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Sat 20th May – 2nd XI v Guildford

GUILDFORD 125 (42.5) lost to DULWICH 156-9 (50) by 31 runs

Scorecard

As we all know Dulwich turns 150 years old this year. 20th of May certainly did not disappoint. With Captain Kirk leaving the bridge in the hands of Steve ‘Cheeky wish’ Patankar nobody could foresee what was to happen next.

With the finest burger stalls in England congregated on the hallowed ground of the Giant Arches car park, something extraordinary was about to happen. As ever, the top four were hungry, chomping at the bit to get their teeth in and they did not disappoint. 45-5 with the young Prince and his beloved Uncle, the Tulsman, two double stack burgers down, the scene was set.

Ed ‘Big Show’ Towner took it upon himself to be the resident weather man, claiming the BBC don’t have a clue. "Bright sunshine in Dulwich. The useless… Look up there - Armageddon is upon us," the gorgeous but, equally useless, Carrick impersonator grinned at me. It’s fair to say the rain dances were in full flow. For a while it looked like Towner: Messenger of the Gods had nailed it as the covers were rushed on to the field. Alas it was short lived. With Rinaldo rushing back to field all seemed doomed. We needed heros. "We need true Yorkshire grit" – Steve winked at me as he watched Kambo and Ishi stride to the crease, the prides of Yorkshire. For a while it seemed the White Rose would flourish again but a few quick wickets, and a master blaster innings from the Ginger Giles saw the entrance of The Lion, The Animal - Dulwich's very own Dorian Gray. Determined to show the War of the Roses is still at large, Houghy, accompanying The Big Cheese managed to hit Guildford for 150 - a total which the Tulsman was adamant equated to 260 at Guildford and was not shy about letting them know.

The belief was back and the fire was roaring. The Doggies were about to take the field but not before intimidating the prey. The new catching cradle was called for. Looking more like we belonged in a cradle than cricketers, needless to say it was a disaster. After a verbal lashing by the crucial 12th man, Jenny, we knew losing was not an option.

After a good start from Guildford, Kamran Amir decided to put his winter training into practice, getting two wickets in two overs from no balls - one of which saw the diving Jonty Marshall grab the dying ball at backward point, which has been dubbed the catch of the century. 36-0 and The Big Cheese and Kambo were fired up. Kam, speaking more with words and eyes than ball, refused to take a backward step, taking on the mental battle and leaving the cricket stage to his partner in crime. ‘The Big Cheese winds up, pulls out the cheese slicer as if cutting through Wensleydale and proceeds to Wallace and Gromit the opposition with a combination of flight and guile. Wallace and Gromit would have been proud.’ – Cheeky Steve. Thanks Steve. 45-5….Deja vu? Not in this life.

110-7 and Guildford had hope, but we all know. Hope is the worst thing you can give a man in this life. Running from long off to long off Mystic Towner kept mumbling "We’re gonna lose this." Oh Towner, sweet naïve Towner. In a moment of brilliance from the King of Spin, the gift that just keeps giving, Houghy - who had watched Hirsty grip, rip and rag his way to 9 overs 1 wicket for 19 – managed to leave the set batsman bamboozled as the ball turned from the outfield strip to take middle stump.

The brains trust wasn’t finished, Guildford were over the barrel, but who was going to pull the trigger? In typical Maverick fashion the skipper threw the ball to The Big Show. "MADNESS" were the cries from the boundary as Sav and Ed Matten chugged their 16th pint of the afternoon (shout out to you boys for funding the bar for another season by the 3rd game of the season). I for one, standing at deep cow had no doubt that a man who had been so consistently wrong all day had to come up with the goods. It was written in the stars.

The Warm Up: Honestly, I've seen more stability in a toddler on ice. Limbs flying everywhere, head all over the place. Criminal that I had been overlooked, but we play on. We digress.

First Ball: Once it got going it was rhythmical, from the handbook of Michael Holding himself. The stride, the take off, the action. Mesmerising. Unfortunately the umpire wasn’t as engrossed in the technique as I. Wide.

The Shearer: Called ‘The Big Show’ for a reason, Towner was never going to leave the field before The Shearer came out. Oh how it came out! It soon became apparent to me it had all been a brilliant joke. With a cheekiest of winks from Towner, the slow roll had been completed. Pushing mid off to the boundary, the next few moments became an emotional rollercoaster. Towner delivered the slowest of slower balls, pitching just back of a short ball length and the nagging line of 2 stumps outside off. Needless to say it went straight to long off.

