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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
Clubman……Nathan Martin & Chris Hall
Duck Trophy….Andy Gorton (plumb)
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.
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.
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.
Andie’s highest score and best bowling figures for WHCC…both against Barry on Tour. Great memories.
This Sunday, saw Abbots Bromley visit the Elf at our home ground of Carters park in Rushall. After what can only be described as a typical English Saturday’s weather, 24 hours of non-stop rain, the Elf and Abbots Bromley were both keen to get on the pitch and play some of the real beautiful game. A special notice must be made to the many players from the Elf who were happy to volunteer for Abbots Bromley to play the match and credit to our opponents for getting the game on. After a bit of heavy labour from our more experienced members, the toss was made and Abbots Bromley elected to bowl.
Up first to bat were Andy Gorton and Ian Chuck, could the pair continue to add to their tally of runs for the elf? Unfortunately it was not meant to be. Andy Gorton flicked a few down the leg side , before he was trapped in front by Ian Mitchell for 6. Out walked Andy Ince, well wintered and raring to go. Ian Chuck on the other hand, was steadily accumulating runs hitting a few lusty blows off the opening bowler s, before he succumbed to a full toss smacking it straight down mid-off’s throat. Out walked Alex Nunns who in true Nunns form ‘leant’ from the front . The partnership of Nunns and Ince accumulated runs at a good rate and even gave a few interesting moments when both men skied pulls, off the same bowler in the same over, only to see both fall safely. At 102 runs and approaching the drinks break, Abbots Bromley finally claimed the 3rd wicket when A Nunns pulled a full toss, yes another wicket on a full toss, to the man at square leg who took a catch that will have him raving to his son for many a year, rough luck Alex. With Ince set on 50 and looking dangerous, out walked Rob Hewlitt, who continued his fine form with some excellent shots, punishing full tosses, Chuck and Nunns were vigorously taking notes, and some excellent running between the wickets the score for the health continued to climb. At 153, Ince sadly fell to the bowling for Lowther for a well earned 80, Top knock Andy.
In strolled N Reeves who set about his usual direct approach of punishing any ball bowled at him . Nathan played his shot and sadly picked the fielder out in the deep and departed for 5. In walked D Armstrong, with the 193 still fresh in his mind, he continued his outstanding form quickly, striking any delivery in his zone to the boundary. The score from the elf was now in the 200 with 8 overs left. A few members wondered whether the elf could break their record of 276 runs in 40 overs. With the score on 227 after 34 overs the record was set to be broken. Sadly the loss of Hewlitt, saw a loss of momentum with only 2 runs coming from the next over 229-6 after 35. In went D Preece who was methodical in his taking of singles in the last few overs of the match kept the scoreboard ticking and Armstrong being well…Armstrong, biffing bad balls away like they were beach balls, the race was on to see if the elf could break the record. The most surprising moment was watching D Armstrong ‘farming the strike’ claiming a single on the last ball in the 36th, 37th, 38th and 39th overs, something his batting partners will be mindful of in the future. That left the score at 262 with one over left. The record was 276. D Armstrong was batting…it could happen. 1,1,1 ok so 11 off 3, less likely but still possible. Another run, record gone! Maybe next time! Sadly Armstrong had not finished his running yet, optimistically calling a 2 and ending up a few long strides short, he continued his run all the way to the clubhouse. That left R Fell to face 1 ball, with the Duck trophy always happy to claim members in this scenario, Fell made sure he would not be in the running yet allowing the ball to pass his leg side the score ended up on 266-7 after 40 overs.
Tea times are much less of an extravagant affair nowadays with players being encouraged to bring their own teas, a special note must be made to Lizzie Tancred, who baked a sublime Key-lime pie that had many players of the Elf returning for seconds and some thirds.
