Tim Oliver memorial match date confirmed

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WHCC2A memorial match for former Walsall Health skipper Tim Oliver has been confirmed for Sunday August 24.

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.

An alcohol-laden raffle is currently underway and charities which will benefit from the event include Pancreatic Cancer UK, Macmillan Nurses and Amnesty International.

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.

Tim will be remembered as a fiery, committed and supremely talented batsman and bowler whose trademark ‘square-jaw’ look at crucial stages during games served as an inspiration to his team mates and a warning sign to the opposition.

Steve Fell, a long-time team mate of Tim’s, said: “Tim was a much-loved character on the local circuit with both players who played with and against him.

“As a result, a lot of players around the local circuit will be taking part in the match and it promises to be a great day.

“It might involve trips into the loft to retrieve kit and some sore Bank Holiday limbs for some of the older players, but it will all be worth it.

“The game will be a great opportunity to raise funds for Rushall and also for charity, in addition to celebrating Tim’s life and his love of cricket.”

Team mate Rick Jarrams said: “On the field Tim was a colossus, amazing with both bat and ball and a reluctant but successful captain for several years.

“Tim will always be a true WHCC legend and will be sadly missed by your team mates past and present and also by many of our friendly opponents over the years.”

v Breadsall (6/7/2014)

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Breadsall beat Walsall Health by 4 wickets.

Dave Preece - a brilliant knock by the returning skipper

Dave Preece – second successive fifty

A second successive fifty for skipper Dave Preece wasn’t enough to save The Elf as they were defeated by a very talented young Breadsall side.

And in further good news for the skipper, he only ran out one of his team mates on his way to his half century.

The Elf welcomed back the man with more lookalikes than Madame Toussands, ‘Welsh’ Tom Davies back into the fold for his first game of the season.

In what was the first encounter between the two sides, Breadsall won the toss and elected to put The Elf in to bat on a wonderfully sloping pitch in picturesque surrounds.

Breadsall were patting themselves on the back for that decision when opener Rob Hewlitt fell in the first over, lofting a relatively straightforward catch to mid-wicket for a duck.

Ian Chuck came in and restored some order, with him and Andy Gorton putting on a partnership for 22 before Gorton departed for an unlucky 13.

The ship was well and truly stabilised with the arrival of Preece as he and Chuck took full advantage of the slope to begin turning the momentum against the opening bowlers Holmes and Payne.

Tom Davies - great bowling by the Ben Stokes lookalike

Tom Davies – great bowling by our very own Ben Stokes lookalike

At the half-way point, The Elf were 54 for 2 and sensing the platform for a push for a decent total.

The immediate departure of Chuck – yet another relatively straight-forward catch – for 23 meant the arrival of Dave Stephens who put on 15 before he was run out by the skipper, who continued to chalk up the runs at the other end.

Rich Fell notched up a boundary-laden knock of ten before he was clean bowled by an elementary delivery by Holmes.

But the last ten overs were heavy going for The Elf as they would have been looking to accelerate towards two hundred they were well pegged back by Breadsall.

The last three overs saw The Elf drop two wickets while adding just nine runs with Forrester trapped lbw for another unlucky 13 and Nathan Martin run out for a duck.

The Elf’s total of 144 might have been better if Matt Wright had been successful in his effort to carry on batting after the 40 overs were complete, charging out with a purpose to the middle following Martin’s dismissal only to be met by the fielding team heading back towards the pavillion.

In the defence of Wrighty, the fact that he was walking AWAY from the food, just as it was being made available just shows his commitment to the cause.

Matt Wright - a fine catch at midwicket to dismiss the opener Pook.

Matt Wright – a fine catch at midwicket to dismiss the opener Pook and his bowling saw the exit of the match winner Sam Buck.

Wright did contribute almost immediately in the field, taking a gobsmackingly brilliant diving one-handed catch to remove Pook for a duck off the bowling of Martin.

But The Elf came up against the excellent poised batting of Sam Buck who frustrated the visitors’ bowling attack as he notched up a brilliant 70, almost carrying his bat through the innings.

However, The Elf had no shortage of chances to remove the dangerman as he was dropped on a number of occasions en route to his match winning knock.

The Elf made a reasonable fist at chipping away at Buck’s partners with Chuck claiming the wicket of Golding with his first ball and repeating the feat by clean-bowling Hindmarch for seven.

Buck kept piling on the runs, however, holding up the Breadsall innings, even as Dave Stephens claimed the slightly fortuitous wicket of Smith for 12.

The arrival of Redhead at the wicket (the Breadsall batsman, not Tom Davies) following the run-out of Avi for four, effectively killed The Elf’s chances of taking anything from the game as he knocked an impressive 24 as he Buck continued to turn the screw.

