The Race for the Duck Trophy: update

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 MARTIN – 3 DUCKS IN 6 PREECE – 2 DUCKS IN 3 STEPHENS – 2 DUCKS IN 8

There’s been some chatter amongst The Elf rank and file about the current situation regarding the prestigious Duck Trophy which has been a permanent fixture on the mantlepiece of Mat Danks for the last two years.

There have even been some borderline libellous suggestions that Rob Hewlitt was in the vanguard in the race for the 2014 title. After a little bit of number crunching, the true standings with only a handful of games to go can be revealed.

As things stand, Nathan Martin is hot favourite to mark his dayboo season with the most prestigious piece of plasticware at the club but Jonathan Preece, Dave Stephens and Rob Hewlitt are breathing down his neck after the game on Sunday, albeit in the case of DS and Rob with large numbers of innings to balance out their ducks which (unless there is major duckage before the season end) should save them.

Sure there will be disputing of the figures and cries of ‘what’s my average’ (as if the ego types don’t already know), but these are the stats as they stand but, as they say…. it’s all to play for!

Name Ducks Innings Quack rate
Martin, Nathan 3 6 50%
Preece, Jonathan 2 3 66.6%
Stephens, Dave 2 8 25%
Hewlitt, Rob 2 9 22%
Slater, Stuart 1 5 20%
Preece, Dave 1 7 14%
Danks, Mat 1 8 12.5%

v Ward End Unity (31/8/2014)

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Ward End Unity beat Walsall Health by 4 wickets.

Guest match reporter Matt Wright talks us through a brave effort by The Elf on a troublesome wicket.

Chris Hall - magnificent figures from The Iron Man.

Chris Hall – magnificent figures from The Iron Man.

Today’s away fixture saw Walsall Health on a four game winning streak travel to Ward End Unity in Birmingham.

We were greeted by a ground that had a topography that would challenge an A* GCSE Geography student. The boundaries also rather short.

With Stuart Slater constantly moving between time zones and international borders he lost track of the start time, along with the pre-declared tardiness of Mat Danks, the skipper duly won the toss and elected to bat.

Dave Preece and Dave Stephens opened the batting on what was immediately clear would be a challenging surface after the first balls were bowled.

After clean hitting straight to the field Stephens fell to the bowling of Ahmed.

The partnership of Preece and Ian Chuck worked hard and began to eek out a little progress.  The outfield was very slow and boundaries hard to come by, running three virtually impossible on the slow compact ground.

The skipper, Preece, nicked an inside edge onto his stumps after facing 51 delivers and top scoring for ‘The Elf’ with 20 runs (alongside guest batsman ‘Extras’ who also scored 20).

Shane O'Callaghan - respectable knock in his batting dayboo for The Elf.

Shane O’Callaghan – respectable knock in his batting dayboo for The Elf.

From here on in the score card does not make great reading as wickets tumbled Rob Hewlitt faced a delivery that pitched up by his shoulder, the next kept deceptively low trapping him LBW for a second ball duck.

Shane O’Callaghan actually looking composed at the crease had the potential to salvage things a little making a respectable 6 runs from 10 deliveries.  That was until a double appeal when given not given out for LBW but caught behind when the ball hit his pad.  Later confessions from the home team admit that it never hit his bat, would have been nice to have seen him called back for the spirit of the game at this level.

Chuck trapped LBW was another key wicket as he had staved off 49 deliveries and again an impressive amount of time at the crease.

There were few highlights from the lower order totalling nine runs between them.  Other than Nathan Martin once again drawing level with Hewlitt in the duck hunt of three each for the season! (Please note: these figures have not been verified and will be subject to a stats update in the next 48 hours) Slater get one of the rare boundaries on the day and Matt Wright achieving his first ever not out at the end of an innings.

69 was the total posted and with a quick turn around ‘The Elf’ went about trying to snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat.

And – just for a moment – the collapse looked on.

Catches from Wright, Hewlitt and Chuck and a clean bowled all from the bowling of Iron Man Chris Hall had Unity 4 down for only 9 runs.  And as Tipton’s Tony Stark steamed in for his hat trick ball, the most unlikely of victories was beginning to look a possibility. With The Elf piling on the pressure, Chuck grabbed the pick of the catches with a sharp diving low one-handed effort.

Dai Preece - brilliant performance by the stand-in Legend.

Dai Preece – brilliant performance by the stand-in Legend.

Great hustle in the field, playing for each other and believing as a team were key, embodied by Rob Hewlitt and seasoned campaigner Dai Preece, making several impressive run saving contributions, proving that class and experience go beyond age!

