day, fast outfield, step forward the Skipper Alex Nunns. A top class effort, from Alex, taking a good catch, saving several boundaries, and so nearly pulling off the catch of the season. Plucking a missile out of the air at mid on, diving one handed, one of those they either stick or they don’t. Jonty ran around the field like a teenager, while Nathan Reeves produced his standard whole hearted effort, chasing everything down that came his way.

Shock of the Day….

Dai Preece applauded one of our players hitting a boundary, and didn’t call out “Shot Tom”…..Wow

The Verdict

A really good hard fought game of cricket, against a strong side. Well Captained by Alex, who led by example in the field, and got everyone into the game at some point. Smiles all round. Back in the day, we would have called that one an honourable draw… The final word and a big thanks goes to Aldridge CC who brought us all a drink after the game, for the donation we made to their club earlier in the year. 10/10

Written by Chris Hall

5 minutes after the end of play.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Highcroft & Great Barr v WHCC…31st July 2011

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Highcroft and Great Barr v Walsall Health CC….31st July 2011.

Looking back through the records, our games with Highcroft were never easy. We didn’t beat them very often, both home or away. They always seemed to have a couple of really good players who could take the game away from us. I recall in one particular game at the Colosseum, they brought along a classy Warwickshire “Colt”….J.Thomason, who went on to play County Cricket. He hit a chanceless 50, and looked set for a huge score, until JP took a brilliant caught and bowled to get him out…remember that one?

In 2012, once again at the Colosseum, they hit a daunting score of 255. We were all but gone at 145-7, until Rob Hewlitt playing in one of his first games for the Elf, hit 108. Sharing in a partnership of 86 with Richard Fell, which took us to 231-7, before running out of overs. Their bowlers weren’t too bad either, especially at their place. They would generally have one real quickie, who had a run up that started from the sightscreen, which had some of our batsmen taking their guard from square leg. They were just one of those teams, always nearly, but not quite, in terms of beating them. You just felt, to achieve a win over Highcroft, something really special was required, a brilliant individual performance, a great partnership, or a flawless team effort. Well on the final day of July 2011, it was one of these 3 exploits that created one of the most unlikely comebacks in the Club’s history.

The team for this game…..Andy Gorton. David Preece. Sam Stephens. Nathan Reeves. Mike Sayers. Tim Oliver. Rick Jarrams. JP. Chris Hall. Nic Slym. Dave Stephens (Capt)

Dave Stephens was our skipper for this game, and to be quite honest, for the whole of the Highcroft innings, it felt like just another Highcroft match where we were always on the back foot. Tabaash. Tez, and Lampard all hit 50’s despite us bowling well. It was Lampard who was overheard by a few of us, saying he had “only played to have a decent net” This comment didn’t go down too well, and set the tone that the Highcroft lads didn’t think we had enough to trouble them. They completed their 40 overs on 199-1, maybe expecting this total was more than enough. To make the situation worse, Skipper Dave Stephens, picked up a bad calf strain in the field, limped off to tea, and reluctantly said he would “bat at 11 if needed”…….please remember this DS comment, because it becomes quite significant in a few more paragraphs.

Maybe Highcroft knew something we didn’t. Because our reply didn’t start too well. After a bright start from Gort 19 and David Preece 17, we collapsed from 41-0 to 75-5. Sam Stephens, Nathan Reeves and Mike Sayers all joining our two openers back in the hutch. Dave Stephens, hobbled over to his kit bag, sensing it might not be too long before he was needed to pad up.

Dave, Injured hero.

Dave’s premonition was delayed for a while. One of our finest all rounders, Tim Oliver, and fellow legend, Rick Jarrams used all their experience to steady the ship. Sharing in a partnership of 51 to take us to 125-5. It had been hard work though. The run rate had continued to climb, so finally the pressure told. Tim was bowled by Shazad for a defiant 30. Followed by Rick for 10. The wheels had fallen off for a second time, as JP and Nic Slym were both beaten by the now rampant Highcroft attack. That score of 125-5 folded to 130-9……We could have conceded there and then. Captain Dave was injured. So there were a few murmurs of “Save yourself for next week Dave, its not worth it” But Dave has never been a player to shirk the issue, and walked out to join Chris Hall to assess the seemingly hopeless situation.

The situation was quite simple really…..

70 runs to win off 36 balls

1 wicket remaining

Required run rate 11.66

Throw in the fact half the team believed Dave should be batting with a runner, or not batting at all. It didn’t look very promising. After a quick conference, I can only tell this story as I remember it. We genuinely believed we could still win the game. The plan was to play a few shots, keep running to a minimum, enjoy it, and see where it took us.

The plan seemed to be working. 16 runs came from the 34th over, reducing the target to 54 off 30 balls. But the next 4 overs weren’t quite as profitable. With 6…7…6…and 6 runs being scored. Highcroft weren’t really the type of team who took their foot off the gas, and had kept their strongest bowlers on at full tilt. The equation now stood at 171-8….29 runs off 12 balls. Still a very tall order. From memory, we had said if we were still there at the start of the 39th over, just go for it. I definitely recall saying to Gort, who was umpiring, “I wish we had 1 more over to get these” It looked like it was going to be yet another….Nearly but not quite against Highcroft.