The Catch: Seeing the ball thunder skywards I immediately knew it didn’t have the legs. Seeing Sav and Ed at the bar, I knew I had to get there asap. Silence had taken over. For clarity, I have provided three separate perspectives on the next couple moments (The Bowler, The Skipper and The Catcher) as its all a bit of a blur to me.

"It was a sitter. Nowhere near as good as Jonty's at backward point, but I bet Hirsty will give you a great description." – Ed ‘The Big Show, Carrick’ Towner (Bowler)

"Well well well, given I have the best view in the house. The ball goes up in the air and Spaghetti Fingers Hirst, looking like a lamb underneath it decides, to run around, arms flailing, arms going everywhere. He's like 'Eurgh theres a ball there, I guess I better catch this.' Suffers some incontinence problems, but he takes a good catch.’ – Cheeky Steve (Keeper, Captain, Number 3)

"So Towner started his over, with a massive wide down leg side and I was thinking 'Oh we could be in trouble here. They only need 4 an over and this guy is going well - he's hit a couple of long balls before.' The next ball, outside off and I thought 'That’s gone a long way up in the air.' Seeing Steve running the opposite way I knew it was up to me to get there and claim it. Like a Northern Usain Bolt I’m off, thinking to myself, 'Really glad I was the one hitting the catches in the warm up - this is my time.' Sprinting a good 120 yards, the whole time thinking 'Oh no oh no oh no, if I drop this I’m going to look like a clown.' The doubt started to creep in. I composed myself - I’m having this JL fielding point. A man possessed I set myself. It lands in my hands. I looked around and thought 'Yeah boys, never in doubt.' Amazing what you can achieve with raw God-given talent and a massive pair of plums.’ – James ‘Big Plums’ Hirst (Catcher)

Who knows what really happened - I personally don’t even remember I was in the bar doing shots of tequila with Sav and Ed, but I do remember The Shearer. We all remember The Shearer.

Victory was ours, or so it seemed when Golden Arm Towner returned for his second over, figures already 1-0-1-1. He saw his name in lights, number 11 chipping the ball to the man at square leg and the second half of the brain trust, the man who engineered this winning position – the Daddy of Dulwich, Tulsman. Sprinting back to Sav and Ed for the next round, I knew it was over. However Raj Mignolet unleashed his inner keeper to push it round the corner. Alas it was not to be, ending with figures of 2-0-2-1, Towner didn’t get the fairytale ending but has put his name in contention for best all-rounder in the club – if not league.

With an angry and ruthless Sugarhut Edwards storming in 4 balls later it was all over. Guildford succumbed to 125 all out.

Dubbed the most epic game in Dulwich history I hope it is not another 150 years until we see another outfit as ruthless, devilishly handsome and banterful as the Dulwich 2nd XI. 3 Games, 3 Wins, Top of the league.

A special performance, by a special team, in a special year, on a special day, for a special captain.

Congratulations Skipper on your big day.

Sat 20th May – 5th XI v Bickley Park

BICKLEY PARK 166-7 (32) lost to DULWICH 167-7 (32) by 1 run

Scorecard

As a result of the fairly widespread restructure of the Kent Regional League we had new opponents in Bickley Park. With the two sides in 2nd and 3rd a close game was expected although it ended up closer than anyone expected. Rain was around and a quick downpour just at the wrong time livened up conditions and the captains agreed to reduce the game to 32 overs a side.

Tim lost the toss and not surprisingly we were put in. The ball was seaming, swinging and in contrast to previous years at DSG bouncing too. Raps on the knuckles and nudged singles for the openers were interspersed with a couple of fine shots from Richard Blench before he fell lbw for 13. Tim played across the line and got a leading edge and when Piran also fell lbw we were three down and at that stage Bickley Park were on top. Enter Siraj Durrani who was only at the game after several frantic Saturday phone calls as Tim realised the midweek communication had gone astray. Siraj and Tony Simmonds both played really well. Either the conditions had settled down, or more likely these two were more able to manage the Bickley Park bowlers as they put on a fantastic 104.