Abbots Bromley came out to bat with Ronson and Lowther opening up. Club pro D.Dunn started up and was successful in his first over claiming Ronson for 0. C Hall had similar success from the other end claiming Lowther for 0 with a sharp catch at mid-on by Nunns. With some good disciplined bowling from the openers, and some excellent fielding notably from R Fell and N Reeves , Abbots Bromley struggled to get going. Eventually, C Hall claimed the wicket of Mitchell after he took a particular liking to the club pro’s bowling. The first change bowler R Fell, bowled well all game to be fair but was not successful in claiming the wicket he sought. Meanwhile at the other end, the right arm slow of Chuck, we can hardly call them spinners at the pace some of those balls came down, set about picking holes on the Abbots Bromley batting, claiming 2 wickets in his first over. He continued to bowl tight, with the exception of when young S Davies began to send the ball disappearing over Chucks head with increasing frequency, many a cries of “toss the ball higher” seemed to fall on the deaf ears of Chuck. After some grumbling, he eventually got Davies when he walked down the wicket and Gorton, who in his usual form of whipping the bails off at every convenience to keep the guillotine sharp, stumped the youngster for a well batted 11. Haywood at the other end was very watchful and pushed the ball into gaps more often as the game progressed provided the visitors with some means of accumulating runs but when Chuck claimed the 4th wicket LBW of Bexon, things looked pretty dire for the visitors. Armstrong removed Haywood for 18 but Abbots Bromley continued to fight with some excellent rear guard action by Kirkland and Cantrill seeing them make their 40 overs with wickets still to spare, despite some tight bowling from Armstrong and Dave Preece. Abbots Bromley finished on 90-9 after their 40 overs.
Overall an enjoyable game on what turned out to be a rather nippy day but great to be playing cricket as always. Great to see some legends of the club popping down to support the team and a huge hand to both sets of supporters for enduring the cold weather. A special mention to Lizzie Tancred who seemed to be taking to her role of director of match day photography, though half the photos of the buzzard may not have been called f or, A big hand for some of the shots claimed today.
Next week sees the Elf visiting Lapworth, any chance R Fell never likes to miss to see his long lost relative in only name T Fell. Good luck fellas!
The third game of the season for Walsall Health was one that had almost everything; 3 wicketkeepers (for one innings), dogs invading the pitch and a Magical Mystery tour (as the Beatles would say) of Much Wenlock (thanks in part to Google). After winning the toss, the Elf skipper Alex Nunns elected to bat, despite not having the full quota of time to assess the pitch due to turning up at 12:55, for a 1:00 start.
After last week’s centurion in Rob Hewlitt, it was the turn of three more Elf legends to reach milestones, in Nathan Martin, Greg Philpott and Daniel Armstrong (fresh from his magnificent 193, barely 24 hours earlier) to rack up their 50th games for the club. It looked like an inspired decision by the captain, who was looking for his 3rd straight victory since stepping into the job.
Resident opener, Ian Chuck (who was hoping for successive red inkers) and Dan Dunn (stepping in at the last minute-well done Dan), got off to a solid start with the bat. Running between the wickets as freely as treacle through a sieve, they built up a steady lead. The calls were so loud and clear, that the farmer up the road, (who many had met and asked for directions) could keep tabs on the score. Both openers felt secure at the crease and were moving the score along nicely. Then out of nowhere, with the score at 90-0, Dan Dunn – the club pro – was making his way back to the pavilion after making a well batted 42 after being bowled by Caldicott. So surprised were the Elves on the boundary that nobody could quite believe that Dunn had had his defences breached. No clunk of the wicket, no cheer from the opposition, just a solitary walk back.
Next to enter the crease was none-other than Nathan Reeves, one who would excite the crowds in the IPL or T20 Blast. First ball, Nathan set himself and – to the crowds amazement/shock/disappointment, allowed the ball to go through harmlessly to the keeper. This happened – not once, but twice. Was this to be the Nathan Reeves that we knew and admired, or was it an imposter? We soon found out. After all; runs win games and Reeves was on a mission. His next six balls went for 9 runs, which included a magnificent 6, sailing over the square leg boundary. Things were going nicely at 112-1.Unfortunately, Reeves went for one-shot too many and clubbed the ball so high that the International Space Station managed to capture a picture of the ball in its accent to infinity and beyond, before gravity pulled it back down into safe hands of square-leg off the bowling of Handley.
