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Sat 27th Aug – 4th XI v Wimbledon

DULWICH 205-9 (45) lost to WIMBLEDON 208-8 (42.1) by 2 wickets

Scorecard

Maybe it was always meant to be this way. After a season which saw a number of teams lead the league table at some point, it was probably fitting that Dulwich lost their penultimate game against current holders Wimbledon to set up a last day winner-takes-all showdown with old rivals Spencer.

It has to be said, that despite both sides being depleted of key players due to the bank holiday, the Dulwich team did not perform to their normal standard. Maybe there was complacency after smashing Woking and Horsell last week. This game should now be the wake-up call before playing Spencer – we will need to play a lot better to win this trophy .

To the game itself. Wimbledon won the toss and invited Dulwich to have first go on a green DSG track. They were swiftly rewarded with Kane Lawrence bowling Alex Irvine first ball of the game, with a peach that swung and clipped the top of off stump. Will Cooper joined Zeeshan and the two wasted no time in moving the scoreboard along, despite the wicket offering plenty of help to the seamers.

However, just as they were starting to look comfortable, Wimbledon struck twice with Salman Ahmed bowling Zeesh with a great delivery that jagged back off the seam and then Lawrence following up to bowl debutant Kira Chathli for 1.

The score was 43-3 and skipper Dixon went out, hoping to replicate the previous week’s blockbuster partnership with Cooper. Concentrating on seeing off the openers and putting away the bad ball, the two put on 50 together. Cooper played with his normal fluency and it was a surprise that he then fell to a long hop from young spinner Harry Thomas, pulling the ball straight into the hands of short mid-wicket.

Prasanna joined Matt, but the partnership was short lived as the skipper replicated Cooper’s dismissal, slog-sweeping Thomas to the same shell-shocked fielder at midwicket, who took a second smart catch. Prasanna soon followed, caught at deep square leg and the wheels were coming off the Dulwich innings. Credit must be given to the young Wimbledon attack of Thomas, Whipple and Kiritharan, all of whom bowled with control and tied down the Dulwich batsman.

With 6 wickets down and only a little over a hundred on the board, the skipper was mentally calculating scores he would settle for. Would 150 be enough, 180 perhaps? Aware that the Dulwich team was a bowler short, it was difficult to judge and this period was a nervy one.

However, a sensible and solid partnership between Rob Hawke and late order specialist Simon Bailey started to generate some momentum again. Bailey used his favourite shovel shot through square leg to good effect and hit some strong drives over the top. Hawke started to time the ball well and the two had boosted the total to 175, before Rob was bowled by the returning opening bowler Ahmed for a decent and valuable 27.

Knightbridge came and left within 3 balls and it was left to Will Burgass to play intelligently and wring a few more runs from the Dulwich innings, which closed on 205-9, with Bails a very good 47 not out.

It was a disjointed batting effort, finishing probably 30 runs short. However, the skipper went into tea feeling confident that given only two other teams had previously scored more than 190 against us this season, it would be enough.

With Sunil, Ben Lester and Swainey all missing, a lot rested on the shoulders of openers Knightbridge and Callaghan to inflict early damage. We had talked about getting quick wickets and putting the pressure on what looked a very young Wimbledon side.

Knighty removed the opener Denis and then the prized wicket of the evergreen Amjad Husain. With Prasanna uncharacteristically struggling at the other end, Jack came on and generated prodigious swing, bowling the young batsman Tim Lloyd. The skipper was further rewarded by introducing Will Burgass who immediately picked up Sam Richards to leave Wimbledon 62-4 and a lot to do.

However, this was the period where we lost the game. Instead of going for the jugular and getting stuck into the tail, a malaise set into the Dulwich bowling and fielding. It was crazy – we were six wickets away from the league and yet we went very flat and lost our focus. We bowled too short and the fielding lacked urgency and sharpness.

The two young batsmen, Harry Thomas and Ben Turner seized the initiative, grew in confidence and both passed fifty, with Thomas in particular looking an excellent prospect. Between them they shared a century partnership, and when Burgass finally broke through, courtesy of a smart catch by Alex Irvine at deep square leg, the game was almost won.

