v Springhill CC (H) 08/05/22

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Walsall Health CC beat Springhill CC by 6 wickets

Springhill CC 121 – 10 30.2 overs

Walsall Health CC 122 – 4 30.3 overs

Walsall Health returned to their home ground this week as they welcomed Springhill to Carter Park.

The Health made 6 changes from the previous week; including in those changes were 4 debutants, a new Health record and also testament to the clubs recruitment drive during the winter months.

With the overhead conditions likely to favour the Elf swingers skipper Nunns was keen to make first use of the new ball and conditions and he got his wish when Springhill captain called incorrectly Nunns did not hesitate when inserting the opposition to bat.

The 2 Dave’s took the new ball and soon had it moving around.  Dave Stephens bowling up the travelator we his usually control and cunning line and the length made runs hard to come by for the Springhill opening batters, DS was well supported at the other end by Dave Clive with some beautiful in-swinging deliveries which keep the batters and Mac behind the stumps on their toes.  The break through soon came for the Health as DS had Sabz trapped in front for LBW for 15 with the visitors 22-1 Dave Clive was unlucky not to get the 2nd wicket in his next over as he forced an error from new batter Dee, in was a very clever slower ball from Dave Clive the batter mistimed his shot and the ball looped up to backward square leg to JP, Jonathan was charging in and dived forward only for the ball to fall agonisingly short of JP it was a great effort from the Elf wizard.  Walsall Health kept things tight in the field and supported the bowlers well the energy from the 4 debutants certainly made a big difference.  Dave Clive continued to mix things up with big in-swingers and slower balls but he couldn’t get the wicket that he deserved, Dave finished his spell with 0-27 from 5 overs.  Nunns turned to club Pro Dan Dunn to replace Dave from the pavilion end for his first bowl of the season, despite not bowling for a while it didn’t take Dan long to find his rhythm.  DS continued to keep control from the other end and picked up his 2nd wicket of the day when he bowled Qad for 15 and finished off with figures of 2-39 from 8 overs Dan Dunn also got in on the act as he bowled Dee for 13 leaving Springhill in trouble at 55-3 number 4 batter Jabz came in and went on the attack with some big blows to get the score moving.  Josh Butler replaced DS from the dog kennel end and Jabz soon took a liking to his bowling by hitting a couple of big sixes into the neighbours gardens, Jabz was looking dangerous and had moved the Springhill score into the 80’s the Elf knew that they needed a wicket so with drinks approaching Dan Dunn came up with a plan which he executed superbly, a brilliant slower ball bamboozled Jabz that he could only chip it back to the club pro to be caught & bowled for 33 this after having a life as he was dropped at mid wicket by Nunns the previous over.  Dan finished his spell with fine figures of 2-11 from 5 overs.  With Jabz now back in the pavilion Josh soon settled into his spell and found some turn which made it very difficult for the new batters and his reward soon came as he had Marlon caught very smartly by debutant Jack Stenson at mid on, Jack was in the action again 2 balls later as new batter Ali hit Josh high up into the sky Jack back peddling from mid on to the boundary dived full length and nearly clung onto what would have been a stunning catch unfortunately Jack admitted to getting a finger on it so under Elf rules it goes down as a drop unlucky Jack.  Replacing Dan Dunn from the pavilion end was going to be JP but the wizard had an idea and very unselfishly asked skipped Nunns to throw the ball to another debutant Ben Lester big hand JP.  Ben and Josh continued to apply the pressure to the Springhill batters and the pressure soon told as Josh took his first ever caught & bowled as he got Banks for 2 Springhill were now 6 down with 100 on the board.  Ben Lester managed to get through his nervous first over and started bowling some beautiful deliveries to back the pressure that Josh was creating at the other end.  Ben was soon rewarded with his first Elf wicket by bowling Chris for 0 and then 2 balls later Ben picked up his second wicket when he bowled Richie also for 0 not before Josh picked up his 3rd wicket by having George caught at slip by Nunns for 2.  With Springhill now 9 down danger man Ali tried to get their score moving but the Elf starved him of the strike and kept the pressure on the last batter.  Desperate to get on strike Ali tried to take an unlikely single to Jack at mid on Ali was sent back by number 11 Zakey but it was too late as Jack swooped in picked up the ball and executed a superb direct hit to run out Ali for 14 to leave Springhill all out for 121 in 30 overs.  It was a fantastic effort from the bowlers and fielders the 4 debutants all contributed in the field and they energy rubbed off on the other Elf fielders as everybody was throwing themselves around to try and save runs.  Josh finished with 3-26 from 7.2 overs and Ben 2-16 from overs.