Next, it was one Nathan for another, as Nathan Martin (or the Wednesbury Lara, as one coined him) entered the crease. Not renowned for his batting prowess, Martin got down to work with the aim of steadying the innings after two quick wickets. He set his stall out and played an impressive 14 not out off 13 overs. However, as Martin was asserting himself in the middle, I. Chuck’s time at the crease came to an end after a dogged display at the top of the order. Closing in on his 50, which would have been well deserved, Chuck was caught off the bowling of Brown falling agonisingly short on 47. Although he didn’t reach his weekly 50, Chuck could still feel he made an invaluable contribution to the final score. The final Elf batsman to enter the fray was former skipper and centurion, Rob Hewlitt who’s running between the wickets was faultless. Coming in at the start of the 27th over, he batted out the innings for a very handy 58 runs and with Martin the other end, they both added a super 81 runs to the final score of 199 for 4. A total that would be a competitive one, but still achievable, the Elf faithful felt confident, especially with the bowling attack Nunns had at his disposal. But there was still work to be done.
The Much Wenlock openers came out and looked as though they meant business. However, within a couple of over’s, the two opening bowlers, in Chris Hall and Nathan Martin (with his followers in the background), made the Much Wenlock openers reassess how they were going to play their innings. This was backed up by the man behind the stumps, Dan Armstrong, with the confidence of someone who had kept all his life. Unfortunately, for S. Handley, he succumbed to a beautifully executed slower ball by Martin, dislodging the bails with deadly accuracy. The Elf had got the breakthrough with only 5 runs on the board. The next batsman was D. Handley, who made his mark as soon as he entered the crease, who’s scoring shot were as follows; 4 6 4 2 4 2 1 1. Eventually; he went for one too many and tried to hit the ‘Ice Man’ C. Hall out of the ground, only succeeding in finding G. Philpott. He left with the score a reasonable 36 for 2.
Captain Nunns had to rethink his tactics. After only 10 overs, JP was brought onto see if he could nullify the batsman. As the old adage goes “1 usually brings 2” and this was evident again. New batsman, new bowler; both unsure how the pitch would play. It only took one ball, but JP had his man for a duck. JP floated the ball up inviting to have a go, but only succeeding finding Nunns in the perfect position to grab it without needing to move his feet. However, this was the only success JP would have in the afternoon. The following batsman – W. Brown – played a fantastic innings and deservedly ended with 33 not out. In the midst all this, it was one Dan for another as Dan Dunn took the gloves from, who was as equally combatant behind the stumps as his namesake and the invasion of Chally’s new best friend; a passer-by’s dog.
At 36 for 3, the Elf felt confident, but Brown and the opener Rowlands dug their heels in and occupied the crease superbly. After a good spell from Chris, Nunns decided to take him out of the attack and bring on ‘the Boston Strangler’ Josh Buttler, who with his unique action, he brought a different challenge to the crease. His bowling deserved a wicket and on another day, he would have been duly rewarded. A score of 8 overs for 36 runs was a good return for the bowler and showed that the batsmen at the crease found it incredibly hard to get him away more often. Not only that, but his scoring in the first innings was exemplary and it was very much noted both during and after the game. Top man JB!
From 36 for 3 to 109 for 4, the batsmen played an array of classy shots and resolute defensive shots. Nunns once again had to change something. On came G. Philpott who had some very interesting points on equality in professional sports. The less said the better. He took the vital wicket of Rowlands who reached his 50 and then he found opening bowler Hall to send him on his way. Philpott eventually finished with figurers of 1-55. These figures do not reflect how well Greg actually bowled and deserved more than the one wicket he richly deserved. Could this be the breakthrough the Elf needed? In came M. Brown who smashed a fantastic 65 before he was cleaned bowled by first wicketkeeper of the day Dan Armstrong, by which time the hosts felt they had an opportunity to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. The removal of Brown was exactly what was needed, which was soon followed by a run out opportunity in which I Chuck (Health’s third keeper of the innings) had all the time in the world to remove the bails after playing an imaginary immaculate forward defensive, to leave the hosts 188 for 6.