With one final push, the skipper replaced Chathli – who had bowled with great control and length, for a final blast of Knighty and the big man rewarded him with two swift wickets, leaving Wimbledon 7 down. Kira then came back and finally removed opener Thomas for an excellent 87, but Dulwich were now rueing their under-par innings total and Wimbledon bundled over the line with Salman Ahmed crunching a couple of boundaries to win the game.

I realise this is hardly the wittiest match report of the season, but there wasn’t much to joke about at the end – it was certainly a chance missed and a collectively average team performance. However, our consistency as a team this year affords us the second chance to win the league on Saturday at Spencer, which would be very sweet indeed. This performance is now banished to the depths of play-cricket stats and instead we look forward to Spencer with confidence to what is bound to be a very hard fought contest. With a full strength side, there is no excuse not to bring the Premier League trophy back to Dulwich.

Sat 27th Aug – 6th XI v Bexley

DULWICH 158-7 (40) beat BEXLEY 159-6 (33.2) by 4 wickets

Scorecard

After months of roaming around the more obscure recreation grounds of suburban Kent, Dulwich 6th XI finally found themselves back at their spiritual home: pitch 3 of the DSG. Not for the first time this season, the Dulwich innings rather too closely resembled the Curate's egg: a phrase borrowed from George Du Maurier's cartoon in Punch magazine in 1895. The curate, anxious to find something positive to say to his ecclesiastical colleague about the bad egg that has been served to him says that it "was good in parts."

Owen was bowled on the fourth ball of the innings for 0. Shokoya Obafemi and Jim Gibson then set about restoring a semblance of order to the innings: both of them striking several sumptuous 4's ( Gibson's imperious on drive stirred memories of Peter May in the minds of many spectators.) In Farmer's next over, however, Gibson was dismissed: essaying yet another pugnacious back foot drive which only resulted in him dragging the ball on to his stumps. The sexagenarian walked disconsolately back to the pavilion, reflecting on yet another innings prematurely curtailed with his individual score in the teens or early twenties.

Like many cricketers, Gibson is a firm observer of ritual on match days. Those little superstitious habits that players think will bring them luck on the big day. For the past two seasons, Gibson has always worn the same DCC liveried purple and grey horizontally striped underpants on match days. (He does wash them prior to the following week's game). But he may abandon this custom next week, (if selected) in favour of a pair of terracotta coloured boxer shorts. The purple and grey pants have developed a small hole in the under crutch area and may no longer be fit for purpose. (Ed's note: I am not altogether sure our readers are that interested in this subject. PLEASE CONFINE YOURSELF TO DESCRIBING THE MATCH!)

Obafemi was joined at the wicket by Nick Rochford and the Dulwich innings continued on its way, coughing and spluttering like a vintage Daimler on it's annual run to Brighton in the veteran Car Rally. No batsman was able to assert himself till the uncompromising and forthright James Worley arrived at the crease. Supported by the comparatively pedestrian solicitor Griffiths, Worley was able to strike some handsome boundaries (including a 6) and ended with a well struck 54 not out. Dulwich finished with a total of 158 for 7 off 40 overs.

It is some time since any team has taken to the field with not one, but two leg spinners as the main "spearhead" of their attack. One has to think as far back as the 1950's when Lancashire played with both Tommy Greenhough and Bob Barber in their side, both of whom eventually played for England. For Dulwich, Josh Nava, proved to be more effective than Tim Brown, with the excellent figures of 4 for 40 from his allotted 10 overs. Nava and Brown's efforts were not enough, however. Sporting a pair of pads that were exactly the same colour as Sainsbury's "Taste the Difference" Wookey Hole Cave Aged Cheddar Cheese, Bexley opened the batting with the watchful but always dangerous, almost eponymously named Peter Bleksley who batted superbly to reach 107, before holing out to a good catch by Kushal Patel off the bowling of Worley. Liam Farmer and Harry Deppe, saw Bexley home in the 34th over. Bleksley's innings was decisive: he survived one difficult chance to Tucker in front of the Portakabins on the long on boundary but, by then, the damage had been done.