All I can recall from the next over was a flurry of boundaries. Dave was seeing the ball really well by now, and the Highcroft team became rattled. What was that comment about coming to have a net? The short boundary on the leg side got hammered with 17 runs coming to take us to 188-9….leaving us 12 to win off the final over. The whole feeling of the game had suddenly changed, it was going to be one of those overs which isn’t easy to watch. Every ball seemed to take 5 minutes, which added to the tension, because the Highcroft skipper was trying to get the field right. 30 minutes ago, their team had 1 and 7/8ths of their feet in the bar. It was a different story now though.

Myself and Dave only really spoke at the end of each over, a quick fist pump, phrases like keep going, and general words of encouragement to each other. I remember pointing over to Sam Stephens, telling him to make sure the scoreboard was correct after every delivery. The first ball of the final over Dave calmly decided to block, much to the amazement of his son Sam. We just nodded at each other, still plenty of time to get these….12 off 5. Two boundaries and two singles each somehow took us to the final ball of the match needing two runs to win. After 79.5 overs of an 80 over match, it all came down to the final ball. And it was Dave Stephens, the Captain, who had the responsibility of the whole game on his shoulders.

It was as tense a finish to a game as I can remember. When you have fought back from so far behind in any game, you just want to finish the job for all your team mates. The final delivery pitched right in the slot for Dave to middle straight down the ground, all I can remember is the sound of the ball smashing into the metal fence down at long leg for four, with the Highcroft fielder, Chandler diving desperately to save it….but failing. The scenes that followed were priceless, at no point did we ever look like winning that game until the final over and the final ball.

Speaking to Dave recently, he summed it all up by saying… “It was probably the most thrilling and satisfying game I had ever played in. I’ll never forget that feeling of winning from that position, and doing it with a good mate, and watched by my son Sam, was the icing on the cake”

Post game scenes were a bit like this.

My own abiding memory is walking into the porta cabin changing rooms to sit down and calm down on my own for 5 mins. Only to be greeted by Tim Oliver, wearing that familiar grin of his. He simply smiled, and said “Well batted” Now when Tim said something like that, you knew you hadn’t done too badly.

Fines Commitee was quite lively, as you would expect it to be, after a game like that. And I’m sure everyone remembers the Thatchers Gold that was on tap that evening. It was served like a Slush puppy version, and tasted like Nectar. I think about 30 pints of it disappeared in double quick time. Dan Armstrong, our very own Cider connoisseur would have loved it. The only gutted party had to be Club Captain, Richard Fell, who had popped over to watch the game. The memory of this one is a bit

Fell. Missed all the drama.

hazy, but I seem to remember Fell leaving….(To go home and cook dinner) when the 9th wicket was taken, and the game looked all but over. I think he might just have got hammered in fines the following week…..Unlucky Trig.

But it was simply just a great game to be involved in, at a time where we didn’t have a huge pool of players to pick from, and reflected the Never Say Die spirit of the club… Great memories.

 

 

Written by Chris Hall

2020 Tim Oliver Memorial Game.

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2020 Tim Oliver Memorial Game….Rushall v Walsall Health

After the uncertainties of the past few months, it was great that we were all able to play in the annual match between Rushall and Walsall Health in Tim’s memory. Both clubs were a huge part of Tim’s cricketing life, so despite a cluster of heavy showers, in the early stages, we still managed to complete a fun game of cricket. With a good mixture of young players, plenty of Tim’s friends, team mates, and brother Andie taking part in the day.

It was decided that the match should be a 40 over contest, with the option of the batsmen being able to “go back in for a second knock” should either team be bowled out before the end of their innings. The Club Pro, Dan Dunn (and Rushall’s skipper for the day) won the toss and decided the overcast conditions and damp pitch were perfect for his army of seam bowlers. It looked a wise choice, because the Elf struggled throughout their innings to gain momentum.

The list of contenders for the 2020 Dan Duck award is growing nicely, with Greg, Nathan Reeves, DS and Nicka all joining the list of players tied on 1 duck for the season. The best quack of the day, had to go to Greg Philpott. Promoted to the lofty heights of No3, Greg shouldered arms to a Dan Dunn inswinger, only to see his leg stump flattened, (yes, really his leg stump) much to the amusement of young Dan. It was a bit like the comic strip version of Simon Jones to Michael Clarke, Ashes 2005. Superb.

Alex Nunns joins the 1,000 run club

Without a doubt, the highlight of the Elf innings, was from the in form Alex Nunns, who calmly scored the 25 runs he needed to reach his first 1,000 for W.H.C.C. Well batted Alex. There were some nice cameo’s from Rob Hewlitt, and Richard Fell, who both pummeled a few boundaries, to get our score over 100. Rob was lucky to avoid decapitation, after a Leo Chuck bouncer fizzed past his nose. Fell’s dismissal by Warren Foster, was one of those head scratchers, where you just turn around and think, how has that just clipped his leg stump?

A spot of French cricket then graced the RCG, courtesy of Jonty. The Nicholls willow making a rare appearance, to deny John his 138th DNB. Dave Stephens got one that simply didn’t bounce, (unlucky Dave) JP enjoyed himself with a nudge and nurdle masterclass. Tom Davies was all aggression with a lovely cover drive. Then Andy Gorton and Nathan Reeves both returned for a brief second knock, Gort smashing a couple of fours, and Nath getting off the mark for the season, taking us to a final score of 119. Not a bad effort, with the rain interruptions against some decent bowling.