Nathan Martin also picked up a wicket off some good bowling after settling down after a couple of wayward looseners, notably a first ball beamer, trapping his man LBW.

Ward End Unity can thank Mills for this victory who proved to be the difference on the day, making his way to a match-winning 56 not out with his fellow six batting partners contributing only six runs between them.

This would have been the key wicket, but despite our best efforts we could not get it to fall.

Jonathan Preece - came closest to taking the scalp of the match-winning

Jonathan Preece – came closest to taking the scalp of the match-winning Mills

Dave Stephens and Chris Hall were valiant in their efforts to contain the big-hitting match winner.  Sadly today spin was not the key to unlocking the door.  Although Jonathan Preece arguably came closest to taking the prized scalp of Mills tempting him down the wicket and creating a stumping opportunity.

Another winning streak comes to an end on a peculiar wicket, although positives can be taken from the game.

Talking to the assembled media post-match the skipper made these comments: “Good effort today. It’s never ideal to get just 69 on the board and in all honesty we didn’t bat as well as we could, but great determination to drag ourselves back into it (Hall 4-6) and great commitment in the field from the guys, particularly emergency replacement David Preece Snr. Let’s work to improve ourselves for next game.”

Batting Runs
Preece, Dave b Idress

20

Stephens, D b Ahmed

0

Chuck, I b Idrees  14
Hewlitt, R b Ahmed  0
O’Callaghan, S lbw Atkinson  6
Hall, C st Atib  3
Slater, S b Barzan  4
Martin, N b Atkinson  0
Preece, J ct b Atkinson  0
Wright, M not out 1
Preece, Dai b Barzan  1
Extras

20

Walsall Health

 69

Bowling Overs Maidens Runs Wickets
Martin, N

2

0

4

1

Stephens, D

6.2

1

22

0

Hall, C

8

5

6

4

Chuck, I

2

0

16

0

Preece, J

1

0

17

0

Man of the match: Chris Hall

Top bat: Dave Preece

Top bowler: Chris Hall (six runs and four wickets off eight overs)

Rachel Hangover Rating: Two Jugs was absent today due to family commitments, however, at a musical festival on Saturday, we like to think it would be at least a solid 7/10.

v Rushall – Tim Oliver Memorial Trophy (24/9/2014)

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A Walsall Health Select XI beat a Rushall Select XI by 18 runs to win the Tim Oliver Memorial Trophy (Walsall posted 179 off 35 overs, Rushall replied with 161 off 35 overs)

To read the Express and Star report of the event click here.

To read the Walsall Advertiser report of the event click here.

The first ever Tim Oliver Memorial Trophy was won by a Walsall Health XI (actually, more like 26) who completed a 19-run victory over neighbours, a Rushall XI (more like 20).

The clash between two local cricket sides Tim Oliver – who passed away earlier this year – was an unusual affair applying the ’25 and retire’ rule for batsmen and a rolling substitute rule for a packed field.

Steve Hartshorne - opened the batting for The Elf.

Steve Hartshorne – opened the batting for The Elf.

Despite this, the clash between two sides Tim held closely to his heart saw The Elf win what was a narrowly contested game by 18 runs.

However, the match was really a side show to the day which was attended by a healthy crowd and helped to raise £620 for Macmillan Nurses, Pancreatic Cancer UK and Amnesty International.

The Elf lined up with many current and former players with Tim’s brother Andie skippering the side and nephew Tom also turning out.

With The Elf batting first, club legends Steve Hartshorne and Andy Gorton opened and set about starting to build a target for the visitors.

After knocking 10 off the first two overs, Hartshorne found himself dismissed for two, the ever agile Martin Liggins taking a catch off the bowling of Allsop.

Andy Gorton - Elf legend knocked 25 retired not out.

Andy Gorton – Elf legend knocked 25 retired not out.

Gorton had no such problems, clattering his way to 27 and retirement in a knock that included five fours.

At the other end, legend Ray Beech added 12 to the total before he was run out and Steve Fell also added a pair before a Gary Reeves catch off the bowling of King ended his run.

Modern-day legend Rob Hewlitt joined Gorton in the ’25 club’ with a knock that included four boundaries meaning at the 18 over stage The Elf were 90 for four.

Rick Jarrams fell foul to the deceptively slow bowling of Liggins for five while young Tom Oliver hit 13 before a good catch by Andy Beck off the bowling of Haliwell ended his fun.

This signalled the arrival of a number of current players and Sam Stephens (20) and Dave Preece (19) moved the total on before both fell to the bowling of Delvin King.

Dave Stephens and Matt Wright had cameo appearances at the crease, adding one and two respectively.

Dai Preece - not actually sure where to start with this caption...

