v Lichfield Nomads (A) 25/07/21

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@lichnomadscc

Walsall Health participated in another entertaining game when they travelled away to face Lichfield Nomads at Walsall Cricket Club. For a few of the Health members, it wasn’t the first time they had played there, but it was possibly one of the most entertaining games they had taken part in.

Just like last week, captain Alex Nunns came back from the toss having lost it and Walsall Health was put in the field. It was to be the only call that Nunns got wrong all day. This was all taking place as Health legends appeared from nowhere. Regulars John Nicholls and Rick Jarrams were in the crowd, but another famous face in Health circles made an appearance in one Steve Fell, father of current player, Richard. However, Uncle Tim wasn’t able to make it.

So the Health went out to the field knowing they needed a strong start if they were going to make early inroads in to the Nomad batting card. That job was given to DS and new boy (not so new now) Dave Clive (DC). Dave Stephens was set to bowl the first ball of the game. He charged in with the control and guile of – well, a man in control. The ball whistled past the opener Gardner and was snaffled up by keeper Andy Gorton. There was so much force behind the attempted shot that the bat went further than the ball. However, after that surprising start, things calmed down. Gardner and opening partner and keeper Rolfe buckled down and batted in a fashion that showed they wanted to be there for the long haul. A magnificent opening partnership of 71 had everything; good running, controlled shots, flashes to the boundary and some cagey running between the wickets. No matter what Clive and DS did, the batsmen had an answer for everything. Despite no wickets being taken, both bowlers could hold their heads up high with encouraging figures of 0-15 off 8 overs for DS and 0-19 off 6 overs for DC.

The first change came when Dan Armstrong replaced Dave Clive in the 15th over (for one over). His introduction could have caused a potential problem, if Dan’s first over was anything to go by, the batsmen were going to find it hard to score. However, the breakthrough came from the second change 7 overs after the first (of two) drinks breaks. Andy Ince (replacing D. Armstrong) got the breakthrough when opener Rolfe skied a good length ball straight up in the air where serial fielder of the year winner R. Fell steadied himself (hoping to claim his 100th elf catch) when all of a sudden bowler Ince took it upon himself to call “mine” and took the catch comfortably. After a good start Rolfe and Gardner made, the Health had got the breakthrough. After 21 overs, the score read 71-1. Could the Health build on that success? Like the opening bowlers, Armstrong and Ince looked composed and confident. New batsman Brannigan was hoping to build the same sort of score as the opening pair did. However, this was not to be the case as wicket number two came soon after. Once again, Ince showed his quality with the ball as he removed Brannigan for a 6 ball duck when he bowled him and sent the bails flying. Ince was on a roll. Could he make anymore inroads to the Nomads innings? Unfortunately, the answer was no, but he left his side in a more positive position than when he entered the fray. His final figures were 2-35 off 6 overs. Good spell Andy.  

While Andy was taking all the glory from the car park end, it was tougher for Armstrong (who by this time was bowling up the hill), where he huffed and puffed and toiled for 6 overs for 32 runs without any success. However, despite not getting a wicket to his name, he probably felt he deserved partial credit for the fall for the next wicket when David Preece, fielding at point, threw a pinpoint accurate throw to keeper Gorton who whipped off the bails and removed the opener Gardner who had played so well for his 47. It was great fielding all round and Gort’s reactions showed just why he is so reliable behind the stumps (no matter what gloves he is wearing). While the credit went to D. Preece (and probably deserved), it was all down to the build up of pressure by both Armstrong and Ince. Super teamwork.  

All those of the Health persuasion felt the tide was turning. From a strong opening 20 overs of patient batting, for the next 6 overs, the score went from 71-1 to 110-3. Still a good score, but the Health had just pulled it back a little. Nunns felt the atmosphere on the pitch change and decided to bring on the other half of the Preece double act – Jonathan Preece – to see if he could add to his 95 wickets he had taken for the Health. Preece, not always the most consistent bowler started off decently with 2 runs off his first 5 balls. However, his 6th ball couldn’t have been more perfect. He came in and bowled, batsman Loxley’s eyes lit up and missed it. The ball crashed into the stumps and JP had his first wicket of the day. Unfortunately, the control that JP showed in that first over went missing for the next 6 overs. Despite being hit for more 4’s (8 in total), Preece picked up his second wicket of the day in the same fashion as his first wicket. JP finished off with figures of 2-58 off 7 overs.

Preece was ‘supported’ at the other end by Health stalwart R.Fell, who for the first time in almost a decade, was performing in front of one of the Health originals and legend that is his father Steve Fell, a man who represented the Elf with great distinction.  Rich kept plugging away at the car park end, where the batsmen were intent on going over the top time after time. His first 4 overs went for just over 5 an over. After that his luck began to change. However, not before a 6 cleared the boundary and then the main stand at Walsall. A change of ball obviously did the trick. The very next ball, Turnbull, tried exactly the same shot, but the middle stump went flying. However he wasn’t satisfied with the one wicket. The very next over, he removed Mahmood after he was caught brilliantly by R. Hewlitt for a destructive 64. If Mahmood had stayed there to the end, the game might have been tighter than it ended up being. Well batted, and well bowled Rich for that crucial wicket.  Fell finally finished on 3-49 off 7 overs when, with the last ball of the innings, he clean bowled Westwood for 13 who tried to clear the boundary with one big swipe.

 After 40 overs, Lichfield Nomads finished with the respectable total of 218-8. A total that was competitive, but by no means unreachable. It was rumoured that Fell sr stated that he witnessed “a bowling master class”, before adding “until the last two came on”. We will have to see what comes of that.

It was Walsall Health’s turn to bat after the tea interval. It was a call that Nunns had to get right if the Elf were to make a decent fight of it if they were to knock all 219 runs off. So he decided to go with two batsmen, who on their day could take the game away from the fielding side; D. Armstrong – with his powerful, no-nonsense hitting, and D. Preece –  the grafter.  Health needed a good solid start to calm any nerves. It started positively with a boundary off the first over from Armstrong. However, that would be the only scoring shot Armstrong would enjoy as he fell with the score on 5 after he tried to bludgeon the ball to the boundary but only succeeded in finding the hands of Mahmood for 4 off the bowling of Bryars. Not the start the Health needed, or wanted. But one thing that the Health can count on, is their formidable club pro; Dan Dunn. He strolled out to the middle with the knowledge that another quick wicket, and Lichfield Nomads would have their tails up. If Dan felt the pressure, he didn’t show it. The second ball he faced was dispatched to the boundary for 4 and Dan was off the mark. While both Dan and Dave Preece were going about their business of knocking the runs off, a fascinating conversation was brewing in the stands where both players and fans were seated. The conversation was to decipher who actually hit the shots. Both batsmen looked a similar build and they both wore blue helmets. It was decided the batsmen could be identified by their bats. While one observer stated David had a lighter shade of blue helmet, another mentioned “At least it’s not Tom or Greg”, at which the family enclosure erupted into hysterics. This was not to be the only time they were to break out into fits of laughter. Shortly after, bowling machine Richard Fell, fresh after the departure of his family, came to the conclusion that if he was to have another child, they would be called Tripton!  (Unorthodox, but it’s got a good ring to it.) How scorer Andy Gorton managed to keep concentration while all this was going on was exemplary.

The only thing Rob “hooked” this week.

D. Preece and Dunn were motoring along nicely. After every ball, the confidence was growing. They played sensibly, with flashes of brilliance. It was one of the few things that Dai Preece managed to see with clarity, even if he couldn’t tell who was who. An example of the flashes of brilliance was when on 75, Dan Dunn hit a magnificent 6 over mid-on and towards the Health followers. If it hadn’t been for one Mrs S. Preece, some might have been nursing cracked bones in the aftermath. Her quick reactions enabled her to catch the ball and return it to the field of play. The first major milestone came when firstly Dan Dunn reached his 50, shortly followed by former captain Preece to record his fifty. The next milestone came in the 19th over where they got their 100 run partnership. It was neck and neck as to who would blink first. It was then that mumblings of records being broken. There were still over 20 overs to go, but neither of them looked like getting out. No sooner had that been mentioned, David Preece skied one and the on rushing keeper Rolfe called it, but was unable to steady himself and take the catch. Thankfully, for the Health perspective, David took full advantage of his second opportunity. Both batsmen grew increasingly confident as their scores progressed and it wasn’t long before Dan reached his maiden century after hitting a sumptuous 4. Could they bat to the end?  The next major milestone was reaching the 200 run partnership with 10 overs to go. There was hope both could go all the way.

