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Sat 13th Aug – 6th XI v Dartford

DULWICH 207-5 (40) lost to DARTFORD 208-3 (37.4) by 7 wickets

Scorecard

For Dulwich 6th XI this game resembled nothing more than an M.C. Escher work of art: improbable towers and battlements full of steps and turrets, but, ultimately an optical illusion where the top is never quite attained. For three quarters of the match, Dulwich appeared to be following all the right staircases and passages only to discover at the end of the game they were back where they started. This season has not been the most successful for this team and they now find themselves second bottom of Div. 2C of the Kent Regional League.

Dartford's Oakfield Park pitch has a certain municipal charm. The whole ground resembles a rather shallow salad bowl. (I have actually seen a smaller version of this particular shaped bowl in the Purley Way branch of IKEA). To hit a boundary in any direction, the batsman is forced to hit the ball uphill. The ground would be a perfect place to stage an open air production of Verdi's celebrated opera "Aida", but not necessarily the best place for a cricket match. Despite the obvious limitations, 415 runs were scored.

Williams and Gibson opened for Dulwich and soon discovered that the uphill gradients in all directions were more than compensated by the fast outfield and boundaries started to flow. Gibson's innings, in particular, had a certain plodding familiarity to it: for the third time in his last four innings, he has found himself reaching a score between 18 and 23 only to find himself unable to progress any further: either running out of partners or accompanying another player batting at a slightly faster tempo than Gibson to win the game. On this occasion, (after scoring no less than 3 boundaries) he curtailed his innings in a more conventional manner by playing over the top of a viciously in swinging fast yorker bowled by the talented seam and swing bowler, pony-tailed 14 year old Chelsey Rowson. Gibson's batting this season has been not dissimilar to that of the "jobbing actor": never in the limelight, but offering the odd crucial line, here and there, to move the plot along. It was something of a surprise, therefore, to discover that, in the course of his long career, Gibson has actually hit more 6s than Don Bradman! Gibson has hit no less than five 6s while the slightly more eminent Australian only ever hit four! They also share the same last letter of their surname! Gibson does not, however, have a career batting average of 99. But I digress:

Williams was not phased by Gibson's departure nor by his replacement: the solicitor Griffiths. This batsman played even more prosaically than Gibson and was eventually caught by Rowson off the bowling of 13 year old leg spinner Callum French. It was not until the arrival of Captain Moore at No. 4 did the innings look like achieving the 200 target. Williams and Moore played aggressive, bludgeoning aerial shots to most parts of the lip of the bowl and Williams was finally bowled for a commendable 95. Moore scored 45 and Comerford blasted 3 fours in 3 balls in the final over. Nick Rochford and Tracy Latimer also batted.

Dulwich sat down at tea in a state of high elation. For a team that failed by 50 runs to reach a target of 130 in their last league match, a total of 207 for 5 was no mean achievement. The solar panels on the roof of the pavilion were a great encouragement to the team; it was assumed the post match showers would be more than adequate on a sun-filled day like today.

Their optimism was misplaced, however, when it became clear that Dartford's tall and uncompromising Lanning would need to be dismissed in good time if Dulwich were to defend their hard won assets. Eventually, Lanning presented a gift of a catch in the no man's land triangle between mid off, cover and bowler, any one of whom might have held on to the chance. Sadly, with the politeness of three doormen at Claridge's, none of these players took up the chance and the ebullient Lanning continued on his unimpeded way until he was finally dismissed by the tantalisingly accurate Nava for 58. Meanwhile, the aforementioned Rowson and French batted with commendable correctness, but the scoring rate was slowing all the time. When Rowson was finally dismissed caught behind off Morton, the feeling was that Dulwich would prevail. 80 runs were still required and what looked like only a handful of overs left to be bowled. At this point, Dartford's Ian Rossiter entered the fray. A player who has, apparently, led a glittering career with the 1sts, 2nds and 3rds and was now captain of the 5ths. Rossiter proceeded to flay all the bowlers with a remorselessness which had a chilling effect on the Dulwich side. The youthful French also found his scoring touch and the pair wrapped the game up in the 38th over with 57* each. Dulwich made their way back down the A2 with only 4 bonus points and an uneasy feeling that the game was theirs for the taking, but they somehow got lost going up the third staircase on the fourth level of the second ivory tower. Castles in the sky, indeed.

Sat 13th Aug – 4th XI v Reigate Priory

DULWICH 142-2 (40.1) beat REIGATE PRIORY 141 (43.2) by 8 wickets

Scorecard

After last week's edgy nail biting win at Banstead, a game loaded with more plot twists than Jack Bauer gatecrashing Game of Thrones, I can report that this week Dulwich beat Reigate in an dourly efficient manner - with the highlight being the pre-game breakfast obtained from a garage somewhere around the Mitcham area.

