v Birmingham Unicorns (A) 22/05/22


Walsall Health beat Birmingham Unicorns by 150 runs…..(At Lapworth)

For a change, lets do this review of our 4th win of the season in Player by Player order…(In batting order)

No1 Dan Armstrong…..They usually say save the best until last, but not this time. Dan Armstrong, now affectionately known as Dan “The Body” Armstrong, enjoyed another exceptional day at the office. If anyone is feeling generous, and wants to buy Dan a Christmas present, can we suggest asking Santa to gift wrap the Lapworth square? After turning up late, because he’d been fixing his girlfriends bed, Dan powered his way to another 50 with the bat, then became only the second bowler in Elf history to record back to back 5-wicket hauls. (John Nicholls achieved this feat back in 1998) Dan’s combined figures over the past two weeks read an eye watering 11 overs 4 maidens 10-20. A completely unique achievement, at the same away ground, but against different opposition. Really well done Dan….his face when the skipper said the words any good bowler dreads…”Have a blow” will live long in everyone’s memory.

No2 Ian Chuck…..How bizzare that by the 22nd May, Ian Chuck had yet to score a run this season. Since the first week in September 2021, the Chuck willow had been in a state of redundancy, still yearning for the 3 runs needed to become only the 4th player in the club’s history to score 4000 runs. It was a case of job done (finally) for Chucky. Although our opponents did think we had all gone slightly barmy for giving a standing ovation to a score of 3 not out. Well done Chuck, 4,000 runs at an average in excess of 50 is a tremendous achievement.

No3 Dan Dunn (Club Pro)….Dan Dunn was the unanimous winner of the inaugural “Nathan Martin, Bad day at the Office Award” There are many acute examples of personal misery during a game of cricket. Getting run out for a duck has got to be near the top of the tree. So lets discuss…. “The run”

Dan Dunn…he ain’t afraid of no ghosts.

The Club Pro walked with purpose to the crease, not entirely happy with Armstrong’s lethargic running between the wickets. “I’ll make him run” was Dan’s prediction. Always a man of his word, Double D hit a nice shot to the fielder at mid off, and set off like a scalded cat. However, there was a slight problem. Dan Armstrong at the non strikers end, was busy doing a good impersonation of a still-life model, with his bat super-glued to the crease. Strong Arm assured us all he called “No” which umpire Chris Hall can confirm. The only issue was, you would have only heard the call had you been in a library, or a participant in a sponsored silence. A shellshocked Dan Dunn was left high and dry. So the dreaded trudge off the pitch began, accompanied by the customary “What were you playing at?” backward glances to his former partner, followed by the traditional solitary lap of the boundary to work out the meaning of life, and a check on who was leading the Grand Prix. If Dan needed anything else rubbing into the wound, there was still plenty more salt kicking around. No catches for Dan this week, his first blank week of the season. Did not bowl. Even his high score at Pac Man (see photo) got toppled by Nathan Reeves just before the close of play…..Just three words spring to mind here….Thanks for coming.

No4 Nathan Reeves…..A quiet day for Nath which included a healthy discussion about what crisps are his current favourite. The first ball he faced got dispatched for four, before being bowled by Buckle for 7. Mini Doc didn’t see much of the ball in the field either, but was rock solid in keeping everyone up to date with the football scores. Nath also completed the perilous mission of hanging up the “ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK” sign, on our changing room door, just in case Dan Dunn was practicing a javelin technique with his bat.

No5 Alex Nunns (Captain)….Does this bloke Alex Nunns eat a cucumber for his breakfast every morning, because he’s certainly as cool as one. A composed third half century of the season, on a tricky pitch, was a real ship steadier. Another impressive Captain’s performance, and the catch of the day at third slip….think Gilchrist/Strauss Ashes 2005, it really was that good. Talking about the slips, it was a busy day for this area of the field. The Elf’s had some legendary slip cordons over the years, generally occupied by blokes who can’t move, see, or catch. But yesterday, our traditional weekly gathering of human sieves were replaced by the combination of Chuck, Hall and Nunns who took all three chances that flew off the edges of the Unicorns bats, which proved to be the pivotal stage of the game…..superb stuff.