While most were reasonably confident of victory, there were some who still thought of a potential ‘England-style collapse’ even with 19 runs to get and 9 wickets left.  One remark from Gort was “If we lose from here, I’m never playing cricket again”. Just as he finished that, Preece was caught behind off the bowling of Westwood for a well deserved 71, but he was to be outshone by Dunn. In to replace D. Preece at number 4 (a promotion up the order) was another former captain R. Hewlitt. He entered the crease possibly hoping to be there at the end of the innings. Unfortunately, his time at the crease didn’t last long, but still came away with one more run to the total. He was bowled unluckily by Westwood, where it hit Rob’s bat, trickled down and spun back onto his stumps. After his recent performances, he would have felt confident of batting to the end, but unfortunately, it wasn’t to be. Really unlucky Rob.

Dan Dunn (left) after his magnificent 108 next to former skipper D.Preece

That left the score at 212 for 3 and in walked Alex Nunns to finish the job off. Only 6 more were needed and D. Dunn was still at the crease. After scoring his century, could the ‘club pro’ hold out to the end?  However, it turned out to be one shot too many for Dunn who succumbed to Hughes for a magnificent 108. It was a tremendous knock and he received a well deserved standing ovation from all who watched.  Not only did he reach his maiden Elf century, but he also contributed to an outstanding second wicket partnership of 206. Super knock Dan. It was left for the captain Nunns and opening bowler Dave Clive to knock off the runs and pull off an exceptional win. Although the final two only contributed 8 runs (with DC getting all 8), both men were invaluable. Dave’s tidy bowling at the very start of the game set the foundations for the Nomad’s innings and Alex’s all round performance as captain making tricky calls and a quiet encouraging word for anyone he felt needed words of wisdom – or should that be Wisden.   

After the dust had settled, after the celebrations had died down, the overall assessment of the game was that it was played in the right spirit and win, lose or draw, everyone had a great day out.             

Author JP

Title photo curtesy of Lichfield Nomads CC @lichnomadscc

Batting
Bowling

v Bayshill CC (A) 18/07/21

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This week saw the elf’s faithful make a long journey to Winchcombe, Gloucestershire, to play Bayshill. This fixture was originally mean to be the resurrection of the club tour but a certain virus has put a spanner in most people’s plans. Anyhow, The elf made the 100 mile round trip to play a game in what many can only describe as one of the most picturesque grounds we have ever had the privilege to play at. With a view of the Cotswold hills and a castle, this ground had it all, and the game was not a disappointment.

After a 10 man elf side turned up to ground, and cars were parked in the designated spots, Alex Nunns and the opposition captain, walked out to toss the coin. On a baking hot day where shade was sparse and fiercely contested over, Alex Nunns walked back looking dejected after losing the toss, the elf were bowling! Dave Stephens and Dave Clive opened up. It all looked so promising in the first over when Dave Stephens bowled a beautiful delivery which the opener Pritchard fended off and the ball looped to short cover, where Chuck made a desperate dive, the ball went in, then bounced out and Chuck earned a lovely graze on his elbow and a few jibes from self-proclaimed slip catching expert, D. Armstrong. Meanwhile, Dave Clive bowled from the other end but struggled to find his rhythm. After 4 overs, the elf had their first breakthrough when Horner was bowled by Stephens. The next wicket fell shortly afterwards when after a few excellent deliveries, DS claimed the second wicket of the day when Van Dyke skied a ball to the ever-safe hands of Alex Nunns who took the catch at mid-off. Bayshill seemed to build scoring a few lusty blows from both Pritchard and Pierce, against the elf taking them past the first drinks break at 10 overs on 40-2. After drinks, Dave Clive was asked to have a blow and on came Dan Armstrong. Meanwhile at the other end DS continued to whittle away and was awarded with his third of the day when Pritchard hit another ball straight in the air down Alex Nunns throat again. With 3 wickets DS had his tail up and after a six and four, he was soon rewarded with the 4th wicket as Liley was bowled by DS. The host on 56-4. Meanwhile Armstrong continued his excellent line and was rewarded trapping the dangerous looking Pierce for LBW for a well batted 34. With DS having bowled his full quota of overs it was time for the spin twins of Josh Butler  and JP to have a go. All the flight and guile proved to be ineffective against S. Liley and S. Price who batted watchfully and put away bad balls. The score proceeded nicely past 100. Eventually Josh was rewarded when S Liley hit a blow to Chuck at mid-wicket who snaffled it gratefully with the hosts on 109-6 after 26 overs. With less than 10 overs remaining Bayshill sent out Young Harding who tried to reverse sweep Butler first ball and was met with howls of laughter from around the ground, pride damaged but wicket still intact, Harding then proceeded to support Price adding a few lovely, technically correct shots that saw him quickly arrive at 22. With a few overs remaining and the spinners all bowled out, the ball was tossed to Chuck, who in uncommon fashion decided to bowl seam. His first few overs were unsuccessful in finding any breakthrough. Dave Clive was brought back on and was able to claim the young Harding for 22. The final over of Chucks went for 10 after a couple of hits to the boundary and the hosts trudged off the pitch with the score on 158 after 35 overs, with Chuck vowing never again to bowl seam again in a match.

Tea was a quiet affair with a delightful view. Please see pictures attached.

After a few refreshments the Elf made their way out to the middle with the 2 Dans trying to chase the score down. Armstrong set about his usually aggressive stance and quickly found himself on 38 before he hot one to many in the air down Deep mid wickets throat and a catch well held saw the elf lose their first man for 63. During this time the wise heads of Bayshill rotated the bowlers trying to find the breakthrough but had no reward. As the old saying goes, one brings two and soon Dan Dunn found himself back in the hutch for 16 after being bowled by Harding. Rob Hewlitt and Alex Nunns then carried on accumulating the runs, with some excellent running between the wickets (who would expect anything else with Rob at the crease) and the heaths score found itself on a healthy 145. Next calamity struck with only 13 runs needed Nunns departed after being bowled the usual Jaffa, a ball that moved both ways and clipped the bails. It mist be noted that during the run chase the Elf were well informed of various sporting events with the Formula one, Golf and Cricket commentaries being broadcast on multiple devices, thank you to the wonderful technological era! With promises of the bar being opened at 5pm, Armstrong was loitering like a teenage youth outside a convenience store, waiting for the chance to quench his thirst and hangover from the night before. Bayshill had one more trick up their sleeve, when Gorton in uncharacteristic style walked past the ball to be stumped for a duck…his excuse “I wanted a reason to get the duck trophy this year” (not everyone was convinced by this). Chuck walked out to the middle and proceeded to hit the next 2 balls for 4. 8 off 2 what has happened to the Chuck from Alrewas?? (A reminder it was 28 from 82 balls!!). With the last over Rob Hewlitt struck the final boundary and the game was over.

Naturally The elf stayed for fines and many a good laugh was had with our opposition. A big hand to Chally for finding an absolute peach of a ground and a great bunch of guys to play against.

Next week sees the Elf playing away against Lichfield Nomads. Keep your eyes open for the next exciting match report. 

V Trent Valley (H) 13/06/21

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Today saw the Elf host visitors Trent Valley at Carter Park. A huge hand to our opponents for wanting to get the game on in what can only be described as a scorcher. On Friday, with there being no fixture, a massive hand to Chris Hall who slaved away tirelessly to get a fixture. Both teams had 10 men each, with the elf lending a player to our visitors, David Preece was chosen to play for our opponents. After Alex strolled out to the middle and lost the toss, the only person who seemed slightly happy was Chucky, who was relishing the opportunity to try on the gloves for the first time… I think we can all guess where this is going.