The Debutants, Jack Lester, Ben Lester, Jack Stenson, Will Lauchlan. Welcome to the Elf’

The sun came out as the Elf began their innings skipper Nunns wanting to continue his early season form opened with new man Jack Stenson.  The pair made a good start as the Elf chased down their target of 122.  With the score on 37 Jack nicked one behind off the bowling of Saqib to be out for a well made 15.  Vice captain and club pro Dan Dunn joined Nunns at the crease and continued the good work started by Jack the pair ran well and picked up some quick singles as well as a few boundaries to bring up the 50 partnership between the captain and vice captain with the score moved onto 87 Nunns thinking about drinks at 20 overs missed the next ball and was bowled by Jabz for 36.  Debutant Will Lauchlan joined Dan in the middle.  Will was very cautious at first and took his time to get in but soon registered his first run with a single both batters looked at ease at the crease and took the score onto 106 before Dan Dunn was out caught by Dee off the bowling of Ali for a very good 37 to top off a very good all round performance from Dan, living up to his nickname.  Jack Lester was the next batter for the Elf and was off the mark second ball with a 4 through third man.  With the score on 118 it looked like the 2 new players were going to see it through to the end but it was not to be as Jack Lester became Ali’s second wicket of the day as he was bowled for 7.  Mac joined Will but he wasn’t required and didn’t face a bowl as Will hit the winning runs next over as he cracked a superb 4 through the covers as Walsall Health reached their target of 122 in the 31st over.  Will Lauchlan finished 11 not out on debut.

It was an enjoyable game played in very good spirits.  It was also a good day for Walsall Health as they welcomed 4 new players to the club who all played a part in the game and settled in brilliantly.  It was nice to see lots of supports at the club from both teams and our regular support from Dai Preece who said before the game that we hadn’t got a lot of bowling today!! Walsall Health then proceeded to bowl the opposition out in 30 overs!

Next week Walsall Health travel to Lapworth in Solihull, good luck lads.

Alex Nunns

Bowling

v Peopleton (A) 01/05/22

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Peopleton CC (222-6) defeated Walsall Health CC (192-8) by 30 runs (35 over game)

Walsall Health travelled down to Peopleton for a game that was originally scheduled to be played at Rushall CC. However, because of the torrential weather, it proved to be the right decision as we were able to get a full game in. Before the game started Nathan Reeves said something along the lines of “I’ve only played here once apart from the previous two times”. Not only that, but regular traveller Dai Preece (with all his experience in the game) asked which pitch we were playing on. Normally, that wouldn’t have been a problem, but the covers were still on!    

Dan Dunn, as vice captain, went out for the toss due to the fact regular captain Alex Nunns had not turned up for a 12:30 meet. Officially, he was late. In his defence, he wasn’t driving. The toss was won and Dan elected to field. Alex managed to arrive in time to lead the team onto the field. The new ball was tossed to the ever dependable Dave Stephens and Nathan Martin. All that hope that built up was quickly knocked back as the two Peopleton openers Blatherwick and Lam set the tone and started to put on a decent partnership, with both players batting very sensibly but picking the gaps and manipulating the field. Both Martin and Stephens did create several chances and on another day, those chances would have stuck. Eventually, after some tidy bowling, Stephens broke the partnership by getting the wicket of Lam for 14. DS eventually finished on figures of 1-27 off 8 overs. This was a despite a thunderous shot being hit straight back at him, causing some pain on his hand. Nathan was still struggling and eventually finished on 0-38 off 6 overs (unlucky Nath).

The two opening bowlers were replaced by club legend Chris Hall (who radically decreased his run up from last year) and season debutant Dave Clive. As with all bowlers on their season debuts, Clive was a little bit rusty and was unfortunately punished by well-set batsmen who had got their eye in. Hall bowled at a steady pace, not leaving the batters many free shots. Despite this, the batsmen were still able to rotate the strike regularly forcing Elf captain – Nunns – to constantly change the field. Chris, however, finally got his man as Waller was bowled for 8. Hall was starting to think about reaching 400 wickets for the Health. A magnificent achievement when he finally reaches that milestone. He finished with figures of 1-43 off 8 overs, while Clive’s figurers were 0-53 off 4 overs.

Knee update – 04/05/22. Thanks for coming.

Dan Armstrong, so reliable with the ball – and bat for that matter, came on to replace Clive and gave the batsmen something else to think about. He removed the new man at the crease Thirlby for 0. This was after Blatherwick retired after hitting a superb 100 not out. In the midst of such a great knock, the Elf were a man down as opening bowler Nathan Martin, in a brave attempt to stop a certain boundary off a Dan Armstrong ball, only succeeded in landing awkwardly and twisting his knee. It was later confirmed in the evening, that it was just a sprain and not a break. Best of luck Nath. Hopefully a speedy recovery. Nathan would be taken straight to hospital thanks to the quick thinking of the Preece’s, thanks to the two of them. A big hand must also be given to Peopleton for offering one of their fielders for us. Dan added to his wicket tally by dismissing Morris for 14.  

After making a good start, Peopleton had a shaky patch losing several wickets for not many runs. They built a good steady partnership with Blatherwick reaching his century and Mucke reaching his 50. But this shaky patch continued when Nunns brought on the unpredictable, sometimes erratic, JP. His first over consisted of 2 wides. The second was far more controlled and got the wicket of the half-centurion Mucke for 53, when he was caught by Dan Armstrong at mid-off. The next of JP’s victims wasn’t long in coming.  In the second ball of his 2nd over, JP had Billington caught for 1 by Dan Dunn, less convincingly than both bowler and fielder would have liked.  JP finished for 2-21 off his 3 overs.