Redhead eventually fell to the bowling of Martin, forcing a handy catch from Dave Stephens and Stephens was responsible for finally removing Buck with another catch off the bowling of Matt Wright.

But it proved too little, too late, as Breadsall’s partnership of Holmes and Holmes steered the side over the line without much trouble earning the home side a deserved win with three overs to spare.

Batting Runs
Gorton, A c b Payne

13

Hewlitt, R c b Holmes

0

Chuck, I c b Smith

23

Preece, D b Holmes

58

Stephens, D Run Out 15
Fell, R b Holmes 10
Forrester, T lbw Buck 13
Martin, N Run Out 0
Davies, T Not Out 1
Danks, M did not bat
Wright, M did not bat
Extras

11

Walsall Health

 144

Bowling Overs Maidens Runs Wickets
Martin, N

7

2

35

2

Stephens, D

8

2

22

1

Davies, T

4

3

10

0

Chuck, I

8

1

29

2

Forrester, T

4

0

15

0

Wright, M

2

0

14

1

Fell, R 3 0 9 0

 

Man of the match: Dave Preece

Top bat: Dave Preece (58)

Top bowler: Probably Ian Chuck (2 for 29) but Nathan Martin’s (2 for 35) was decent and Tom Davies did brilliantly also.

Rachel Hangover Rating: 9.5 – carried forward from the previous Thursday’s Elf Social at the Red Lion in West Bromwich which the poor girl cannot remember attending and had to take a day off sick the following day…. very impressive stuff.

Tea rating: 10. Brilliant. Acarn spake. They clearly like their teas up in Derbyshire. Homemade cake, peanut butter sandwiches, the lot. Quite special.

v Highwood Park (29/6/2014)

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Walsall Health beat Highwood Park by 141 runs.

Dave Preece - a brilliant knock by the returning skipper

Dave Preece – a brilliant knock by the returning skipper

Walsall Health squared their three-match series with Highwood Park with a comprehensive win after last week’s defeat.

The Elf welcomed back skipper Dave Preece and opening bowler Sam Stephens while Gary Fitzpatrick donned the gloves as wicketkeeper.

Outstanding batting performances by Andy Gorton (85) and Dave Preece (95 not out) provided The Elf with the platform necessary to build a commanding total which the multi-faceted bowling attack by the home side was able to ensure was never really threatened.

Despite the impressive total of 223 set by The Elf, Highwood Park’s opening bowling attack did a magnificent job of pegging back the openers Preece and Gorton.

After nine overs The Elf had managed to notch up just 13 runs, with Olly Holliday (8 overs, 4 maidens, 18 runs for no wickets) producing arguably the best spell of bowling faced this season which deserved a wicket.

As the overs ticked by the runs began to flow, with Gorton producing an array of aggressive strokes to reach his fifty first.

Turner finally trapped Gorton LBW for 85 in the 29th over with The Elf on 134, opening the way for the returning Sam Stephens to step into the breach.

Mat Danks - late cameo.

Mat Danks – late cameo.

Stephens provided the heavy foot for the runs accelerator, driving the skipper along towards his century, before he was caught on the boundary off the bowling of Ralph for 28.

A late cameo appearance by Mat Danks – adding five not out, running out of overs just as he was looking good for a ton – saw The Elf set 223, a marked contrast to last week’s effort.

The pincer attack of Sam and Dave Stephens set about Highwood Park from the off with Sam’s effort (a miserly five runs off six overs for one wicket) alongside a virtuoso spell by Dave (eight overs, three maidens, eleven for one) setting the tone.

It was Dave Stephens who drew first blood, claiming Tallis for one thanks to a nifty catch by Tony Forrester in the fourth over.

Stephens Junior was next, forcing Turner to chip to Dave Preece for six in the eighth over before Ian Chuck struck with the first ball of his spell, claiming Ralph caught and bowled for four.

John Preece - two wickets for Champ.

John Preece – two wickets for Champ.

Then it was the turn of John Preece to do the damage, first claiming the wicket of Greenway LBW for seven and then claiming the scalp of Lapper for nought thanks to another brilliant catch by Forrester.

With the required run rate in excess of ten an over, top scorer Stephen Beattie creamed a succession of shots to the boundaries – including some magnificent cover drives – on his way to a head-turning top score of 23 before he was clean bowled by one of Chuck’s devious deliveries.

Meanwhile, Holliday, who had caused so much frustration for The Elf with the ball put on 11 before Forrester claimed his first wicket thanks to a catch from Sam Stephens.

Rob Hewlitt - first wicket of the season in his first spell.

Rob Hewlitt – first wicket of the season in his first spell.

Forrester claimed his second wicket, trapping Hutton LBW for a duck during a spell of devastating bowling which saw him claim two wickets in two overs for ten runs.