M James and Dave Preece (Ex-health captain and 3 times batsmen of the year award) opened up for Trent Valley. The Elf opted for a star man with the ball and a man whom it can safely be said we were all pleased to see return to the field, welcome back Dave Stephens! Meanwhile at the other end A Dunn opened up bowling a maiden in true Nicka form. The pair continued to toil away for no reward for a few overs. It must be said at this point Chuck had already let 12 byes past him and had broken Gorts new gloves after only one full games use…this could become a costly fines for Chuck. James and Preece continued to dispatch balls away to the boundary and after 10 overs the score was nicely poised at 43-0. Both Stephens and Dunn bowled out with figures respectively (8-2-38-0) and (8-2-23-0). With the visitors set on 77-0 after 16 it was time for the Elf’s first bowling changes, step up Club Pro and the first son of the day, Dan Dunn. From his favourite end, he came up the travellator to release a barrage of furious bowling which was rewarded with 9 runs for the opposition in his first over. From the other end the second son of the day Sam Stephens came on to bowl and bowled with some pace and aggression that has not been seen for a week since Armstrong’s excellent spell against Lichfield Nomads. The second over from Dan Dunn saw the first wicket of the day, with the ball bending like a banana and seaming equally as far, it was by either luck or no luck that Dan had yet to claim his first wicket. Dann bowled the ball and James who had been batting well, skied the ball into the hands of Armstrong. In came Wooba, who looked solid, but against the pace of Stephens eventually fell for 8. In came B Sherriff who looked tidy but snicked off to a ball from Stephens and Chuck who behind the wickets had already conceded a fair few runs in byes held the chance. Meanwhile David Preece at the other end who survived an early edge to slip, continued to pile on the runs quickly approaching his 30. After about 20 overs, Nunns made the decision to bring on Jonny Preece to hopefully break the deadlock and claim the precious scalp of his brother. JP bowled his 8 overs with excellent control and some fantastic spinning deliveries but was unable to claim the all important wicket of his brother. Dave Preece on the other hand was proving masterful at finding the gaps, sneaking singles and dispatching balls to the boundary the score quickly progressed to well into the 70’s. At the other end Ash was also useful at rotating the strike and running well between the wickets. The opponents score was progressing higher and higher into the hundreds and approaching the double hundred. After a beautiful cover drive brought up his 100, David Preece took the honourable decision to retire and allow some of the other players the chance to bat. A massive hand to David, word cannot do justice to how well David played, offering very few chances and looking in supreme form. Hansh came into the crease and hit a few lusty blows to the boundary. With Stephens finishing his spell, Alex threw the ball to all-rounder Dan Armstrong who bowled with some pace and accuracy to remove Hansh for 12 runs. Next in came Beck who hit a nice boundary before he hit the ball into the air to the safe hands of Dan Dunn ‘Club Pro’ on the boundary. Nando was the next batsmen in who sadly fell to a good delivery off Armstrong for 0. The final batsmen who made it out the crease was B Sherriff who scored some excellent runs and supporting Ash was able to take the visitors to a very good total 234-6. On a good Rushall wicket with a fielder light, the elf went into tea feeling optimistic.

After a hearty lunch, it was the Elf’s turn to bat, Armstrong and Chuck opened up. After 2 overs Armstrong fell to a full delivery as he stepped across all 3 stumps only to hear the dreaded thump and A Dunn found no reason not to give him. Armstrong departed and in came Nunns. Chuck and Nunns set about scoring runs from some hostile fast bowling from young B Sherriff who bowled with good pace and set up a few traps for the batsmen, who were lucky not to fall into them. While at the other end Timmis bowled a handy line and length to the batsmen depriving them of any easy scoring opportunities. At 10 overs young Sherriff was taken off and can feel hard done not to have a wicket to his name. Spinner Beck replaced Sherriff and bowled a tight line to both Chuck and Nunns and continued to apply the pressure to both batsmen. Timmis was replaced by Nando who bowled stump to stump giving away even fewer scoring chances. After 14 overs the score progressed to a handy 68 -1.

Dan Dunn 0…must be missing his old mate

Then disaster struck, Chuck who looked set on 37, struck a ball straight down mid-on’s throat who took an excellent catch on his shoulder. For the next 4 overs wickets fell every over. First Rob Hewlitt who played a Kane Williamson esque shot, played late, a touch too late and the ball tickled the stump and removed the bail for the first duck of the innings. Next to fall was Nathan Reeves who tried ‘the shot’ off Nando’s tight bowling to only be rewarded to hear the stump clunk, Nathan dismissed for 0 and the second duck of the innings. Next to fall was Alex Nunns for a well-played 31, he tried a big shot for the ball to go higher than the Eiffel tower and to fall into the hands of mid on who had made a superb catch low down to dismiss Alex. After that was Dan Dunn, similar to Rob’s dismissal, played the ball so late that he was similarly rewarded to see the bails removed for 0, the third duck of the game.

Sam and Dave…great to see them back.

At the crease now were the father son batting pairing of Sam and Dave Stephens. Some big hits from Sam and Dave saw the elf total creep up beyond 100. Sam tried to continue his tactic of smashing the ball further and further out of the ground but was sadly dismissed after being caught at long off for a very well played 30. Dave Stephens was shortly dismissed after for 12. With the opposition circling like sharks around a wounded seal, Step up JP! JP played a few magnificent shots, including a drive that would have had certain members talking about this shot for years to come, and was rewarded with a few boundaries. Alan Dunn scored 1 more run than his son, making him outscore his son 2 days in a row…this could be a long week for young Dan Dunn. JP was finally dismissed by Hansh for 9, with no sign of Paddy Merrick in sight, the handshakes were all given and the game was over.

Once again, a huge hand to Dave Preece for his batting performance and general spirit on and off the pitch.

Sorry guys. I was just too good for you.

Some facts and figures for our readers.

This hundred is the 5th Hundred for Mr D Preece (whether this classes as Elf runs is a debate for another time). He has scored 2000 runs and is only the second person to achieve this feat with an average of over 40. A true reflection of a class cricketer.

3 Ducks on this game mean that our Duck trophy is suddenly up for grabs to few more contenders…who will be the (un)lucky person to achieve this highly sought trophy???

Tune in for next time! The Elf make their way up to a new fixture, Draycott and Handbury. A game I am sure will be another exciting game…if the weather holds out.     

I Chuck

Batting.
Bowling / or Batting if you’re D Preece

v Lichfield Nomads (H) 06/06/21

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WHCC beat Nomads by 149 runs

The Nomads arrived at Carter Park for our 30th fixture, 19 years since our first meeting back in 2003. So with cloud cover and humid conditions, it was a good toss for our friends and rivals to win. Nomads skipper, Dave Rolfe had no hesitation in opting to take the new ball. The first hour of this game was to prove very important to the final outcome.

The Nomads opening bowlers, Bryars and Mahmood bowled well, giving Chucky and Dan Armstrong some tricky moments to negotiate. Bryars getting one to cut back, trapping Chuck for a huge lbw shout. But after long consideration from umpire Hall, the finger of doom stayed down. Chucky then smashed a customary square cut, straight to Nomads legend Paul Fearon. But the ball didn’t quite stick. It was a big moment, as this was the last mistake from Chuck for quite a while.

After 16 overs of building a solid platform, Dan Armstrong departed…lbw for a good 40, leaving the stage clear for Dan Dunn to enter proceedings. This proved to be the match winning partnership. There was plenty of analysis from the sidelines, “Best I’ve seen him bat” felt like the majority verdict. One DD shot in particular stands out, a late cut for 4, angling the bat, using all the pace off the ball. Dan played with real confidence from ball one, and I think its fair to say we all enjoyed this lovely knock from the Club Pro.

Chucky was also picking up the pace, maybe sensing an opportunity for another 3 figure score. Sadly, Chuck and Dan’s entertaining partnership of 152 came to an end when Dan skied one for 68. His new highest score for the club. Followed by Chuck, who perished for 96, so close to a 9th career ton. However, this was another classic I.Chuck performance. Grafting through the early overs, before cashing in as the bowlers began to tire. Well batted…. Our innings concluded with Rob Hewlitt 7* and skipper, Alex Nunns 10* smashing a few boundaries to keep up the momentum. Both men finishing unbeaten despite severe cases of pad rash. It was a tale of two halves, after 25 overs we had 107 runs on the scoreboard. However, the last 15 overs saw a further 133 added to the tally. A brilliant effort, once again, from our top order. 240-3

Chasing 200 plus runs down in 40 overs is never easy. So that difficulty factor cranked up even more so, when a pumped up Dan Armstrong took the new ball, focused and motivated to do some damage. This was one of the best opening spells since the Sam Stephens at Hewell CC days. There are times when words aren’t necessary. So instead, take a look at these figures….6 overs 5 maidens 2-2. Dan was pretty much unplayable. Clean bowling Nomads legend, Pete Gardner for 3, and winning the key battle of the game with Barker. Obliterating his defences for 12. It was a case of job done for Dan. Well bowled mate.