The final two batsmen – Harrold and Powell hit 16 off the last two overs to take the score to a competitive 222 for 6. After the start they made, Peopleton might have thought a score of 250 was in their sights. Credit must go to the Health for pulling it back a little.

Due to the break in play in the first innings, before they knew it, the two Health opening batsmen were out facing the Peopleton attack with the two Dan’s at the crease. Before captain Alex had time to sit down and observe the bowlers, he found himself out in the middle after Dan Armstrong flashed the first ball of the innings to one of the 5 slips Peopleton had set. It was a fabulous one-handed catch by Cameron off the bowling of Thirlby. It was the second golden duck of the season for Dan. There was enough pace on his shot that a couple of inches higher, it would have gone to the boundary and no doubt, Dan would have gone onto a big score. 

This brought Alex to the crease with the Health in a spot of bother. He needed a captain’s knock, if the Health were going to mount a serious challenge. Both he and Dan made a steady start and the initial elation amongst the Peopleton XI started to wane a little. Like Peopleton, these two began to find the gaps and the quick single on several occasions. The two batsmen looked so assured, rotating the strike and looked set for a big partnership, passing 50 after 10 overs and looking to go on.

How big was that 6 Nath?

 However, cricket is a funny old game. You can look secure one minute and then you can find yourself several wickets down with not many more runs on the board. In the 16th over, with the score at 62-1, Dan was back in the pavilion after being bowled by Powell for 33. A decent knock , but this was a start of things to come. Out came big hitter Nathan Reeves, who meant business. After a superb all-round effort in the field, Nathan’s scoring shots were 4,4,6,1,6. Despite his big hitting, he also played some nice safety shots and left the ball on a couple of occasions. One of his sixes almost took out a member of the Health fan club, which soon followed with a “Sorry Babe” being yelled from the middle. Thankfully no one else was needed to go to A&E. Nathan was soon out for a quick fire 21 – after he was bowled by Powell (for his second wicket of the day), that put the Health back on course.

Quack quack.

Next in was another season debutant, the one and only I Chuck. He was hoping to build another good partnership with captain Nunns, who looked as focused as a Lion on a hunt. Chuck went out, and returned next ball after the umpire judged him to be out lbw off the bowling of Powell. Chuck wasn’t happy, but he said he accepted the umpire’s call. It was his first Elf duck after 99 innings avoiding the dreaded quack. Chuck was hoping to make a good start to the season, but as someone said later, “there’s always next week”. In came the second of three season debutants: the ever dependable WHCC stalwart, Andy Gorton. He went out with the composure of a man who scored runs freely throughout his career. However, Powell, who was on a hat trick, had other ideas as once first ball, the batsman’s defence was breached and Powell wheeled away deliriously after claiming a superb spell culminating in 3 wickets in 3 balls. Andy would have felt confident after putting in a great display behind the stumps in testing conditions. Better luck next time Andy. 

Dave Clive, who had had a difficult time with the ball, came into bat at number 7, but was up against a man in form. His first aim was to defend the first ball, but that was about as good got for Dave as he soon followed Andy to the pavilion with another 0 to the scoreboard after he was bowled by the man of the moment – Powell (who finished with 5-31 off 6 overs). He had been struggling with injuries, and that might have played a part in his game. Hopefully a fully fit Dave will have better days. Nice to see you back. Hopefully see you in the Elf XI far more this year. While all this was going on, Alex Nunns had made his way past 50 and looked good for 100. From a score of 92-2, the Health found themselves in all sorts of trouble at 100-6 and there were still 15 overs to go. Someone had to stay with Alex to rebuild another match defining partnership. In came opening bowler DS, who on another day, could have had more than the solitary wicket with the ball. He managed 4 runs, but more importantly he occupied the crease for 8 overs, supporting Alex in his aim to get to three figures.  The contest for the duck trophy is already hotting up and it’s only the start of May!

Stephens eventually fell to Billington, as he was trapped in front lbw making the score 135-7. He was to be replaced by Chris Hall, a very good batsman, who, because of his bowling achievements, goes under the radar when it comes to batting. A good spell with the ball was followed by a solid 4 not out. However, in the 40th over, as Alex was edging towards his 100, a ball jumped up at him off the uneven ground and he top-edged it to square leg and Alex had to depart for a very well played 90. The Elf contingent on the boundary were so flat, you could have heard a pin drop. He returned to the changing room with a standing ovation from the crowd. Next in at number 9 was JP who had 4 balls to keep out. Thankfully, no more wickets fell and the Elf finished on 192-8.

A great knock by captain Alex Nunns, who deserved to reach 100.


Unfortunately, another defeat for the Health, but the game was played in the right spirit, both on and off the field. Well kept at it Elves, on what was a tricky day in more ways than one. 


Moments of the Match

  1. Alex’s  superb knock of 90
  2. 4 ducks in the innings

                  

J Preece.