Its fair to say that the Rushall innings faced “A bit of everything” from the Elf’s bowling attack. With a maximum of 6 overs per bowler, Captain Rob threw the ball around the team. DS bowled his customary tight opening spell. Jonty continued his good form, with a lovely controlled spell of 1-22. Including 2 more maidens, which takes John to 395, moving ever closer to a club first of 400.

Nicka. Mission Complete

But the man on a mission, was Nicka, who shrewdly decided to switch allegiances for the day. Two weeks ago at Peopleton, The Club Pro, Dan had taken a narrow lead over his Dad for career Elf wkts. Never a man to be upstaged, Nicka, the Master of swing and seam completed a blistering spell of 5 overs 2 maidens 2-10, to regain the advantage in the family title race. The highlight, trapping Dan Armstrong for 22. Always true to his word, Nicka had promised to walk off the pitch the moment he overtook his son, and that’s exactly what he did, with team mate Gary Reeves handing over a nice cool Cobra to celebrate a classic family stitch up, and a job well done.

Sorry Dan, it has to be done…..

Nicka Dunn….205 overs   49 maidens   36 wkts

Dan Dunn…….161 overs   30 maidens   35 wkts

Scenes from the last time Fell dropped a catch.

The Boston Strangler Josh Butler, Tom Davies and JP all had nice spells of twirlers. While Richard Fell, still trying to fathom out how Warren Foster got him out, and seething from an extremely rare occurence of dropping a catch, took part in a moment that is surely a first for the club….Two nextdoor neighbours batting and bowling against each other (in both innings too!!) Chris Hall came on up the travelator, after a village moment, of warming up with the umpire Dan Armstrong, and enjoyed a good contest with young Smith, who was the only batsman on either side to reach a half century on the day, well batted

It was at this point, that Ian Chuck arrived at the ground, chirping a few words of wisdom to the Rushall batsmen. Strange one that, considering he only made 6 against Penkridge the day before. But full credit to Chuck for a brilliant impression of Phil Mitchell, please explain to us Chucky, why you were trying to carry 7 bottles of beer on your lap of the boundary? Rushall reached their victory target fairly comfortably, but the innings continued for the full 40 overs to make sure everyone had a bat. This enabled a second clash of the generations between Nicka and Dan Dunn. Everyone smiled as the usually composed Club Pro Dan, tried to heave his Dad halfway to Pelsall Common, but could only hit fresh air on this occasion. We’ll call this one an entertaining draw.

The game concluded, with good mates, Greg and Leo having another mini battle. Leo, fuelled up with about 15 bottles of IPA, hit Greg back over his head for 4, then selflessly shouldered arms to a Philpott straight one, to get his good pal into the wkts column for the day. A really fitting way to complete the game. A deserved win for the Rushall lads, playing the game in a good spirit to retain the Tim Oliver Trophy.  Everyone got involved at some point, and it was good just to be out there enjoying some cricket and remembering a much missed friend and team mate….Tim Oliver.

Plenty of Timmy O stories in the bar after the game, but it was Richard Fell’s account of the time he plucked up the courage, (or stitched up) to award Tim the WHCC Duck trophy, that gained the most likes. For those who don’t know, this was at the time when Tim was in hospital, recovering from a serious car accident. A young R.Fell was cherry picked by the WHCC Committee, to walk where no other man dared to walk. Not exactly the traditional grapes or magazines that a patient in hospital usually receives to cheer them up, but as ever, Tim took it in good spirit.

 

In memory of Hansa, Tim’s loving wife, who sadly passed away recently.

 

Written by Chris Hall.

 

 

Astons of Didcot v Walsall Health CC (13th July 2010)

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Astons of Didcot v Walsall Health CC……13th July 2010.

The annual trip to Didcot, in deepest Oxfordshire was a fixture that was always eagerly anticipated by the WHCC faithfuls throughout the early years of the 21st Century. It was a fair way to travel for a Sunday friendly, but the hosts were always welcoming, and for some reason, memorable moments on the field occurred frequently. Tim Henman, whose house overlooked the ground, regularly witnessed the annual drama that this fixture produced. This particular game was no different…..

The XI who travelled to play The Astons on this day were… Richard Fell (Capt) Andy Gorton, Sam Stephens, Nathan Reeves, Chris Hall, Tim Oliver, Dave Stephens, JP, Nic Slym, Adam Smith and Neeraj. Club Captain Richard Fell, lost the toss and informed his top order they were batting. Maybe the skipper didn’t stress this point clear enough, because for the first hour of the innings, batting was replaced by blocking, playing and missing. In all fairness, the Didcot pitch was never easy to score on, the home team always seemed to have “inside knowledge” on how to exploit the slope, which made the modern day travelator at Rushall look like the Somerset Levels.

Opening bowler, Larry Gray, who at the time was employed as Tim Henman’s chauffeur, was always a thorn in the Elfs side. A clever exponent of the pitch, and tricky to get away. Gort, Fell, and Sam Stephens struggled to score, all perishing before making the impact on the game they had hoped for. Chris Hall, now at the crease, looked at the scoreboard, 35-3 didn’t make pleasant reading. After a dominant Didcot first hour, Nathan Reeves walked out to the middle to join Chally…. The whole course of the game was about to change.