When any opening bowler produces a spell like Dan’s, its just a case of keeping it tight for the rest of the game. Our fielding was really good again. Here’s a question for you? Does Nathan Reeves ever have a bad game in the field? Once again, the Mini Doc was full of energy, and stopped anything that came his way. Dan Dunn and Greg Philpott, both took tricky skiers. While the skipper, Alex Nunns, has this supernatural ability to position his fielders in exactly the right places at exactly the right times. Richard Fell looked like he enjoyed his return to the role of wicket keeper, reminding us all of his excellent glovework skills. JP picked up the 2 wkts he was aiming for on the day. The second one, courtesy of an absolute blinder of a one handed diving catch from Alex, to win us the game, prompting a mass pile on, orchestrated by Greg and Dan Armstrong. This victory was our 6th consecutive win, and a new club record for the best start to a season. So a big hand to Skipper Alex, and all the players who have been involved in this exceptional early season form.

But the final word has to go to John Nicholls. Starting the day, with a career tally of 397 maidens for WHCC, I’ll give you one guess what his figures were……3 overs 3 maidens 2 wkts. Which included a Jonty Jaffa with his first ball. (No La La’s this time) Now there have been some seriously good bowlers at the club during the past 35 years, but none of them have managed to amass a total of 400 maidens. An outstanding achievement from Jonty. Our original line and length bowler. Well done John.

After the game, we finally managed to hold the PU, we were unable to have last year. It was a light hearted get together, with the usual “stitch ups” of a few players, and a special guest appearance from England centurion Rory Burns. The awards were presented to the following….

Fav Match Report……Alrewas

Fielder of the Year…..Alex Nunns

Batsman….Dan Armstrong (2nd consecutive year)

Bowler….Chris Hall

Clubman……Nathan Martin & Chris Hall

Bails…..Dan Armstrong

Duck Trophy….Andy Gorton (plumb)

Players Player….JP

The Grand Finale of the evening was the eagerly awaited “Pringles Challenge”…..Alex, (with Rachel entering the contest just because she felt a bit peckish) Chucky, Dan Dunn, Nicka, Josh, Gort and Chally, all gathered to find out who would be the quickest to eat a full size tube of mass calories.

Nathan Martin was our independent adjudicator, immediately stamping down on a “Village” error from Josh Butler, who brought the incorrect quantity size, incurring a 20 second penalty. This was serious business, so after plenty of trash talking, the contest began. Our Senior Club Pro Nicka, boldly selected Salt and Vinegar flavour to go to war with. Now this raised a few eyebrows. Too much salt will cost him dearly in the closing stages was the general assumption by some self appointed experts. But what a bunch of mugs they all were, as Nicka demolished his tube. Taking care of business in a staggering 9 mins 8 secs, to become our first (and probably the last, judging by the tortured expressions on a few of the contestants faces) Pringles Champion. Nicka even found time to stare down a visibly broken Chuck, during the final few victory munches. A truly devastated Ian Chuck had been soundly defeated, but vowed to be back to take the great man down, but I don’t fancy his chances too much. Dave Stephens also dropped a subtle hint that he may fancy a shot at the title. Maybe this story has a few more miles in it yet?

See you all at Rushall on Sunday.

PS….have a scroll back up to the title photo….Wasn’t it a nice gesture from The Mitchell Brothers (Centre pic) to make the long trek up from Walford, just to see who won the Duck Trophy.

v Alrewas CC (The Andie Oliver Memorial game) 30/05/21

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Walsall Health CC (139-9) def. Alrewas CC (135 all out) by 1 wicket.                                                                                               

After an enforced two-week break thanks to the British weather, Walsall Health returned to the field in a match that meant more than most fixtures to certain members of the Health. It was the first fixture between the two sides since the passing the late Andie Oliver (who was highly respected by both sets of players). They were also trying to keep their unbeaten start to the season going after winning 4 from 4. The weather was superb, as was the atmosphere and that was before the game even began. Plenty of Health representatives turned up (without kit), which showed the number of people whose lives’ Andie touched and wanted to pay their respects. It was mentioned by certain members of the Health that it was the largest crowd they had ever played in front of.

Before the game, both captains came to a gentlemen’s agreement that Alrewas would bat first. Due to the numbers present, the elf were in a fortunate position to have rolling subs (with 14 players available), all of who made a contribution to the team effort.

 So the first Elf XI, was lead out by captain for the day and club stalwart Richard Fell, who was intent on making the day one to remember. The opening bowlers were none other than true legends with a combined 657 wickets between them – Chris Hall and John (Johnty) Nicholls. This was to be J. Nicholls’ first game of the season, but he looked as though he’d never been away. The class and control was there for all to see. Hall’s first 4 overs went for a total of 2 runs (including 3 maidens), the start that any side would dream of and this great start was backed up at the other end by Nicholls who in his first four overs went for 12, but crucially got the breakthrough in the 8th over, trapping opener M. Burns LBW for 6. The Elf were on the board.

The 10th over saw the first set of rolling subs, which saw the introduction of Jonathan Preece, Andy Gorton (who was later to show his abilities in the field) and Rob Humphries. One player who stayed on the pitch was the golden oldie, Nicholls, who quickly picked up his and the Health’s second wicket bowling Moss with his deadly ‘la la’ ball in which the batsman did not read and the ball clattered into the stumps. This threat by the opening bowlers was supported flawlessly by another Health legend; with 210 wickets, 4,415 runs and 125 catches behind the stumps, the one and only ‘Doc’ – Gary Reeves. Once again, a player who hadn’t donned the gloves since the last game of last season (against Alrewas) made it look ever so easy, as though he too had never been away. While Johnty finished with figures 2-35 off his 8 overs, C. Hall finished off his spell, bowling superbly without reaping the rewards that he duely deserved finishing with figures of 8 overs, 3 maidens, 0-11.

The first bowling change saw J. Preece (affectionately known as ‘The King of Spain’) replace Nicholls in the 15th over. His first over brought spectators of the Elf persuasion to cover their eyes with anything they could find, as he leaked 9 runs. Thankfully, for all concerned, this was not to be repeated. His next over saw a marked improvement in which he conceded 2 runs, but importantly, picked up the wicket of opener T. Aston, who had just reached his 50.  JP was to finish with 5 overs 1-21, figures he could have only dreamed of after his first over.

Dan Dunn, the club pro was to replace C. Hall in the 17th over and with the exception of his first ball, Dunn jr definitely lived up to the title bestowed up on him. His first over went for 4 runs but took the vital wicket of D. Stewart, for a well batted 21, caught incredibly well in the slips by Andy Gorton, who it could be argued, was in unfamiliar surrounds, but took the catch as confidently as a shark in water. However, the next wicket was the one Dan really craved for as he took wicket number 39 after Orton fell to the same combination (ct A. Gorton b D.Dunn) as Stewart, but for 12.

Having taken that wicket, the club pro was quaking in his boots, as three overs after drinks saw the introduction of Senior Club pro Alan ‘Nicka’ Dunn. As captain Fell claimed, it was to be “…the battle of the Dunns” (one of 3 father-son involvements for the Elf on the day). At this point Dan had moved on to wicket number 39 for the ‘elf while Nicka was stuck on number 37. However, this was to change soon after as Nicka joined the party, picking up the wicket of O’brien for 10. He’d been threatening it ever since he came on, but kept missing the bat and into the gloves of Reeves. But a straight ball did the trick and O’brien was on his way after his stumps were dislodged. Soon after, Nicka caught up with son – Dan in collecting his 39th wicket of his Health career. It was a wicket he didn’t appeal for, but those behind the stumps did. Unfortunately, the batsman had to go without scoring. The impression was that Dunn senior didn’t want, but ‘they all count. Were either Dunn’s going to reach the magic 40. They tried, but with no more success.