There was time for Rob Hewlitt to take his first wicket of the season in his first bowling spell, claiming the wicket of Hipkiss with a catch from Gorton and Matt Wright claimed the prized wicket of Shaun Allsopp thanks to a stumping by Fitzpatrick.

The 141 run victory levelled the three-match series (with the decider set for August 17) and paved the way for posh soap-based shower celebrations.

Batting Runs
Gorton, A lbw Turner

85

Preece, D not out

95

Stephens, S c Hipkiss b Ralph

28

Danks, M not out

5

Forrester, T did not bat
Stephens, D did not bat
Hewlitt, R did not bat
Chuck, I did not bat
Fitzpatrick, G did not bat
Preece, J did not bat
Wright, M did not bat
Extras

10

Walsall Health

 223

Bowling Overs Maidens Runs Wickets
Stephens, S

6

1

5

1

Stephens, D

8

3

11

1

Preece, J

5

1

17

2

Chuck, I

4

0

16

2

Forrester, T

2

0

10

2

Wright, M

3

0

15

1

Hewlitt, R 2 1 4 1

 

Man of the match: Dave Preece

Top bat: Dave Preece (95 not out)

Top bowler: Hard to say, pick the bones out of the stats above and chose for yourself

Rachel Hangover Rating: 8.5/10 – a really impressive return to form after an all-dayer in Digbeth.

v Highwood Park (22/6/2014)

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Highwood Park beat Walsall Health by six wickets.

Walsall Health’s unbeaten start to the season came to a halt with a defeat against local rivals Highwood Park in an entertaining and hard-fought game.

Nathan Martin - impressive performance with bat and ball.

Nathan Martin – impressive performance with bat and ball.

Missing several senior players, The Elf lined up an unusual looking starting eleven including Gary Fitzpatrick making his first appearance of the season and Tony Forrester making his first appearance since 1975.

Batting first, the Elf’s opening batsmen had varied results as Park’s strike bowling pair of Duncan and Holliday put the pressure on straight away.

Rob Hewlitt fell first, firing a handsome looking shot to mid-on where he was handily caught for four.

Hewlitt’s tally was matched by the world’s second most infamous South African number three, Ian Chuck, as he was trapped lbw by Duncan.

Tony Forrester - the last time he turned out for an Elf side The Osmonds were number one with 'Love Me For A Reason'.

Tony Forrester – the last time he turned out for an Elf side The Osmonds were number one with ‘Love Me For A Reason’.

At the other end, Andy Gorton was looking in excellent shape and capable of shoring up the below-strength batting order before he too fired a shot to the field and was caught for 26.

A spell of rebuilding and consolidation was required with The Elf in a precarious position of 43-3 after 13 overs.

The efforts of Danks (5), Wright (scoring two on his batting dayboo) and – in particular – Nathan Martin (17) and Stuart Slater (16), helped the Elf stabilise to 87-5 and look to build something approaching a challenging total.

The pairing of Slater and Martin was especially valuable, and also featured some of the finest comedy running between the wickets, producing slapstick not seen since Laurel and Hardy last trod the boards.

Sadly, The Elf were unable to produce any major tail-end heroics, although the 16 runs added by the last four batsmen (with Gary Fitzpatrick fooled by Highwood Park legend Chris Brownhill’s notoriously dangerous slow ball) proved vital in setting a total of 121.

NO BALL! Highwood Park legend Chris Brownhill bowls his legendary slow ball which bamboozled Gary Fitzpatrick.

NO BALL! Highwood Park legend Chris Brownhill bowls his legendary slow ball which bamboozled Gary Fitzpatrick.

Such a vulnerable total left The Elf with little wriggle room but a decent fist was made of trying to preserve it.

Against an opening attack of Martin and Dave Stephens, the Highwood Park dangermen of Shaun Allsopp and Olly Holliday looked reasonably comfortable in repelling the onslaught.

It took until the 11th over and the introduction of Ian Chuck into the attack that the breakthrough came, trapping Allsopp lbw for 11.

Number three Hipkiss was in no mood to hang around and was caught by Matt Wright at mid-off for two.

Ian Chuck - excellent bowling performance

Ian Chuck – excellent bowling performance

However, it would be Holliday who would be the danger man, notching up an impressive 37, which provided the visitors with an excellent platform on which to take the win.

He was joined by Evans, who endured a torrid time early on but settled in well to add on 32, including some impressive big shots.

Spin demon Wright eventually accounted for Holliday and John Preece’s bowling saw a magnificent one-handed catch by Hewlitt to give The Elf a glimmer of a chance of preserving their slender lead.

But the pairing of Ralphs and Hocknall were calmness personified, chipping away with a display of excellent batting under pressure to see their side home.