Dai Preece – not actually sure where to start with this caption…

The brilliantly talented young George King went about mopping up the extended tail end with Dai Preece (looking for all the world like an extra from a cricketing scene in Downton Abbey) falling for five (including a majestic shot to the boundary), Paul Nicholls stumped for a duck and Stuart Slater going for six.

A superb late knock by Rich Fell (with a six and three fours in his 21) helped make the total more respectable along with a contribution by Dave Atkins of two not out and Ian Chuck of seven not out.

The score of 179-13 after the allocated 35 overs appeared a strong one and the Rushall father-and-son opening pairing of Alan and Dan Dunn initially had problems getting any momentum.

After four overs Rushall were six without loss before the big-hitting ‘Nicka’ began opening up, hitting a 28 retired with six fours in his total, suggesting he might not have wanted to run very much.

 

Anybody seen my gloves? JP struggles in the world's most crowded changing room.

Anybody seen my gloves? JP struggles in the world’s most crowded changing room.

Young Dan Dunn batted very well to add four under some intense pressure – including the ever guileful bowling of the returning Jonathan Preece – to the total and at the 19 over stage, Rushall were 89 for 1 and looking impressive.

Dunn’s departure heralded the arrival of the Two Kings (George and Delvin) to come to the fray and put Rushall right back into the game.

Delvin hit a superb 26 retired while George – who won a lot of fans amongst the crowd with his mature and elegant batting having already impressed with his bowling – knocked 16 before falling victim to Slater.

And it was Slater who would also take the trophy wicket of Liggins, clean bowling the former Elf captain for a duck, while Chuck forced Storey to hole out to Hewlitt for 12.

Stuart Slater - two wickets for four runs off two overs. Have a bit of that.

Stuart Slater – two wickets for four runs off two overs. Have a bit of that.

Some impressive mid-innings bowling by The Elf – in particular Chris Hall (who ended 3 for 16 off four overs), Slater (two for four off two overs) and Tom Oliver (one for six off four overs in an outing his uncle would have been proud of) pegged Rushall back and they were only able to stagger from 95/2 at 20 overs to 104/6 at 25 overs.

But Everall (25 retired) and Haliwell (13 before being castled by Hall) ensured Rushall made a decent fist of the chase.

However, Foster and Edwards both went for ducks while Allsop perished at the hands of Hall thanks to a catch by Rich Fell while some brilliant fielding by Atkins helped save precious runs.

Needing an unlikely 23 off the last over, it was appropriate Andie Oliver should step up to bowl it, dismissing Beck with his first delivery and steering The Elf home to an 18 run win to take the inaugural trophy.

Katie's CastlesUltimately, the day way a huge triumph and both teams would like to thank everybody for their hard work in making it all happen, in particular Rich (master BBQer) and Steve Fell plus Andy, Kerrie and Rachel Gorton (Two Jugs being especially magical in her sterling efforts to co-ordinate the raffle) as well as Katie’s Castles for the loan of the bouncy castle to keep the kids quiet and Firesec Electrical Limited for sponsoring the match-ball.

A good many people helped to make the day happen, thanks to everyone!

Walsall Health Scorecard

Batting

Gorton, A retired

27

Hartshorne, S ct Liggins b Allsop

2

Beech, R run out 12
Fell, S ct Reeves b King 2
Hewlitt, R retired 25
Jarrams, R b Liggins 5
Oliver, Tom ct Beck b Haliwell 13
Preece, Dave ct Liggins, b D King 19
Stephens, S b D King

20

Stephens, D b Reeves

1

Wright, M b Dunn 2
Preece, Dai ct Storey, b G King 5
Nicholls, P st Everall, b Dunn 0
Fell, R ct Millership, b G King 21
Slater, S b G King 6
Atkins, D not out 2
Chuck, I not out 7
Hall, C DNB
Danks, M DNB
Extras

11

Walsall Health

 179

Bowling Overs Maidens Runs Wickets
Martin, N

2

0

17

0

Oliver, T

4

2

6

1

Hall, C

4

0

16

3

Chuck, I

3

0

12

1

Nicholls, J

3

0

15

1

Wright, M

2

0

6

0

Oliver, A 4 1 24 1
Stephens, S

4

1

15

0

Stephens, D

3

1

12

0

Slater, S

2

0

4

2

Fell, R 2 0 14 0
Preece, J

2

0

6

0

Memorial game and fun day set for this Sunday

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WHCC2A memorial cricket match and family fun-day for former Walsall Health skipper Tim Oliver will be taking place this Sunday at Rushall Cricket Club.

Two clubs which Tim held close to his heart – Walsall Health and Rushall – will be taking part in the game which will include many of his former team mates from down the years, as well as current players.