Fell had had enough. He turned to the youngest member of the side who was making his debut, the much talked about George Fell who started on the road of gaining Elf immortality. Although he bowled 2 overs, George kept the batsmen on their toes, where his unique variation made it difficult for the two men at the crease to get the ball off the square. Definitely an Elf legend in the making. To top it off, he was the best performing Fell of the day with ball in hand, going for a miserly 4 runs off two overs with 1 maiden. Super effort George. There will definitely be a few nervous figures in the Elf ranks when future selections are made. 

George was supported at the other end by a novice from the Elf’s bowling academy. This was to be Nathan Reeves. Not known for his bowling exploits, Nathan came on to show what he could do and he didn’t disappoint. He took his first wicket after bowling Walker for 1. Could this be a new beginning for Reeves as a bowler? He didn’t have to wait long for his second wicket where he once again bowled the batsman in the same fashion as the first for 1 again. As the two wickets went down the man with the gloves down the other end could be heard saying, “only another 200+ to go”. By the end of his 4 overs, Nathan had taken 2 wickets for 23 runs. His bowling deserved more than the two wickets he came away with. However, he hadn’t even batted yet.

The final bowling change was to see the captain Fell bringing himself on. With one wicket still to go and with Nathan keeping it tight at the other end, Rich started to weave his magic. Eventually, Rich’s endeavours paid off by getting the final wicket through the quick hands of ‘the Doc’ who stumped N. Turner for a hard fought 20. Fell tossed one up and Turner tried to end the innings with a 6, but only succeeded in connecting with fresh air. Alrewas finished on a competitive total of 135 all out.  

Tea was a delightful affair with everyone getting a chance to catch up with friends (both old and new). This included more Elf legends who had not represented the Health in years, but were always mentioned in stories of bygone days. It was like a who’s who at the ‘All England Tennis Championships’ at Wimbledon, where the camera scours the stands for famous faces. Instead of David Beckham and Trevor Macdonald, the onlookers included celebrities like the meticulous Ian ‘Fozzy’ Forrester, who was quick to use his experiences as a top bowler (314 Elf wickets) to lecture Dan Dunn in the art of batting, the agile Frank Jacobs and 007 himself, Roger Moore. The attendance of these members saw all surviving members of the 200 club appear at some point during the afternoon/evening.

PlayerWHCC appearances
 
Rick Jarrams324
Chris Hall242
Andy Gorton238
Gary Reeves237
Frank Jacobs236
John Nicholls226
Richard Fell225

With tea over, it was down to the batsmen to attempt to knock the runs off without too much difficulty. Fell thought it a great opportunity to go with club pros Dan Dunn and father Nicka. It was a chance for potentially a good opening partnership. After listening to advice from the I Forrester coaching manual, Dan Dunn strolled out into the middle only to stroll back two balls later without scoring. You wonder what the advice was. It was to be mentioned  later that Nicka had told Dan to “…remain at the crease. It is a great opportunity to get some runs”. He was to be replaced by Health’s man of the season so far, Dan Armstrong, who admitted that he wasn’t in the best state to bat. Despite this confession, he went out and after two dot balls, hit a magnificent 6 on his way to a reasonable 15 off 13 balls, something he has been accustomed to in the early part of this campaign (some suggest he has fewer runs than bottles of beer). The pair seemed to be getting a decent partnership going, but just as things seemed to be going smoothly at 19–1, the 2nd wicket fell. Unfortunately, Armstrong’s time at the crease came to an end when he tried another big hit off the bowling of Walker, but only succeeding in finding Parker. Armstrong was on his way. Next in was Elf’s all time top run scorer Andy Gorton. After taking two exquisite catches in the first innings, the current first-choice wicketkeeper (sorry Gary) was full of confidence and aimed to stay at the crease for a good while. Andy, along with Nicka set about beginning a new partnership. Andy went about his batting with precision. Unfortunately, he did not last long enough to impose himself on the bowlers when on 34-2, he was caught off the bowling of Sherratt for 5 (a catch that drew applause from batting partner Nicka).

New batsman, Rob Humphries, a player that was well known to both Rich Fell and Chris Hall for a long time, entered the crease. He came in with all the enthusiasm of a hyena at feeding time, ready to leave his mark on the game and spend some time at the crease. He batted doggedly to keep the Alrewas attack at bay. While Rob was still adjusting to the conditions, he could only stand and stare as the experienced Nicka Dunn was forced to leave the field after being bowled by Orton for 9.

The next batsman to join Rob at the crease was a sight to behold. Another Elf legend entered the crease, by the name of Rick Jarrams. After a slow start, making sure nothing breached his defences, Jarrams came to life with a fabulous 4 which would have had David Gower awestruck at the precision and timing of Rick’s shot. A raucous cheer erupted from a small section of the Elf contingent. Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before another wicket fell when Humphries was caught off the bowling of K. Turner. While he only amassed 1 run, Rob made a valid contribution making the bowlers rethink how they were going to bowl. Without even realising at the time, Humphries had set a foundation for which the incoming batsmen could work from.

If the Elf hadn’t been showing signs of panic yet, at 39-5, it was definitely playing on their minds. At this point, victory seemed a long way off. They needed a calming influence to join Rick at the crease. Enter – Nathan Reeves!!! To bring that stability that was needed. Only a few weeks ago did Nathan shock spectators by adding two new shots to his increasing repertoire; the forward defensive and the leave. Credit to him, the first ball was a leave, the 2nd ended up one bounce over the rope for 4. As Nathan was getting ready to go the aerial route, Rick – playing the more measured game – was bowled by N. Turner for 5. While he only scored 5, he, like Rob, stemmed the flow of wickets and provided morale boosting support not just to Nathan, but to the cause as well. This left Walsall Health at a perilous 60-6. Nathan kept on going and with new batsman Lewis Portsmouth at the crease, the two started to amass a decent partnership. This was Lewis’ first game for the Elf since 2011. He wanted to make up for lost time and he surely did that. With the score at 73-6, Nathan eventually tried one shot too many and was bowled by Rick’s conqueror, N. Turner for a very exciting, but more importantly, significant 24. There was still a further 66 runs to get with only three wickets remaining, but Nathan had occupied the crease well. Cracking batting Nathan. There was hope.     

Joining Lewis at the crease was ‘the ice man’ Chris Hall, who was experiencing batting for the first time this season. Was there to be any rustiness from our opening bowler? Absolutely not! He set out his stall early playing each ball on its merit. He began to build a telepathic understanding with Lewis and very quickly the number of runs needed started to decline at an alarming rate for the home side. A mixture of smart quick running and the occasional foray to the boundary helped the batting side. As the finishing line was in sight, Elf lost their eighth wicket. Lewis Portsmouth, who had played an outstanding innings in the circumstances was bowled LBW by Sherratt for a well earned 25; a match winning innings. After the game Chris stated that Lewis’ 25 was really important and he “…enjoyed batting with him”. While Chris was knocking off the runs, from the comfort of his seat on the boundary, with beverage in hand, Rick claimed that he deserved half of the runs Chris had got stating “…after all, it is my bat”. It was left to Hall and Rich Fell to finish the innings off. At 120-8, next man in ‘Doc’ Reeves was contemplating having to go in and “bat out for the tie”, but unfortunately for him, the two at the crease were dogged and would not throw away their wicket. Great sensible batting by the two safely got Walsall Health over the line with Hall finishing on an impressive 37 n/o and Fell finishing on a more modest (but still invaluable) 3 n/o.

The ‘Ice Man’ C. Hall with the bat that led the Health to victory 

Despite only getting 3 runs, Rich must be commended for his captaincy for the day. It must have been difficult for him to make sure everyone got to play a part whilst only being allowed to have 11 on the field at any one time. A big hand must go to him for the way he managed the occasion. Top stuff Rich! 

It was agreed that at the end of the game 139 years, after the original Ashes had been burnt, a new set were being formed in honour of Andie, where his bat would be cremated and the ashes from it, would be played for each year. A fantastic idea.

While Walsall Health won this tight encounter, it was generally agreed that cricket was the winner and it was a game befitting of the occasion. As several people remarked, both before, during and after the game, Andie would have approved of the whole day, the atmosphere and the fantastic weather. Well done all who took part both on and off the field.

Final photo with Andie.
Batting
Bowling

Andie’s highest score and best bowling figures for WHCC…both against Barry on Tour. Great memories.

