v Ward End Unity (31/8/2014)

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Ward End Unity beat Walsall Health by 4 wickets.

Guest match reporter Matt Wright talks us through a brave effort by The Elf on a troublesome wicket.

Chris Hall - magnificent figures from The Iron Man.

Chris Hall – magnificent figures from The Iron Man.

Today’s away fixture saw Walsall Health on a four game winning streak travel to Ward End Unity in Birmingham.

We were greeted by a ground that had a topography that would challenge an A* GCSE Geography student. The boundaries also rather short.

With Stuart Slater constantly moving between time zones and international borders he lost track of the start time, along with the pre-declared tardiness of Mat Danks, the skipper duly won the toss and elected to bat.

Dave Preece and Dave Stephens opened the batting on what was immediately clear would be a challenging surface after the first balls were bowled.

After clean hitting straight to the field Stephens fell to the bowling of Ahmed.

The partnership of Preece and Ian Chuck worked hard and began to eek out a little progress.  The outfield was very slow and boundaries hard to come by, running three virtually impossible on the slow compact ground.

The skipper, Preece, nicked an inside edge onto his stumps after facing 51 delivers and top scoring for ‘The Elf’ with 20 runs (alongside guest batsman ‘Extras’ who also scored 20).

Shane O'Callaghan - respectable knock in his batting dayboo for The Elf.

Shane O’Callaghan – respectable knock in his batting dayboo for The Elf.

From here on in the score card does not make great reading as wickets tumbled Rob Hewlitt faced a delivery that pitched up by his shoulder, the next kept deceptively low trapping him LBW for a second ball duck.

Shane O’Callaghan actually looking composed at the crease had the potential to salvage things a little making a respectable 6 runs from 10 deliveries.  That was until a double appeal when given not given out for LBW but caught behind when the ball hit his pad.  Later confessions from the home team admit that it never hit his bat, would have been nice to have seen him called back for the spirit of the game at this level.

Chuck trapped LBW was another key wicket as he had staved off 49 deliveries and again an impressive amount of time at the crease.

There were few highlights from the lower order totalling nine runs between them.  Other than Nathan Martin once again drawing level with Hewlitt in the duck hunt of three each for the season! (Please note: these figures have not been verified and will be subject to a stats update in the next 48 hours) Slater get one of the rare boundaries on the day and Matt Wright achieving his first ever not out at the end of an innings.

69 was the total posted and with a quick turn around ‘The Elf’ went about trying to snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat.

And – just for a moment – the collapse looked on.

Catches from Wright, Hewlitt and Chuck and a clean bowled all from the bowling of Iron Man Chris Hall had Unity 4 down for only 9 runs.  And as Tipton’s Tony Stark steamed in for his hat trick ball, the most unlikely of victories was beginning to look a possibility. With The Elf piling on the pressure, Chuck grabbed the pick of the catches with a sharp diving low one-handed effort.

Dai Preece - brilliant performance by the stand-in Legend.

Dai Preece – brilliant performance by the stand-in Legend.

Great hustle in the field, playing for each other and believing as a team were key, embodied by Rob Hewlitt and seasoned campaigner Dai Preece, making several impressive run saving contributions, proving that class and experience go beyond age!

Nathan Martin also picked up a wicket off some good bowling after settling down after a couple of wayward looseners, notably a first ball beamer, trapping his man LBW.

Ward End Unity can thank Mills for this victory who proved to be the difference on the day, making his way to a match-winning 56 not out with his fellow six batting partners contributing only six runs between them.

This would have been the key wicket, but despite our best efforts we could not get it to fall.

Jonathan Preece - came closest to taking the scalp of the match-winning

Jonathan Preece – came closest to taking the scalp of the match-winning Mills

Dave Stephens and Chris Hall were valiant in their efforts to contain the big-hitting match winner.  Sadly today spin was not the key to unlocking the door.  Although Jonathan Preece arguably came closest to taking the prized scalp of Mills tempting him down the wicket and creating a stumping opportunity.

Another winning streak comes to an end on a peculiar wicket, although positives can be taken from the game.