The Elf will have a swift opportunity to extract revenge as Highwood Park will be back at Aldridge next week for the Second Test.

Batting Runs
Gorton, A c b Duncan

26

Hewlitt, R c b Duncan

4

Chuck, I lbw Duncan

4

Danks, M  b Hockrell

5

Slater, S b Craig

16

Wright, M lbw Hockrell 2
Martin, N c b Ralph 17
Forrester, T c b Ralph 4
Fitzpatrick, G b Brownhill 3
Preece, J not out 5
Stephens, D lbw 4
Extras

30

Walsall Health

 121

Bowling Overs Maidens Runs Wickets
Forrester, T

5

0

21

0

Stephens, D

8

1

18

0

Preece, J

3

0

15

1

Martin, N

7.1

1

14

0

Wright, M

5

0

15

1

Chuck, I 8 0 18 2

Man of the match: Nathan Martin

Top bat: Andy Gorton (26 not out)

Top bowler: Ian Chuck, 18 for 2

Rachel Hangover Rating: 0/10. As promised, setting a good example to the rest of the team. Strongly suspect we could be looking at a 9 or 10 next week, however….

v Lichfield Nomads (15/6/2014)

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Walsall Health beat Lichfield Nomads by three wickets.

A fantastic Father’s Day Fifty by Andy Gorton played a huge part in maintaining The Elf’s remarkable unbeaten start to the season with a three wicket win over Lichfield Nomads.

Nathan Martin - hilariously threw his bat into a tree after getting a golden duck.

Nathan Martin – hilariously threw his bat into a tree after getting a golden duck.

But while previous matches during this campaign have often been dominated by dazzling individual performances, the win over Nomads was characterised by a brilliant all-round showing with every Elf player contributing to an excellent victory.

A tremendous day was capped off by Nathan Martin – who had earlier produced a sumptuous spell of bowling – was bowled for a duck and threw his bat into a tree in a fit of pique.

With The Elf fielding first, the breakthrough did not take long to arrive when Dave Stephens’ delivery to Stanley found the batsman’s glove and looped into the air.

Rich Fell - superb bowling performance by the skipper, who also grabbed the winning runs.

Rich Fell – superb bowling performance by the skipper, who also grabbed the winning runs.

Rich Fell, fielding at close quarters and like a coiled spring, took on gravity in a one on one, leaping forward with every sinew strained and plucked the falling ball from the air before it hit the ground.

Nomads’ woes continued shortly after when Sam Stephens produced an absolute pearler to account for Scott while prolific run scorer Gardner continued to tick along at the other end.

Nathan Martin stepped up and claimed the wicket of Mick, caught and bowled for just eight, and then clean bowled Bebb for a duck.

Nomads fought back with Heslington – who in addition to his unbeaten 46 with the bat also took a brilliant 14/4 with the ball – and Gardner putting on a stubborn resistance.

Mike Sayers - as brilliant in the field as he always was.

Mike Sayers – as brilliant in the field as he always was.

It took a cunningly sly ball by Preece to account for Gardner, clean bowling the danger man for 34.

A nifty catch by Danks at slip saw off Dave Rolfe for 11 from the bowling of Rich Fell (his figures, like those of Dave Stephens, not doing justice to their contribution) and Sam Stephens caught Hughes off the bowling of Preece for just one.

In only his second game, Matt Wright was handed the chance to bowl and grabbed it with both hands.

His four overs went for just 14 runs and he also claimed the scalp of Brannigan who was stumped by Gorton for one.

The total of 127 didn’t look hugely challenging and openers Rob Hewlitt and Gorton didn’t appear to be in the mood to hang around, setting about chasing in lively fashion.

Gorton in particular was brutal in his treatment of the Nomad opening attack while Hewlitt chose a massive six to open his scoring after a long, long, long, long spell of dot balls.

Matt Wright - brilliant first bowling spell and grabbed his first wicket.

Matt Wright – brilliant first bowling spell and grabbed his first wicket.

Hewlitt finally fell to Mick, edging to first slip, which saw Sam Stephens step into the fray.

A typically swashbuckling innings by Stephens saw him pillage a quick-fire 33.

When Gorton finally fell to Branningan for 53, closely followed by Stephens for 33, it appeared The Elf would skip over the finishing line with hardly a care in the world.

But a mini-collapse in the middle order, aided and abetted by Heslington’s devastating spell of bowling, slowed down the inevitable to an almost nail biting level.

Nathan Martin’s brilliant double hurling of his bat (first just in the air in anger) and then into the trees near the pavilion in slightly less anger as he walked from the field after being clean bowled first ball led to a record punishment in the fines committee after the game.

Andy Gorton - man of the match with a fantastic Father's Day 50.