Tim – who was leader of the Labour group on Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council – died in May after a long battle with illness.

The game at Rushall’s Carter Park home in Pelsall Lane will start at 2pm with a BBQ and a disco and karaoke afterwards. A raffle – with prizes including a pair of tickets to any Midlands football match, a Harvey Nicholl’s hamper and a whole host of is currently underway and charities which will benefit from the event include Pancreatic Cancer UK, Macmillan Nurses and Amnesty International.

The match ball is being sponsored by Firesec Electrical Limited and local business Katie’s Castles has helped us out with a bouncy castle to keep the kids entertained.

A multiple record holder for The Elf, Tim started playing for the club in the late 80s and soon took over as skipper, continuing to play right up until 2012.

Need directions to Rushall Cricket Club? Have a gander here

v Highwood Park (17/9/2014)

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Walsall Health beat Highwood Park by 10 wickets.

The Elf clinched the decider in their three-match series with Highwood Park with a ten-wicket victory spurred on by brilliant performances the flatmate combo of Ian Chuck and debutant Josh Butler.

Ian Chuck - man of the match thanks to brilliant bowling and back-to-back 50s

Ian Chuck – man of the match thanks to brilliant bowling and back-to-back 50s

The win means The Elf take the series by the odd win in three after the defeat in June followed by the series levelling win the following week.

Butler was one of two players making their dayboo for The Elf – along with Shane O’Callaghan – while Dutch import Neil Van Limbeek was making his first appearance in over a year, after he injured his shoulder playing darts.

Winning the toss on a cloudy day which offered up a handful of rainy interruptions, skipper Dave Preece put Highwood Park into bat.

Initially it looked like a decision that would suit the visitors with Park’s dangerman Shaun Allsopp doing what he does best on his way to being the top-scorer in the game with 53.

A string of frustrating dropped catches, edgy appeals and misfields during the opening phases did little to settle The Elf down as Allsopp and fellow opener Owen proved mulish in their opening stand.

Josh Butler - three wickets on dayboo.

Josh Butler – three wickets on dayboo.

The ultra-economical bowling of Chris Hall – now (as if there were any doubt at all) back to the full extent of his extensive powers – Tom Davies and John Nicholls stemmed the flow of runs on what was an awkward track for batsmen. Hall opened his account with four successive maidens followed by two successive overs for one in each, meaning his first six overs went for just two runs. Davies meanwhile was equally frustrating for the Park openers, his opening spell of five overs going for just eight and Nicholls’ six overs included four maidens for just seven runs.

At the 17 over stage, Park had notched up 44 runs without loss before Chucky’s Super Over effectively turned the match on its head.

First, the South African spin merchant clean bowled Owen for an unlucky 13 before continuing his hoodoo over Park hitter Stephen Beattie, luring him into holing out to Preece at mid-off for a second-ball duck.

Andy Gorton - two stumpings and a half century for the main man.

Andy Gorton – two stumpings and a half century for the main man.

Even then, Highwood Park held firm and it took another ten overs and a 36 run partnership (during which time Allsopp continued to carve himself an excellent innings) before The Elf made another breakthrough, Nathan Martin grabbing the wicket of Allsop leg before wicket.

With the run-scoring threat of Allsopp back in the pavilion, Park crumpled slightly with Tallis stumped by Andy Gorton for nine off the bowling of Butler followed by a brilliant run-out of Cox by Preece for four. Debutants Butler and O’Callaghan combined to dismiss Lapper for nought thanks and Butler then claimed his third wicket – again thanks to a stumping.

And Hall and Davies got the wickets their early spells deserved – Davies first taking Olly Holliday clean for five and then Hall skittling Ralph for two.

Shane O'Callaghan - great catch on dayboo.

Shane O’Callaghan – great catch on dayboo.

The Elf’s pursuit of the 118 needed to win the match and series only looked in threat when the brooding clouds over Aldridge had a tantrum early during the home side’s innings.

But the weather failed to disrupt the tempo too much and openers Chuck and Gorton set about steadily building the response.

For the second successive game, Chuck engineered himself a half-century (albeit thanks to hitting a boundary through mid-wicket for the winning runs, interestingly off the bowling of Beattie) while Gorton added yet another half-ton to his list of achievements.

Gorton’s 51 not out came off just 63 balls (a particularly amazing achievement given the challenging surface) while Chuck’s was a slightly more circumspect, taking 88 balls as the total was reached in the 24th over meaning The Elf could celebrate the series win with ten wickets and sixteen overs to spare.

The Elf’s next outing is in Tim Oliver’s memorial match next Sunday at Rushall Cricket Club.