The advice to Nath from the Captain, was to try and hang around if you can. We’re in a spot of bother here, play yourself in for a bit, support Chally, play sensibly. Hmmmm. Somehow, I don’t think Nathan agreed with his skipper, because after just 2 balls of… “playing himself in” launched the first six of the game into the field over deep square leg. There were still some forlorn shouts from the sidelines of ….”Head down now Nath” But what followed was one of the most attacking innings in Elf history. There were already signs Nath was in decent form with the bat. 7 days earlier, back at the Aldridge Colosseum, two passing cars were extremely fortunate not to get their windows smashed in when Nath pummelled successive sixes onto the road over the far side of the pitch.

Dave Stephens ball searching

Chris Hall, standing at the non strikers end, had the best seat in the house. As Nathan Reeves took Centre stage, and simply took the Didcot bowlers apart. Take a look at this run of scoring strokes. 6 4..1 4 4.4..6 4 4 4 4..6 6. Dot balls were suddenly facing extinction.  It was getting to the point where the only concern was game abandonment, due to Didcot running out of balls. It was an innings straight out of the Dan Armstrong textbook. Several times the ball disappeared over the trees into the adjacent field, and it was the sort of field, that if the ball went in there, you simply wasn’t finding it. Unless you enjoyed covering your whole body in stinging nettles,

Oh God, not my windows.

or had the survival skills of Bear Grylls. How Tim Henman’s windows survived the N.Reeves onslaught remains a mystery to this day. From a very precarious position of 35-3, Nathan’s fearless innings, easily one of the fastest 50’s in club history, had taken us to 120-5.

The Didcot skipper could only stand at mid on, scratching his head. One by one, every fielder was told to give themselves 10 yards, then 20, then 30, but it made no difference. If the laws of the game allowed all 10 fielders to stand in the neighbouring village of Aston Upthorpe, that may have been the only possible solution to contain the N.Reeves juggernaut.

Nobody who was lucky enough to be there that day, wanted the entertainment to end. But sadly, on 64 (off 35 balls) Nath was bowled by the left arm guile of Smith. His highest score for WHCC, and a complete game changer in the match. As Nathan walked off the pitch to a standing ovation, first on the scene was Captain Richard Fell, who thanked his player for following his instructions to the absolute letter……Tim Oliver (23) and Dave Stephens (10) continued the innings in a slightly more subtle fashion, but the two experienced campaigners made sure we had a target of over 150 to defend.

Sam Stephens record breaker

Now the teas here were always decent, and it was around this time that Sam Stephens and Richard Fell played out their weekly duel for the “Amount of Sandwiches eaten at tea World Record” From memory this was the day that Sam set the benchmark that still stands today at an astonishing 24. Admittedly, it was more of an away game for Fell, who’s speciality at the time was cakes. Fell said after the game, “If I had gone for 25, there wouldn’t have been any room left for a home made slice of coffee and walnut”  I did say memorable moments happened at this ground.

After Nathan’s heroics with the bat, we were all determined to secure the victory his innings deserved. And with a bowling line up of a fully fuelled Sam Stephens, his Dad Dave, Tim Oliver and Chris Hall, all eager to get the ball in their hands, the donations from this quartet were in short supply. With Sam steaming in to remove the top order for figures of 3-23, and Dave at the other end keeping it tight 7 overs 4 maidens 0-13 (unlucky)….Didcot were struggling for any momentum. Timmy O and Chally then came on to bowl in tandem, maintaining the stranglehold we had on the game. Tim with figures of 6 overs 3 maidens 1-10 and Chally 6 overs 4 maidens 3-15, pretty much got us over the line. Didcot surrendered at 90-8, well short of the 152 required runs.

It was another superb day out at Didcot, the journey home was a long one, but there was plenty of material to discuss about this game on the way back to the Midlands. 7 lost balls, destructive batting, the fastest 50, huge sixes, Henman’s windows, Sam v Food, it was another one of those days.

Walsall Health CC beat The Astons of Didcot by 62 runs

Man Of the Match….Nathan Reeves

Written by Chris Hall.

Batting

Bowling

v Peopleton (A) 09/08/2020

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Walsall Health 216-7 (40 overs) beat Peopleton CC 199 all out (37.5 overs)

The Elf travelled to Peopleton in good form after two very comfortable recent victories. However, the team were all too aware that this game would provide a far sterner test. Historically, Peopleton have always been tough opponents, a good all round team, aggressive in the batting department, with an accurate bowling attack. As everyone arrived at the picturesque ground, the sun broke through the clouds, cranking the temperature up to what felt like 30 degrees, this wasn’t going to be an easy game.

Returning skipper Rob Hewlitt lost the toss, but was happy to be put into bat. With the fast outfield, a total of 200 is the minimum requirement against these guys, so a good start was what we all hoped for, but the early departure of Gort, lbw for a duck, put the Elf on the back foot. Dan Armstrong looked in good touch as he always does, but was unlucky to play the ball onto his stumps for 25. Chief ship steadier David Preece walked to the crease with the score at 32-2, but was dismissed for the second duck of the day, leaving us in the precarious position of 42-3.