Andy Gorton – man of the match with a fantastic Father’s Day 50.

The collapse left it to old heads Dave Stephens and Rich Fell to steady the ship and grab the runs needed to see The Elf home, ensuring a fourth win on the bounce and meaning the unbeaten streak in 2014 remains intact.

Batting Runs
Gorton, A b Brannigan

53

Hewlitt, R c Gardner b Mick

23

Stephens, S b Heslington

33

Slater, S  b Heslington

0

Sayers, M b Heslington

3

Danks, M b Heslington  0
Stephens, D not out  4
Martin, N b Heslington 0
Fell, R not out 3
Preece, J did not bat
Wright, M did not bat
Extras

9

Walsall Health

 128

Bowling Overs Maidens Runs Wickets
Stephens, S

5

1

8

1

Stephens, D

8

0

25

1

Preece, J

8

0

38

2

Martin, N

8

3

15

2

Fell, R

7

1

18

1

Wright, M

4

0

14

1

 

Man of the match: Andy Gorton

Top bat: Andy Gorton (53 not out)

Top bowler: Nathan Martin, 15 for 2

Rachel Hangover Rating: 1/10. Very poor. Considering there was an England football game the night before, this was a shocking effort.

Nathan proves he loves tees as well as teas and trees

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Bat-hurling Elf star Nathan Martin upset the odds in a breathtaking encounter by taking the WHCC Masters title from holder Rob Hewlitt in the second event at Star City.

Hewlitt was the holder of the tour trophy having dominated the first event in April.

Ian Chuck, Mat Danks, Rob Hewlitt, winner Nathan Martin and the tag team champions of the world line up.

Ian Chuck, Mat Danks, Rob Hewlitt, winner Nathan Martin and the tag team champions of the world line up.

But in a thrilling finale, Martin clinched the event by a single shot from a chasing pack with just two shots separating the top five golfers.

Nathan celebrated by throwing his putter into a tree.

v Beaumont (1/6/2014)

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Walsall Health beat Beaumont by 109 runs.

The Elf continued their unbeaten start to the season with a thumping defeat of Beaumont, aided and abetted by a tremendous performance by Kiwi import Jeremy Brady who played a huge part in the visitors’ downfall.

Jeremy Brady - a man-of-the-match showing by The Elf's guest Kiwi player in only his second game of cricket.

Jeremy Brady – a man-of-the-match showing by The Elf’s guest Kiwi player in only his second game of cricket.

After notching up two catches and a run out in what is only his second ever game of cricket (after the win at Lapworth last week), Brady may be receiving calls from the ECB about an appearance in the England side (ok, we know he’s not English… but that’s not strictly… ah, you know where we’re going with this joke).

Missing skipper Dave Preece and Rich Fell, stand-in-skipper Dave Stephens (who also registered an excellent showing) took charge while long-time Thursday night net stalwart Matt Wright made his dayboo with an brilliant fielding performance.

Winning the toss and electing to bat, The Elf did not make the best of starts with Andy Gorton dismissed lbw for six.

As it turned out, this only opened the way to one of the all-time epic Elf batting partnerships as Rob Hewlitt and Sam Stephens were given the chance to bat with a sophisticated combination of poise and penetration. Hewlitt played an immense innings in the face of some consistent and nagging bowling, adding 67 to the total before departing.

Matt Wright - brilliant dayboo for the Elf

Matt Wright – brilliant dayboo for the Elf

But it was again Sam Stephens who did the most damage with the bat, his 81 not out featuring a array of stylish shots.

Following the departure of Hewlitt, it was left to Gareth Preece to forge a partnership with the in-from batsmen, a task he achieved with aplomb by adding an important 39 to the total.

Having set a target of 222, The Elf will have fancied their chances given the impressive bowling performances of late.

Gareth Preece drew first blood in just the second over, taking the wicket of Jandhu thanks to a brilliant catch by Brady at mid-off.

Sam Stephens - immense. Again.

Sam Stephens – immense. Again.

The opening attack of Sam Stephens and Preece put the pressure on Beaumont and after nine overs the visitors were 11 for 2 thanks to Sam Stephens taking the scalp of the other opener Hall.

It was the pressure added by the miserly opening attack that really proved the downfall of Beaumont as they were forced to swing in order to give themselves a chance of reaching the total set by The Elf.

Despite a stubborn spell at the crease, Grainger was eventually dismissed for 17 thanks to another jaw-dropping catch by Brady, this time off the bowling of Stephens. Rand also proved obdurate, before skipper Dave Stephens – who varied his pace and approach with amazing effect – clean bowled him.

Beaumont – a traditionally troublesome opponent over the years for The Elf – were far from beaten and the arrival of big hitting R Johnson (who ended up on 30 not out as a succession of batting partners fell by the wayside) meant the game was never out of their reach.