Despite their super effort, Much Wenlock fell 11 runs short, but it was agreed by all who took part that the game of cricket was truly the winner.
Although he neither batted nor bowled, the most telling contribution on the pitch was made by skipper Alex Nunns, who through his cool and calm character, helped get the Health over the line with his field placings when it could have all gone horribly wrong. While he was not always in the thick of the action, you always felt that he was always in control of proceedings, possibly 2 or 3 steps ahead of the game. His unselfish leadership so others could have the chance to contribute to the team effort with either bat or ball should be recognised and was appreciated. Top captaining skipper!
Finally, it must be said, that despite all the wickets being taken and the runs being scored, the most valuable contribution was that of the Elf’s newly appointed ‘Director of Matchday Photography’, Lizzie, who through her amazing knack of catching the moment, was able to bring the game to life through her photos. Well played Lizzie.
It was nice to visit Yoxall again, for the first time since the 2012 season. Always a lovely welcoming ground….so lovely in fact, it encouraged Rob Hewlitt to be punctual for the first time in 100 appearances as suggested in a lively fines committee. Making his debut on 19th August 2012 against Highwood Park, Rob joins a list of 18 players to complete 100 games for WHCC. Well done Rob.
Skipper Alex Nunns lost the toss, so Yoxall elected to have a bat. Not a bad toss to lose, as it soon became apparent that the deck wasn’t exactly a batsman’s paradise. Nathan Martin and Dan Armstrong opened the bowling, both men producing high quality spells. It feels like Dan Armstrong’s favourite Sunday pastime is breaking records (more on that later) After last weeks 104, Dan steamed in to wreak havoc amongst the Yoxall top order. Clean bowling Tom Reynolds with an absolute peach for 3, with the first ball of his spell. Dan then removed Gale and Turner for ducks to leave Yoxall struggling on 4-3. With the shine on the new ball, Dan was pretty much unplayable at times, so the left handed opener Gareth Lewis did really well to survive, whilst others perished around him. Nathan Martin had one of those days, bowling really well for no reward, and i think its only fair we hold a minutes silence for his water bottle, which had absolutely no chance of surviving the violent beating dished out to it on the fine leg boundary.
Its fair to say Yoxall never recovered from their bad start. Chris Hall came on at first change, to team up with Dan for combined figures of 16 overs 9 maidens 7-15. The pitch didn’t get much easier to bat on, with bad balls in very short supply. JP, who had already displayed tremendous courage, turning up dressed as the pink panther, entered into the action. Two more wkts were deposited into the bank on his road to 100, clean bowling Asghar 0, then dismissing Maczkowski 7, courtesy of the safe hands of Nathan Martin. Josh Butler, who had fielded really well, then came on to wrap the Yoxall innings up. Taking his 10th wkt for the club, with Rob Hewlitt poaching another dolly land snaffle to mark his 100th appearance. Gort deservedly gets the final mention, keeping on that pitch wasn’t easy. Taking a sharp blow on the grill, plus 2 excellent catches summed up a solid all round effort…..Yoxall 87 all out.
The WHCC Guv’nors, Rick Jarrams and John Nicholls had strolled around the boundary enjoying the game. It really shouldn’t surprise anyone that Jonty made full use of the nets over the far side of the pitch, in preparation for his return at Lapworth on the 16th May.
After tea, we set about the chase of a tricky low total. But it didn’t take Dan Armstrong long to remove any doubt about the result with a quickfire 29 off 20 balls. As mentioned earlier, it was another day of milestones for D.Arm, taking his 50th wkt, and scoring his 1,000th run in the same game. At the age of just 20 years and 343 days, by far the youngest WHCC player to achieve this feat.