Batting
Bowling

v Kinlet CC (A) 24/04/22

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Walsall Health C C won by 26 runs

Walsall Health 182-7 – Kinlet 157-9

The ELF travelled to the beautiful village of Kinlet in Shropshire (not Dudley) for their first away game of season.  It was decided to meet at the nearby pub called the Eagle & Serpent, not one to miss an opportunity Dan Armstrong decided to test the local cider pre game, not once but twice. Once Dan had finished his sampling the team made their way up to the ground for the game.  There were seasons debuts for skipper Alex Nunns, left arm seamer Nath Martin and club legends Chris Hall and John Nicholls (Jonty playing a game in April).  Skipper Alex Nunns won the toss!!!! and elected to bat first on the advice of the opposition captain. 

Not a bad place to toss one up.

The two Dan’s opened up hoping to make amends from last week’s first ballers.  Dan Armstrong fuelled by his 2 pints of cider despatched the 2nd ball of the game onto the roof of the home changing room for 6.  Dan’s aggressive batting soon raced the score onto 32 before he was caught at deep mid-wicket for 18 from 17 balls bringing Alex Nunns to the crease to join Dan Dunn, unfortunately Dan Dunn was also soon back in the shed adjudged LBW to a ball that kept low for 14.  Nath Reeves was the next man and after a couple of sighters he soon sent one massive 6 over deep mid-wicket into the next field, Nath continued to go on the attack and soon raced to 20 before being bowled by Ken.  The score had moved onto 73-3 but the Elf were then soon in trouble at 74-4 when Mac was caught behind for a second ball Duck again off the bowling of Ken.  Next batter in was the returning Nath Martin and looked in good touch despite not playing for over a year, Nath punched his 2nd ball off the back foot through the covers for 4 but both Nath and Alex had to dig in and re-build the innings both batted sensibly and ran well together as runs were hard to come by the score had reached 94 before Nath became Ken’s 3rd victim of the afternoon when he was undone by the lack of pace and was bowled for 5.  Dave Stephens joined Alex in the middle and pair started to get the score moving once they had got to grips with the pace of the pitch Alex gaining more confidence struck a big straight six onto the roof of the away changing room followed by another six straight over the bowler’s head, Dave also clubbed away a couple of boundaries to bring up the 50 partnership between to the 2 batters.  Alex brought up his 50 with another single but was then out for 51 caught at long off trying to push the score on with only a few overs to go the Elf knew that they were still a few short of a good score so with this in mind DS got the long handle out and hit 21 from the 39th over, Dave was out for 38 from the first ball of the 40th but the damage had already been done.  JP joined Josh in the middle for the last 5 balls of the innings and after a couple of quick singles JP managed to hit the 5th ball away for 4 through the covers to finish 5 not out and Josh 3 not out.  Elf finished the innings on 182 – 7.

Top Tea, MVP Fruit cake.

Tea was taken for the first time in 2 ½ seasons as our hosts very kindly offered to provide tea and it didn’t disappoint a wide range of sandwiches, cakes and pizzas along with pork pies and sausage rolls.  A sign of a good tea is the amount of times that people go back up for seconds and plenty of the Elf members certainly did this. It rated at a solid 9 out of 10.

The Elf set about defending their total of 182 with openers DS & Nath Martin quickly finding their lines & lengths which built the pressure on the Kinlet opening batters and the pressure soon told as Dave found the edge of Crook and the ball flew to first slip reign where Chris Hall took a stunning one handed catch (most definitely a contender for catch of the season) Nath Martin followed this up with a wicket in his next over bowling the other opener for 1.  Both Nathan and Dave continued to keep things tight and kept the runs down but neither could find another break through but both finished their spells with respectable figures DS 1 for 23 off 8 overs and Nath 1 for 11 from 6 overs (including 4 maidens) Skipper Nunns then called upon club legends Chally and Jonty to work their magic and it didn’t take long for Jonty to do so, a first ball Laa-Laa accounted for Bishop as he chipped a full toss high into the air and Alex Nunns did the rest.  From there Kinlet re-built their innings with a good partnership from Bowyer & Wallace, Bowyer in particular took a liking to Jonty’s bowling and despatched him for a few 6’s into the next field but Jonty kept to his task and finally got his reward by bowling Bowyer for a well-made 58 a knock that brought the hosts back into the game.  Chally kept things tight from the other end despite still carrying a slight injury produced a wonderful spell of 0-18 from his 8 overs with Jonty also contributing 2-34 from 6 overs it was time to turn to the spin twins of JP & JB both spinners knew that their lines & lengths had to be tight especially with the short boundary on the one side and the Kinlet batters looking to go on the attack after being pegged back by the Elf seamers.  Both Jonathan & Josh stuck to their tasks brilliantly and were well supported in the field especially by last season’s fielder of the year Nath Reeves who patrolled the short boundary as if his life depended on it.  Josh was first to get in on the act as he bowled Kinlet captain Yapp for 13 as he played on, then JP took centre stage as he had Mooney stumped by Mac for 10 and then the dangerous Wallace caught behind again by Mac for 35 with the pressure now back on the Kinlet batters the Elf spin twins started to turn the screw and Josh picked up his 2nd & 3rd wickets in consecutive balls first wicket was caught in the deep by Dan Dunn running in at full pelt (top catch Dan) and the second was stumped as the batsman was beaten in the air and Mac did the rest behind the stumps for his second stumping of the day.  Josh was now on at hat-trick and very unselfishly he said he didn’t want to go for it but he was persuaded otherwise by his teammates as all the Elf team surrounded the bat only for the number 11 batter to comfortably turn it around the corner for a single but the drama wasn’t finished there.  Josh then found the edge of the Kinlet number 10 and ball looped to Dan Armstrong who decided to stay at slip after the hat-trick ball only for Dan to attempt to take it one handed but unlike Chally earlier in the innings this one didn’t stick and hit Dan on the head before hitting the floor (I think Dan must have been dreaming of those ciders).  The innings came to close as Kinlet finished 157-9 off 40 overs.  JP finished with figures of 2-36 off 6 overs and Josh 3-35 from his 6 overs.