We were back on top but as both fell, probably as a result of a little bit of fatigue on a sticky day, Bickley Park battled there way back in. James Worley had spent an hour padded up practicing ramp shots and reverse sweeps and delighted the crowd when early in his innings he charged the bowler and played the perfect ramp. Unorthodox but effective as we shall see later too. Alex Owen managed one glorious cover drive and Raman Sarao that perfect innings where he was the non facing batsmen for the last ball of the innings. James Worley was bowled to leave us on 167 for 7.

The weather had improved and we went out after tea confident that if we bowled well and fielded well that we would win the game. The innings started perfectly with Simon Peters putting the ball in a perfect spot, getting a fine edge and Tony gathering the catch safely. Raman opened at the Turney Rd end taking a wicket with a full toss but despite that both bowlers had fine spells. Tim was to replace Raman with Jaba Jumagul (another who was late due to midweek communication confusion) but the bowler wanted the other end. David Begg entered the contest and managed to get another edge which Tony gratefully took. Simon bowled straight through his eight and picked up another wicket to end with 8-2-27-2. By far his best bowling of the season and when he is in that rhythm he is a serious handful at this level.

Jaba replaced Simon as Bickley Park fought to rebuild their innings. We dropped 6 chances in the innings and a few loose bits of fielding also released the pressure on the batsmen. One throw from Richard Blench resulted in a large volley of expletives (at himself). Jaba went wicketless and the left hand right hand combination started to hit out in chase of the 9 or 10 an over they needed. Tim had two very expensive overs and with little warning to the bowler played the last throw of the dice, the unorthodoxy of James Worley's bowling. A stunning one handed diving catch from Piram Legg raising our mood and our chances. One good over and another from David Begg left 6 to get in the last over but with the main scoring batsmen on strike. After much scampering, swinging and missing and field changes we ended up with them needing three off the last ball to win.

A drive to mid off and the first run taken but Piran fielded cleanly, returned the ball safely above the stumps and into the hands of James who removed the bails. Out by 3 yards and we had won by 1 run. Bickley Park 166-7. A great game of cricket that swung backwards and forwards.

Picking up 17 points out of the possible 20 we are still in 3rd place as Catford and Cyphers jumped ahead of us. If we have reasonable availability we will be competitive in this league. Next week Blackheath away as several of the team are away on the 7th team tour!

Sat 20th May – 4th XI v Banstead

BANSTEAD 163 (45) lost to DULWICH 164-8 (37) by 2 wickets

Scorecard

After a couple of champagne wins to kick off the season, Banstead were expected to provide a sterner test for Matt Dixon’s men, having finished third in the league last year. The corresponding fixture in 2016 was a, how to put it…, ‘lively’ encounter, with Knighty sprinting from the field to keep his boyish good looks at the end of the game, having managed to antagonise the opposition more than his own team for once. This fixture contained little of this needle, but it certainly delivered a tense finish as Alex Easedale (playing his first game for the 4th XI) and David Woods (er, not playing his first game for the 4th XI) saw DCC maintain their 100% start to the season by two wickets.

Arriving with a team that bore little resemblance to those in the first two games, the skipper knew it was time for the players to grind out a result and win ugly. And trust me, this victory was ugly; Shane McGowan, the morning after St. Patrick’s day ugly.

Winning the toss Dixon was delighted to insert Banstead in to bat on a damp green wicket. Prasanna took the new ball, but without his preferred partner, Sunil Isaac who was on holiday in the 3’s, new ball was thrown to young spinner Forhad Ahmed. This tactic paid dividends straight away with veteran opener David Stow scooping him to point where Sakid Rashed took a comfortable catch. Joining the attack Sakib then removed over opener Shields for a dreary 12 and Banstead were wobbling with two down and Dixon mentally congratulating himself on his luck tactical genius.

However, in strode Surrey over 50’s superstar Irfan Sultan, who slapped his first two balls to the boundary and set about exhorting his authority from the start. Finding an ally in no 3 Estall, the pair took on the below-par Dulwich attack and took the score past 50.

The critical period of the innings was the bowling partnership between Alex Easedale and David Woods. Introduced in placed of Sakib, Woods immediately applied a tourniquet to the Banstead innings, strangling the run rate to the odd single. At the same time Easedale who had struggled for length and bowling in borrowed boots, found some rhythm and became equally economical. The pressure started to tell as Alex removed Estall with the first of two catches from Zeeshan and Woodsy suckered batsmen 5 and 6 into ill-fated lofted drives.