Meanwhile, Ian Chuck who announced his only priority for the day was a red inker, stood firm to finish on 31 not out. Quietly negotiating a path past his 3,500th run for WHCC, still at average in excess of 50. A superb effort from Chuck,who also raised a few eyebrows at tea, with a masterful display of carb loading to rival Sam Stephens’s 27 sandwiches at Didcot in 2009. Talking of red inkers. Skipper, Alex Nunns 11* joined Chuck to take us over the line, to maintain his 100% record. Another strong all round team effort, played in a positive spirit against our friendly Yoxall hosts. So friendly in fact, that Greg Philpott and Dan Armstrong kindly offered to help out with a spot of early evening ground maintenance. Greg, who earlier in the day, had shrewdly offered to wear all the bowlers jumpers to combat the chilly wind, suggested a solid hour of heavy rolling. #spiritofcricket. I get the feeling the Yoxall square will play nice and flat next weekend.
On arrival at the RCG, and after a quick assessment of players and spectators, its fair to say that if Rushall ever fancied an upgrade on their heavy roller, a few people at yesterday’s game would comfortably fit the job criteria. One man who had no chance of making the first interview stage was new skipper Alex Nunns, who won the toss and elected to bowl. Rushall’s pitch and outfield looked in excellent shape. A lot of time and effort has gone into this over the last few weeks/months, so a big hand to all the lads at Rushall and the Elf who have put the hard yards in.
The Sportsman innings was a tale of two halves. The first club record of the season was broken after just nine deliveries, with the new ball that Dave Stephens had kindly brought over for us, disappearing into another stratosphere. A Nathan Martin full toss was smashed halfway to Pelsall by Waqas Ahmed. Talking of Pelsall, that was exactly where debutant Ashley Clifford (Player Number 220) found himself, just an hour before the game. Turning up at the wrong ground, has happened before, and will no doubt happen again. But maybe our newcomer knew something we didn’t. Because he could have taken a half decent catch if he had stayed at his initial destination.
Nathan Martin (3-38) was the pick of our bowlers, settling down into a nice spell, just as his grandparents were arriving. The Friar Park Express showed all the right signs to suggest he could be in for a very good season. Nath began the perfect comeback, clean bowling the dangerous Waqas and Calvin cheaply. Then finding the edge of Vishual’s bat, well taken by Gort…. Well bowled. Club Pro Dan Dunn, who left work early to open the bowling, strived hard at the other end without reward. On a fast scoring outfield, the Elf were in a good position after 25 overs. Until John Helmsley 89 and Lee 53, started to accelerate the scoring.
For any rookie cricketer who is keen to learn the finer arts of bowling at the death, I would advise watching the last 10 overs of the Sportsman innings very closely….then do the exact opposite. Ian Chuck had more steam coming out of his ears than a scene from the Severn Valley Railway. Chuck was tonked over cow corner a few times, then had to endure the nightmare scenario of John Helmsley switch hitting him for yet another boundary. JP picked up a couple of wkts at the other end to take him two steps closer to his 100th wkt milestone, as Sportsman’s innings closed on a challenging 230-7.
Pick of the fielders had to be Rob Hewlitt, busy as ever, and the instigator of the run out of Abdul, with Nathan Reeves matching Rob’s energy, stopping every ball that came his way in a typical whole hearted display.
After tea was taken we set about the chase of 230. A seriously pumped up Ian Chuck, immediately set the tone. Batting in the style of AB de Villiers, Chucky smashed anything short to the boundary, with a scoring sequence of 4,4,4,4,1,4,1,4,4. It was looking ominous for Sportsman until our Saffa copped a Jaffa for 39. However, this 53 run opening partnership from the first 6 overs with Dan Armstrong was just what the Doctor ordered.