John Preece - an excellent wicket for The Champ.

John Preece – an excellent wicket for The Champ.

But the run-out of Jandhu by Brady was the start of a collapse which was only really alleviated by a knock by G Hall which might have had some of The Elf fielders working out run chances.

The arrival of Ian Chuck – the ruin of many a batting line-up – saw off any sign of dissent, taking three wickets late on, most notably that of Hall to end what had been an awkward partnership.

Chuck ended up with three wickets in total and there was also opportunity for John Preece to bag a wicket, trapping Johnson lbw for just one.

But it was left to Chuck to wrap up the result that, by then, was in no doubt as he clean-bowled Gordon to leave The Elf unbeaten after four matches and enjoying a three-match winning streak.

Batting Runs
Gorton, A lbw Grainger

6

Hewlitt, R b Johnson, M

67

Stephens, S Not out

81

Preece, G Not out

39

Danks, M dnb

0

Wright, M dnb
Brady, J dnb
Stephens, D dnb
Preece, J dnb
Chuck, I dnb
Hall, C dnb
Extras

28

Walsall Health

 221

Bowling Overs Maidens Runs Wickets
Stephens, S

8

0

16

2

Stephens, D

5

0

27

2

Preece, G

5

1

10

1

Hall, C

6

0

37

0

Chuck, I

5

1

19

3

Preece, J

2

0

7

1

 

Man of the match: Jeremy Brady

Top bat: Sam Stephens (81 not out)

Top bowler: Ian Chuck, 19 for 3

Rachel Hangover Rating: 5/10 (Despite Rachel’s best efforts to claim she was hanging, she was – in fact – in pretty decent nick. Needs to try harder, in our opinion.)

v Lapworth (25/5/2014)

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Walsall Health beat Lapworth by 155 runs.

Walsall Health marked the passing of their late captain, team mate and friend Tim Oliver with a record-breaking win at Lapworth which, it is generally agreed, he would have ABSOLUTELY loved.

Sam Stephens - an immense performance with both bat and ball.

Sam Stephens – an immense performance with both bat and ball.

Without a shadow of a doubt the highlight was a devastating performance by Sam Stephens with both the bat and the ball. Sam first knocked 61 on a pitch that was far from conducive to run scoring before duly ripping apart the Lapworth top order with a spell of delicious bowling that saw him end with figures of four wickets for five runs.

The Elf welcomed overseas player Jeremy Brady to the ranks (his Peaky Blinders-style headwear immediately helped win over his new team-mates) while Gareth Preece made his first appearance for a couple of years due to an exile in the Australian Penal Colony meaning three Preece Brothers lined up for the historic game.

The worst Welsh Bee Gees tribute ever - the Preece Brothers Gareth, John and Dave together at last.

The worst Welsh Bee Gees tribute EVER – the Preece Brothers Gareth, John and Dave together at last.

The Preece Brothers (Gareth and Dave) opened the batting on a track that began in stubborn fashion. While Dave (still suffering from his stag do the previous evening) ground out nine, Gareth soon rediscovered his touch with the bat and added an impressive 23.

The mysterious absence of Stuart Slater from the line-up was soon explained by the sign at the Lapworth club house.

The mysterious absence of Stuart Slater from the line-up was soon explained by the sign at the Lapworth club house.

But it was Sam Stephens’ input that really laid the foundations, his score of 61 an impressive array of shots on a slow track and even slower outfield. His cause was helped no end by Andy Gorton – fresh from his spell with IPL Franchise Goa Geriatrics – whose wily use of sweep-shots helped build the total to a competitive one.

A useful partnership by Hewlitt and Danks built things even further before an important cameo by Brady at the end (and a monster six by Hewlitt, the only six of the game) helped The Elf to a total of 183.

Jeremy Brady - overseas Kiwi export made an excellent dayboo for The Elf.

Jeremy Brady – overseas Kiwi export made an excellent dayboo for The Elf.

Lapworth’s response immediately hit the rocks with Sam Stephens shattering the stumps of Favre for just two in his first over.

Fellow opening bowler Gareth Preece (recovering quickly from an almost decapitating first ball) soon snared the wicket of the other opener McCormick, thanks to an accomplished catch by Hewlitt.

Sam then saw off Wright and McCluskey with two absolute beauties before it was the turn of Stephens Senior to get in on the act, first clean bowling Seeley for six and then tempting Clarke to nudge one up in the air to the dependable hands of Chris Hall.

Hall himself got the wicket his brilliant spell deserved when Winter tried to drive him onto to find Gareth Preece at mid-off.