Amongst all this carnage, The wise man, Alex Nunns stayed calm. With the added incentive of starting the day just 75 runs short of his first 1,000 runs for the club. A promising partnership with Greg Philpott began to develop. Greg looking as good as we’ve seen him bat this season, was just starting to look well set before being bowled by Taynton for 14.

Shortly after Greg’s departure, Alex reached a well deserved half century, including six 4’s and a 6. His seventh 50 for the club, leaving him with just 25 runs to go to reach an Elf career 1,000. It was tough to score early on against some handy bowling with the new ball so this 50 deserves extra merit. Well batted Alex.

With the score now at 103-5, the Club Pro Dan Dunn, joined skipper Rob Hewlitt, who was already starting to accelerate the innings. The pair added 27 before Dan was bowled by Haaziq for 10….130-6. Chris Hall walked out to join Rob, with just 8 overs remaining, and it was starting to look like we would struggle to reach the 200 runs needed to be competitive. But Chally was in no mood to hang around, swiftly straight driving the Peopleton quickie, who had returned for a second spell, for 4. After a long spell on the sidelines, Chris confirmed that Rick Jarrams bat still has a fantastic middle. The tone was set for the partnership which put us right back in the contest. Rob Hewlitt smacked the ball to all four corners of the ground, reaching his 7th 50 for the club in quickfire time.

This entertaining stand of 78 off 7 overs finally came to an end when Rob was bowled by Tanner for 64. Leaving Dave Stephens to club 2 more boundaries off the remaining 3 balls, walking down the pitch to pummel the Peopleton Skippers final ball, for 4,…. one of the shots of the day. With Chris Hall left at the other end on 23 not out, the final tally for the Elf…216-7

After tea, Peopleton started their innings fluently, as they usually do. 44 runs were soon on the scoreboard, and the signs were starting to look ominous. Until Club Pro, Dan Dunn bowled Harrold for 14. Now most bowlers after hitting the stumps, will often come up with some sort of waffling analysis, usually old chestnuts like…that one just nipped in a touch, or I bowled that one cross seam. Not our Club Pro though, his response to this crucial breakthrough was simple…..I’m level with my Dad now (34 wkts each for WHCC) Superb stuff.

Peopleton continued to bat well, still scoring at a decent rate, despite some excellent Elf fielding.

JP – 80 wickets and counting.

Chris Hall came on, and tightened things up, getting another important breakthrough, Alex Billington caught behind by Gort for 26…..81-2. The opposition Skipper, Ben Tanner, was still looking dangerous, reaching a well made 50. At 106-2, Peopleton still looked in the driving seat. But then came one of the moments of the match, with the introduction of the King of Spain JP. Tanner hadn’t bargained for the guile and variety of our Premier spin bowler, and miscued his shot, into the hands of JP’s brother Dave. The catch was spectacular, and ensured this historic entry went into our scorebook….Caught D.Preece, Bowled J.Preece.

JP continued to cause problems for the next batsman, poaching his 2nd wkt of the day, caught by the safe hands of Rob. If it was possible for the JP smile to get any wider, it certainly did when informed by Chris Hall that this was his 80th wkt for the club. Well bowled.

Peopleton were now wobbling on 112-4. Now when an innings has stuttered, the last vision you would want to see, is the sight of Club legend John Nicholls warming up to bowl. Guess where his first ball landed? Yep, it was on the spot. Jonty and fellow legend Dave Stephens, who was returning for a second spell, started to turn the screw. Jonty picking up the wickets of Hamid (14) and Taynton (4)  with Dave dismissing Brooks, caught by Dan Armstrong for 11…..Peopleton 168-7

The home side hadn’t given up hope of winning this game, and with the fast outfield, the required run rate still hovering around 6.5 an over, the match still hung in the balance. 20 runs were added quickly, was the contest swinging back Peopleton’s way? Not if Club Pro Dan Dunn had anything to do with it. With the added incentive of overtaking his Dad, Nicka in the wkts column,  Dan steamed in to bowl the dangerous Morris for 24. Dan didn’t allow his concentration to wander, (a true hallmark of a Club Pro) producing a magical piece of fielding, in the 37th over, sprinting round to pick up the hard driven ball, and spearing in a laser throw to the non strikers end to run out Haaziq for 5. Peopleton 195-9.

After such heroics from the whole team, on a sweltering hot day, it was left to Chris Hall to take the final wicket, Michael Taynton, spooning one up in the air to the ever reliable hands of Greg Philpott at mid on, Peopleton 201 all out, for an exceptional WHCC 15 run victory.

Fielding update….You really have to field well on this ground. And there were some exceptional performances, from David Preece, Dan Dunn, Alex Nunns, Greg Philpott, the list goes on, these guys spent all afternoon, sprinting around the ground, saving runs, taking our fielding to a different level, it made all the difference in such a tight game. And what a highlight to see John Nicholls diving full stretch at third man, to save a certain boundary. It was that sort of game.

Dramatic post game scenes.

Wedding Ring update…..It couldn’t go without being mentioned could it? Alex Nunns, after a brilliant diving stop at mid on, soon realised his heroics had come with consequences. His treasured wedding ring was no longer on his finger. Don’t tell the ECB, but we decided to use any sanitiser breaks to look for Alex’s ring instead. It was looking pretty desperate, there was even talk of having to see if Insurance policies were still valid. Step forward Dave Stephens, using all his army experience. A post game search of military precision began. Even the cows in the neighbouring field were asked to join in. Thankfully it was our very own human metal detector, David Preece who found the missing ring to the relief of our Vice Captain. Well spotted Dave.