After the game had finished both teams headed to the Eagle & Serpent to sample some more local cider again Dan Armstrong didn’t miss out as he came back with 3 pints which soon disappeared before fines could be taken our hosts very kindly brought out hot dogs and chips for us all to enjoy again there were more than one visit to the table so much so that Nath Martin decided to cancel his Chinese takeaway that he was going to order on his way home.

Caught red handed.

All in all, it was a great day all round and a BIG BIG hand has to go to our hosts Kinlet CC for their very kind generosity and hospitality, we hope to be back again next season and also a big hand to Chris Hall for organising this fantastic fixture.

Next week Walsall Health return to their home ground at Carter Park.

Alex Nunns

Leave you with this.

                  

Batting
Bowling

v Penn CC (H) 17/04/22

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Penn CC (149 -3) defeated Walsall Health CC (147) by 7 wickets


Walsall Health CC began their 2022 season with the visit of Penn CC. The action started before a ball was bowled (or even before we got into the ground). At 11:50am, cars were parked at the entrance of the club, waiting for the gates to be opened. Maybe it was a subtle tactic to unnerve the opposition on the Health’s part.  However, as we were to find out later, it possible affected a few of the elf members more. 

Thankfully, the game started on time with Penn winning the toss and electing to field. Out strolled openers Tom Bentley and regular smasher Dan Armstrong. All that hope and expectation that had built up during the week had been punctured immediately, as Dan went first ball off the bowling of Dillon. Somehow, a reasonably powerful shot went more airborne that distance and nestled into the hands of the fielder at mid-off. The Health began at 0-1. Tom and no 3 batter Andy Carrick (a batter of great technique and patience) had to steady a nervy ship and started to knock it around a little bit.  Each ball, they grew in confidence, but at 19-1, Bentley was trapped on his crease lbw by Dillon for 6. Andy was starting to get a feel for how the pitch was playing.

 At 19-2 off 7 overs, the Elf needed someone to stick around and support Andy. Out strolled the skipper for the day and club-pro, Dan Dunn, feeling confident enough that he was going to be that person to help guide the home side through a difficult patch. Dillon had other ideas as he sent Dan back with the second golden duck of the innings. Now, the Elf were reeling at 19-3 with Dillon on a hat-trick. Coming out to face that hat-trick ball was none other than Nathan Reeves. Dillon raced back to his marker and charged in. Reeves – not one for hanging around, set himself and hit Dillon right back over his head.  Was Nathan going to be the batsman to hang around with Andy? Unfortunately, the answer was no, as a few balls later, he went for one shot too many, and was cleaned bowled by Suri. This left the home side at 34-4. It was looking very much like an England batting collapse of recent times. However, there were questions as to whether 5 or 6 balls of the over had been bowled. After some discussion, it was agreed the umpire had counted correctly. I expect the umpire wishes he hadn’t called the wide. More to the point, I expect Nathan wished he hadn’t called it.

Andy was still in control of his innings, playing sensibly as the situation required.  In at number 6, was Health debutant Mack Perager. The two of them started knocking it around sensibly and started to build a decent partnership. Andy managed to reach his 50; a well deserved, patient knock whilst rotating the strike. For a spell, the Penn bowlers had no answers. Perager eventually went for a hard fought 17 after he was caught of the bowling of Patel. Despite only getting 17, it was noted that he did exactly what was needed and occupied the crease for a considerable amount of time. He and Carrick managed to take the score from a precarious 34-4 from 10 overs up to 106-5 off 29 overs; an incredible effort that was cut short when Perager had to depart.

Andy was still there. The general feeling was that if the Health were going to post a defendable score, he was going to have to stick around for the next 10-15 overs. Dave Stephens, a trusted  opening bowler went out to build on the good work done by the men in form, began confidently, by defending the first ball and getting off the mark with his second. Unfortunately, his stay at the crease was ended far too prematurely when he was bowled by Rahl. While Rahl was delighted to get his first wicket of the innings, he was to have more success near the close of the innings. Stephens departed with the score at 127-6. Even though Dave had only scored 3, he was able to support Andy in his quest to reach a well deserved 100. Was anyone going to stick around long enough to help him?