No6 Mac Perager….Like so many others during the past two weeks, Mac perished to the slow and low pitch. The highlight of Mac’s game, an explosive burst of speed chasing a ball down to the third man boundary. This particular chase involved a fierce contest with a fellow team mate….Dan Armstrong. However, it was Mac who showed the superior pace, no photo finish required, it was a comfortable victory. Later in fines, Dan Dunn was quick to point out, that Mac was the second bloke aged over 60 this season, to have beaten Armstrong in a running race. We think the Club Pro might just have enjoyed pointing out this astonishing statistic.

No7 Andy Gorton….The club’s all time leading run scorer took charge of the gloves, taking two very sharp chances standing up to Dan Armstrong and JP, confirming the guillotine remains as sharp as Chuck’s razor. During a lively fines committee, Dai Preece observed that “It was great to have Andy back after not playing for ages” Clearly, Dai must live in a different time zone to the rest of us, seeing as Gort played against Peopleton just 3 weeks ago. But we concur with his sentiments wholeheartedly.

No8 Jack Lester…..One of the highlights of the day was Jack’s 40 not out, sharing in a match winning partnership of 89 with the skipper. Early nerves and a hangover were soon swept away, with Jack growing in confidence as the scoreboard ticked over. With a bit more time, a maiden 50 looked on the cards, but this was exactly what the club wants to see, new players getting involved and doing really well. Jack was even given a new nickname by Chucky…. “The Jester from Lester” even though he lives nowhere near the place. Well batted Jack.

No9 Dave Stephens….A tough old day for Dave, who bowled one of his best ever spells, conceding just 7 runs from his 8 overs. (One of the most economical returns since the 40 over format began) On the spot from his first ball to the last. You would have to consult Miss Marple to explain how DS didn’t take at least 3 or 4 wickets. Dave constantly bowled at the Unicorns left hander, who seemed intent on dropping anchor… (9 not out off 28 overs) It may be wise to avoid sending Dave a Youtube montage of Gower, Gilchrist and Ganguly’s best bits. Lets hope Alrewas have a few right handed batsmen on Sunday.

No 10 Chris Hall….The man who just plays for DNB’s these days. Chally chilled out on the bench with Dan Armstrong instead of getting padded up to bat, then steadily turned his arm over for 4 overs, picking up another wicket. There were early detections of steam coming out of ears, when Dan A dropped a catch off the metronomes bowling, but all was forgiven as Dan made no mistake when the next chance came along. Has anyone ever seen Chally bowl a wide deliberately? Well he did yesterday. Round the wicket, over the wicket, quicker balls, slower balls, a Shane Warne style amble up to the crease, anything to tempt the Unicorns left hander into playing a shot, but to no avail. What a party pooper aswell, taking the wicket JP needed to complete a 5 wicket haul. Were there any signs of regret or remorse after the match? Absolutely none…..still as single minded as ever.

No11 JP…..Its hard to recall a player who has ever been more prepared than JP. Historically, JP usually bats somewhere south of No 10. Maybe he just thinks our batting is rubbish, its the only explanation we can offer as the pads, gloves, thigh pad, box and helmet all went on, just before Dan and Chuck were taking their guards with our score on 0-0. Maybe we’re exaggerating a bit, but you get the picture.

Bowling wise, JP had a good game, picking up another four wickets, although Father Dai, assured everyone in fines, “From side on, it looked bloody awful” JP’s spell resembled a bag of Woolworths Pick n Mix….good balls, bad balls, moon balls, wide balls, even Ed Balls nearly qualified for the list. However all that counts is what goes in the book, just ask Dave Stephens what he would give for figures of 4-13 at the moment.

Dai Preece….said no to the Top Job.

Earlier in the day, after an emergency AGM, it was agreed that Dai should be appointed our new First Team Head Coach. The wage structure was simple….a lifelong free membership into the Dan Armstrong fan club. The news was greeted with delight, but sadly, our very own Brendon McCullum resigned from the position with immediate effect, after being told about his first three duties……

  1. Coach the Two Dan’s the art of the quick single.
  2. Teach Rick Jarrams how to play a forward defensive shot
  3. Tutor Dave Clive how to land the first ball of a spell on the pitch…..some jobs are just too difficult.