Dan Dunn, pleased with his days work.

 

The Dunn family update….

A big thank you to Nicka, for travelling over to score today. Well worth the trip as he got to witness a changing of the family Guard…lets make it official.

Dan Dunn      161 overs   30 mdns   35 wkts    18.42 ave

Nicka Dunn   200 overs   47 mdns   34 wkts    15.05 ave

 

 

The Verdict….A superb game of cricket, a hard fought, hard earned win. All 11 players contributed, with the quick rotation of the bowlers by the Captain proving to be extremely effective, in the hot conditions. A win against Peopleton on their home ground doesn’t happen very often, so enjoy this one boys.

Written by Chris Hall

Batting

Bowling

W.H.C.C. v Lapworth

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Walsall Health beat Lapworth by 141 runs.

Our final home game of the 2019 season proved to be a memorable one. A fine all round team effort, more records than a HMV Clearance store, and 3 outstanding individual performances to talk about.

After a close inspection of the pitch by the Chuck brothers, it was decided to leave the heavy roller redundant this week. So we bid farewell to Gorts best friend for a well deserved winter break. Captain Chuck had no hesitation in opting to bat first, but was unfortunate to get a brute of a delivery which feathered his glove to the keeper. As is always the WHCC way, Chucky walked off without waiting for any umpires decision.

So it was left to brother Leo, and Club Pro, Dan Dunn to steady the ship. Leo proved to be the Master of strike rotation, keeping the scoreboard ticking over nicely. While Dan Dunn hit one of the nicest drives you will see all season, through mid off for four. Check any textbook, for an explanation. From 11-1, the two lads shared a useful 59 partnership, before umpire John Nicholls entered pondering mode, finally giving Leo out lbw for 22. Dan Dunn could be seen at the non-strikers end, finishing his copy of War and Peace while Jonty made up his mind. Later in the day, Leo asked me…”Is that the first 22 I’ve ever scored for the club” The stats questions really are getting out of hand boys.

With 16 overs gone, it was time for the Two Dan’s to join forces. Bonfire Night was about to start two months early. Dan Dunn was the first to reach his debut 50 for the club, with another nice straight drive. When Dan was out for 65, which contained ten 4’s, the Club Pro walked off to a deserved round of applause, and a pat on the back from proud Dad Nicka. A Two Dan’s partnership of 122, in quickfire time. I sense the first of many.

With the score at 192-3, the next few overs belonged to Dan Armstrong. Could he achieve his maiden century? After peppering all four corners of the boundary, he had already raced into the 80’s, with this sequence of scoring strokes…6,1,4,4,1,4,4,6,6. In amongst all this carnage, Dan drove the ball back to the bowler, who deflected it onto the stumps to run out the backing up Rob Hewlitt. Very very unlucky Rob. Followed by Rich Fell getting an unplayable low shooter. Very very unlucky Rich.

Mr Not Out, Tom Davies joined Dan, who was now in the 90’s. In true Armstrong style, Dan moved from 96 to 100 with a trademark boundary to long on. The two men hugged it out, while the applause lasted nearly as long as it took Jonty to give that lbw. The fireworks continued as Dan blasted 3 more sixes to move to 118 before finally being bowled. A superb knock that was appreciated by everyone. Our Centurion also moved past the 300 runs mark for the season. And even passed his driving test first time, earlier in the week.

Dan Armstrong’s work had given us an outside chance of breaking a club record that has stood for 21 years, The highest team score of 276-1 was looking vulnerable. With the score on 261-8 with 6 balls remaining, Tom Davies and Chris Hall decided to go all out to make history. Sadly, it was not to be. As Chally going for a big heave was bowled, which brought about an interesting development. JP strolled out to the crease and played like he had been transported to Old Trafford to bat with Jack Leach. JP played one of the best rearguard innings you will ever see. Why play like this you may ask? Look up these two words in the dictionary….Duck Avoidance…Its all been noted JP…Innings closed at 261-8.

Chasing down such a big score was a big ask for Lapworth. But they did come out with the right intent, hitting a few early boundaries. However, it was now time for the spotlight to shine on Dave Stephens. Three quick wickets tumbled, all to Dave. That elusive five-for was starting to look on. With the Lapworth score at 44-3, and Dave in his 7th over, time was starting to run out. DS kept dropping it on the spot, like he has done all season, and got his reward, taking 3 more wickets in 6 balls, to finish with figures of 8 overs 4 maidens 6-20…Career best figures, for the Chairman of the Bowlers Union, and yet another highlight of a great game. Bowling Dave.

Lapworth were now out of the game at 65-7, so it was left to the finishers, JP, Jonty and Tom Davies. JP picking up two wickets up the travelator with some flight and guile, as Tom Davies steamed in down the hill, desperate for an opportunity to unleash a Stuart Broad style lbw appeal. Tom’s 4 overs only conceded 2 runs, stinging the gloves of Rich Fell a few times. Those battle ropes in the gym helping to crank up the Davies mph. But it was left to The Icon, John Nicholls, to wrap the game up. Check these figures out….5 overs 3 maidens 2-16. Classical J.Nicholls figures, still going strong after 30 plus years at the club…..Lapworth 120 all out.