Next in at number 8 was Jonathan Preece. He wasn’t used to coming in this early in the order. He came out with the intent of staying at the crease, frustrating the bowlers, and picking up a few runs here and there. His defence seemed sound enough as he kept out several good length balls and making sure the ball didn’t get through his guard. Andy decided to take the initiative during a change of overs and decided to take more of the strike. Not a bad idea if the Health were going to get 150. However, after some quick intelligent running between the wickets, Preece was out lbw for 1. This moved the score onto 135-7. The Elf were slowly creeping towards a target of 150. Could someone stay with Carrick to the end? The next man in was another debutant James Wintrip. There was still time for targets to be met, but at 148-7, Carrick eventually had to depart on 87 after succumbing to Rahl who was visibly delighted to dismiss the batsman of the innings. As he left the field, Andy was met with handshakes from the opposition and a standing ovation from the boundary in front of watching family members.

Andy Carrick with a brilliant 87 that had patience and fair throughout.

Next in was Alan ‘Nicka’ Dunn. He was hoping to get some early season runs and not suffer the same fate as son Dan. Well, he kept the first ball out, but failed to keep the second ball out, as it clattered into the stumps for 0 by Singh. This left the Elf at 148-9. When he returned to the pavilion, Nicka didn’t hold back, stating “At least I lasted more balls than Dan”. In at number 11 was the very much travelled Josh Butler. He had done a magnificent job with the scoring (making sure it all added up at the end). Was he able to add to the total? Despite coming in at number 11, he set off to the crease with the confidence of a number 4 or 5. However, no sooner was he at the crease, Butler returned with a pen in his hand. He had obviously forgotten to put the pen down and pick up his bat. However, no sooner had Josh had got out there, with bat in hand, both batsmen were back in the pavilion as Wintrip was bowled by Rahl for 1. The innings ended and the Health finished on 148 all out.

The bat that Josh meant to go out with first time round.

While it was going to be difficult, a score of 148 was defendable. If they were going to succeed, the Health needed a similar start to Penn’s, with early wickets necessary. Dan decided to go with the tried and tested senior opening bowlers of Dave Stephens and Nicka Dunn. The first three overs went for a respectable 8 runs, with one boundary. The Health looked agile in the field and it looked as though they were up for the fight. However, after a couple of overs, Penn’s opening pair; Bywater and Shah looked set for a long partnership.  That was until the 6th over when Shah was caught by captain Dan Dunn off the bowling of ‘Nicka Dunn for only 5. That made the score 20-1. Shah had looked comfortable and then tried to replicate N. Reeves from the first innings, but only succeeded in finding the safe hands of the stand-in skipper. Was this going to be the start of the recovery? The wicket brought some renewed energy to the Health who felt another wicket was just round the corner. Unfortunately, the next wicket didn’t arrive soon enough. Despite the efforts in the field, Bywater and Rahl knuckled down and batted with patience and precision. They were able to play their shots and found the gaps.          

They were going along nicely at 69-1 when all of a sudden two quick wickets fell. Dunn decided to bring on Wintrip for Stephens (figures of 0-23 off 6 overs). A decent effort from Dave, who kept the batsmen guessing and didn’t give them any free hits. After a shaky start, Wintrip got his wicket as Rahl, like Shah earlier in the innings, went over the top, but only succeeded in finding the hands of an ecstatic Butler. The look on his face showed he enjoyed that moment. It wasn’t just the fact he caught it, but he had to make sure he knew where his feet were. One more step back and it would have been six. Super effort Josh, and congratulations James for claiming your first Elf wicket. Wintrip eventually finished on 1-35 off 4 overs. Rahl had put on a good partnership with Bywater, taking the score to 69-2. Rahl departed for a well earned 27, a score which helped Penn well on their way to victory. No sooner had the second wicket gone down, the third Penn wicket arrived an over later. Dan was considering taking off Nicka when the latter pleaded to have one more over with a new batsman at the crease. Dan’s decision to keep him on was vindicated as the very first ball of Nicka’s next over saw Singh bowled for one. Nicka eventually finished on 2-39 off 8 overs. 

Nicka was eventually replaced by last year’s leading wicket taker, J. Preece. Despite all the net practices and the preparation, the first ball was not what he’d planned. It went down leg side for 4. Not the first impressions that JP wanted to make. After that he tided-up somewhat, finding his line and length. He eventually finished on 0-21 over two overs. The batsmen were eager to finish the innings off in double quick time. There was still enough time for Bywater to reach his 50 and retired after a brilliantly controlled knock. He was replaced by J Dhillon, who wanted to make up for lost time. Rather than just trying to settle in, he went big from the very beginning. A mixture of good running and boundary hitting, Dhillon amassed 41 runs, dealing mainly in 4s and 6s. The Health didn’t have any reply to his big hitting. Wintrip was replaced by opening bat D. Armstrong, who was trying to rebuild his reputation after the calamitous first-ball duck. He came steaming in. The first three balls were on the spot and kept the batsman on his toes. However, like the start of the innings, the batsmen picked up the bowler’s length and started playing their shots again. Butler, who fielded superbly and took that superb catch, came on to bowl. Unfortunately, the batsmen were set and were determined to finish the game off. They decided to go the areal route. This resulted in successive sixes and a four, which helped Penn knock off the runs inside 23 overs. Armstrong finished on 0-11 off 2 overs and Butler finished off with figures of 0-20 off 1.2 overs. Unlucky Josh. You just happened to be there at the end.  