Another good win for the Elf, against new opponents, Birmingham Unicorns. It was great to see Nicka, Rick and Jonty pop along to support. It was El Presidente himself who originally sourced us the Lapworth venue. Over ten years later we are still playing at this lovely ground. It was also the first time Rick had ever seen the place he found for us all those years ago.

Jonty to Rick….I’ve bowled a few La La’s from that end.

The margin of victory doesn’t really reflect how the game went. Two passages of play were the defining moments of the match. The brilliant partnership of 89 between Alex and Jack after we had been in trouble at 107-6, followed by two quality opening spells from Dan Armstrong and Dave Stephens, backed up by an electrifying burst of slip catches we so rarely see at this level of the game. A great match, played in the right spirit. We look forward to hosting the Unicorns at Rushall later in the season

v Springhill (A) 12/09/21


Springhill beat WHCC by 79 runs.

I don’t recall an innings of a match report done by somebody who wasn’t even there to observe it, although it has been a season full of new records. But after arriving at the picturesque Springhill venue, it didn’t take too long to get a grasp of the match situation.

The last time Alex Nunns won a toss, colour television hadn’t been invented. To be precise, it was the first game of the season against Sportsman, way back on the 18th April. I think if the skipper ever decides to appear on Who Wants to be a Millionaire, our advice would be….don’t even bother taking your 50/50 lifeline. However, it has to be said, Alex has had a superb season as Captain. Settling into the role easily, leading us to plenty of memorable victories. But more importantly, keeping the atmosphere fun and light hearted, often sacrificing himself, in order to get everyone into the game. An extremely selfless Captain…..Thanks Alex, from everyone at WHCC.

Now after hearing the 1st innings analysis from various self appointed pundits…..”We were going really well until….” the “until” part being the key word here…… In other words, the Springhill No5 batsman, Safdar Matloob came in and hit a blistering 128, off 48 balls, including 13 sixes. This pretty much tells its own story. The sheep in the neighbouring field would have found an air raid shelter quite useful, as the ball was launched in their direction aplenty. After a good start from Father/Son duo, Sam (2-25) and Dave Stephens (1-24) who opened the bowling together for the first time in a while, and a luckless spell from Dan Armstrong, it was the innings of Safdar which turned the game in Springhill’s favour.

John Nicholls and Dave Clive picked up a wicket each, but it was JP, who must have arrived at the venue feeling very charitable …..delivering a spell of 3 overs 0-69…. Ouch!! The only thing missing here was a Just Giving page. On a small ground with a batsman well set, and seeing the ball so well, it wasn’t easy to contain the situation. Nathan Reeves produced yet another whole hearted effort in the field, which has been the story of his season, high energy and total commitment to saving runs from start to finish. The Chairman, Rick Jarrams, making his 306th appearance for WHCC, almost grabbed a great catch, taking a real stinger to the finger, which soon turned a shade of black and blue. Another big hand must go up for Rick here, stepping in at short notice to ensure we had 11 players for our final game of the season. Springhill concluded their innings at 275-5 off 35 overs.

Nathan Reeves….one of the 3 shots???

After tea was taken, Dan Armstrong and Gort began our response. Earlier in the day, Dan had predicted….”I’m going to hit a ton today” He definitely looked in the mood to deliver his promise, getting off the mark with a big 6. The opening partnership reached 54 until Gort was bowled by Arnold for 6, followed by Sam Stephens for 1 to the same bowler. At 56-2, and facing such a big total, Alex started really well, hitting some quality shots, with Dan continuing to plunder runs from the other end. But the key moment came, when Alex was caught at mid off for 24. The skippers dismissal brought Nathan Reeves to the crease, who had earlier told Sam Stephens that he now has three shots. I’d be a bit concerned if this comment got back to those people who formulate the Trade Descriptions Act. Nonetheless, Nath hit a lovely boundary, before being caught for 4.

With the score on 114-4, the run rate climbing, and the clouds looking blacker than Rick’s finger, the Springhill Specialist, Andy Mcklay joined Dan Armstrong for his first knock of the season. Andy, who had already taken a good catch earlier in the day, batted really well, sharing in an entertaining partnership of 75 with Dan. This proved to be exactly the support Dan needed, as he closed in on making good his century prediction. As he reached 95, a nice leg glance for 4 inched Dan to within one run of three figures. But by now, the light meters were coming out, and the rain was falling quite heavily. But to everyone’s relief, a misfield at cover led to a quick single, giving Dan a very well deserved 3rd century of the season, which included 5 sixes and 14 fours. This was a historic moment. The first time anyone has ever hit three hundreds in one season for the club. A brilliant effort again. After finally being bowled for 113, Dan walked off the pitch smiling more than Emma Raducanu. I think he might just have enjoyed his day.