Talking to the assembled media post-match the skipper made these comments: “Good effort today. It’s never ideal to get just 69 on the board and in all honesty we didn’t bat as well as we could, but great determination to drag ourselves back into it (Hall 4-6) and great commitment in the field from the guys, particularly emergency replacement David Preece Snr. Let’s work to improve ourselves for next game.”

Batting Runs
Preece, Dave b Idress

20

Stephens, D b Ahmed

0

Chuck, I b Idrees  14
Hewlitt, R b Ahmed  0
O’Callaghan, S lbw Atkinson  6
Hall, C st Atib  3
Slater, S b Barzan  4
Martin, N b Atkinson  0
Preece, J ct b Atkinson  0
Wright, M not out 1
Preece, Dai b Barzan  1
Extras

20

Walsall Health

 69

Bowling Overs Maidens Runs Wickets
Martin, N

2

0

4

1

Stephens, D

6.2

1

22

0

Hall, C

8

5

6

4

Chuck, I

2

0

16

0

Preece, J

1

0

17

0

Man of the match: Chris Hall

Top bat: Dave Preece

Top bowler: Chris Hall (six runs and four wickets off eight overs)

Rachel Hangover Rating: Two Jugs was absent today due to family commitments, however, at a musical festival on Saturday, we like to think it would be at least a solid 7/10.

v Rushall – Tim Oliver Memorial Trophy (24/9/2014)

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A Walsall Health Select XI beat a Rushall Select XI by 18 runs to win the Tim Oliver Memorial Trophy (Walsall posted 179 off 35 overs, Rushall replied with 161 off 35 overs)

To read the Express and Star report of the event click here.

To read the Walsall Advertiser report of the event click here.

The first ever Tim Oliver Memorial Trophy was won by a Walsall Health XI (actually, more like 26) who completed a 19-run victory over neighbours, a Rushall XI (more like 20).

The clash between two local cricket sides Tim Oliver – who passed away earlier this year – was an unusual affair applying the ’25 and retire’ rule for batsmen and a rolling substitute rule for a packed field.

Steve Hartshorne - opened the batting for The Elf.

Steve Hartshorne – opened the batting for The Elf.

Despite this, the clash between two sides Tim held closely to his heart saw The Elf win what was a narrowly contested game by 18 runs.

However, the match was really a side show to the day which was attended by a healthy crowd and helped to raise £620 for Macmillan Nurses, Pancreatic Cancer UK and Amnesty International.

The Elf lined up with many current and former players with Tim’s brother Andie skippering the side and nephew Tom also turning out.

With The Elf batting first, club legends Steve Hartshorne and Andy Gorton opened and set about starting to build a target for the visitors.

After knocking 10 off the first two overs, Hartshorne found himself dismissed for two, the ever agile Martin Liggins taking a catch off the bowling of Allsop.

Andy Gorton - Elf legend knocked 25 retired not out.

Andy Gorton – Elf legend knocked 25 retired not out.

Gorton had no such problems, clattering his way to 27 and retirement in a knock that included five fours.

At the other end, legend Ray Beech added 12 to the total before he was run out and Steve Fell also added a pair before a Gary Reeves catch off the bowling of King ended his run.

Modern-day legend Rob Hewlitt joined Gorton in the ’25 club’ with a knock that included four boundaries meaning at the 18 over stage The Elf were 90 for four.

Rick Jarrams fell foul to the deceptively slow bowling of Liggins for five while young Tom Oliver hit 13 before a good catch by Andy Beck off the bowling of Haliwell ended his fun.

This signalled the arrival of a number of current players and Sam Stephens (20) and Dave Preece (19) moved the total on before both fell to the bowling of Delvin King.

Dave Stephens and Matt Wright had cameo appearances at the crease, adding one and two respectively.

Dai Preece - not actually sure where to start with this caption...

Dai Preece – not actually sure where to start with this caption…

The brilliantly talented young George King went about mopping up the extended tail end with Dai Preece (looking for all the world like an extra from a cricketing scene in Downton Abbey) falling for five (including a majestic shot to the boundary), Paul Nicholls stumped for a duck and Stuart Slater going for six.