It was left to the devastating force of Ian Chuck to see off the last residual threat offered by Lapworth, taking both Stephenson and McCormick for ducks leaving the home side with a total of just 28.

Today’s game was a fitting tribute to our late colleague who would have enjoyed the controversy (a couple of glaring decisions didn’t go our way) but most of all the spirit and energy shown by The Elf.

Tim, that one was for you.

Batting Runs
Preece, D b Seeley

9

Preece, G b McCormick

23

Stephens, S c McGreary b Stephenson

61

Gorton, A c McCluskey b Favre

38

Danks, M b Seeley

5

Hewlitt, R not out

29

Brady, J run out

3

Stephens, D dnb
Preece, J dnb
Chuck, I dnb
Hall, C dnb
Extras

15

Walsall Health

 183

Bowling Overs Maidens Runs Wickets
Stephens, S

5

3

5

4

Stephens, D

5

3

8

2

Preece, G

3

1

4

1

Hall, C

5

3

5

1

Chuck, I

3

2

1

2

Preece, J

1

0

4

0

 

Man of the match: Sam Stephens

Top bat: Sam Stephens (61)

Top bowler: Sam Stephens 4 for 5

Rachel Hangover Rating: 0/10 (Shocking effort. Rubbish. She could walk in a straight line and touch her nose at the same time and EVERYTHING. The only thing is that we know she is going to be back with a vengeance before long)

Tim Oliver: a tribute

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It is with great sadness that we report the passing of former Walsall Health captain Tim Oliver today at the age of 56.

Tim demonstrates to team mates how far outside off stump the ball that he was given out lbw to had pitched.

Tim demonstrates to team mates how far outside off stump the ball that he was given out lbw to had pitched.

Legend is a disposable word in this day and age, but Tim is a Walsall Health legend in the purest sense of the word.

Tim, who was also the leader of the Labour group on Walsall Council, will be remembered as a fiery, committed and supremely talented batsman and bowler whose trademark ‘square-jaw’ look at crucial stages during games served as an inspiration to his team mates and a warning sign to the opposition about what was likely to happen in the near future.

A multiple record holder for The Elf, Tim started playing for the club in the late 80s along with a number of colleagues from his other team Walsall Phoenix who joined the mid-week side.

He would soon take over as skipper the sunday side, taking over from Martin Liggins. After handing over the captaincy to Rich Fell, Tim continued playing right up until 2012, including an appearance at the club’s 25th anniversary game (see photo above) where he was in typically combative form.

He was a man whose snarling and intense manner on the cricket field regularly gave way to a beaming smile which never failed to be disarming, especially when accompanied by a friendly slap on the shoulder for newer players to the fold, which was always a reassuring and welcome gesture.

He was also famous for his quiet walks around the boundary, no doubt occupying himself with solving the latest political challenge he had to face.

Steve Fell, a team mate for over 20 years, said: “Tim was held in high regard with everybody who played with him – and with a good many of the opposition who appreciated his never-say-die and combative attitude.

“He could be a hot-blooded player but rarely with his own teammates, preferring to save his infamous ‘square-jaw’ moments for the opposition.

“The only time he would be annoyed with one of his own players would be if they gave him out – dropped catches and misfields were quickly forgiven.

“He had a sharp mind and I – as do many others – remember the deep and meaningful conversations to be had walking around the boundary.

“But above all Tim was a tremendous fighter and had no idea what was a lost cause.

“This was most obvious when he was involved in a horrific car accident some years ago which left him with multiple injuries.

“Many believed he would struggle to walk again, let alone play cricket. But his sheer determination saw him return to the field and, although he might have lost a yard of pace from his bowling and was a little slower in the field, he was still probably the best player in the team.

“He showed this fighting spirit to the very end when he was clearly very ill and many would have given up.”

Team mate Rick Jarrams said: “On the field Tim was a colossus, amazing with both bat and ball and a reluctant but successful captain for several years.

“Tim will always be a true WHCC legend and will be sadly missed by your team mates past and present and also by many of our friendly opponents over the years.”

At 56, Tim was taken from us far too soon. But he leaves memories and everybody involved at Walsall Health Cricket Club send their deepest sympathies to his family and friends.

Team mates, wherever they may be this evening, will no doubt raise a glass to Tim.

v Darley Abbey (4/5/2014)

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Walsall Health beat Darley Abbey by 21 runs.

After a late cancellation saw a hole appearing in Walsall’s early season schedule, excellent work by Sam Stephens led to a first appearance by The Elf at Darley Abbey’s ground on the outskirts of Derby.

Nathan Martin - scowered on his dayboo for The Elf.

Nathan Martin – scowered on his dayboo for The Elf.