A well deserved win for Penn and played in the right spirit.

Moments of the Match

  1. 87 from Andy Carrick
  2. First ball ducks from Dan Armstrong and Dan Dunn
  3. Josh going out to bat (without his bat)                    
Batting
Bowling

v Peopleton CC (A) 08/08/21

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Peopleton CC (175 – 4) defeated Walsall Health CC (172 all out) by 6 wickets

Walsall Health made the trip down the M5 to Worcestershire to face Peopleton hoping to get back to winning ways after defeat to Poppyfields the week before. It was to be a day for the records to tumble. There was some doubt as to whether the game would go ahead, but thankfully it did. 

Ian Chuck Celebrating 100 appearances

For the third week in a row, Walsall Health came out the wrong side of the toss and were put into bat on a wicket that was so green that some Health members wished their lawns were just as green. The two openers Dan Dunn and Dan Armstrong strolled out hoping to set down a marker. However, nobody told the Peopleton opening bowlers who bowled with great accuracy and kept the Elf pair tied down in the crease with the only scoring shot being a boundary. The breakthrough came in just the third over when Dan Armstrong was caught behind off the bowling off Thirlye for 4. Dan had looked composed at the crease, but it was a ball that he had to play and it swung away at the last minute. Unlucky Dan. This made the score 4-1.

The next man in was vice-captain and celebrating his 100th game for the club, Ian Chuck, who was still complaining about people breaking on the motorway, the reason why he was late. Was it the best decision by captain Nunns to ask Chuck to go in so early, considering his state of mind? Only time would tell. Chuck strolled out to the middle to meet an in form Dan Dunn hoping to build a good partnership. They went about their business in a calm and collected way with a mixture of good running and convincing shots that went to the boundary. The two were settling down building a good partnership, when, all of a sudden, on 38 -1, opening bowler Cliff removed Dunn for 24. It was a valiant effort from Dunn, who played with great control and technique. It was just one ball he didn’t manage to pick.

Rob Hewlitt, 2000 runs up.

Rob Hewlitt, who was looking to reach a personal milestone of 2000 Elf runs entered the crease, knowing exactly what was needed. After the first ball jitters, Hewlitt calmed himself down and started playing the only way he knew. That was to go after the bowler through his powerful hitting and speed between the wickets. As he edged closer to the 2000 run mark, it was mentioned in the player’s enclosure that it would be great if Rob “reached the milestone with a 6”. Right on cue, Rob strode forward and hit a superb boundary to bring up 2000 runs for the Elf. He was congratulated by the on-field umpire ‘Stato’ himself, Chris Hall, who looked thoroughly delighted at his teammate’s achievement. However, his stay at the crease was ended a few balls later when – at 93-2 – he was bowled by Smith for 19. On his return to the pavilion, Rob was given a standing ovation for a milestone well deserved. Well done Rob.

The departure of Rob saw the introduction of Alex Nunns. This was a bowler’s nightmare; two batsmen, one left-handed and one right-handed batsman, occupying the crease. This was surely going to see constant field changes. The two started batting with intent, hoping to increase the run-rate. Good running between the wickets coupled with controlled boundary hitting propelled the Elf to 123-3. Just as the two were building a good partnership, Chuck (currently on 47) played a shot down to mid-on and followed it with a call of “yes”. As soon as he set off, the Peopleton fielders sensed an opportunity of a run out and quick reactions saw the end of Chuck’s innings when he was closing in on his 50. The frustration was there for all to see. This was followed by Chuck’s comment “Why did I run? There was no run there”.

Hetty the dog, exemplary in the field for the opposition

That left the score at 123-4 off 28 overs. If the Elf were going to post a competitive total, a few more boundaries were needed. The loss of Chuck brought wicketkeeper Andy Gorton to the crease. Gort went about his business with intent, hitting his only two scoring shots for 10 runs. A magnificent 6 followed a controlled shot for 4. Before we knew it, Nunns and Got had moved the Elf onto 142 for 5, with the hope the two would add more to the score. Unfortunately, just as Gort was settling in, he skied one off the bowling of Harrold and the catch taken by Cliff, who had already been successful with ball in hand.

Mark Reynolds came in for only his second game for the Elf at number 7, where he hoped to make a telling contribution to the total score. He batted with a mixture of assurance and flair that moved the score onto 170-7 by which time Nunns had been caught off the bowling of Ash for 18. Reynolds and returning gem G. Philpott steadied the ship with a few lusty blows from both batsmen, before a contentious decision saw the removal of Reynolds after he was bowled by Powell for 17. It looked from the boundary as though it should have been called a no-ball, but the umpires were having none of it and Reynolds had to go.