Highest score…54 v Barry on tour
5-33….again v Barry on Tour

v Abbots Bromley 09/05/21

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WHCC vs Abbots Bromley-Through the camera lens

Who- Walsall Health vs Abbots Bromley

Where- Carters Park, Rushall

When- Sunday 9th May 2021

What type of match- VILLAGE?!


This Sunday, saw Abbots Bromley visit the Elf at our home ground of Carters park in Rushall. After what can only be described as a typical English Saturday’s weather, 24 hours of non-stop rain, the Elf and Abbots Bromley were both keen to get on the pitch and play some of the real beautiful game. A special notice must be made to the many players from the Elf who were happy to volunteer for Abbots Bromley to play the match and credit to our opponents for getting the game on. After a bit of heavy labour from our more experienced members, the toss was made and Abbots Bromley elected to bowl.

Lusty blows from I.Chuck.

Up first to bat were Andy Gorton and Ian Chuck, could the pair continue to add to their tally of runs for the elf? Unfortunately it was not meant to be. Andy Gorton flicked a few down the leg side , before he was trapped in front by Ian Mitchell for 6. Out walked Andy Ince, well wintered and raring to go. Ian Chuck on the other hand, was steadily accumulating runs hitting a few lusty blows off the opening bowler s, before he succumbed to a full toss smacking it straight down mid-off’s throat. Out walked Alex Nunns who in true Nunns form ‘leant’ from the front . The partnership of Nunns and Ince accumulated runs at a good rate and even gave a few interesting moments when both men skied pulls, off the same bowler in the same over, only to see both fall safely. At 102 runs and approaching the drinks break, Abbots Bromley finally claimed the 3rd wicket when A Nunns pulled a full toss, yes another wicket on a full toss, to the man at square leg who took a catch that will have him raving to his son for many a year, rough luck Alex. With Ince set on 50 and looking dangerous, out walked Rob Hewlitt, who continued his fine form with some excellent shots, punishing full tosses, Chuck and Nunns were vigorously taking notes, and some excellent running between the wickets the score for the health continued to climb. At 153, Ince sadly fell to the bowling for Lowther for a well earned 80, Top knock Andy.

The Shot.

In strolled N Reeves who set about his usual direct approach of punishing any ball bowled at him . Nathan played his shot and sadly picked the fielder out in the deep and departed for 5. In walked D Armstrong, with the 193 still fresh in his mind, he continued his outstanding form quickly, striking any delivery in his zone to the boundary. The score from the elf was now in the 200 with 8 overs left.
A few members wondered whether the elf could break their record of 276 runs in 40 overs. With the score on 227 after 34 overs the record was set to be broken. Sadly the loss of Hewlitt, saw a loss of momentum with only 2 runs coming from the next over 229-6 after 35. In went D Preece who was methodical in his taking of singles in the last few overs of the match kept the scoreboard ticking and Armstrong being well…Armstrong, biffing bad balls away like they were beach balls, the race was on to see if the elf could break the record. The most surprising moment was watching D Armstrong ‘farming the strike’ claiming a single on the last ball in the 36th, 37th, 38th and 39th overs, something his batting partners will be mindful of in the future. That left the score at 262 with one over left. The record was 276. D Armstrong was batting…it could happen. 1,1,1 ok so 11 off 3, less likely but still possible. Another run, record gone! Maybe next time!
Sadly Armstrong had not finished his running yet, optimistically calling a 2 and ending up a few long strides short, he continued his run all the way to the clubhouse. That left R Fell to face 1 ball, with the Duck trophy always happy to claim members in this scenario, Fell made sure he would not be in the running yet allowing the ball to pass his leg side the score ended up on 266-7 after 40 overs.

Tea times are much less of an extravagant affair nowadays with players being encouraged to bring their own teas, a special note must be made to Lizzie Tancred, who baked a sublime Key-lime pie that had many players of the Elf returning for seconds and some thirds.

The Ice Man.

Abbots Bromley came out to bat with Ronson and Lowther opening up. Club pro D.Dunn started up and was successful in his first over claiming Ronson for 0. C Hall had similar success from the other end claiming Lowther for 0 with a sharp catch at mid-on by Nunns. With some good disciplined bowling from the openers, and some excellent fielding notably from R Fell and N Reeves , Abbots Bromley struggled to get going. Eventually, C Hall claimed the wicket of Mitchell after he took a particular liking to the club pro’s bowling. The first change bowler R Fell, bowled well all game to be fair but was not successful in claiming the wicket he sought. Meanwhile at the other end, the right arm slow of Chuck, we can hardly call them spinners at the pace some of those balls came down, set about picking holes on the Abbots Bromley batting, claiming 2 wickets in his first over. He continued to bowl tight, with the exception of when young S Davies began to send the ball disappearing over Chucks head with increasing frequency, many a cries of “toss the ball higher” seemed to fall on the deaf ears of Chuck. After some grumbling, he eventually got Davies when he walked down the wicket and Gorton, who in his usual form of whipping the bails off at every convenience to keep the guillotine sharp, stumped the youngster for a well batted 11. Haywood at the other end was very watchful and pushed the ball into gaps more often as the game progressed provided the visitors with some means of accumulating runs but when Chuck claimed the 4th wicket LBW of Bexon, things looked pretty dire for the visitors. Armstrong removed Haywood for 18 but Abbots Bromley continued to fight with some excellent rear guard action by Kirkland and Cantrill seeing them make their 40 overs with wickets still to spare, despite some tight bowling from Armstrong and Dave Preece. Abbots Bromley finished on 90-9 after their 40 overs.

Overall an enjoyable game on what turned out to be a rather nippy day but great to be playing cricket as always. Great to see some legends of the club popping down to support the team and a huge hand to both sets of supporters for enduring the cold weather. A special mention to Lizzie Tancred who seemed to be taking to her role of director of match day photography, though half the photos of the buzzard may not have been called f or, A big hand for some of the shots claimed today.

The Legends.

Next week sees the Elf visiting Lapworth, any chance R Fell never likes to miss to see his long lost relative in only name T Fell. Good luck fellas!

Ian Chuck

Gallery

v Much Wenlock 02/05/21

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Walsall Health beat Much Wenlock by 12 runs 

The third game of the season for Walsall Health was one that had almost everything; 3 wicketkeepers (for one innings), dogs invading the pitch and a Magical Mystery tour (as the Beatles would say) of Much Wenlock (thanks in part to Google). After winning the toss, the Elf skipper Alex Nunns elected to bat, despite not having the full quota of time to assess the pitch due to turning up at 12:55, for a 1:00 start.

Dan, Nath and Greg. 50 Appearances.

After last week’s centurion in Rob Hewlitt, it was the turn of three more Elf legends to reach milestones, in Nathan Martin, Greg Philpott and Daniel Armstrong (fresh from his magnificent 193, barely 24 hours earlier) to rack up their 50th games for the club. It looked like an inspired decision by the captain, who was looking for his 3rd straight victory since stepping into the job.

Resident opener, Ian Chuck (who was hoping for successive red inkers) and Dan Dunn (stepping in at the last minute-well done Dan), got off to a solid start with the bat. Running between the wickets as freely as treacle through a sieve, they built up a steady lead. The calls were so loud and clear, that the farmer up the road, (who many had met and asked for directions) could keep tabs on the score. Both openers felt secure at the crease and were moving the score along nicely.  Then out of nowhere, with the score at 90-0, Dan Dunn – the club pro – was making his way back to the pavilion after making a well batted 42 after being bowled by Caldicott. So surprised were the Elves on the boundary that nobody could quite believe that Dunn had had his defences breached. No clunk of the wicket, no cheer from the opposition, just a solitary walk back.

Next to enter the crease was none-other than Nathan Reeves, one who would excite the crowds in the IPL or T20 Blast. First ball, Nathan set himself and – to the crowds amazement/shock/disappointment, allowed the ball to go through harmlessly to the keeper.  This happened – not once, but twice. Was this to be the Nathan Reeves that we knew and admired, or was it an imposter? We soon found out. After all; runs win games and Reeves was on a mission. His next six balls went for 9 runs, which included a magnificent 6, sailing over the square leg boundary. Things were going nicely at 112-1.Unfortunately, Reeves went for one-shot too many and clubbed the ball so high that the International Space Station managed to capture a picture of the ball in its accent to infinity and beyond, before gravity pulled it back down into safe hands of square-leg off the bowling of Handley.