Dan Armstrong….100 X 3. Big hand

Our innings concluded on 196-5. Well short of the required target, but with Andy Mcklay staying deservedly unbeaten on 11 not out, and Dave Clive, who picked up a nice red inker, to finish off a really good first season for DC. Well batted lads.

The final fines committee of the season was a strange one. Most people took a shine to throwing 20 quid into the pot. Now I know the pandemic has caused most prices to go up, but this was ridiculous. John Nicholls was all smiles, after being told he had picked up his 141st DNB. After a quick calculation, Jonty made everyone aware….”So that is 10 seasons where I haven’t had a bat” We all said farewell to the 2021 season, leaving Gort with the real head scratcher of finding 18 quid change for 90% of yesterdays XI. Best of luck Andy…..HSBC opens at 9am mate.

v Lapworth (H) 05/09/21


WHCC beat Lapworth by 4 wkts

The final home game of the 2021 season took place in lovely sunny conditions, and it proved to be another great contest with our friends from Lapworth CC. Before we start, a big hand must go to Nicka, and everyone at Rushall for helping us enjoy another great season at Carter Park. Thanks lads, its very much appreciated.

The first landmark moment occured before a ball had even been bowled, as our youngest ever Captain, Dan Dunn, led his team out to field for the first time in his WHCC career. Lapworth started briskly, but the new skipper kept a cool head, making a few early field changes, which proved the catalyst for the first important wicket of the day. Ellis Rose, who was already looking dangerous on 21, hit a skier to Richard Fell who was fielding out in the deep. With everyone aware that if this chance was taken, Fell would join Rick Jarrams in becoming only the second player in the club’s history to take 100 catches. There was plenty of thinking time, but to be honest, like so many of his other 99 catches, it never really looked in doubt. Despite admitting to a few morning nerves, and not wanting “Catch 100” to descend from the sky with snow on the ball, it was still taken with clinical ease for the historic century.

Rich Fell. Mission Accomplished.

Now as a WHCC bowler, when that red ball goes up in the air, there are certain fielders where you may aswell just trudge back to your mark for the next ball, cursing your luck and muttering a few after the 9 0 clock watershed remarks, unless they ever change the laws of cricket to allow…..caught Green Grass bowled Nicholls/Oliver/Stephens etc as a legal dismissal. But then there have been other fielders like Rich Fell who you just automatically think, yeah he’s got that. And pretty much every single time, you would be proved right. Big hand for all the years of consistency in the most under-rated part of the game.

This memorable first poach proved to be the start of The Elf taking control of the game. The next few wickets fell at regular intervals, with Dave Stephens taking 4-29, including a great yorker to bowl Dickson for 22. Dave said afterwards “He just loves playing Lapworth at Rushall” Not surprising really, when you consider his figures for the last 2 games against them stand at….16 overs 6 mdns 49-10. Well bowled Dave.

Dan Dunn did a good job in rotating his bowlers to keep Lapworth on their toes. Richard Fell, still on a high from his milestone moment, bowled well to despatch Williams for 17. Greg Philpott and Dave Clive picked up one wicket each. We had the annual caught D.Preece bowled J.Preece moment. While John Nicholls had one of those “How did that miss” days. Although Jonty came so close to taking a diving caught and bowled effort, from just the second ball of his spell. Prompting Dave Stephens to go all X-Factor on us, breaking out into a rendition of “There’s a Hole in my Buckets” As all the hilarity died down, we all retired to tea, contemplating a Lapworth total of 174-8.

The Club Pro decided to unleash experienced campaigners, Ian Chuck and David Preece to get us off to a good start. But thanks to a spectacular catch at slip by Tanveer, DP departed for 4. Skipper Dan Dunn, decided to place himself in that key position of No3, and worked hard to get himself in against some decent Lapworth bowling, but was given out lbw for 7. With our score at 53-2, and both Preece and Dunn back in the hutch, the contest was evenly poised.