That left the score on 170-7 and out walked the stalwart that was Dave Stephens. Could he add to the score? However, one ball was needed and DS was on his way back to the pavilion after he tried to go over the top, but didn’t catch it right and was caught off the bowling of Powell for 0. On his way back, DS mentioned to the next man in, JP (who had been hoping to edge nearer to Johnty’s DNB record) “Hardly worth going out for”. JP came in and the first ball he faced almost took off his head. That was the first of two successive no-balls by Smith, but the third ball (first legal ball) did the trick and JP was back in the sheds for a golden duck after he tried to score on the on-side but only succeeded in the finding the fielder (a very similar mode of dismissal as the last time he batted). That was two wickets in two balls. Was Smith going to make it 2 in 2? He sure was. His victim was C. Hall (who was bowled) when he lasted just as long as the two previous batsmen for the same number of runs. The Elf finished on 172 all out. A total that was going to be tough to defend, but one they felt comfortable in doing so. 

Top effort Dan Anderson.

So it was down to the bowlers to try and keep it tight and make People work for their runs. When asked who was opening the bowling D. Preece snr stated with an air of confidence “D. Stephens with a ‘ph”. That was then followed with “Sorry. That is Dan Anderson”, just as Dan Armstrong was coming in. Opening batsmen Miller and Billington were undeterred and went about knocking off the 172 runs needed for victory. They batted with composure and flair finding the gaps and causing Nunns more difficulty than he had experienced all season. No matter how Stephens and Armstrong bowled, the batsmen had answers for everything. At the end of their spells, Dan Armstrong finished on figures of 0-27 off 5 overs and DS finished with 0-40 off 8 overs. While neither of them took wickets, they could feel unlucky in not making the breakthrough. On another day they could have both picked up a couple of wickets. 

However, the one thing that the Elf have is a man who takes wickets in his sleep. Nunns was able to call upon ‘the ice man’ Chris Hall who was aiming to surpass the all time leading wicket taker for the Health, the late Tim Oliver, who took 387 wickets. Hall only six weeks ago was contemplating not playing until April 2022, worked his socks off to get back playing only 7 days earlier. The opening batsmen were clearly in the mindset of getting the game won. C. Hall who was biding his time, struck to remove T. Billington LBW for 29 and in doing so moved onto wicket number 387, level with Tim Oliver. A mixture of relief and elation broke out as all on the park of the Elf persuasion sensed a new milestone nearing. However, there was still work to do.

The all-important wicket was not far in coming. The number 3 batsmen A. Billington came to the crease. After a steady start making 9, Hall had his man and he entered the record books. After his first wicket in April 2002 against Newbold with a bowled in his wickets column, 19 years and 387 wickets later, the mode of dismissal was exactly the same. It read ‘A Billington – bowled Hall’. He later mentioned that he got it the way he wanted to get it. Tremendous effort Chris. You deserve all the accolades you got. However, that was not the end of Hall, as he picked himself up to remove Hamid for 1. There were some that thought a 5-for might have been coming. Unfortunately, that was not to be the case and Hall finished on figures of 3-63 off 8 overs.  

The story has it that Chris was introduced to WHCC by fellow player R. Fell, who encouraged him to get back into cricket after he had taken “several years out the game” because as he says now, “I wasn’t enjoying it”. He came on to bowl and as Fell predicted, 4th ball of his first over, S. Pryde was bowled by Hall. It was an inspired decision and thus a future Elf legend was born.  

While Hall was doing his bit, the bowlers at the other end were doing their best to keep it tight. First, I Chuck, who had earlier made a well played 47, came on to replace D. Stephens. He bowled a tight line and length and was constantly tempting the batsmen, but in their efforts, very few went to the boundary and most went for ones and twos. Chuck’s control and guile eventually paid off and he got his man. Mason, trying to hit Chuck out of the ground only succeeded in finding the safe hands of G. Philpott and he departed for 7. Philpott, a fielder that every bowler would feel confident of taking every catch that came his way. Chuck finished off with figures of 1-21 off 3 overs. His bowling figures don’t reflect how well he’d bowled. Chuck was replaced by JP, a man who was still on a high from joining the 100 wicket club for the elf only a week earlier. He came in knowing the game was probably up, hoping they would not hit the winning runs off his bowling. His first over went for three runs; also bowling a decent length, but his seventh ball went for 6 and thus ended the game.

Despite the XI on the field succumbing to their third defeat of the season, there were plenty of celebrations for the milestone makers in Rob on his 2000 runs and Ian on his 100 appearances for the Health. But the day and occasion belonged to Chris, who after reluctantly leading the players off, was greeted by a ‘Dai-hug’ minus his Goldfish coat. Superb effort Chris. Hopefully, there are plenty more wickets to come your way.       

Bowlers with 100 Wickets

Bowler Wickets
         
Chris Hall 389
Tim Oliver 387
Ian Forrester 314
Frank Jacobs 313
John Nicholls 281
Gary Reeves 210
Martin Liggins 207
Dave Stephens 154
Sam Stephens 125
Tom Davies 112
Jonathan Preece 100
   

Batsmen with 2000 + runs

Batsman Runs
        
Andy Gorton 5,906
Tim Oliver 5,457
Gary Reeves 4,115
Ian Chuck 3,916
Steve Hartshorne 3,100
Rick Jarrams 2,610
Martin Liggins 2,490
David Preece (jnr) 2,455
Stu Pollit 2,379
Rich Fell 2,175
Sam Stephens 2,050
Rob Hewlitt 2,005
   

Chris Hall‘s First Elf’ Game

 Author JP

Batting
Bowling

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