After the match, there was some speculation as to what might have happened had the veteran finger spinner Gibson been handed the ball, but few members of the Dulwich side were of the opinion that anything positive would have come from such a risky move. And so, Dulwich 6th XI continue in their quest for victory. Perhaps next week's final league fixture against mid table Beckenham will lead Dulwich to the promised land, but both Coral's and William Hill are yet to open a book on this eventuality

Sun 28th Aug – Academy v Sanderstead

DULWICH 121-4 (35.2) beat SANDERSTEAD 119 (36.1) by 6 wickets

Scorecard

After finishing second in the group stages, Dulwich Academy XI were rewarded with a plate semi-final against reigning champions Sanderstead on an overcast day at the DSG.

The Academy XI had reached this stage under the excellent stewardship of top clubman Patrick George. As he often reminds us, Paddy loves cricket and is never afraid to go the extra mile for Dulwich. This week he went even further… 1200 miles further to be exact, as he left his team behind to celebrate his birthday on the beach in Italy. What a bloke! Taking up the reigns in his absence were the safe and steady hands of former skipper, the Chaos Engine himself, Euan Johnson.

Johnson’s first act – after giving his team a rousing preemptive bollocking – was to lose the toss. But with rain in the air and the wicket greener than the outfield, Captain Chaos was happy to accept Sanderstead’s invitation to bowl first. Leading the line for Dulwich were the Sam twins – ‘McLovin’ Ellison and Saleem.

After a full and frank discussion over who got to bowl with the wind, the smooth-talking McLovin pulled rank and, once his butler had marked his run up out for him, he began with the breeze at his back. The Sams have developed into a formidable opening duo in recent weeks and it was immediately apparent they had brought their very best to the big occasion, as both bowlers beat the bat at regular intervals.

The opening exchanges were cagey with the ball moving in the air and off the seam and the Sanderstead openers watchful, but it wasn’t long before the relentless accuracy paid off, Ellison trapping Ottewill in front for 5.

A period of rebuilding followed for Sanderstead with Ward and Azer carefully seeing off the Dulwich openers. With Johnson keen to hold back some overs of pace, Dulwich sought to extract a few overs from overseas superstar Matthew Balch and young seamer, Seb Connor.  Though the batsmen looked to press on, neither bowler allowed Sanderstead to get away, Connor in particular impressing on his Academy team debut. 

The 2nd wicket stand had passed 50 though, and with Sanderstead 67/1 and looking up the rate, Johnson made a double change, opting for spin at both ends in the shape of Jonny Stone and James Hirst. Azer, sensing it was time to move through the gears, shaped to launch his first delivery from Stone over mid-wicket only to be deceived by the late dip, bowled for 23.

The younger Stone has played plenty of cricket with Hirst of late, and it was clear he had been listening carefully about how to bowl the mythical ‘wicket-taker’. Interspersed between an excellent few overs of spin bowling were two long-hops – both caught by Johnson at mid-wicket – and a full toss – caught at mid-on by Balch. In the 7 overs surrounding drinks, Stone had eviscerated the Sanderstead top order, reducing them from 67/1 to 74/5. 

At the other end, the Sanderstead batsmen had been (unduly) cautious to the third-choice left-arm spin of Hirst, allowing him to rattle through maiden after maiden. After four overs of blocking, the first shot in anger saw the ball loft high to mid-on where McLovin – no stranger to rattling through the odd maiden himself, eh ladies ;) – took an excellent tumbling catch.

Another collapse followed: a tactical mis-field from Captain Chaos resulted in a run-out and Hirst got rid off the battling Horner (19) with his obligatory full toss.  The second-string spin twins handed back to the Sam twins with the score at 105-8. Hirst returning a miserly 8-4-16-2 and Jonny Stone a match-winning 8-1-27-4, including 4 of the top 5.

The Sams took no time in claiming the final two wickets, Ellison (6-2-15-2) finding the edge to give keeper Guy Skinner a deserved victim, before a wicked yorker from Saleem (5.1-1-18-1) smashed through the defences of the Sanderstead number 11. 