Fielding update….Did you really think I would forget our fielding? Outstanding work today, Dan Dunn, ice cool, setting the tone, taking a steepler. Chris Hall and Tom Davies taking one each, Rich Fell taking a sharp chance with the gloves that we all enjoyed, and Rob Hewlitt taking another beauty to add to the collection. Add in the works of Leo Chuck, throwing himself around to save runs, and its a 10/10 performance

 

 

Dave and the Two Dan’s, X-Factor winners 2019.

D.Armstrong v S.Stephens fastest century update….

A tricky one to judge, but a few pieces of evidence suggest Dan has taken the record, hitting eleven 4’s and eight 6’s. (Eight 6’s in one innings is most definitely a first.) Only 39 scoring strokes just shows what a brutal innings this was.

Overs spent at the crease…Dan 22.4  Sam…33 overs.  It looks like its yours Dan.

Travelator update…..8-2 to the Travelator this week. Maybe not such a bad end after all?

Fines update….The wheels came off in fines, with expletives flying around everywhere. It felt more like a scene from a Gordon Ramsey kitchen than a WHCC fines committee. We really should have waited for the 9 O’Clock watershed. At least the PU Kitty got a cash injection.

Stats questions update….You just wouldn’t believe some of the enquiries I’m hearing.

How many maidens has Jonty bowled? How many ducks have I had this season? When was the last time i scored 9? Has anyone ever taken a wicket at 4:17pm? How many cheese cobs did I eat at Lapworth in 2013? What colour bat handle did I have in 1993? How many games have we played when the temperature was 21 degrees? But the best genuine poser came from Dan Armstrong, who politely asked….What did my Wagon Wheel look like? Did he mean the chocolate biscuit?

D.Armstrong's favourite.

D.Armstrong’s favourite.

The Verdict….Our final home game of the season turned out to be one of the best. A superb victory, well Captained by I.J.Chuck, with some outstanding career best performances. A great way to end our first season at Rushall CC. A big thankyou has to go to Nicka, who has played a big part in preparing the pitches through the season, its a lot of extra work behind the scenes. Without this sort of help, none of all this would be possible. He even came to the rescue last week, delivering an emergency supply of Sensations for everyone to demolish in fines. Top man…. Another 10/10

Chris Hall

 

 

 

Knowle Village v W.H.C.C. 24/08/19

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Well batted Chucky.

W.H.C.C. Beat Knowle by 71 runs. At last, some nice weather to play cricket. Our first visit to Knowle Village since the 2012 season proved to be a memorable game for a certain I.J.Chuck. Batting first on a nice deck, it was Chuck who soon re-discovered the form we have seen over the last few seasons. No more of this across the line rubbish, it was all straight in the V, with several sweetly timed drives through mid off and mid on. The back to basics approach paid dividends, with Chucky compiling a score of 129 not out, out of a total of 210-2. With sixteen 4’s and two 6’s. His 8th century for the club, (a new record) and his own highest score. At one point, Stu Pollitt’s club record score of 144 not out, looked in grave danger. However, it was a pretty hot day, with not much air, so the tiring Chuck’s run rate did slow down a bit towards the end of his innings. Just to bat the full 40 overs in those conditions was an achievement. Well batted Chucky.

Time for tea, and the first mid game shower of the season, taken by an exhausted Chuck, followed by ten pints of water. Meanwhile, brother Leo decided to choose the lager option…Village. With everyone fully rehydrated, we began our defence of 210. Fielding can be overlooked sometimes, but for the first 15 overs, the whole team were exceptional. After Dave Stephens made the first breakthrough, bowling Shough for nought, some sensational catches were taken. The two words sensational and catches seem to marry well together when you mention the name Greg Philpott. Fielding at mid on, Greg took another screamer to get rid of Tamplin for 2. If you want to know exactly what it was like then You tube….Jonty Rhodes catch v England, World Cup 1999. It was on a par with this. Another superb catch to add to the Philpott portfolio. Leo Chuck and David Preece joined the party, with two nice grabs either side of the wicket. Followed by the dependable hands of Rob Hewlitt, diving full stretch forward, just before the ball was about to kiss the turf to take his 51st catch, to begin the second half of his quest for 100 catches. Combine all these top efforts together, and Knowle found themselves gone at 37-5. Effectively ending the game as a contest. It could easily have been a different story, because after checking up on Knowle’s Play Cricket site, their top five batsmen were certainly no mugs with the bat according to their stats. We did tire a little in the conditions, apart from the returning David Preece, who still has that cheetah like speed across the ground, and laser like arm. A big compliment must go to the Knowle No3, 12 years of age, scoring a really nice 73. But wickets still came at regular intervals, including one for “The Icon” John Nicholls. Followed by another brilliant catch at long off, this time, thanks to the works of Leo Chuck, capping a fine day for everyone in the field. So it was left to Dave Stephens to wrap things up, taking the last two wickets in successive balls to leave DS on a Hat-trick….Can it really happen again? Lets hope so, as Dave has been in such good form with the ball this year, picking up his second 4-for of the season.

