v Highwood Park (7/09/2014)

Jon Nicholls - 250th wicket for the Walsall Health legend.

Jon Nicholls – 250th wicket for the Walsall Health legend.

Walsall Health beat Highwood Park by 100 runs.

Guest reporter Matt Wright reports back from a red letter day in the history of The Elf.

It was a day for records, milestones and personal achievements wrapped up in a blanket team effort and application as Walsall Health continued the domination of Highwood Park this summer with a third consecutive win against the Himley-based outfit.

But the penultimate game of the season was more than just another 100+ run win for The Elf, it saw two if it’s bowlers achieve the breathtaking feat of taking 250 wickets for the club.

The first landmark wicket of the day saw club legend Jonty Nicholls trap Greenway lbw for just one, sparking on-field celebrations akin to an England Ashes victory to celebrate the marvellous achievement. In all, the big man bowled a spell of eight overs with four maidens for a economical 15 runs.

Like the proverbial double decker bus the second 250th wicket was taken by ‘Iron Man’ Chris Hall, trapping Highwoods Talisman Chris Brownhill (who also took three key wickets for the home side) LBW and the winning wicket of the day, once again sparking wild celebrations for the strike bowlers’ achievement.

Chris Hall - 250th wicket, not bad considering it seems like about 50 of them were this season.

Chris Hall – 250th wicket, not bad considering it seems like about 50 of them were this season.

Without question, it was a strong batting performance.  Andy Gorton opening with a quick fire 38 and some lusty blows, one of which nearly wiped out his daughter Rachel and cricket WAG Shannon as a mighty six hurtled into the crowd.

This was backed up by the steady Dave Preece keeping the score board ticking over with early pressure.

Chuck, Slater and Hewlitt continued to pile on the the runs.  Slater demonstrated that the warm weather Caribbean training was worthwhile as he set about equalling his joint highest score.

Hewlitt – back on form in his preferred number 5 slot – looked like he had rediscovered his early season form and was, as always, a dynamo in the field.  Chuck beating himself with shot selection, but only after some sterling work that saw him smash 39, making that three birth his own in recent weeks.

Rich Fell – as ever – proved dynamic with the bat and in the field.  His patent Moon Ball was given an airing and he made a fine gesture in turning down overs to allow Hall to bowl for his 250th wicket, a selfless act that is to be applauded and truly demonstrates the ‘Spirit of the Elf’.

Rob Hewlitt - back to his best with the bat

Rob Hewlitt – back to his best with the bat

Hall wasn’t just after records with the ball.  He also tried to achieve his first ever 50 with the bat.  Finishing on 49 not out, he was supported by the dynamic Nathan Martin who played to set up the opportunity. Hall was denied by inches as a one bounce four took him to 48 and with the innings coming to an end he ran out of balls to face as John Preece, dashing between the wickets just failed to make it home after the final ball.

After a mid-season injury it’s been great to have JP back in the fold and nothing is better than calling for his Suduko Ball to bamboozle the opposition, duly tying West in knots for an LBW.

With the landmark wickets taken early and at the end, it was Nathan Martin who softened up the top order with angry pace before Matt Wright‘s introduction set about the collapse.

As Dai Preece wryly commented in a thick Valleys accent: “Matt Wright ripped the heart out of their team.”

Wright grabbed three wickets in a game for the first time, mainly thanks to a smart stumping from Gorton seeing the end of Highwood’s Cox, their highest run scorer on the day with a nifty 36, before a sharp catch from Chuck dismiss their danger man Shaun Allsop for just six.

Hall – without question the star man with the bat and the ball – proved his undoubted quality, coming so close to getting a 5-for and 50 runs in the same game.

With individual achievements in this game grabbing the headlines, all of it is made possible by the ethic of the team, embodied by the skipper giving everyone a fair opportunity to contribute and supported by hard work and commitment in the field.

Batting Runs
Gorton, A ct b Holliday


Preece, D b Holliday


Chuck, I lbw Brownhill 37
Slater, S ct b Craig 16
Hewlitt, R b Brownhill 34
Fell, R ct b Brownhill 12
Hall, C
not out 49
Martin, N ct Alsopp 15
Preece, J run out 0
Nicholls, J DNB
Wright, M DNB


Walsall Health


Bowling Overs Maidens Runs Wickets
Martin, N





Nicholls, J





Hall, C





Fell, R





Preece, J





Wright, M





Man of the Match: Chris Hall

Top bat: Andy Gorton – got us off to the start we needed and Hall’s head might explode if awarded a clean sweep.

Top bowler: Hall & Nicholls: 250 wickets for the club.  Amazing.

Rachel Hangover Rating: 0/10. Pitiful stuff after a virtually tee-total weekend. If this is what working for a living does we’d prefer she went back to doing whatever it was she did before, to be frank.