The rest of this Banstead innings was a dash to clobber a few late runs, with Forhad coming back into the attack and picking up a couple more wickets, including a beauty that turned through the batsman’s gate. A couple of late runouts saw Banstead finish on 163. A very gettable target and a good reflection of a decent fielding and bowling effort, given we had many key players missing. Special note should go to Cian Scannell and Rhys Williams in the field who were outstanding.

After one of the best teas on the circuit, Zeeshan and Cian Scannell lead the DCC reply. Making his debut, Scannell immediately looked solid and technically sound. Zeeshan looked like… well, Zeeshan. Things were going swimmingly, when at 49-0, Cian was hit on the pads in front and became the first man down. Dan Peters was next in, and remembering his innings in the 2016 fixture, the opposition skipper scattered his field randomly with little intuition as to where the ball might go.

Having reached a brisk 39, Zeeshan was caught one handed on the boundary by the leaping Mark Gordon. He stood his ground, uncertain that it was caught within the boundary, but had to take the fielder’s word and reluctantly left. The skipper Dixon came to the wicket and he and Peters were determined to see the innings through. For the next few overs, runs were easy to come by and the chirpy Banstead fielders were silenced, seemingly accepting their fate of another Dulwich win.

However, against the run of play, the accurate seamer Kukulan removed Peters for a belligerent 29 and then had Dixon caught off the back of his bat for 23.

Suddenly Dulwich were 4 down with 40 still needed.

The Banstead team sensed the nervousness in the Dulwich ranks, as the runs dried up and the pressure increased. Skipper Dixon went out to umpire and keep things calm from close quarters, but he watched helplessly as Kukulan sent Rashed and Bailey back to the hutch in the same over and then saw Rhys Williams scoop one to cover.

7 down and 25 needed.

Prasanna rode his luck for a streaky but welcome 14, but he soon became Kukulan’s 5th victim, caught behind. With 13 needed, DCC had David Woods and Alex Easedale at the crease, with only genuine no. 11 Forhad to follow.

The fielders crowded the bat and the noise level started to increase. For the next 7 overs, the two ground out the odd run and slowly kept towards the target. Woodsy maintained a Yoda-like calmness throughout the situation and the common sense Alex showed was admirable.

In the 39th over, they sneaked it over the line and Dulwich’s 100% record was maintained.

This was a scrappy win and truthfully a situation we should not have found ourselves in. However, the character the team demonstrated to see it over the line was admirable and it is likely that later in the season, this will be one of those games we look back on and realise it’s significance.

Next up will be the warm welcome of SinjunGrammararians followed by big rivals Wimbledon and Spencer where the league table will really start to take shape.

Sat 20th May – 3rd XI v Malden Wanderers

MALDEN WANDERERS 114 (40.4) lost to DULWICH 186-7 (44) by 72 runs

Scorecard

This week the 3rd XI were hosting Malden Wanderers at the Arctic Tundra Turney Road.

Ben Lester was skippering his first League game. The oppo were late and arrived at 12.50 pm. After having a very quick inspection of a slightly damp wicket, Ben duly lost the toss and we were batting.

Fashionably late is one thing, but turning up at 1.10pm because you cannot find the keys to you fluffy handcuffs, Knightbridge, is not an excuse!

Chudders and Faizal opened, and Chudders was looking to kick on from last week. Malden opened up with leg spin from one end and seam from the other. Faizal had obviously been practicing hard all week in front of a mirror, and looked well set from the off. Sadly Chudders played round one and got bowled by a good young leg spinner for nothing. Enter Zaki who, from the get go, quickly tucked into the bowling. At one point Zak was playing a game within a game and was clearly enjoying hitting a lovely 9 iron over long-on. We quickly accelerated to 120 odd before Faizail (44) was caught. Zaki fell for a well-played and cavalier 58 and five & six were quickly despatched by the oppo.

Ben Lester and Matt Balch put on a valuable 30 odd before Ben fell for a well fought 13. Balchy ended the innings on 52 not out.

With a rain affected game, Dulwich finished on a respectable 186 for 7 of 44 overs.

After enjoying a wonderful tea provided by John & Jackie Howard we were all set to grace the field again, in much warmer and sunnier conditions!