Batting Runs
Gorton, A not out

51

Chuck, I not out

51

O’Callaghan, S DNB
Hall, C DNB
Martin, N DNB
Nicholls, J DNB
Van Limbeek, Neil DNB
Preece, D DNB
Fitzpatrick, G DNB
Davies, T DNB
Wright, M DNB
Extras

19

Walsall Health

 121

Bowling Overs Maidens Runs Wickets
Martin, N

7

1

33

1

Davies, T

7

3

11

1

Hall, C

8

5

10

1

Chuck, I

4

0

11

2

Nicholls, J

6

4

7

0

Wright, M

3

0

15

1

Butler, J 3 0 11 3
O’Callaghan 1 0 1 0

Man of the match: Ian Chuck

Top bat: Ian Chuck and Andy Gorton (51 not out – tie)

Top bowler: Another tough one – but Chris Hall’s figures against the opening attack were impressive.

Rachel Hangover Rating: 8/10 – although she is claiming a migraine was to blame. Until we see some medical evidence, we’re raising an eyebrow to that one.

Rain Dampens a Fixture with Cancellation… …But not ‘The Spirit of the Elf!’

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Matt Wright - guest writer from The Elf training camp

Matt Wright – guest writer from The Elf training camp

Guest writer and spin wizard Matt Wright reports as The Elf make the most of the cancelled clash with Swynnerton.

Amber weather warnings threatening biblical downpours and meteorological armageddon may not have arrived at our doors in the Midlands, but the overnight precipitation that continued into this morning were enough to cancel Walsall Health’s away fixture against a potentially strong Swynnerton team.

Not to rest on our laurels, Rob Hewlitt, fresh from viewing yesterday’s England Victory over India at Old Trafford, organised an indoor alternative.  With Stumps, Oldbury, providing a venue for an ‘Elf’ training session.

Eight of the rostered starting XI made it to Nets where three tracks were in action.  Batting, bowling and fielding drills were the order of the day.  With Hewlitt & Wright turning the middle net into the party zone.  It was where all the fun and games was.  Vodka filled bails and stumps are mooted for future antics and a petition put into stumps to rename it the Stuart Slater Tribute Track.   The accuracy award going to Dave Stephens, taking home a large cuddly toy and a golf fish. Watch out travelling fairs he could punish you.

One lane was erratic with debris all over it.  Mat Danks coping well with some mystery balls.  And dispatching some that pitched up around his ears.  The dynamic Danks will now be sidelined possibly for the remainder or the season.  Everyone associated with Walsall Health CC wish him the very best for the pending operation and a swift recovery.

After spectating on Thursday nights session Tipton’s Tony Stark, Iron Man, Chris Hall was back in action and treating us to some of his vintage bowling, however, it was his floral flourishes with the bat that may now have given him a new monica, Lord Chally of Tipton.  However, rumour had it there may be a slight weakness in the Iron Man armour being undone by the Chuck & Wright spin bowling combination.

Super Andy Gorton, he bats, he keeps wicket.. And what’s that?… He bowls too!  Is there nothing this Elf star can’t do!? Deceptive looping deliveries causing a couple of wickets to clank.

Is Rob Hewlitt the new King of the Swingers?  And I’m not talking about fishing car keys out of a bowl to get lucky, but the all round, all action, Walsall Wizard is getting movement in the air.

It was unusual to have Tom Davies bowling without 10 nicknames per second shouted out.  Secretly happy that the game was rained off so he could watch the golf.

iChuck buzzing around all over the place with helpful coaching tips.  With recent batting heroics it shouldn’t be forgotten he is a ninja with the ball too.

The session started with Dave Stephens smashing the stumps in the fielding practice and ended much the same, clean blowing Matt Wright chasing ‘4 to win’ off the last ball.

We assume those not present had individual training plans…The skipper was working on his running between wickets, Nathan at anger management classes and well Sam is just too good anyway, deserves a day off!

Rachel ‘2 Jugs’ Gorton was also missed as it was hot and humid in Sweltering indoor conditions and a refreshing beverage would have been very welcome.

It’s not quite Game Day, but it’s a great team spirit at the ‘Elf’ and a fun training session was had by all!

v Coventry Willow (3/8/2014)

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Walsall Health beat Coventry Willow by 147 runs.

History-making back-to-back centuries by captain marvel Dave Preece provided the cherry on a particularly tasty cake as The Elf bulldozed their way to another excellent win.

Superb notable performances by Ian Chuck (who magnificently carved his way to his first half-century in Elf colours), Matt Wright (who took two catches and two wickets), Chris Hall (whose Lazarus-like recovery continued with a brilliant bowling performance) and Tom Davies (perhaps his best Elf showing with the ball) saw the visitors to a memorable victory.