120 runs were required for a place in the final, but Dulwich were taking nothing for granted. Sanderstead were the reigning champions, and from the moment they took to the field, it was clear to see that they were a fine side. 

Despite their obvious disappointment in posting such a low total, the visitors were lively in the field and put pressure on Dulwich from the outset. Their captain, Allen, opened with decent pace. Senior pro, Raj Tulsiani left the first ball with care, the second ball, he also left… though with considerably less care – bowled. Dulwich were 0/1. Chris Stone quickly followed, adjudged LBW for 6. 16-2, and Sanderstead had their tails up…

With Dulwich players desperately grasping for their pads, the two new men set about turning the game back in Dulwich’s favour. The bowlers threw everything they had at Guy Skinner and Rordon Daws, but the pair knew that wickets in hand would win the day. Sunday-specialist, Skinner, took full advantage of every loose delivery to keep the scoreboard ticking over just enough, whilst Daws blocked, left, and blocked some more. 

With the score on 83, the partnership of 67 was brought to an abrupt end when Skinner (34) was run out by a direct hit from long range. Captain Johnson (14) upped the scoring rate a little before he too fell to the excellent Allen.

With 7 overs to get 17 runs and plenty of wickets in hand, Daws (29* off 92) finally allowed himself to open up, hitting Azer for a boundary through square leg, before smiting the Sanderstead spinner for glorious 6 over mid-on. All that remained was for red-ink enthusiast, Balch (5*) to hit the winning runs and take Dulwich into the final against Sunbury.

This was an excellent all-round performance from the Academy side, led well by stand-in skipper. Dulwich bowled superbly, held all their catches and batted with real maturity, never allowing Sanderstead back into the game. With the squad strengthened further next week by the return of the skipper and others, the Doggies have a great opportunity to cap off a successful 2016 with another trophy. Please come along and show your support!

WASIM RAJA SHIELD FINAL: Dulwich Academy vs Sunbury Chieftains  
Away at Banstead (1pm start)

Sat 27th Aug – 2nd XI v Esher

DULWICH 219-9 (50) lost to ESHER 220-6 (40.1) by 4 wickets

Scorecard

With promotion and the title secure Dulwich travelled to Esher CC to play out the penultimate game at quite possibly the best ground/tea combination going. However, despite the Doggies rolling uncontrollably to the title, the only impressive team event of the day came in their ability to consume the majority of match tea.

It never quite seemed to be a conventional 2nd XI Saturday. The enthusiasm left firmly in the bar, players all over the South of London and a warm up that would make even a village team embarrassed. A far cry from the usually intense warm up and atmosphere that would intimidate even the strongest of sides.

With only nine players ready by the toss batting became more a formality over a tactical choice, and Hirsty could hardly control the excitement of opening in the absence of the world’s most hungover individual. Alas, with minutes to spare his hopes were cruelly dashed as the unmistakeable Aston rolled in. Not that the driver was in a state to bat, gingerly hugging the skipper on arrival.

Despite this Dulwich started well, for all of four overs. For the fifth consecutive innings Stone 2 was sent packing by the outswing keeper combination bringing The Prince to the crease. Raj and The Prince re-built and moved Dulwich along at a steady five an over. But then in true Dulwich fashion, and with some inspiration from the game at Burbage Road, the collapse began. The Prince missed a straight one, which ‘broke his toe’, Raj took on the spinner, and lost, and Stone 1 failed to dig out a yorker.

With five wickets down for just over 100 Dulwich needed a calm and composed partnership after drinks. Yet, unlike the previous Esher fixture, the wickets continued to fall at regular 20 run intervals. Marshall showed the dangers of taking on a rank long-hop and Quaife, who now boasts the best batting average for the year, failed to capitalise on his start. The joy of being the only team to dismiss the invincible batsman was reflected by the magnitude of Esher’s celebrations.

Buoyed by the chance to bat at three for the Academy, Hirsty strode out to join Bailey to revive the stalling innings. With some solid power hitting and creating his own leading edge dil-scoop, Hirsty entertained for at least a while. Unfortunately, it was not the be as Bailey, in his typical style, tried to run two off a misfielded nurdle and Hirsty, after reaching his goal of 20, gave point useful – albeit simple- catching practice (178-8).