Next, it was one Nathan for another, as Nathan Martin (or the Wednesbury Lara, as one coined him) entered the crease. Not renowned for his batting prowess, Martin got down to work with the aim of steadying the innings after two quick wickets. He set his stall out and played an impressive 14 not out off 13 overs. However, as Martin was asserting himself in the middle, I. Chuck’s time at the crease came to an end after a dogged display at the top of the order. Closing in on his 50, which would have been well deserved, Chuck was caught off the bowling of Brown falling agonisingly short on 47. Although he didn’t reach his weekly 50, Chuck could still feel he made an invaluable contribution to the final score. The final Elf batsman to enter the fray was former skipper and centurion, Rob Hewlitt who’s running between the wickets was faultless. Coming in at the start of the 27th over, he batted out the innings for a very handy 58 runs and with Martin the other end, they both added a super 81 runs to the final score of 199 for 4. A total that would be a competitive one, but still achievable, the Elf faithful felt confident, especially with the bowling attack Nunns had at his disposal. But there was still work to be done.

 The Much Wenlock openers came out and looked as though they meant business. However, within a couple of over’s, the two opening bowlers, in Chris Hall and Nathan Martin (with his followers in the background), made the Much Wenlock openers reassess how they were going to play their innings. This was backed up by the man behind the stumps, Dan Armstrong, with the confidence of someone who had kept all his life. Unfortunately, for S. Handley, he succumbed to a beautifully executed slower ball by Martin, dislodging the bails with deadly accuracy. The Elf had got the breakthrough with only 5 runs on the board.  The next batsman was D. Handley, who made his mark as soon as he entered the crease, who’s scoring shot were as follows;   4 6  4 2  4  2  1  1. Eventually; he went for one too many and tried to hit the ‘Ice Man’ C. Hall out of the ground, only succeeding in finding G. Philpott. He left with the score a reasonable 36 for 2.

Captain Nunns had to rethink his tactics. After only 10 overs, JP was brought onto see if he could nullify the batsman. As the old adage goes “1 usually brings 2” and this was evident again. New batsman, new bowler; both unsure how the pitch would play. It only took one ball, but JP had his man for a duck. JP floated the ball up inviting to have a go, but only succeeding finding Nunns in the perfect position to grab it without needing to move his feet. However, this was the only success JP would have in the afternoon.  The following batsman – W. Brown – played a fantastic innings and deservedly ended with 33 not out. In the midst all this, it was one Dan for another as Dan Dunn took the gloves from, who was as equally combatant behind the stumps as his namesake and the invasion of Chally’s new best friend; a passer-by’s dog. 

At 36 for 3, the Elf felt confident, but Brown and the opener Rowlands dug their heels in and occupied the crease superbly. After a good spell from Chris, Nunns decided to take him out of the attack and bring on ‘the Boston Strangler’ Josh Buttler, who with his unique action, he brought a different challenge to the crease. His bowling deserved a wicket and on another day, he would have been duly rewarded. A score of 8 overs for 36 runs was a good return for the bowler and showed that the batsmen at the crease found it incredibly hard to get him away more often. Not only that, but his scoring in the first innings was exemplary and it was very much noted both during and after the game. Top man JB!

From 36 for 3 to 109 for 4, the batsmen played an array of classy shots and resolute defensive shots. Nunns once again had to change something. On came G. Philpott who had some very interesting points on equality in professional sports. The less said the better. He took the vital wicket of Rowlands who reached his 50 and then he found opening bowler Hall to send him on his way. Philpott eventually finished with figurers of 1-55. These figures do not reflect how well Greg actually bowled and deserved more than the one wicket he richly deserved. Could this be the breakthrough the Elf needed? In came M. Brown who smashed a fantastic 65 before he was cleaned bowled by first wicketkeeper of the day Dan Armstrong, by which time the hosts felt they had an opportunity to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. The removal of Brown was exactly what was needed, which was soon followed by a run out opportunity in which I Chuck (Health’s third keeper of the innings) had all the time in the world to remove the bails after playing an imaginary immaculate forward defensive,  to leave the hosts 188 for 6.

Despite their super effort, Much Wenlock fell 11 runs short, but it was agreed by all who took part that the game of cricket was truly the winner.   

Although he neither batted nor bowled, the most telling contribution on the pitch was made by skipper Alex Nunns, who through his cool and calm character, helped get the Health over the line with his field placings when it could have all gone horribly wrong. While he was not always in the thick of the action, you always felt that he was always in control of proceedings, possibly 2 or 3 steps ahead of the game. His unselfish leadership so others could have the chance to contribute to the team effort with either bat or ball should be recognised and was appreciated. Top captaining skipper!

Much Wenlock 2021

Finally, it must be said, that despite all the wickets being taken and the runs being scored, the most valuable contribution was that of the Elf’s newly appointed ‘Director of Matchday Photography’, Lizzie, who through her amazing knack of catching the moment, was able to bring the game to life through her photos. Well played Lizzie.   

Batting
Bowling

Written by JP

v Griff and Coton (A) 02/08/20

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Walsall Health 107-3 (18.1overs) beat Griff and Coton 106 all out (37 overs) by 7 wickets

In the third match of the 2020 season, the Elf picked up their second victory in the Warwickshire sunshine this week.

Stand in skipper Alex Nunns lost the toss and the Elf were asked to field. Dave Stephens and Club Pro Dan Dunn bowled some tight lines to the opposition openers Singh and Joshi (the latter who batted like Chris Tavare) but were unable to come up with any wickets. It wasn’t until resident Barman Andy Ince and Ironman Chris Hall came on at first change did the wickets come.
In an opening stand of 63, Joshi was bowled for 7 by Ince and then after two drops from Nunns and Hall, Singh the number three went soon after.
Chris Hall took the third wicket of the day of the dangerous opener Singh for exactly a half century, he stated after he was only 20 wickets behind club legend Tim Oliver with today’s tally.

The wicket was playing particularly slow and skipper Nunns turned to JP to ‘spin it to win it’ and JP came up trumps, bowling Green with a delivery that span square, however this would not be the only delivery to do so in this innings.
JP continued to toil away and managed to get the fifth wicket of the innings when Stevens who was looking dangerous was adjudged leg before wicket and Nunns decided to unleash his secret weapon, Tom Davies – new and improved spin bowler.

The first over was looking more ‘beef and merlot’ than ‘drift and dip’ until Haycock’s eyes lit up to a steak and ale delivery from Davies, except he picked out Chuck right on the boundary to everyone’s amazement…… ‘man with one knee takes wicket’.
It  did not stop there though, Tom managed to find a good probing line outside off stump, confusing the batsman with his right arm offies and then picked up his second wicket with a ‘straight onner’  (or the slider as I believe Mr Warne called it) to bowl Scullion for 9.
JP got the last bit of resistance when Jacob was given out LBW and left it to spin partner Tom Muralitharan to get the last two wickets bowled, the ninth ‘ripped sidewards’ and the last one was a big looping googly leg break to clean up the tail with what some have said was the best spell of spin bowling they have ever seen for the Elf.

The Elf started their response with Dan Armstrong-Bresnan and Dan Dunn. Both got out to Joshi, Dan Armstrong attacked the bowling like he attacked the Chicken Tikka aftwards, scoring 43 which included 7 fours and 2 sixes. Dan Dunn unfortunately played on and was out for seven.
Greg Philpott was out bowled for three but the experienced fourth wicket stand between Gorton and Nunns saw the Elf home with loads of time to spare. Nunns 20* Gorton 16*

Al Fresco fines continued and we found out Dan had grassed his dad up on Friday and Dan Armstrong lost his 8 iron. Andy Ince also lost his phone IN HIS BAG but all in all, a great victory and hopefully the Elf can take their winning mentality to Peopleton next week who they lost their first game of the season to.

Tales from the travelator

Tom Davies took four wickets bowling spin. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?

Tea review

BYOT once again but Greg excelled with some olives.

Written by Tom Davies

Batting

Bowling

v Lichfield Nomads (H) 26/07/20

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Walsall Health (104-1) Beat Lichfield Nomads (103) by 9 wickets

Today saw Walsall Health host Lichfield Nomads in a local match that has been a prominent fixture for many years. The weather was a typical English summer with plenty of clouds present and a fair breeze that had Andy Ince raring to bowl up the travelator. Alex Nunns won the toss and elected to bowl, a wise decision as the Elf had 9 able bodied bowlers present.