Winning the toss and electing to bat, The Elf got off to a steady start on a slightly sticky pitch which became a bit livelier as the day went on.

Openers Andy Gorton and Preece were looking good, taking the total to 59 by the 14th over before Gorton was caught off the bowling of Keogh for a credible 22.

This only served to pave the way for the partnership which would see through the total as Chuck went one step further than his encouraging knock the previous week to sail past the half century mark and even threaten to make it to three figures.

Although only 80-1 at drinks, the duo worked through the gears during the last 20 overs to add a further 165 and finish on 245, setting an impressive total and providing Mat ‘Where’s my keys?’ Danks and Rob Hewlitt with severe cases of pad rash.

Such a lofty total was always going to be a challenge for the home side and an explosive performance by The Elf’s strike bowlers Dave Stephens (12 for 2), Hall (10 for 3) and Davies (13 for 1) helped shatter the resistance.

It took the opening pair of Hall and Stephens until the fourth over to see off the Willow opening pair, with Hewlitt and Wright pulling off nifty catches to help the process along.

Hall – in only his second match back in The Elf fold after an enforced lay-off – ultimately grabbed three wickets, clean bowling two Willow batsmen in addition to his opener for just ten runs off his five overs.

The rampant Elf had the home side on the wrack at 27 for five after 11 overs and it required a stubborn seven-over stand by Carl Fenton and Mike Lee to stabilise the collapse, adding 39 runs.

Stuart Slater - good spell of bowling by the squad playboy.

Stuart Slater – good spell of bowling by the squad playboy.

Eventually it was the introduction of Hewlitt that smashed the partnership, grabbing the wicket of the magnificently dreadlocked Fenton (‘FENTON!’) with just his third ball – clean bowled as you like – before Davies produced a brilliant Wales-South Africa combination with Chuck to account for Lee.

With the mid-inning resistance shattered, the wickets came thick and fast with Preece taking great catches from the bowling of Wright (who finished 1 for 2) and Hewlitt (who finished 6 for 2).

A super spell by Stuart Slater effectively opened the way for Wright to arrive and add to his two excellent catches with two wickets in the last over of the game, leaving him on a tantalising hat-trick for when he opens his spell in the next game.

The win represents the seventh victory for The Elf this season and another fantastic showing with everybody playing a contributing part in the win.

* An honourable mention must go to Rich Fell who gallantly fielded for 40 overs (40 TOUGH overs) for the home side after they ended up men down. He then proceeded to bat for them, producing the third highest score, enduring some horrific South African abuse, playing some wonderful strokes to the boundary and avoiding being bowled by Chris Hall.

Batting Runs
Gorton, A c b Keogh

22

Preece, D Not out

106

Chuck, I Not out

91

Hewlitt, R dnb
Danks, M dnb
Forrester, T dnb
Stephens, D dnb
Wright, M dnb
Davies, T dnb
Hall, C dnb
Slater, S dnb
Extras

26

Walsall Health

 245

Bowling Overs Maidens Runs Wickets
Slater, S

4

0

24

0

Stephens, D

5

3

12

2

Davies, T

5

2

13

1

Danks, M

1

0

5

0

Wright, M

0.5

0

1

2

Hewlitt, R

3

1

6

2

Hall, C 5 2 10 3
Forrester, T 3 0 27 0

Man of the match: Ian Chuck

Top bat: Dave Preece (106 not out)

Top bowler: Pick the bones out of the figures above but I point to Matt Wright’s two wickets for one run off five balls. Superb bowling all over the shop. But tough to say.

Rachel Hangover Rating: 8/10 – partly carried over from the previous day when she failed to climb out of bed until 7pm after a day hiding from her hangover.

Tea Rating: 7/10 – a very very acceptable collection of snacks. The cheese sandwiches, in particular, went down very well indeed.

Walsall Health athletes prove their worth again

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If ever the multiple talents of the Walsall Health crew were in doubt, after Thursday’s mid-season meal, the doubts are surely no more.

No fewer than THREE of the attendees at Mad O’Rourke’s Pie Factory in Tipton took on the infamous Desperate Dan Pie challenge.

WHCC Chuck pie

Ian Chuck – awkward cropping.

Chris Hall, Andy Gorton and Ian Chuck saw off the challenge with aplomb, in The Iron Man’s case, even leaving room for dessert.

This was among the best attended of the social events this season, with Ian Chuck (see right) in particular enjoying himself.

Prior to the food and ale, some of The Elf stalwarts attempted something approaching calorie offsetting at the regular Thursday night nets session at Stumps in Tividale.