Ben Stokes update….I couldn’t not mention the man who provided the whole country with one of the all time great sporting moments. Those final few overs of the Test Match ran alongside Chuck’s quest for Stu Pollitt’s record. I’ll leave you to figure out which got more attention.

Multi Tasking update…This has to go to Rob Hewlitt, who showed tremendous skills to score for the full 40 overs, work the electronic scoreboard, and follow the action at Headingley. Not an easy mission, but thanks again to Rob for dropping himself down the order to score.

Merv Hughes update….We seem to have an imposter in the team. Anybody who wasn’t there might just see an encore on Sunday.

Sad Postscript….A sad piece of news to end the report. Mickey Evans of Highwood Park CC passed away this week. Mick played against us many times over the years. He was one of those old school cricketers, good bloke, a very good bowler…. one of those “hard to get away” type bowlers. Mick absolutely loved his cricket, like all of us, and was a loyal servant to HPCC. So from all of us, RIP Mick.

Chris Hall

Peopleton v Walsall Health….15/05/2011

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Peopleton, a lovely village in Worcestershire, where we started to visit back in 2009. Usually a ground where plenty of runs are scored. Many a time, that red leather ball has introduced itself to the cows in the field over the far side of the pitch. But not on this day… The 2011 edition will be remembered for one outstanding bowling performance, from a legendary player, to win us a game we had been behind in from the very first ball.

The side who travelled that day in batting order…Steve Hartshorne. Dave Stephens (still opening the batting in those days) Sam Stephens. Nathan Reeves. Rich Fell (Capt) Tim Oliver. Nic Slym. Dave Atkins. John Nicholls. Chris Hall and John Hinton, arrived to conditions recorded in the scorebook as dull and damp. The home side won the toss, and had no hesitation in taking the new ball.

It soon became apparent, that these were not easy conditions to bat in. Dave, Sam and Nathan Reeves were all out for single figure scores. 12-3 wasn’t the best of starts. So when Captain Rich Fell joined opener Steve Hartshorne, the two men dug in. Plenty of dot balls followed, the two batsmen grinding out runs in the testing conditions. Steve was finally bowled by Holton for 16. An innings that lasted 1 hour 22 mins. But it was important for someone to hold the innings together which Steve was always such a Master of.

When Rich Fell was caught for another gritty 19 in 57 mins, followed by Nic Slym (7) suffering from a bout of vertigo after being asked to bat at the dizzy heights of No7. We found ourselves facing a score below 100. Dave Atkins being run out for 0 added to our tales of woe. The score of 77-7 didn’t exactly feel a lucky one, as Chris Hall walked out to join Tim Oliver, still with 12 overs remaining.

Captain Fell, always thinking, made a smart move to do a stint of umpiring. This gave him the opportunity to chat to the two batsmen at the crease….Get us to 120, its not easy out here, was the message. Tim, with that familiar smile, understood exactly what was needed, having been in this type of situation so many times before, calmly going about his business. Playing straight in the V, finding the gaps, picking up four boundaries to reach 33 not out. With Chris Hall just happy to stay out there with Tim, the two men shared a priceless unbeaten partnership of 46 to get us up to 123-7 off 40 overs. The game felt back on.

After tea was taken, Peopleton seemed intent on chasing down a low score quickly. After a few early boundaries, Chris Hall and Sam Stephens made the breakthrough, reducing the home side to 20-2, effectively 20-3, as they only had 10 players. For the first time in the match, WHCC were in the box seat. A first scent of victory didn’t last long as Peopleton continued to play aggressively. Stickler (47) and Holtom (12) advanced their score to 85-3….Just 39 to win, 7 wkts in hand, and loads of time.

It was at this point in the match where the man who had rescued our batting was thrown the ball. After a couple of calf stretches, and three looseners to the fielder at mid on, Tim Oliver immediately trapped Holtom, lbw for 47. Maybe inspiring the young pretender, Sam Stephens, to pick up two more quick wickets in the final over of his own spell. Always a good reader of a game, Tim now sensed an unlikely victory. His second over proved to be the decisive one…A three wicket maiden….How often do we see one of those? It was one of those classic T.Oliver overs, relentlessly firing the ball into middle and leg stump, the Peopleton lower order had no answer, leaving  WHCC close to a memorable victory. Never a player to blink when he saw the finish line, it took Tim just three more balls to wrap up the Peopleton innings. Finishing with remarkable figures of 3.3 overs 2 maidens 5-1. One of many T.Oliver 5-fors in just 21 balls, to complete another match winning contribution.

The Epilogue…..

It wouldn’t have been noted at the time, but after a few calculations, Tim’s 5th wicket of this match winning spell was also his 350th for the club. In addition to over 5,000 runs, and plenty of catches. Tim also stands alone, with Rick Jarrams as the only two players to reach the milestone of 300 appearances. You can look through all the scorebooks and pick out any number of occasions when the name Tim Oliver appears, producing with either bat or ball to help win his team a game of cricket. I just picked this one out because I was lucky enough to be there. That spell, along with his rearguard innings earlier in the match, was defiant, determined and full of character. You would see a few players give up in that type of situation, or just not fancy the job, but giving up just wasn’t in Tim’s nature……

Great bowler..Yes. Great batsman..Yes. Great competitor..Yes. Great bloke..Yes.

Still missed by everyone…….Most definitely. Yes.