There was a little bit of handbags as you would expect from Knightbridge and Jez as to who was bowling into the wind. Sunil was quick to point out that, coming from Wellington NZ, this was nothing and took up the into-the-win task. He bowled beautifully picking up figures of 10 overs 2 wickets for 26 runs removing the promising young MWCC openers wickets.

Jezza bowling down wind was hitting some serious wheels and clearly enjoying good bounce and carry with 6 overs for 17 runs.

Knightbridge, clearly disgruntled at not having the new cherry, adopted a quick leg theory of bowling, which was genuinely quick and dangerous for 3rd XI cricket and scared the oppo and slip cordon alike. After managing a meaty 5 overs he was knackered again. David had to be rested at slip as a spectator for the rest of the game, dreaming of one day finally getting a girlfriend.

Zaki & Abu returning from a two year lay off bowled in tandem quite beautifully – Abu with with strong figures of 9 overs four wickets for 24 runs. Zaki picked up three wickets.

One final mention was Darren Carson, who Kept wicket superbly on 3rd XI debut and how he dealt with Abu’s arm ball deserves a special note.

Malden Wanderers were bowled out for 114 of 40.4 overs, for all you stato’s out there.

Sat 20th May – 1st XI v Esher

ESHER 268-4 (50) beat DULWICH 181-6 (50) by 87 runs

Scorecard

A depleted Dulwich side were thoroughly outplayed in their Travelbag Surrey Championship Division 2 match at Esher, going down to defeat by 87 runs.

With the pitch starting damp and more rain forecast, Alex Gledhill chose to field on winning the toss. Leon Sealy produced an excellent opening spell, taking the first wicket in his second over, and bowling eight overs for just 16 runs. Matt Quaife, promoted to the first team after taking five for the seconds last week, could not repeat the feat, and was replaced for the 12th over by Sam Ellison, who removed the opposing skipper with his first ball and started with three successive maidens. Esher had reached just 38-2 after 16 overs, but Alex Martin and OP Shoaib Khan then launched a counter attack which saw the score start to mount rapidly. The pair had added 196 in 36 overs when Khan ran himself out trying to run a bye to the keeper, having made 88 off 104 balls. Nathan Roberts was promoted in search of quick runs and obliged with 28 off just ten balls, including four huge sixes. Sealy, having conceded just 21 runs off his first nine overs, went for 22 off the last, but was rewarded with the wicket of Roberts, caught on the boundary with two balls to go. Martin finished undefeated on 124, off 143 balls, having been dropped on 0 and 99. Khan had also survived a chance early in his innings, and Dulwich were left to rue their fielding lapses. Esher finished on 268-4 after their 50 overs, having added 78 off the last seven.

Roberts now opened the bowling in partnership with Khurram Irshad. Ed Stolle and Kristian Williman launched their reply without undue alarm, adding 28 together before Williman was caught behind off Roberts off the last ball of the eighth over for 12. Stolle was adjudged lbw for the same score in Roberts’ next over. He followed up with a wicket in each of his next three overs, as Ross Ewing, making his first team debut, Guy Skinner and Will Bancroft managed just 11 runs between them. All three fell to stunning catches, in sharp contrast to the first innings. Roberts came off after eight overs with figures of 5-20, having reduced Dulwich from 28-0 to 52-5.

With a win now out of reach, Dulwich’s best hope was to try and reach 150 for a batting point. Stuart Ferguson, making a rare first team appearance, was joined by Salaar Waqar. Spinners Ben Collins and Nick Winder kept them on a tight rein, bowling 20 overs between them for just 46 runs. Nonetheless they advanced steadily towards their target, adding 56 for the sixth wicket in 20 overs before Ferguson was caught off Winder for 28. Ellison joined Waqar and defended resolutely until the spinners completed their spells, but upped the tempo when the quickies returned. The 150 target was reached with 17 balls to spare, and the pair now launched a blitz of their own to add a further 30 runs and garner a second batting point. Ellison, having taken 21 balls to get off the mark, finished with 29 off 44, while Waqar’s excellent unbeaten 64 came off 96 balls and was his maiden half century for the club. Their unbeaten seventh wicket partnership had added 73 in 14.1 overs, to close on 181-6.

Dulwich once again ended a disappointing day with just two points. Next week they will be hoping to put in a better all-round performance when they visit newly promoted Dorking for their third successive away match.

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