A great time was had by all, look out for news of the next gathering and thanks to Rob Hewlitt for organising!

WHCC Nets copy

v Lichfield Nomads (27/7/2014)

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Walsall Health beat Lichfield Nomads by 133 runs.

Dave Preece - a brilliant knock by the returning skipper

Dave Preece – another brilliant knock by the skipper. Suggestions that married life is doing our leader good in terms of his batting.

The return of two Walsall Health legends from different eras helped underpin The Elf’s comprehensive 130 run victory over Lichfield Nomads.

Elf Living Legend Jon Nicholls made his first appearance for over 12 months and seamlessly hit his stride, scoring valuable runs and taking wickets, while Chris ‘Iron Man’ Hall returned after illness and likewise made an impressive impact with both bat and ball.

But it was yet another brilliant performance with the bat by skipper Dave Preece – carving a superb 105 – that was the deciding factor.

Winning the toss and electing to bat on what was an odd track that presented challenges for bowlers and batsmen alike, The Elf set off at a decent rate with Preece and Andy Gorton putting on 25 without loss after four overs.

Jon Nicholls - returning legend had everybody in awe.

Jon Nicholls – returning legend had everybody in awe.

In the sixth over Gorton departed for 11, trapped lbw by Hughes, opening the door for the returning Sam Stephens to smash his way to 27 – with a much larger target looking likely – before he was clean bowled by Lee Westwood in the 11th over leaving The Elf at 65 for 2.

Ian Chuck continued where Sam had left off and appeared in tremendous shape with a series of dynamic shots during a partnership with The Skipper that lasted 14 overs.

With Chuck looking a cert for a long overdue 50, he was perhaps unfortunate to lose his wicket trying to sweep George for 35.

But with The Elf on 160 for 3 after 26 overs, the foundations had been laid for a strong total which needed the remaining batsmen to consolidate.

FOUR! Textbook cover drive by Tom Davies but, alas, he was unable to be The Elf's highest scoring ginger.

FOUR! Textbook cover drive by Tom Davies but, alas, he was unable to be The Elf’s highest scoring ginger.

Mat Danks notched 12 before his wicket was claimed by Blackburn, Neil Antcliffe (making his dayboo for The Elf and appearing in his first game in over a decade) went for a duck and Dave Stephens added four to the total.

Enter Jon Nicholls – making his first appearance of the season after recovering from injury – who added another 14 to the total before becoming Blackburn’s third victim.

The closing stand of Tom Davies (who survived a very dubious lbw decision on his way to five) and the returning Chris Hall (who knocked 16 runs off just nine deliveries) provided The Elf with a competitive total of 246.

In truth, Nomads never looked like threatening the total and when Sam Stephens saw off the opening pair of Gardener and Paul Fearon for 23, clean bowling both, the battle was even more uphill for the home side.

Nomads made a good fist of frustrating the attempts of The Elf to finish the resistance.

Neil Antcliffe - dayboo boy.

Neil Antcliffe – dayboo boy.

Dave Stephens saw off George for just one before Westwood racked up nine runs before he was bowled by Davies.

The returning Elf legends of Hall and Nicholls then went about their business – strangling any resistance by Nomads.

Ian Hughes fell to Jonty as he attempted a dirty slog shot for 14, opening up a fiercely resilient partnership of Scott and Dave Rolfe which stubbornly refused to capitulate the game, even with Nomads a long way off the total.

Scott top-scored with 21 before a trademark Hall fizzer finally removed him and his next delivery accounted for Blackburn Jnr for a golden duck before his hat-trick was cruelly denied by a questionable lbw decision.

Chris Hall - the returning Iron Man was, as expected, immense.

Chris Hall – the returning Iron Man was, as expected, immense.

Dave Rolfe and Blackburn Snr ensured Nomads batted out their overs – despite some exceptionally tight and economical bowling from Chuck, Nicholls and Hall – although ultimately the 133 run margin meant a resounding victory for the visitors.

 

Batting Runs
Gorton, A lbw Hughes

11

Preece, D c Scott b Blackburn

105

Stephens, S b Westwood

27

Chuck, I b George

35

Danks, M b Blackburn 12
Antcliffe, N c Rolfe b Fearon 0
Stephens, D b Pickering 4
Nicholls, J b Blackburn 14
Davies, T Not Out 5
Hall, C Not Out 16
Mate of Chuckie’s did not show, the nob
Extras

16

Walsall Health

 246

Bowling Overs Maidens Runs Wickets
Stephens, S

8

2

18

2

Stephens, D

8

2

16

1

Davies, T

6

1

21

1

Chuck, I

5

2

6

0

Nicholls, J

6

2

10

1

Antcliffe, N

1

0

17

0

Hall, C 6 2 8 2

 

Man of the match: Dave Preece

Top bat: Dave Preece (105 not out)

Top bowler: Chris Hall (two wickets for eight runs off six overs and his first over went for five)

Rachel Hangover Rating: 1/10 very poor. Once the girl gets a full time job we are expecting a marked improvement in performance.

v Old Moseley Arms Fitmen (20/7/2014)

Standard

Moseley beat Walsall Health by 10 runs.