As Chuck trudged off, pondering whether he has a weakness against left arm seamers, Dan Armstrong took centre stage. What an innings this was, 104….including fifteen 4’s and two 6’s. Dan deservedly joins a select group of multiple WHCC centurions. It was the classic Armstrong innings. A blend of power ball striking, and some lovely timing. One shot in particular that stands out, taking a couple of steps forward, clipping the ball off his legs to the square leg boundary. All timing and skill. Dan’s innings was a historic one for the club too, being the 30th Century since the reformation in 1987, and only the second occasion where we have witnessed a ton during the first game of a season. It also takes him to within just 2 runs of his first 1,000 runs for the club. So after a cool down lap of the pitch and debrief with the Club Pro, Dan simply said “Tell DS to get my cap ready for next Sunday”….well batted mate.
The partnership of 143 for the second wicket (no its not a record) with skipper Alex Nunns, effectively took the game away from Sportsman. Despite facing a barrage of vociferous lbw appeals, Alex batted really well, finishing unbeaten on 65. His 8th fifty for the club, which included ten 4’s. A composed Captain’s knock, providing the perfect support to Dan.
It was left to Rob Hewlitt to close out the game, with a cameo 17 not out, but again, another top order batsman who looks in very good touch. This was a really good win to start our season, and the highest successful run chase since we hunted down 236 at Swynnerton back in 2011.
Aftab. Looking full of ideas on how to get Gards out.
But as a celebration of Pete’s achievement, this archive match report remembers the game in 2012 played at Whittington between Nomads and The Elf. No need to refer to the dictionary for a superlative for this game, because in simple terms, it was a game where Pete Gardner hammered us.
Now some of you Hawk Eyes, will spot the names Stanley and Pickering amongst the Elf line up. Club Captain at that time, Richard Fell would tell you all about this particular era. Most weeks, it was a struggle to get 11 players. For this particular game, following 76 voicemails, and 109 texts, Fell heroically managed to round up 9 by Friday. A Saturday recruitment drive using a Battlebus and a megaphone was planned, until the Nomads kindly offered us 2 of their own players. Reflecting the spirit of Sunday friendly cricket and the collective ethos of both clubs to get the game on.
A spot of early afternoon rain, meant the game was reduced to 35 overs per side. Nomads won the toss and elected to bat, unleashing Pete Gardner into the game nice and early. Now there is no need for a forensic analysis of this innings. Remember those pearls of wisdom about Gardner, and getting him early? Well on this day, we didn’t. Dan Moss 31. Mark Heslington 17 and N.George 28 not out, all played the able deputy role. But the Governor of this game was Gards, who finished on 118 not out. A classic innings, which included many customary late cuts, with anything dropping short getting punished. On this day, P.Gardner was simply too good. 98 runs were scored in the final 8 overs, taking the Nomads total to 240-4. A big target for a 35 over innings.
After a steady start to our reply, Gort 30 (top score) and Dave Preece 18…..we glanced at the scoreboard after 20 overs….75-3. I think its safe to say, we were slightly behind the run rate. One of those situations, where the Captain thinks to himself, the wheels haven’t completely fallen off, but the gearbox, clutch, windscreen wipers and suspension are all buggered.
It was left to Dave Stephens and Richard Fell to take us to a bit of scoreboard respectability. Dave 51 not out and Fell 19 not out, leaving us with a final score of 162-6…….78 runs short of the Nomads total who were well deserving winners. Pete Gardner’s 118 not out was the highlight of the game, and one of many times he posted a three figure score for his team.
The Gardner Factfile v WHCC
Following a browse through our scorebooks, Gards has amassed 754 runs over 25 matches. Including four 50’s and a century at an average of 31.41.
We had all been praying for good weather to grace this special fixture against Alrewas, so when we all arrived to clear blue skies, the omens felt in place for a fantastic day of Sunday friendly cricket. With over 20 years of Elf experience in the bank, Richard Fell was nominated to skipper a side blessed with a mixture of legends, youth, and a few players somewhere in between the two….I’ll leave it to all you players to figure out which category you fit into.