Andy Carrick. Brilliant comeback.

Andy Carrick walked out to the middle to join Chucky. Now on one of the last occasion’s we saw Andy, it was over at Aldridge’s top pitch against Sportsman. That game was more like an episode of Holby City than a Sunday Friendly. Ambulances and paramedics on the pitch, after a nasty dislocation to the Carrick shoulder. So there was a collective wish amongst the team for Andy to do well. His partnership with Chuck began promisingly. Chuck registered his 24th fifty for WHCC, to move to outright 2nd on the all time list of half century makers, but perished a few balls later for 52. Just 3 runs short of reaching 4,000 runs for the club with just one game remaining in 2021. I think Chucky might just be “available” next Sunday.

Suddenly, from a commanding position of 95-2, Nathan Reeves and Greg Philpott joined Chucky in the pavillion, leaving us wobbling on 108-5. Dave Clive looked in good form, until being caught on the boundary….131-6. This match was fluctuating as much as the current Test series. However, losing a few partners didn’t seem to affect Andy Carrick’s concentration. Andy looked rock solid from the first ball of his innings. Rotating the strike well, and hitting some really nice boundaries, which included a lovely late cut for 4, to take us past 150. Meanwhile, David Preece, decided to show off his multi tasking skills, taking charge of scoring duty, whilst applying for the role of WHCC poet laureate….

“If Andy Carrick stays in. The Elf will win”…..was David’s opinion of the match situation

Tim Fell gearing up for Fell v Fell.

We now had a storm brewing….it was time for T.Fell (bowler) v R.Fell (batsman). And it proved to be the decisive moment in the game. R.Fell went after T.Fell, hitting four boundaries, there were overthrows too, it all got a bit ragged in the field, as we closed in on the victory target of 175. With Andy Carrick on 48 not out, just 2 more runs were needed to wrap up victory. But sadly, the winning runs were conceded with four byes, robbing Andy of a well deserved maiden 50 for the club. A great comeback game for AC, calm, composed, chanceless. Well batted mate. The unbeaten partnership of 45 with Fell just what the Doctor (or paramedic) ordered, when the game was still in the balance.

Fines Committee was chaired by the man with a 100% win record Dan Dunn, and there were some interesting observations.

Dai Preece expressed his concern about the whereabouts of our Director of Matchday Photography, Lizzie. It seems Lizzie has gone all Eastenders on us, last seen disappearing in the back of a black cab 3 months ago, or in her case, a black Renault Clio. But like most characters, the door has been left open for a comeback. Lizzie’s Key Lime Pie tastes far too nice to be completely written out of the Elf Soap Opera

Now poor old Alex Nunns said to me a while ago, he was disappointed he didn’t win the bails award last season. Well he might just get a second shot at the title. There seemed to be confusion about the selection of a player, who didn’t know he’d been selected, and isn’t even on the Elf Whatsapp group. Now last time i checked, Rushall talisman… Andy Clayton or AC, didn’t look much like Andy Carrick. There were several comments throughout our innings….”Andy Clayton is batting really well today” It confused Dan Armstrong so much, he had to go for another lie down. And if you check Lapworth’s scorebook, Andy Carrick is Andy Caddick according to them. Even I’m puzzled now.

Dave Stephens, happy with a return to the wickets column had a puzzled look on his face, before posing the question. How do we ever lose when we have Josh Butler and Andy Caddick at the club?

Dan Dunn endured that really awkward moment. How much shall i fine my Dad? Sadly, the Club Pro took the standard 2 quid option, after Nicka gave him the stare, then announcing….”Remember who is taking you, and picking you up from the airport next week” Talking about Nicka, our Pringles Champion had a busy afternoon, cutting the football pitch over the far side of the ground. Nicka was still toiling away as the game was about to finish, enabling David Preece to join the contenders for quote of the season…..

“I didn’t realise they made motability scooters that big” (All in good spirit)

Well played everyone.

C. Hall

v Poppy Fields (H) 01/08/21


Poppy Fields beat Walsall Health CC by 4 wkts

Another new fixture for the 2021 season, saw Poppy Fields arrive at Rushall for the first time. A very well supported club, with plenty of friends, family and pets in attendance, including a very fleet of foot black labrador who saved a well timed Ian Chuck drive from reaching the long off boundary, much to the amusement of our Matchday photographer Lizzie.