A superb late knock by Rich Fell (with a six and three fours in his 21) helped make the total more respectable along with a contribution by Dave Atkins of two not out and Ian Chuck of seven not out.

The score of 179-13 after the allocated 35 overs appeared a strong one and the Rushall father-and-son opening pairing of Alan and Dan Dunn initially had problems getting any momentum.

After four overs Rushall were six without loss before the big-hitting ‘Nicka’ began opening up, hitting a 28 retired with six fours in his total, suggesting he might not have wanted to run very much.

 

Anybody seen my gloves? JP struggles in the world's most crowded changing room.

Anybody seen my gloves? JP struggles in the world’s most crowded changing room.

Young Dan Dunn batted very well to add four under some intense pressure – including the ever guileful bowling of the returning Jonathan Preece – to the total and at the 19 over stage, Rushall were 89 for 1 and looking impressive.

Dunn’s departure heralded the arrival of the Two Kings (George and Delvin) to come to the fray and put Rushall right back into the game.

Delvin hit a superb 26 retired while George – who won a lot of fans amongst the crowd with his mature and elegant batting having already impressed with his bowling – knocked 16 before falling victim to Slater.

And it was Slater who would also take the trophy wicket of Liggins, clean bowling the former Elf captain for a duck, while Chuck forced Storey to hole out to Hewlitt for 12.

Stuart Slater - two wickets for four runs off two overs. Have a bit of that.

Stuart Slater – two wickets for four runs off two overs. Have a bit of that.

Some impressive mid-innings bowling by The Elf – in particular Chris Hall (who ended 3 for 16 off four overs), Slater (two for four off two overs) and Tom Oliver (one for six off four overs in an outing his uncle would have been proud of) pegged Rushall back and they were only able to stagger from 95/2 at 20 overs to 104/6 at 25 overs.

But Everall (25 retired) and Haliwell (13 before being castled by Hall) ensured Rushall made a decent fist of the chase.

However, Foster and Edwards both went for ducks while Allsop perished at the hands of Hall thanks to a catch by Rich Fell while some brilliant fielding by Atkins helped save precious runs.

Needing an unlikely 23 off the last over, it was appropriate Andie Oliver should step up to bowl it, dismissing Beck with his first delivery and steering The Elf home to an 18 run win to take the inaugural trophy.

Katie's CastlesUltimately, the day way a huge triumph and both teams would like to thank everybody for their hard work in making it all happen, in particular Rich (master BBQer) and Steve Fell plus Andy, Kerrie and Rachel Gorton (Two Jugs being especially magical in her sterling efforts to co-ordinate the raffle) as well as Katie’s Castles for the loan of the bouncy castle to keep the kids quiet and Firesec Electrical Limited for sponsoring the match-ball.

A good many people helped to make the day happen, thanks to everyone!

Walsall Health Scorecard

Batting

Gorton, A retired

27

Hartshorne, S ct Liggins b Allsop

2

Beech, R run out 12
Fell, S ct Reeves b King 2
Hewlitt, R retired 25
Jarrams, R b Liggins 5
Oliver, Tom ct Beck b Haliwell 13
Preece, Dave ct Liggins, b D King 19
Stephens, S b D King

20

Stephens, D b Reeves

1

Wright, M b Dunn 2
Preece, Dai ct Storey, b G King 5
Nicholls, P st Everall, b Dunn 0
Fell, R ct Millership, b G King 21
Slater, S b G King 6
Atkins, D not out 2
Chuck, I not out 7
Hall, C DNB
Danks, M DNB
Extras

11

Walsall Health

 179

Bowling Overs Maidens Runs Wickets
Martin, N

2

0

17

0

Oliver, T

4

2

6

1

Hall, C

4

0

16

3

Chuck, I

3

0

12

1

Nicholls, J

3

0

15

1

Wright, M

2

0

6

0

Oliver, A 4 1 24 1
Stephens, S

4

1

15

0

Stephens, D

3

1

12

0

Slater, S

2

0

4

2

Fell, R 2 0 14 0
Preece, J

2

0

6

0