To spice up what is destined to be a somewhat uneventful report, I have ingested a potent cocktail of LSD, absinthe and peyote and read the entire work of Hunter S Thompson as a literary sharpner. Alas, the overwhelmingly functional nature of our victory crushed such frivolity, so the facts are as follows:

1. Prasanna was only 15 mins late, despite being driven to the ground by Julian.
2. Matt won the toss and batted. 
3. Prasanna bowled the Reigate opener with the first ball of the game – a full bunger, which bamboozled everyone used to his normal first ball half-tracker.
4. Swainey went for 8 off his first over, then conceded 1 from the next 6. Cricket as a whole died and had to be resuscitated around this time. He did however remove the handy-looking Reigate no 3 with a leg stump full bunger, chipped straight to Chris Stone at square leg.
5. Reigate continued to block everything we bowled at them, with weapons-grade defensive play.
6. We had drinks. They were standard, watery, and unremarkable.
7. After drinks, Reigate accelerated to 3 an over. 
8. Will Burgass started bowling. Reigate continued to defend. Jon Stone Snr. put his lens cap back on.
9. Wickets started to fall. The run rate stuttered. 
10. Dan Peters held a splendid boundary catch, interrupting a jolly interesting looking chat with returning Jon Stone Snr.
11. Cricketing Armageddon people!!!!! Ben Lester was smacked for few sixes by the dangerous slogger Matt Van Staden. However the following over, Will dismissed him with skipper Dixon honouring the late Paul Daniels with some blockbuster catching magic on the long off boundary. This was made all the sweeter as Ben had used the classic Andrew Flintoff / Tino Best sport psychology and had invited him to 'make his day' and try and hit Will for six number 3.
12. Normal service then resumed as Reigate consolidated and blocked some more balls.
13. Remarkably Dixon then snaffled a second catch in a single game for the first time as an adult cricketer, although admittedly he did have to argue with the umpire to ensure it was given.
14. Lets cut it short there. Reigate were 141 all out from 44 overs. It's all you need to know. 
15. Tea. Homemade and delicious enough to persuade Swainey to brake his carb-free pre-holiday diet (in preparation for a Las Vegas pool party shindig) and gorge on cheese sandwiches, Breakaways and a swiss roll. Expect Calvin Harris to give a shout out to the tubby British dude, dancing in a smock in precisely 5 weeks' time.
16. We then batted. Dan Peters and Chris Stone opened. 
17. Dan and Chris were then both out cheaply.
18. New batsmen Guy Woodgate and Jonny Stone followed the stoic Reigate 3-an-over mantra and slowly broke the hearts of fielders and watching team mates alike.
19. Boundary chat hit an all time Bridget Jones-esque low as Ben Lester discussed in detail how he had recently proposed to his now-fiancée and described "The Ring". 
20. Guy and Jonny finally finished ambling to 142 with 4 overs to spare. Guy finished unbeaten on 68 and Jonny 29. Joking aside, they both batted incredibly well, showing utter composure and giving no chances – that would have been too exciting, I suppose.
19. The game had ended. We all shook hands. Boundary flags were collected and the crowd went wild.
20. In the absence of almost any action and still needing to raise money for the Blue Bails charity, Dan introduced on-the-spot random fines we raised another £25.

This victory keeps Dulwich 20 points clear of rivals Spencer in what is increasingly looking a two horse race. The team hasn't lost since the beginning of June and we have built good momentum at the business end of the season, with great collective spirit and everyone contributing. Next up is Woking and Horsell at home, a must win game with tough opponents Wimbledon and Spencer in the final two fixtures. 

Sat 13th Aug – 3rd XI v Reigate Priory

DULWICH 176-9 (50) tied with REIGATE PRIORY 176 (50)

Scorecard

The 3rd XI’s championship challenge was dented with a rare, but thrilling tie with Reigate at DSG which did neither team any good in terms of their league standing. Sitting in 3rd and 4th place before the game both teams remain there, but with the top two Spencer and Wimbledon both winning Dulwich are now more than one win behind. Although Dulwich have to play both these teams they both seem to be winning comfortably against the other teams they are playing in the bottom half. Hopes are slim but it is still too early to give up and it should be remembered that, whatever happens, this has been an excellent season.

The team gathered on time once again, the usual warm up undertaken (except the skipper who is too old for all that running around), whilst Reigate lounged in the sun on the grass. But that is their way and they always present strong opposition. Skipper Graeme Hough lost a rare toss and Reigate understandably chose to bat in what turned out to be a lovely summer’s day. Blue bails on in support of the Cricket United initiative, Chris Hope and Ian Toppin opened up the bowling. Both bowled OK but runs came freely from Reigate’s aggressive openers, Bukhari in particular, as it quickly became obvious the wicket was offering little assistance to the seamers. Having raced to 50 plus off the first 10 overs it looked like a long day in the field but Hope induced an aggressive shot too many from Bukhari and Toppin took a good catch at mid-off for the first wicket.