Captain for the day Chuck, won the toss and elected to bat, throwing debutant, Tom Bentley straight into the spotlight, with last weeks Centurion, the Club Pro, Dan Dunn. From ball one, Poppy Fields kept things very tight, bowling a good line and length, making it difficult for our batsmen to establish any momentum. After Dan Dunn departed for 10, Dan Armstrong and Tom Bentley steadily took our score past 50, in the 17th over.

The young leg spinner, Brotherton, bowled extremely well. Tying Dan Armstrong up in more knots than a cub scouts tea party, finally getting his man, caught and bowled for 33. From this point onwards, wickets fell steadily. Tom Bentley (14) Nathan Reeves (4) and the second debutant of the day Abz Hayat (8) were all back in the pavillion with our score on 88-5. But that cunning Saffa, Ian Chuck, had cleverly put himself and Gort down the order, for a counter attack, with the thought of giving everyone a game also in his thoughts. Gorts 23 off 25 balls, moved our team score into three figures, before perishing to a caught and bowled effort from Parks.

With one half of the “Steady the Ship” duo gone, the responsibility rested on Chucks shoulders to carry his bat and marshall the tail through to 40 overs. Dave Stephens hit a handy 21. Josh Butler looked rock solid until being well caught at short cover. But it was the returning Chris Hall, who caused some hilarity amongst the galleries, particularly DS and Gort. Batting at number 11, and confronted with facing the final ball of the 38th over. Chally, not really in any position to be running quick singles, insisted before walking out to bat….”I’ll just block it and Chuck can do the rest” It was a rather curious attempt at a block, with the ball fizzing off Rick Jarrams bat for four. Predictably, it was mentioned in fines. The skipper finished on a well made 37 not out, closing our innings on 172-9. The general consensus being, if Poppy Fields batted as well as they bowled, it was going to be a tight contest.

Well the WHCC brains trust got it spot on. Poppy Fields started their innings strongly, and its fair to say we were always on the back foot. Dave Stephens bowled his usual tidy spell, picking up a 2-for. Chucky had a luckless 4 over opening salvo (which included a first ball that went for 7) as did first change, Dan Armstrong, who cut Hayhurst in half with a jaffa. One of those “how did that miss moments” Back in travelator territory, Chris Hall, not really looking much like Chris Hall, bowled 8 very slow, steady and controlled overs picking up a wicket to move just one behind Tim Oliver’s all time club record, thanks to the ultra safe hands of Dan Dunn.

Dai Preece…interesting post match analysis.

But to be honest, the “Main Event of the Day” was developing at the other end of the pitch. JP, who began proceedings on 97 wickets for WHCC, moved onto 98, courtesy of Gorts nifty glovework. Although later on in fines comittee, Dai Preece, a man who never minces his words, described the ball as “absolute rubbish” (that’s the parental guidance version) Number 99 soon followed, thanks to Chucky, who really was in no mood to be dropping important catches. So after years of toil and 110% effort, the door was now wide open for a historic moment. As Poppy Fields No6 batsman, Hadley misjudged the JP flight, the ball was in the air. Once again, it was Captain Chuck who sprinted in from the boundary like a man possessed to take a very good catch, giving a true club legend the moment he deserved. He has been called all sorts of names in the scorebook over the years…J.Breeze, J.Priest are the two that spring to mind, but lets be in no doubt, it was J.Preece who became only the 11th member of the 100 wkts club on Sunday 1st August 2021.

The King of Spain #100wkts

After all the on pitch celebrations ended, Poppy Fields closed the game out for a well deserved 4 wicket win. A great bunch of lads, who bowled, batted and fielded just that little bit better than us. But the result was immaterial. After the customary handshakes, a well deserved Guard of Honour was given to JP as he walked off the pitch. The career figures say it all…..

JP….355 Overs 15 maidens 2052 runs 100 wkts 20.52 ave 6-35 career best.

Big Hand JP.

Chris Hall

v Yoxall CC 25/04/21


Walsall Health beat Yoxall by 9 wkts.

