Get In And Go On, As Water Stops Play!
Wellington 2nd XI started the day in the dreaded drop zone, having collapsed under pressure against table propping Smethwick last weekend.
With four teams going down and Wellington being second from bottom, a fixture against unbeaten, second placed and local rivals Shifnal wasn't the ideal scenario. Captain Mouler unusually lost the toss but was asked by Shifnal's Skipper "What would you like to do Mouler?" After some forehead rubbing Shifnal decided to bat, which looked to everyone the obvious decision. Not in the Wellington camp!
Warming up before the game, Captain Mouler stressed the need to consume plenty of water to prepare us for the remarkably high temperatures. This message must have been withheld in the Shifnal dressing room! Within the first 12 overs of the match, Shifnal's opening pair had removed their helmets for caps, WITH A DRINKS BREAK. Put their helmets back on, WITH A DRINKS BREAK and then five overs early called for the scheduled drinks break. If for any reason you are unaware of how hot it was, 2nd XI season ticket holder, club legend and Dawley racing snake Colin Wakely chose not to don his famous shirt tie combo. This ladies and gents has not been heard of since the great heat wave of 1976!
The strenuous heat was no match for grandson and opening seamer Stinto who, factor 50'ed up, bombed in for ten overs bowling good line and length but for no reward (10-1-34-0). Normally reliable Head Master Wardy had an off day, the only explanation I can give was the substitution of sun cream for deep heat rub?
Shifnals openers scored freely on what was a true batters paradise and assembled a first wicket partnership of 89 from 18 overs. Stew Black, nipping one past the outside edge, broke the opening partnership. But before his spell was up, he somehow bowled what can only be described as a daisy cutter to cover point. It got a laugh from Tom Clarke (Shifnals umpire), who claimed “it was still quicker than your Dad.”
The fall of the first wicket gave Captain Mouler the chance to rally his young sun burning troops and off course, Shifnal could water their batsman. It was then time for the in form captain himself to turn his arm. Since his performance enhancing finger operation courtesy of the NHS, Captain Mouler has amassed 17 wickets in five games and was eager to do battle with Shifnal’s Shaw brothers. The Shaw boys batted well, with Tom eventually being bowled for 80 and James chipping out for 63. Both fell victim to Steve’s newly engineered spinning finger (13-0-62-3). Seamer Deano and part time spinner Todd Flanders (Vaughan) finished off from the Bowling Green End, with Dan picking up the wicket of big hitting Murrall. It was a tough day for Wellington’s seam quartet with only one wicket in a combined 27 overs, proving what a great batting pitch this was. Shifnal finished their inning declaring on 272 for 5 after 46 overs, giving themselves an extra 4 overs to finish off Wellington.
At the interval a very loud and confident Shifnal scoffed their tee, whilst a weary Wellington rehydrated like Paul Gascoigne in Euro 96. After tee, the message from the skipper was “if you get in, you go on.” This message is echoed around the changing rooms every week and is something we, as a very young side has to learn.
A new and seemingly very valuable acquisition to the opening batting line up is Dan Candlish. A huge hearted batsman and a great example to the younger players on how to value your wicket. A gritty 40 the previous week against Smethwick was followed up by hard fought 43. Several short sharp deliveries where shouldered to the ground in repulse as Dan showed Shifnals younger speedster, how its done on Tyneside. Batting along side Dan was the returning Sam Lloyd (Beep beep beep beep), who had been away on a “lads” holiday. Both openers dug in and punished the very few bad balls, with Sam playing one of the shots of the day to leave Wellington 91 without loss.
During this opening partnership there were several attempts from Skipper Steve to provide Wellingtons openers with drinks, snacks and other refreshments. Shifnals captain turned this away, with the suggestion of time wasting and that the conditions didn’t require such needs? Feeling unfairly treated, Captain Mouler angrily referred to Shifnal’s batting breaks as “a chimps tea party!”
The opening partnership was broken when a dried out Sam tried to hook a delivery, which possessed bounce and pace, straight up to the bowler. This was shortly followed when Geordie Dan (Howay Man!) wilted on a drive to mid off. From 91 for 0 to 101 for 2, Wellington needed to quickly rebuild if they had any chance of getting close to this mammoth total.
On a pitch that was starting to turn and a Shifnal team that were loud, lively and full of confidence. Dan and Stew got the innings going again with some hard hitting and good running. To note, young Dan scored a rare 5 thanks to 4 over throws, which started to liven up the Wellington bench. With a noisy Shifnal starting to hide in the late afternoon shadows, Dan and Stew put on 102 in a hard fought partnership. Then disaster struck! Young Vaughany chipped up a drive straight to cover, leaving 69 runs required from 12 overs. NOT AGAIN SURELY!
Matty Shawcross, Skipper Steve and Blonde Bombshell Deano all tried to support Stew Black who was set and applying a few hefty sixes to keep the innings moving. Then, to the crease came young Tom Masters, who unfazed by the current situation confidently said “Lets do it in single’s Blackie, easy”. Easy is what it was! Tom calmly found the gaps and at a run a ball, assisted Stew Black excellently. Needing 20 off 4 overs, the 4 overs Shifnal had generously given to Wellington. This had been whittled down to just 2 off the last over. NOT AGAIN!
Young Tom Masters sacrificed his wicket on the first ball of the last over to get Stew Black on strike. Blackie currently on 96, had 5 balls remaining to knock off the 2 runs required for victory and the 4 needed for his century. With a fluffed pull shot, the match was sealed and a huge raw from the Wellington players and supporters was cried out. A much needed 24 points were well and truly earned, springing Wellington up 3 places and out of the trap door.
A terrific start to the second half of the season. With a flurry of home games to come, there is no reason why Mouler’s young guns cant pull away from the relegation zone and push the top four. Also, his theory of “get in and go on,” does win matches. Let have more please boy’s.
Match report by Stewart Black