V Sportsman CC (26/04/15)

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26th April 2015

Walsall Health CC v Sportsman CC

Walsall Health beat Sportsman CC by 3 wickets.

The eagerly awaited first game of the season was ON; after the office of Mr Andrew Gorton Esq had predicted monsoon conditions. However, the weather gods provided Sunny yet brisk conditions, as ‘The Elf’ were put in the field after losing the toss.

Sam & Dave Stephens opened the bowling. The father / son combo controlled the scoreboard from the off. The blistering pace of a not fully fit Sam was too much for the opening pair. An early opportunity for
A chance of a catch rocketed to the dynamic Lyndon Billingham on his ‘dayboo’ from the the bowling of DS! Saving a certain four runs the ball did not quite stick. And that would set the tone of valiant efforts with Nathan Martin diving high and to his right, Sam Stephens with a difficult effort diving backwards, John Preece dropping a sharp chance off his own bowling and the skipper Dave Preece lunging heroically and taking two bites of the cherry before the ball was grounded.

6 time fielder of the year Richard Fell was watching from the side lines no doubt thinking they were all easy takes!

Good energy in the field as always, but Stuart Slater & Lyndon Billingham arguably the star men. Stuart with a couple of diving efforts to save certain boundaries and one improvised football skill again to save 4 runs. While Lyndon proved to be ‘Johnny on the spot’ mopping up ball after ball.

Wickets needed to fall and it was Sam Stephens with the break through. With pace an precision as he skittled over the first wicket of the day. Nathan Martin bowled a tight line and length with arguably one of his best spells for the club and deserved to get a wicket.

Enter 2014 player of the year Ian Chuck; who with his first over of this campaign delivered the good with a Wicket Maiden. The excellent all rounder proving his worth once again. JP showed signs of having a formidable year as ‘The Elfs’ own ‘King of Spain’ was teasing and tempting his opponents with some height and flight on with a selection of bamboozling left arm deliveries!

‘The Don’ Lyndon Billingham now made his bowling ‘dayboo’ amongst his efforts were a couple of teasing deliveries and one that was edged tantalisingly slightly out the reach of Super Andy Gorton.

Not bowling a single ball during 2014, The reigning Batsman of the year and our daring skipper Dave Preece turned is arm over with a useful spell taking 2 key wickets and proving that he leads by example whether it’s with the bat, the ball or in the field!

Birthday Boy Matt Wright celebrated the start of a new season with 3 wickets in 3 overs. Greatly aided by the magnificent Gort behind the stumps whipping off the bails for 2x stumpings.

The innings drew to a close with 178 the target set. D Bhopal top scoring for the visiting team with a very well played knock of 65 runs!

With 179 needed to win, Gort and Chuck took the field. And it was Chucky who was again proving his player of the year credentials top scoring with a patient and critical 75.

Sam Stephens looked set for a big score from number 3. However, despite a solid start, was undone by a viciously turning ball.

2014 Fielder of the Year – Rob Hewlitt made a quick fire 19 runs off 16 balls that gave the charge to the line some momentum.

Dave Stephens and Lyndon Billingham both opened their accounts to stake a claim on this seasons duck trophy.

Dave Preece, unusually in a middle order birth, steadied the ship. Nathan Martin with brave running throwing his bat in a way other than into a tree, falling over but picking himself up to make it into the crease.

Dynamic running, grit, guts and an iron nerve saw us get over the line with three balls to spare.

Walsall Health open the season with a hard fought victory hopefully the first of many.

Batting Runs
Gorton, A c b Nasser

3

Chuck, I b Wiseman

75

Stephens, S b Hallam 24
Slater, S b Hallam  2
Hewlitt, R  lbw Hallam 19
Preece, D not out 25
Stephens, D lbw Nasser 0
Billingham, L c Nasser 0
Martin, N not out 9
Wright, M DNB
Preece, J DNB
Extras

18

Walsall Health

 180

Bowling Overs Maidens Runs Wickets
Stephens, S

7

2

15

1

Stephen, D

8

0

29

0

Martin, N

8

3

32

0

Chuck, I

3

0

8

1

Preece, J

5

0

23

0

Billingham, L

2

0

30

0

Preece, D 4 0 13 2
Wright, M 3 0 24 3

RACHEL GORTON’S – POP SCENE
With two jugs leaving last seasons student life behind Sunday hang overs are a thing of the past. So this season we look at ‘The Elf’ refreshment technician or ‘Pop Girls’ match day fashion sense.This week saw skinny jeans with a converse foot ware option. A layered approach with a cammy top, cricket sweater and denim look oversized shirt.

DAI WATCH
The Welsh wonder was frozen on the sidelines as the afternoon temperature plummeted on the sidelines. The Bronx hat donned by Dai was more Compo-esque last of the summer wine tribute.

A.O.B
The hottest thing of the day proved to be Rob Hewlitt lulling people into trying a chilli scratching that were hotter than Dai in his speedo’s during the 1970’s.Rachel (x3) & Andy G both fell down a pot hole by the benches to comedy effect!Music in the changing rooms this season was well received. And shower club is back!

MAN OF THE MATCH & BEST BAT
Ian Chuck
A wicket maiden and top scoring with the bat 75 runs.