It was nice to visit Yoxall again, for the first time since the 2012 season. Always a lovely welcoming ground….so lovely in fact, it encouraged Rob Hewlitt to be punctual for the first time in 100 appearances as suggested in a lively fines committee. Making his debut on 19th August 2012 against Highwood Park, Rob joins a list of 18 players to complete 100 games for WHCC. Well done Rob.

Rob Hewlitt #100 games

Skipper Alex Nunns lost the toss, so Yoxall elected to have a bat. Not a bad toss to lose, as it soon became apparent that the deck wasn’t exactly a batsman’s paradise. Nathan Martin and Dan Armstrong opened the bowling, both men producing high quality spells. It feels like Dan Armstrong’s favourite Sunday pastime is breaking records (more on that later) After last weeks 104, Dan steamed in to wreak havoc amongst the Yoxall top order. Clean bowling Tom Reynolds with an absolute peach for 3, with the first ball of his spell. Dan then removed Gale and Turner for ducks to leave Yoxall struggling on 4-3. With the shine on the new ball, Dan was pretty much unplayable at times, so the left handed opener Gareth Lewis did really well to survive, whilst others perished around him. Nathan Martin had one of those days, bowling really well for no reward, and i think its only fair we hold a minutes silence for his water bottle, which had absolutely no chance of surviving the violent beating dished out to it on the fine leg boundary.

JP. Tonight he’s gonna party like its…..

Its fair to say Yoxall never recovered from their bad start. Chris Hall came on at first change, to team up with Dan for combined figures of 16 overs 9 maidens 7-15. The pitch didn’t get much easier to bat on, with bad balls in very short supply. JP, who had already displayed tremendous courage, turning up dressed as the pink panther, entered into the action. Two more wkts were deposited into the bank on his road to 100, clean bowling Asghar 0, then dismissing Maczkowski 7, courtesy of the safe hands of Nathan Martin. Josh Butler, who had fielded really well, then came on to wrap the Yoxall innings up. Taking his 10th wkt for the club, with Rob Hewlitt poaching another dolly land snaffle to mark his 100th appearance. Gort deservedly gets the final mention, keeping on that pitch wasn’t easy. Taking a sharp blow on the grill, plus 2 excellent catches summed up a solid all round effort…..Yoxall 87 all out.

The WHCC Guv’nors, Rick Jarrams and John Nicholls had strolled around the boundary enjoying the game. It really shouldn’t surprise anyone that Jonty made full use of the nets over the far side of the pitch, in preparation for his return at Lapworth on the 16th May.

After tea, we set about the chase of a tricky low total. But it didn’t take Dan Armstrong long to remove any doubt about the result with a quickfire 29 off 20 balls. As mentioned earlier, it was another day of milestones for D.Arm, taking his 50th wkt, and scoring his 1,000th run in the same game. At the age of just 20 years and 343 days, by far the youngest WHCC player to achieve this feat.

Meanwhile, Ian Chuck who announced his only priority for the day was a red inker, stood firm to finish on 31 not out. Quietly negotiating a path past his 3,500th run for WHCC, still at average in excess of 50. A superb effort from Chuck, who also raised a few eyebrows at tea, with a masterful display of carb loading to rival Sam Stephens’s 27 sandwiches at Didcot in 2009. Talking of red inkers. Skipper, Alex Nunns 11* joined Chuck to take us over the line, to maintain his 100% record. Another strong all round team effort, played in a positive spirit against our friendly Yoxall hosts. So friendly in fact, that Greg Philpott and Dan Armstrong kindly offered to help out with a spot of early evening ground maintenance. Greg, who earlier in the day, had shrewdly offered to wear all the bowlers jumpers to combat the chilly wind, suggested a solid hour of heavy rolling. #spiritofcricket. I get the feeling the Yoxall square will play nice and flat next weekend.

Greg and Dan. Selfless gesture.

See you at Much Wenlock.


Batting Scorecard
Bowling Scorecard

v Sportsman 18/04/21


Walsall Health beat Sportsman by 8 wkts.

Welcome back everyone to the WHCC 2021 season…..