By this time JeremyJones had been promoted from last week’s third change bowler to first change to replace Toppin and a degree of control began to be exerted. This improved as Hough replaced Hope and the second wicket came when Morris caught the no. 3 off a well-disguised short of a length (long hop!!) delivery from Hough. Further wickets quickly came as Hough snared the other opener LBW and bowled Reigate’s no. 4. At 4 down, and the run rate quickly reducing to manageable proportions, things were looking a lot better. Ben ‘Milky’ Swanson replaced Jones and the spin twins (or should that be more like grandfather and grandson!) of Swanson and Hough turned the screw on a helpful, turning wicket. Swanson bowled with maturity and control with Toppin taking an excellent catch out of the sun at mid-off and two classical dismissals caught at slip by Oliver ‘sore hand’ Steward.  Swanson’s spell was topped off with snaring the dangerous Briggs LBW.

Having been looking at 250 plus at one point 60 for 0 had changed to 130 for 8. Swanson returned an excellent 4-32 off his 10 overs and Hough a miserly 3-18 off his. On a turning wicket the captain turned to Matt Balch’s off spin to replace himself and he quickly reeled off three overs for little whilst the seamers returned at the other end. However, Reigate’s youthful number 10 Tiley showed he is an avid watcher of 20:20 cricket as he mixed obdurate defence with more extravagant shots including a switch hit for 6 off Balch – annoying but most Dulwich players could not help raising a chuckle to themselves. The end eventually came as Toppin cleaned Tiley up attempting a ramp shot (!!) and Jones captured the final wicket. 176 all out was a good effort in the end considering the start, the only criticism being there was still too many wides (17).

Steward and Morris opened up and the former again looked in good nick with a couple of nice pull shots to the boundary. Third time unlucky, however, as the next one lobbed to mid-on. Balch joined Morris and began to grind things out against Reigate’s tight opening bowlers. The score edged to 50 or so at the 20 over point but things were in control, wickets in hand and the run rate more than manageable. Things can turn quickly in cricket though and Balch lobbed an easy return catch to spinner Tiley, Morris fell LBW and Guy Skinner hit a full toss to mid-on. 50 for 1 to 60-odd for 4 and the game had taken on a different complexion.

Although our own ‘Bearded Wonder’ Andy Cornick at no.4 was perturbed to see that Reigate’s captain, Brickley, had beaten him hands down in the facial hair competition he was not put off by this as AC and Andy Bailey at no.6 began repairing the damage. Both batted circumspectly but punished anything loose and nudged and nurdled the score along. 100 was well passed and the required run rate under control with wickets in hand. At around 130, however, AC missed a straight one for a well-crafted 42. Chris Hope joined Bailey and a few lusty blows took the score closer to the target, including an exquisite cover drive from Bailey amid the stoic defence. Hope tried one hit too many and skied one, then Jones did not last too long. Suddenly the game was back in the balance at 7 down with still 20 or so to win and the run rate creeping up. The captain joined the fray to bash a few runs but Bailey skied one and Hough followed soon after in similar fashion – a bit of panic from these experienced players.

The match came down to the final over – 6 to win with last pair Swanson and Toppin at the crease. A wide, some scampered singles resulted in two runs off the last ball to win. Toppers swung but hit straight to mid-on for a single – match tied. A good match that swung various ways throughout the day but Dulwich got themselves in a position to win at a few points. Some soft dismissals in the top order and injudicious shots from the lower order contrived to throw it away. But credit to Reigate for not giving up and bowling with discipline at the end to make it difficult.

It is vital that the team finish strong, as you never know what may happen and Dulwich will have a crucial say in who might win the league - though the choice is Wimbledon or Spencer…

Man of the match was Ben Swanson for an excellent spell of left arm spin bowling and thanks once again to umpire Chris Reardon.

Sat 13th Aug – 2nd XI v Cranleigh

DULWICH 225-4 (50) beat CRANLEIGH 185 (44.1) by 40 runs

Scorecard

‘There can only be one’

Picture this, a beautifully English overcast Saturday morning. 11:45 meet. The mighty top-of-the-league Dulwich Dogs chomping at the bit to get their teeth into second placed Cranleigh. Outfield brown, wicket green, Patrick George still complaining about all he does for the club. 