Gary Fitzpatrick - a superb performance by the Gerry McCann lookalikey.

Gary Fitzpatrick – a superb performance by the Gerry McCann lookalikey.

Two heroic batting partnerships bookending The Elf response couldn’t prevent the home side slipping to a narrow defeat against an impressive Moseley outfit.

Rich Fell (sporting a Rachel Gorton-esque hangover after a stag do) and Ian Chuck put on a fantastic stand early on which was mirrored by a brilliant late stab by Gary Fitzpatrick and Nathan Martin.

Fielding first in gruelling heat, The Elf found themselves facing a formidable opening pair of Tom Caeser and Mike Ralph, with the later in particular playing some devastating shots on his way to his match winning knock of 87.

Although Caeser survived the plummest of plum LBWs off the bowling of Davies in the third over, the opening pair carved out an impressive start, getting to 74 before Caesar holed out to the safe hands of Rob Hewlitt on the boundary for 36.

But with Ralph smashing the runs at the one end, The Fitmen were happy to let a series of partners play supporting roles.

Nathan Martin - almost won it for The Elf.

Nathan Martin – almost won it for The Elf.

Simon Howarth hit 13 – including two brutal boundaries – before he was trapped LBW by Dave Stephens in the 23rd over before Taz Yousaf added another nine before Matt Wright added to his growing list of scalps with a clean bowled wicket.

Ralph finally saw his demise when Tony Forrester pulled off a brilliant catch off his own bowling to remove the danger man for a brilliant 87 and the same bowler got Adrian Martin for 14 after a good catch in the deep by Chuck.

Fitzpatrick claimed a catch behind the stumps to end a brilliant boundary-laden cameo by Sunny Singh for 19 off the bowling of Martin and then Tom Davies saw off Guy Brentnall and Ian Nutt (both for ducks) to leave The Elf with a challenging target of 204.

The Elf’s response took an early blow when Hewlitt fell clean to Brentnall, but this paved the way for the partnership of Chuck (who undoubtedly produced his best performance for The Elf with the bat on his way to 36) and Fell (who flailed away in the midst of a psychedelic hangover to get a brilliant 44).

The pressure of chasing the Fitmen total was perhaps too much as Chuck was run out after 18 overs, signalling the arrival of Fitzpatrick at the crease for an innings that saw The Elf, against all odds, knocking on the door of victory.

Rich Fell - A great showing for a bloke who was clearly hanging.

Rich Fell – A great showing for a bloke who was clearly hanging.

Fell was caught out for 44, windmilling a shot off the bowling of Adrian Martin, before Mat Danks (4), Stuart ‘Where’s Me Wallet?’ Slater (5) and Dave Stephens (10) chipped in to move The Elf towards the total.

But it was the late partnership of Fitzpatrick and Martin that saw the fireworks, taking The Elf from 139-5 after 32 overs to requiring 15 off the last over to snatch an unlikely victory.

Sadly, the pressure told and Ralph was brought in to see the job through for The Fitmen, taking the wicket of Martin for a mouth-watering 30 and provide the visitors with a deserved 10 run victory.

Batting Runs
Chuck, I  run out

34

Hewlitt, R b Brentnall

1

Fell, R c b Martin

44

Fitzpatrick, G Not out

44

Danks, M b Martin 4
Slater, S c b Fay 5
Stephens, D c b Fay 10
Martin, N b Ralph 30
Davies, T Not out 0
Forrester, T did not bat
Wright, M did not bat
Extras

20

Walsall Health

 194

Bowling Overs Maidens Runs Wickets
Martin, N

8

1

26

1

Stephens, D

8

0

35

2

Davies, T

4.3

0

28

2

Chuck, I

8

0

45

0

Forrester, T

5

0

30

2

Wright, M

5

0

30

2

 

Man of the match: Gary Fitzpatrick

Top bat: Well…. both Rich and Fitz scored 44 but Nathan got 30 off 19 balls. Pick the bones out of that one.

Top bowler: Welsh Tom

Rachel Hangover Rating: 9.5 – a brilliant effort. The poor girl was in some glam place the night before, was vomiting all over the shop and everything. Brilliant work.