Thoroughly delightful people, a magnificent picturesque setting (with the tranquil peace shattered only by a foul-mouthed ginger outburst in the Elf batting innings) and – frankly – the best tea seen by even the most food-obsessed visitor, made for a great sunny Bank Holiday encounter.

Due to the hastily arranged fixture, and with regulars absent (including Andy Gorton flying to India to appear for IPL franchise Goa Geriatrics and with record-busting Chris Hall at the world snooker final) it was an unfamiliar Elf line-up.

Thankfully, three guests from the opposition – Uzzi and Allon Scotton and wicketkeeper Amy Jepson – and debutant Nathan Martin all had a day to remember while Elf stalwart Sam Stephens – who also turns out for Darley Abbey on a Saturday – enjoyed mixed fortunes.

Jamie Icke - man-of-the-match showing with both bat and ball.

Jamie Icke – man-of-the-match showing with both bat and ball.

It was debutant Nathan Martin and Elf (semi) regular (and Darley Abbey mainstay) Jamie Icke who perhaps made the most telling contributions in a tight, tense, low-scoring affair.

Batting first, it appeared that the visitors were well set with openers Icke and Rob Hewlitt successfully carving out runs on a pitch that was tough to score on.

But with Hewlitt out for an impressive 25, the tide turned and the Elf found themselves in something of a pickle.

The usual dangermen – Sam Stephens, Dave Stephens, Mat Danks and Dave Preece – were all out for just one run between them, with Danks claiming 100% of that accumulative total.

Thankfully, Icke was able to continue scoring, eventually building a total of 45 before being bowled, while Ian Chuck chipped in with a valuable ten and debutant Martin added a vital 13 to the low Elf total (smashing some cultured drives along the way).

And these runs would prove crucial later on as The Elf battled to a total of 122.

Despite the relatively low target, The Elf did at least have the comfort of having skipper Dave Preece for a full game this week and a handy bowling arsenal to call upon.

Dave Preece - Captain fantastic managed a full game this week to the delight of everyone.

Dave Preece – Captain fantastic managed a full game this week to the delight of everyone.

The big guns in that arsenal, the Stephens pincer movement, put the screws on the home side from the off.

During their combined 16 overs, the father and son duo of Sam and Dave Stephens leaked a mere 32 runs for 3 wickets with Dave on 23-2 and Sam at his miserly best at 9-1.

Dave Stephens saw off opener Edwards (who had done much of the damage with the ball) for two which set up the partnership which would be the foundation of much of their response.

The partnership of Smith and Gillet, although pegged down by the unerring accuracy and high-pressure bowling served up in particular by the Stephens’, Icke and Martin (who might have grabbed a wicket with his first ball but for a sharp catch dropped at slip), frustrated attempts to remove them.

That was until Icke finally saw off Gillet with a monster delivery for 23.

And then guest player Allon Scotton – who had been not out for four with the bat – took the prize wicket of Smith for 37 thanks to a nifty catch behind the sticks by Jepson.

Scotton’s bowling – and all-round performance was immense – and his figures of 7 for 1 off six overs actually didn’t do justice to his contribution.

With Smith gone, it was a relatively straightforward affair as the pressure built by The Elf both bowling and in the field forced the home side into riskier shots than they would have perhaps liked.

Sam Stephens accounted for the wicket of Wilkinson – who ground out his 11 runs in challenging circumstances – while Ian Chuck contributed an awesome display of tight spin bowling that not only caused all sorts of problems for the batsmen but also saw him nab two wickets key wickets.

Ultimately, the home side fell 21 runs short as The Elf continued their unbeaten run of two games in a fixture that, without exception, all members of the visiting side hope will become a regular affair.

We are particularly grateful to Isaac, Allon and Amy for making themselves available and for their sparkling performances for The Elf which will do their chances for Darley Abbey no harm at all.

Batting Runs
Icke, J b Thomas

45

Hewlitt, R c Darkins b Wilkinson

25

Stephens, S c Hodgson b Thomas

0

Danks, M run out

1

Stephens, S lbw Wilkinson

0

Chuck, I ct b Edwards

10

Preece, D run out

0

Scotton, I ct b Edwards

0

Martin, N b Da Silva

13

Scotton, A not out 4
Jepson, A lbw  Da Silva 0
Extras

24

Walsall Health

 122

Bowling Overs Maidens Runs Wickets
Stephens, S

8

3

9

1

Stephens, D

8

1

23

2

Martin, N

4

0

16

0

Chuck, I

8

2

11

2

Icke, J

6

0

23

2

Scotton, A

6

3

7

1

 

Man of the match: Jamie Icke

Top bat: Jamie Icke (45)

Top bowler: Allon Scotton 7 for 1

Dai Preece Hangover Rating: 9/10 (Rachel would have been proud, and it showed in that the scorebook was far more accurate than normal)