The Alrewas skipper offered us the option of bat or bowl first. Fell had no hesitation in going down the “Classic” WHCC route…”We will have a bowl, and throw the ball around” was the response to a really sporting gesture from the opposition. The 2 D’s, opened proceedings. Dave Stephens and Dan Dunn. But in a 35 over contest, the Alrewas openers, Burns and Scott got off to a flier on a quick outfield. With the first 50 runs coming quite quickly, it was time for the Captain to unleash the brains trust of our slip cordon on the game.
Gary Reeves (Legendary wicket keeper) Rick Jarrams (Specialist 1st slip) and Dai Preece (Expert 2nd slip)…. So I was reliably informed by the Doc, that a combined age of 200 years were present in the “Nick off” area. Their reactions might not be quite what they were, but what a job they all did. Just to add to all this nostalgia, it was John Nicholls who got us our first breakthrough. In his own words….a perfectly executed slower ball, which he was really really pleased with. And guess who bowled the only maiden of the entire innings? Jonty. Taking him to within four of that magic 400 total….78-1
With Jonty on fire at the pavillion end, Captain Fell nominated this moment to bring on an old bowling partner of our Maiden Machine…..Frank Jacob. We all watched in awe, as Sonic the Hedgehog (an old Franky nickname) casually strolled onto the pitch after an 8 year sabbatical from all forms of cricket, to land his first ball on the spot. Standing at mid on, all I could hear as Franky ran in (Well, ambled in) were screams of “I haven’t bowled for 8 years you know” Frank completed his first over, and did what Frank always did….went off to field wherever he liked.
After a quick drinks break, a few wickets started to tumble. Chris Hall removing Burns for 48, then Lingwood for 4. Courtesy of catches from Chucky and Nathan Martin. But then a howler of a dropped catch off his own bowling, prompted Frank Jacob to dish out a bit of the Hairdryer treatment to his old team mate…..”Get angry! And steam in!” were Frank’s exact words. A chastised Chally took the bait, clean bowling Williams for 13. Cheers Frank…..160-4
Nath, better than a five-for.
Nathan Martin came into the attack, to join in the fun. The Friar Park Express started really well, until his 3rd over. The classy Tringham, reverse swept Nath for a couple of boundaries. There were rumours of a back injury, and the lad suddenly seemed a bit distracted. There was concern all round, was Nath ok? We need not have worried. That momentary lapse in concentration was down to the Mr Whippy Van arriving on the club car park. You know that feeling when one pitches on leg, then hits off stump? I think it was that level of euphoria. That elusive 99 would be waiting for the elated N.Martin at tea.
The final 5 overs were shared between the two J’S….Josh and JP. With Josh completely baffling Rowland in the flight, stumped by the quick hands of the Doc for 34. The G.Reeves had really warmed to the task, moving your back foot out of the crease at this stage, not really a wise move. JP twirled away at the other end, but was out of luck on this occasion, bowling most of his spell against the very good Alrewas 1st teamer, Cole. Who will get another mention later on in the report. The Alrewas innings closed on 234-6.
After the tea break we began our chase. But shortly after the resumption, the game was paused for a very special moment. Alrewas gathered both teams together, for a presentation. The speech was a thankyou to all the people who put in the hard yards to help make Alrewas CC run smoothly, and a celebration that through such a tough year, cricket was played with great success at a club who were fantastic hosts yesterday. I think the WHCC guys would agree with what was said in the speech….”He would hate the attention, and wouldn’t agree with the decision”…….
Alrewas Clubman of The Year……Andie Oliver…….Well done mate.
Andie Oliver. Alrewas Clubman.
In typical Andie O fashion, we were told to get back out there and play some cricket. Ian Chuck had certainly listened to the instructions, looking in great touch before being caught for an aggressive 39. Dan Armstrong was unlucky to pick out one of their strongest fielders, caught on the long off boundary for 4. Maybe Dan was a bit unsettled after taking one in the rib cage off one of the Alrewas female players? The Bodyline type hostility worked because she got him out, much to the amusement of Greg Philpott and the Club Pro, Dan Dunn…..62-2
Armstong had been peppered up before being snaffled in the deep.