BEST BOWLER

Take your pick between the skipper Dave Preece who got two crucial wickets of high order batsmen, Sam Stephen tight spell while injured or Nathan Martin with arguably his most controlled spell of bowling for the club.

BEST FIELDER
Stuart Slater or Lyndon Billingham both put their bodies on the line for the cause.

Written by Mathew Wright

v Highwood Park (17/9/2014)

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Walsall Health beat Highwood Park by 10 wickets.

The Elf clinched the decider in their three-match series with Highwood Park with a ten-wicket victory spurred on by brilliant performances the flatmate combo of Ian Chuck and debutant Josh Butler.

Ian Chuck - man of the match thanks to brilliant bowling and back-to-back 50s

Ian Chuck – man of the match thanks to brilliant bowling and back-to-back 50s

The win means The Elf take the series by the odd win in three after the defeat in June followed by the series levelling win the following week.

Butler was one of two players making their dayboo for The Elf – along with Shane O’Callaghan – while Dutch import Neil Van Limbeek was making his first appearance in over a year, after he injured his shoulder playing darts.

Winning the toss on a cloudy day which offered up a handful of rainy interruptions, skipper Dave Preece put Highwood Park into bat.

Initially it looked like a decision that would suit the visitors with Park’s dangerman Shaun Allsopp doing what he does best on his way to being the top-scorer in the game with 53.

A string of frustrating dropped catches, edgy appeals and misfields during the opening phases did little to settle The Elf down as Allsopp and fellow opener Owen proved mulish in their opening stand.

Josh Butler - three wickets on dayboo.

Josh Butler – three wickets on dayboo.

The ultra-economical bowling of Chris Hall – now (as if there were any doubt at all) back to the full extent of his extensive powers – Tom Davies and John Nicholls stemmed the flow of runs on what was an awkward track for batsmen. Hall opened his account with four successive maidens followed by two successive overs for one in each, meaning his first six overs went for just two runs. Davies meanwhile was equally frustrating for the Park openers, his opening spell of five overs going for just eight and Nicholls’ six overs included four maidens for just seven runs.

At the 17 over stage, Park had notched up 44 runs without loss before Chucky’s Super Over effectively turned the match on its head.

First, the South African spin merchant clean bowled Owen for an unlucky 13 before continuing his hoodoo over Park hitter Stephen Beattie, luring him into holing out to Preece at mid-off for a second-ball duck.

Andy Gorton - two stumpings and a half century for the main man.

Andy Gorton – two stumpings and a half century for the main man.

Even then, Highwood Park held firm and it took another ten overs and a 36 run partnership (during which time Allsopp continued to carve himself an excellent innings) before The Elf made another breakthrough, Nathan Martin grabbing the wicket of Allsop leg before wicket.

With the run-scoring threat of Allsopp back in the pavilion, Park crumpled slightly with Tallis stumped by Andy Gorton for nine off the bowling of Butler followed by a brilliant run-out of Cox by Preece for four. Debutants Butler and O’Callaghan combined to dismiss Lapper for nought thanks and Butler then claimed his third wicket – again thanks to a stumping.

And Hall and Davies got the wickets their early spells deserved – Davies first taking Olly Holliday clean for five and then Hall skittling Ralph for two.

Shane O'Callaghan - great catch on dayboo.

Shane O’Callaghan – great catch on dayboo.

The Elf’s pursuit of the 118 needed to win the match and series only looked in threat when the brooding clouds over Aldridge had a tantrum early during the home side’s innings.

But the weather failed to disrupt the tempo too much and openers Chuck and Gorton set about steadily building the response.

For the second successive game, Chuck engineered himself a half-century (albeit thanks to hitting a boundary through mid-wicket for the winning runs, interestingly off the bowling of Beattie) while Gorton added yet another half-ton to his list of achievements.

Gorton’s 51 not out came off just 63 balls (a particularly amazing achievement given the challenging surface) while Chuck’s was a slightly more circumspect, taking 88 balls as the total was reached in the 24th over meaning The Elf could celebrate the series win with ten wickets and sixteen overs to spare.

The Elf’s next outing is in Tim Oliver’s memorial match next Sunday at Rushall Cricket Club.

Batting Runs
Gorton, A not out

51

Chuck, I not out

51

O’Callaghan, S DNB
Hall, C DNB
Martin, N DNB
Nicholls, J DNB
Van Limbeek, Neil DNB
Preece, D DNB
Fitzpatrick, G DNB
Davies, T DNB
Wright, M DNB
Extras

19

Walsall Health

 121

Bowling Overs Maidens Runs Wickets
Martin, N

7

1

33

1

Davies, T

7

3

11

1

Hall, C

8

5

10

1

Chuck, I

4

0

11

2

Nicholls, J

6

4

7

0

Wright, M

3

0

15

1

Butler, J 3 0 11 3
O’Callaghan 1 0 1 0

Man of the match: Ian Chuck

Top bat: Ian Chuck and Andy Gorton (51 not out – tie)

Top bowler: Another tough one – but Chris Hall’s figures against the opening attack were impressive.

Rachel Hangover Rating: 8/10 – although she is claiming a migraine was to blame. Until we see some medical evidence, we’re raising an eyebrow to that one.