As the Elf took the field a comment was heard from the side-lines that raised a few eyebrows comparing Dave Stephens (DS) to West Indian spinner Rahkeem Cornwall, the jury is still out deliberating the reliability of this statement.

 

DS opened the bowling up the travelator and he started off perfectly first ball, trapping Gards in front, a decent appeal, not enough to register on appeal scale but enough to get the raised finger from the umpire. Out trotted Hutton to face the rest of the over. Meanwhile from the other end, club pro Dan Dunn came down the hill, not his preferred end, it has to be noted, and started off with a lovely delivery that caught the left handers edge but sadly wasn’t held. Both opening bowlers bowed well, giving few loose balls to the opposing batsmen. Dan Dunn tried a couple of shorter balls, which our resident South African was quick to pipe up reminding the youngster that “only fast bowlers bowl short”. As the over went by Hutton played a few nice strokes but for no reward due to the excellent fielding of the Health, eventually he was bowled by DS trying to go up and over.

Nomads continued to be put under pressure as DS and Club pro Dan Dunn continued their tight bowling and the runs trickled along slowly as the Elf took their first sanitizer break at 8 overs. Not long after this, Dan Dunn claimed his first wicket of the day when a shot from Terry (6) ballooned up to point where, Mark Reynolds making his debut game for the Elf, took the catch. Mahmood came to the crease and played some nice looking drives that interested the captain and slip cordon. Mahmood went for an extravagant drive, his back and front foot were well out of the crease, Gorts eyes lit up and the guillotine came down to stump Mahmood for 4. Balker and Stanley were watchful and played calmly waiting for bad balls to be put away, but these were few and far between.

After 6 overs each from our opening bowlers, Captain Nunns opted for a change and on came Chris Hall back for his first game after a long winter. He started where he left off last year, bowling his usual tight line and length. DS ended his spell with figures of 8-3-17-3. Replacing DS was Dan Armstrong who bowled with some nice pace and bounce that had the batsmen jumping around. Armstrong got the breakthrough when Stanley played one off his hip inches from the short leg, the ball trickled away and Balker called 2, little did he know that the fielder was none other than Greg Philpott who quickly gathered the ball and returned it to Gort who removed the bails with Stanley barely in the frame and out for 10. Turnbull made his way out to the middle and played a few power strokes off Armstrong that ticked the scoreboard over for Nomads. Armstrong continued to challenge the batsmen with his length and line and eventually claiming the wicket of watchful Balker 14, who left a ball only to realise that Armstrong had bowled his off cutter with the result being his off stump was almost removed.

Out came Rolfe, who in fine form had been winding up all Aston Villa fans before, during and after the match. Nunns was not impressed and opted for the King of Spin, JP, to teach this Baggies fan some manners. JP who bowled with plenty of guile and skill, was unlucky not to claim the wicket of Turnbull who hit one of JP long hops to Dan Dunn and wide long off. Club pro made the yards and got there but sadly couldn’t hold the catch, much to his disappointment to see his father smirking at him from the boundary commenting it was a ‘dolly’. Armstrong was replaced by Chall for his second spell who continued his lines of attrition. C Halls perseverance paid off when he removed Briars with a good catch by Gort behind the stumps for 18. But Chally wasn’t done yet, he then came in and removed Turnbull with some excellent bowling stump to stump, a good lesson for any youngster. 60 dot balls out of a set of 64 plus 2 wkts, in a spell that meant more to him, than any other he’s bowled for the club.

Hughes and Rolfe began to up the tempo taking some extra runs and pushing the Nomads total close to 100. Debutant Mark Reynolds came on to bowl his debut for the club. His spell reached its peak when he got Nomads Rolfe, caught by Greg for 17. With only one wicket remaining Dan Dunn was tossed the ball and he eventually removed Hoddy with a leg stump Yorker to end the Nomads innings on 103.

In response Ince and Chuck strolled out to the middle to begin the task of chasing down 103. There was drama within the first over as Hutton pulled a muscle in his lower back and after braving the final ball had to leave the field. The health would like to wish him a speedy recovery. As in the good spirit of the game, The Elf were happy to lend a fielder to Nomads with debutant Mark Reynolds and JP the willing volunteers, a big hand to them both. Turnbull opened up from the pavilion end and bowled without much luck. Replacing the injured Hutton, Briars came up the travelator and in his first over removed the dangerous looking Ince with a full ball that kept low and beat the left handers defences. Out swaggered Dan Armstrong who quickly set about his dominance in the middle. With a few powerful blows and a little luck from his top edge he quickly got the Health score rolling, while Chuck supported him at the other end nurdling balls around the outfield, mainly behind square, to support his batting partner. The two Rushall batsmen quickly set about chasing down the total of 103 with plenty of boundaries and a few big sixes from Dan Armstrong. Chuck seemed to enjoy the bowling of Mahmood as he hit 20 runs off his over in boundaries including a nick through the slip to take his total scored behind square to over 30 runs. Inevitably it was Armstrong who finished off the run chase with a huge six of Hoddy that nearly went onto Pelsall road. The innings ended with Chuck only outscoring Armstrong by 1 run!

Tales from the Travelator…

Dave Stephens is quickly becoming the master if this much maligned end with his persistent line and length bowling. Chris Hall seems to also profit from this end, where he claimed his wickets for the day.

Tea Update…

Still bring your own lunch though and excellent showing of sandwiches were displayed by members of both teams. Questions into Chucks sanity have been raised with Sushi making its tea breakthrough and a mention to Dan Armstrong who lives only 5 minutes away from the ground, having to pop home to grab his lunch….because he forgot to bring it…..All in all, a very enjoyable game, a good all round effort from everyone. Well played guys.

 

 

In memory of Mary Hall, a much loved Mom who always took a keen interest in her son’s cricket throughout the years at WHCC. God bless.

 

Written by Ian Chuck

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Bowling

v Peopleton (H) 19/07/20

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Walsall Health (148-9 40 overs) lost to Peopleton CC 149-2 (30.3 overs) by 8 wickets

 

The 2020 season has finally arrived! The Elf had their first game of the new decade at home vs Peopleton, a side we have consistently had games against for a number of years.

The weather was a bit Bob Marley (sun is shining) and skipper Rob Hewlitt won the toss and batted first.
Club Pro Dan Dunn and Tim Bresnan look alike Dan Armstrong opened up for the Elf. After a maiden first over, Dan Armstrong added 22 in the second over with a few big sixes off no balls but Dan Dunn was out shortly after, being caught playing a rash shot.
Dan Armstrong carried on batting as if he was on a dating app (swiping at everything) eventually connected but was out caught.
Alex Nunns and David Preece had a solid 68 run partnership for the third wicket which included a lot of patience and maiden overs but Al was out for 45, five short of that half century that would have been deserved.
Greg Phillpott and Rob Hewlitt were both out scored five between them and Dave was out for 26 leaving Gort with the lower order trying to set a decent total for Peopleton to chase.
Gort managed 7 and Dave Stephens 6 before Tom Davies (with Greg Phillpott running for him) had a calamitous run out with all three batsmen at one end. Peopleton withdrew their appeal which was outstanding sportsmanship and the right way the game should be played. Davies was out bowled by the inswing of Tanner in the final over and Nicka belted a boundary to take the score close to 150. Nicka said after the game he was feeling in good touch and felt like he would get his first half century but there just wasn’t enough balls to face to reach it.

The second innings started at 4pm and Peopleton looked steady at the crease. Seasoned bowlers Dave Stephens and Nicka Dunn went for very few runs between them in their 14 overs but only DS got an early wicket when Alex Nunns took a good catch at point.
Phillpott took a standard difficult catch at mid on off Armstrong but the 3rd wicket partnership between the impressive Billington (who finished 68 not out) and Miller (42 not out) saw Peopleton get home with almost 10 whole overs to spare.

 

A big thanks to the Dunns and Dan Armstrong at Rushall who have done wonders to make the site covid secure and the game really wouldn’t have happened without their hard work.

The Elf are at home next week against Lichfield Nomads, another fixture that has been played for as long as the mind can remember. Hopefully see you all next week. No tea or shower club this week due to restrictions although it was nice and village seeing a few of the lads turn up in their whites.

Tom Davies

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Batting

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