All was not lost! The skipper, pumped up on his memories of his first Dulwich innings, showed the batsmen what real intent looks like. As Pickles took a more measured ‘bat out the overs approach’, the skipper showed no let up, his strike rate more akin to a T20 than a save the innings situation. Like eight others before him it came to an all too abrupt end, his strike rate impressive - his score not so. Caught for 15.

At 200-9 the Coach made his way out. With sweatband on his arm the intent to bat the long haul was clear for all to see. In a flurry of singles, and the occasional crowd pleasing drive to the cover boundary from Pickles, Dulwich finish on 216-9. And thus marked the start of Dulwich’s finest work. The Prince leading the way in the competition to recreate Mount Everest out of spring rolls and chicken satay.

Dulwich started fantastically in the field, the skipper taking the first wicket on the fourth ball, the batsman gloving the ball to a delighted Bails behind the sticks. The Esher number 3 failed to trouble the scorers as the skipper took his second wicket, making it two in his opening overs.

It was nearly three, but the call was turned down by the umpire. Esher began to put a few runs together. With wickets being a priority the skipper threw the ball to Hirsty, high on confidence from his impressive batting performance. With few runs off his early overs, all seemed to be going swimmingly, until the third wicket fell and Esher’s number 5 entered the fray.  It was at this time we saw the first of Hirsty’s trademark longhops, the batsman gleefully excepted the freebie as Hirsty’s eyes lit up as the batsman fell into his trap, all eyes were focused on the deep mid-wicket boundary.  However, it didn’t go to plan, instead of going straight down Stone 2’s throat the ball flew high and long, so long infact that it not only cleared the boundary but it also cleared the fence of the house across the road narrowly missing the car. Hirsty was not beaten. He regrouped and prepared to bowl again. However, the ball once again disappeared over into the same front garden.

However it was Quaife, who had now overtaken Hirsty as leading wicket taker for the season who ended the short but swashbuckling innings of the Esher number 5. As the new batsman made his way to the crease he was given some advice from his partner. “You know how to bat - see ball, hit ball.” However the advice was taken the wrong way, the new batsman proceeded to chip the ball directly to the skipper at mid-off.

Again Esher began to form a partnership, when the sixth wicket fell Dulwich were still in with a chance, however a strong partnership between the Esher captain and the remaining opener, who ended up making a strong hundred, saw Esher home to a four wicket win.

Sat 27th Aug – 3rd XI v Wimbledon

DULWICH 118 (45.4) beat WIMBLEDON 104 (47.1) by 14 runs

Scorecard

Although the 3rd XI’s own title chances had disappeared over the last couple of weeks, the destiny of the title still lay in Dulwich’s hands with the top two of Wimbledon and Spencer to play. Bit of a Hobson’s Choice here but the title was decided as Dulwich saw off Wimbledon in a tight encounter and Spencer won elsewhere to clinch the title.

The early start time of 12.00 did not deter an impressively on time crew assembling for the reasonably short hop over to Chessington. Good progress was made until the ground was neared. An impressive crowd looked as though it was on its way to the match as a tailback of a mile or two was encountered close to the ground but the Chessington World of Adventures signs were a bit of a giveaway.

Those who have played at Wimbledon’s second ground a few times know to expect a ‘sporting’ wicket. Although the wicket looked OK it turned out it had many demons. This, together with the long grass on the outfield, contributed to the low scoring though questionable batting and good bowling on both sides also played a part. Wimbledon won the toss, chose to field and Olly Steward and Guy Woodgate strode out to bat. Both looked reasonably comfortable, or as comfortable as you can be on a pitch where it could rear past your head off a length. Both took a couple of blows and progress was sedate which was not surprising as a 1 or 2 on this outfield was worth easily double on a normal outfield. It therefore came as a bit of a shock when Steward mistimed to mid-off.

Enter Guy Skinner to provide a pair of Guys at the wicket and provide ammunition to those who like the pun related to a famous, former Turkish footballer (Tugay for the uninitiated). Now having the same name does not mean you share the same wavelength so, after another period of calm batting, Skinner decided to call Woody for a run that was not there – a tad unnecessary.