On arrival at the RCG, and after a quick assessment of players and spectators, its fair to say that if Rushall ever fancied an upgrade on their heavy roller, a few people at yesterday’s game would comfortably fit the job criteria. One man who had no chance of making the first interview stage was new skipper Alex Nunns, who won the toss and elected to bowl. Rushall’s pitch and outfield looked in excellent shape. A lot of time and effort has gone into this over the last few weeks/months, so a big hand to all the lads at Rushall and the Elf who have put the hard yards in.

The Sportsman innings was a tale of two halves. The first club record of the season was broken after just nine deliveries, with the new ball that Dave Stephens had kindly brought over for us, disappearing into another stratosphere. A Nathan Martin full toss was smashed halfway to Pelsall by Waqas Ahmed. Talking of Pelsall, that was exactly where debutant Ashley Clifford (Player Number 220) found himself, just an hour before the game. Turning up at the wrong ground, has happened before, and will no doubt happen again. But maybe our newcomer knew something we didn’t. Because he could have taken a half decent catch if he had stayed at his initial destination.

Nathan Martin (3-38) was the pick of our bowlers, settling down into a nice spell, just as his grandparents were arriving. The Friar Park Express showed all the right signs to suggest he could be in for a very good season. Nath began the perfect comeback, clean bowling the dangerous Waqas and Calvin cheaply. Then finding the edge of Vishual’s bat, well taken by Gort…. Well bowled. Club Pro Dan Dunn, who left work early to open the bowling, strived hard at the other end without reward. On a fast scoring outfield, the Elf were in a good position after 25 overs. Until John Helmsley 89 and Lee 53, started to accelerate the scoring.

For any rookie cricketer who is keen to learn the finer arts of bowling at the death, I would advise watching the last 10 overs of the Sportsman innings very closely….then do the exact opposite. Ian Chuck had more steam coming out of his ears than a scene from the Severn Valley Railway. Chuck was tonked over cow corner a few times, then had to endure the nightmare scenario of John Helmsley switch hitting him for yet another boundary. JP picked up a couple of wkts at the other end to take him two steps closer to his 100th wkt milestone, as Sportsman’s innings closed on a challenging 230-7.

Pick of the fielders had to be Rob Hewlitt, busy as ever, and the instigator of the run out of Abdul, with Nathan Reeves matching Rob’s energy, stopping every ball that came his way in a typical whole hearted display.

After tea was taken we set about the chase of 230. A seriously pumped up Ian Chuck, immediately set the tone. Batting in the style of AB de Villiers, Chucky smashed anything short to the boundary, with a scoring sequence of 4,4,4,4,1,4,1,4,4. It was looking ominous for Sportsman until our Saffa copped a Jaffa for 39. However, this 53 run opening partnership from the first 6 overs with Dan Armstrong was just what the Doctor ordered.

As Chuck trudged off, pondering whether he has a weakness against left arm seamers, Dan Armstrong took centre stage. What an innings this was, 104….including fifteen 4’s and two 6’s. Dan deservedly joins a select group of multiple WHCC centurions. It was the classic Armstrong innings. A blend of power ball striking, and some lovely timing. One shot in particular that stands out, taking a couple of steps forward, clipping the ball off his legs to the square leg boundary. All timing and skill. Dan’s innings was a historic one for the club too, being the 30th Century since the reformation in 1987, and only the second occasion where we have witnessed a ton during the first game of a season. It also takes him to within just 2 runs of his first 1,000 runs for the club. So after a cool down lap of the pitch and debrief with the Club Pro, Dan simply said “Tell DS to get my cap ready for next Sunday”….well batted mate.

D.Armstrong 104.

The partnership of 143 for the second wicket (no its not a record) with skipper Alex Nunns, effectively took the game away from Sportsman. Despite facing a barrage of vociferous lbw appeals, Alex batted really well, finishing unbeaten on 65. His 8th fifty for the club, which included ten 4’s. A composed Captain’s knock, providing the perfect support to Dan.

It was left to Rob Hewlitt to close out the game, with a cameo 17 not out, but again, another top order batsman who looks in very good touch. This was a really good win to start our season, and the highest successful run chase since we hunted down 236 at Swynnerton back in 2011.

See you at Yoxall.

Batting Scorecard
Bowling Scorecard

v Lichfield Nomads…12th August 2012




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

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.


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!

Well batted Gards. (See you next season)

Written by Chris Hall.




V Alrewas A (20/09/20)


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.

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


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 

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.

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


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”

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

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