At this point, Dan Dunn was joined by the in form Nathan Reeves. This week, Nath had selected 5:23pm for his tee off time, and once again, we were entertained by some brilliant maverick ball striking. 19 off 16 balls, including 3 fours, well batted Nath. At the other end, the Club Pro, who was looking well set on 13, got one of the balls of the day. Full, straight, right in the blockhole, a tough one to keep out.
Rick and Doc. Late contenders.
With the score at 96-4, we really had waited long enough. Gary Reeves and Rick Jarrams were both padded up and ready for action. Sadly, neither of these club legends managed to get off the mark. Doc got a good ball and was caught at slip, followed by Rick who was bowled by Williams. Now there was some light hearted chat about duck trophies after the game. Would we really be that harsh?
While all the carnage was happening, Dave Preece was calmly going about his business. Dave Stephens proved to be a very able partner, blasting a quick 21, taking us to 159-7. Captain, Rich Fell was unlucky to be run out for 3 trying to keep us up with the scoring rate. Then Jonty departed for a French cricket style 6…….173-9
They sometimes say you save the best until last. So as Frank Jacob (who had borrowed Docs gloves and pads) strode out to bat, hopes were high of a resurrection. It wasn’t long before Dave Preece became engaged in a few…Yes, No, Wait Frank calling. I reckon it took 3 balls for the….”Remember the game Frank ran out 4 players in a Cup semi final” story to be told. Blissfully unaware of the hysterics on the boundary, Frank and Dave Preece edged us ever closer to the Alrewas target of 234. The brave effort finally ended after Frank was bowled for 5. A 10th wkt partnership of 40, with Dave ending the game unbeaten on a superb 60. WHCC 213 all out to conclude a memorable days cricket.
Quote of the day…..
This has to go to Josh Butler.…..as mentioned earlier, near the end of the Alrewas innings, Josh picked up the wicket of Rowland. Realising his supreme effort meant that the rather decent Alrewas 1st team batsman, Cole was now walking out to bat. He just looked like one of those batsmen you just know is going to smack you everywhere if he wants too. With 5 balls remaining in the Butler over, Josh made the shrewd observation….”Well at least he can only hit me for 30″……Brilliant
The game was once again really well supported. Nicka was one of the first men on the scene, armed with a King Size bag of Wotsits. The Preece family, Bob Plant, Greg, Sam and Jade with young son Sebastian, who was noted taking a walk around the boundary, already planning to take his Dad’s coveted Number 3 position in the batting order in a few years time. I think its safe to say that the generous offer on at the bar of £1 for a beer was really appreciated by all the players and spectators who came to Alrewas.
It has to be mentioned that this game saw an extremely unique achievement for 5 of our longest serving players. (Left to right) John Nicolls, Rick Jarrams, Gary Reeves, Frank Jacob and Andy Gorton . Maybe Enid Blyton should write a book about our very own “Famous Five” becoming the only WHCC players to have played in all 5 decades since the reformation in 1987. Well done lads
The Famous Five.
Now I asked the Captain Richard Fell to say a few words about yesterday, so here he is with his own take on the day…..
“It was an absolute honour and pleasure to Captain the team packed with people I’ve grown up with, people who I admire, and people who I look up to. The Health has been a huge part of my life, and will be, as long as it continues. The values the club were founded on were on full display at Alrewas, smiles on faces, everyone taking part. A lot of people who were there yesterday, not only taught me how to play cricket, but how to be a man. Long Live the Elf”
There was quite a lot to write about today, but what a game to finish our 2020 season. Great venue. Great hosts. I had a good chat with Andie, we spoke about a few things, but I’d like to close the season and the final report with something I mentioned to him, that he wasn’t aware of. A photo…..The very first game since the reformation in May 1987. Chasing just 50 runs to win…..look who faced the first ball, then steered us home.