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