To cut a long story short much of the rest of the innings followed a similar path- batsmen battling the pitch and some decent bowlers, not getting value for money for shots but fighting hard knowing every run will matter. So scraping in to double figures does not sound much but it was a fair achievement.

The first boundary came in the 22nd over (byes), with Matt Balch hitting the first one off the bat soon after from a crisp cover drive. James Chudley had perished the ball before drinks (aarrgghh !!) chipping one up Balch missed a straight one though he will give a different interpretation of the extent of movement on the ball; Rordon Daws also missed one and Be ‘pretty boy’ Lester popped a nasty lifter back to the bowler. Through much of this Rhys Williams, playing his first 3s league match, stood pretty firm and played some nice aerial shots until skying one to the keeper. At 81 for 9 things looked bleak as skipper Hough strode to the crease to join Chris Hope. Though a dodgy wicket and a ridiculously slow outfield a par score was a bit higher than this.

Talk between the two was trying to get to 100 and take it from there with 120 or 130 deemed a very good score. Numbers 9 and 11 showed those higher up how to do it and put together the biggest partnership of the match to take the score up to a competitive 118. Hope hit powerfully and went aerial a bit, and Hough provided good support until he holed out to deep square leg on the hook. Hope ended with an excellent 22 not out which turned out to be the highest score of the match.

Buoyed by the last wicket effort Dulwich took the field in positive mood but knowing that Wimbledon can easily take the game away from you. Hope and Rordon Daws opened up, with Wimbledon captain Eddison eager to add to his 800+ runs this season. A big swing at the first ball showed his intention, and caused Dulwich’s more vocal players to immediately ramp up the chat volume. Hope struck in the first over as Eddison’s opening partner fell first ball to a shot a no. 11 would have been embarrassed about. The dangerous Anand joined Eddison and played a couple of pleasing leg side shots before Daws made the crucial breakthrough trapping Eddison plumb in front, soon followed by Anand hitting a long hop straight to Balch at cover. Hope then followed up Daws’ crucial wickets with another lobbed up catch to Daws.

Hough rang the changes as Daws had reached his age group limit of overs and Hope was held back for later – but they had done the early damage that set Wimbledon back and Dulwich in the ascendancy. Now for the spinners to follow this up. Hough started well bowling tightly whilst Ben Lester offered more flight with a slope to utilise to his advantage (very unusually kind of you, skip!). Lester struck first with a flighted delivery beating the huge, injudicious heave of Wimbledon’s number 5. Meanwhile Hough was in a personal duel with no. 6 Oliver James who played a few nice shots whilst at the same time being bamboozled regularly. As the close fielders questioned his technique and ability to read deliveries, Hough just glared or smiled and eventually won trapping him plumb in front. Although Dulwich were on top at 6 down there was still much to do defending the small total. More spin was introduced with Matt Balch and Spencer Daws, on his debut. Balch bowled tidily (apart from a few wides) and snaffled another caught by Chudley at point. It could have been more but two caught and bowleds were put down – one probably regulation for Matt, the other a great effort.

At 7 down Wimbledon began to dig in and the score crept along to less than 30 to win with plenty of overs left. Hough returned to replace Spencer Daws who bowled well in his first appearance at this level. A series of probing deliveries and close calls ended with a rap on the pads right in front, umpire’s finger raised – 8 down and the end getting closer. Wimbledon’s no. 10 did not last long, again trapped plumb in front by Hough. Hope returned and with his first (long hop) ball the ball was blazed to cover where Woodgate held a good catch to seal victory by 14 runs in the 48th over. A great win, with Dulwich fighting hard with the bat and competing fiercely in the field with a fantastic team spirit. All credit with nothing riding on the game for Dulwich other than pride.

Thanks once again to Chris Reardon for umpiring. The final game next week is at home to Spencer with the title decided but the captain will ensure that whatever team takes the field goes out with the same attitude, fight and desire as shown here. Man of the match was Chris Hope for his performance with bat and ball, Rordon Daws second for helping to set up the win at the start and Rhys Williams for his battling innings.