12pm: The lads emerge from the changing rooms like Lions on a hunt, the warm up is about to begin…

12:15pm: …the warm up is still going. WHEN! A Prince in a black BMW pulls into the car park, the ground shakes, hearts stop, panties drop, everyone holds their breath (apart from "Daddy" John Morris, walking past, asking the Prince whether he has the Vaseline – to the absolute disgust of his poor on looking mother. I digress…)

12:45pm: The toss loss. In a game full of rare occurrences, Dulwich were asked to bat first. Explicit instructions came from the captain: "Be greedy." The game was about to begin… 

1pm: Start of play. With the absence of the ever reliable long ball hitter The Tulsman, Screech (aka ‘Mr Hudson’ aka ‘Forever Young’) took up the mantle, striding to the crease with the ever lippy Enrique Inglis. Could he be our hero?

1:18pm: First wicket. Unfortunately not. Inglis was the first to depart LBW, shortly followed by ‘Huddo’, beautifully guiding a ball to gully and falling to Cranleigh's 12 year-old opening bowler - Zaki left watching the celebrations at the other end. Here entered arguably the most hated player in the circuit. Called a **** more times this season than he has had hot dinners, Prince strode out like a Gladiator entering his amphitheatre, knowing he had to get his head down.

1:28pm: The Anchor. Zaki and the Prince stood at the wicket. “Please give me one of your runs” the Prince begged Zaki, having reached the godly heights of 17 while the Prince was sitting on a 25 ball duck. On came Cranleigh's very own Thirsty Hirsty and, in a fashion that would make the man himself proud, he lured Zaki into snicking off with a ball so short and so wide it was taken on the next strip.

1:29pm: The Legend, The Pro, My Idol. Stuart Ferguson walked to the crease offering solid advice to the young Prince: "GET A F*CKING RUN". Fergie calmly caressed his first ball off the back foot for a single. The young Prince watched on in awe whilst the single was run and proceeded to block out the remaining five balls of the over.

2pm: Drinks. With The Prince finally off the mark Dulwich went into drinks 69 (favourite number) for 3, with strict instructions to rotate the strike. Fergo effortlessly found the gaps whilst the rock at the other end scampered singles on the odd occasion he got bat on ball.

2:10pm: The end of a Balchy-esque innings. Euan Johnson quite simply got the ball of the season, which saw him bowled, caught behind and stumped all in the same instance. Clueless as to what had happened he walked off for 17 off 76 balls - a solid innings from a solid bloke.

2:11pm: With the score 89/4 from 30 overs it wasn’t looking good. Until…

2:11:30pm: The Coach. With coaching via whatsapp from Wham Bamm Tulsman ("Get 180 then slog"), the best keeper-batsman in the league, and quite possibly the planet, entered the fray. Not soon after, Cranleigh were begging for the return of the Prince as the DILF Fergo and AJ started to show why Dulwich are top of the league. Spanking, smashing and bludgeoning with the occassional cry thrown in - it was starting to looki more like a scene from John Morris' Chinese Takeaway party than a cricket match.

2:55pm: The Redemption. After sending the ball to all parts of the ground and watching Cranleigh heads drop, Fergo and AJ both passed their half centuries - guaranteeing jugs for the boys! They managed to secure a respectable score of 225/4 off 50. Fergo 76* and AJ 69* (again, my favourite number).

3:30pm: Lunch. After hearing nonstop complaints from clubman through-and-through Patrick George  it became apparent this game was no longer merely for the top spot in the league but the top Euan Johnson in the league. With the Quaifester singing to the Prince all through lunch "You’re not even the best Euan Johnson in the league’" he knew we had to get off to a flyer.

3:35pm: O Captain My Captain. Jamesy Bridgey Bridgland took the new ball and entrusted The Prince to go and flirt the batsmen out so that while they weren’t concentrating he’d bowl and they’d miss a straight one. The master tactician had done it again, trapping the opener plumb in front of all three. To the extreme excitement of The Real Euan Johnson, his namesake was removed for just 2. There can only be one.

3:50pm: In came Cranleighs no. 3? After snicking off through vacant areas of the slip cordon Bridgey decided to take matters into his own hand, bowling an inducking yorker that took the base of the off stump. Captain Dulwich finished with 2-22 from 10 overs and was backed up well by young Sameer Saleem who bowled with good pace but little luck.

4:25pm: Resistance. After a period of Cranleigh fighting back admirably it was very much level at drinks. After some soul searching, strong leadership and words the Dogs went back.

4:27pm: The Dogs. Quaife Dog, The Quaife, Quaifeyyyyy was bowling well in hot conditions and found the edge that flew wide of gully, or so we all thought… Out of nowhere Zaki leaps like a salmon to take quite simply the best gully catch ever taken ever. Silencing all the haters – no man under 44 could take that catch. 

4:28pm: THE DOOOOOOGS. The next in leaves a disguised inswinger first ball. BOOM - top of off. Poor kid. 

4:29pm: HATTRICK BALL. Quaife steaming in. He releases. It’s a wide. A tragic end to a fairytale story.

4:50pm: Thirsty. Cranleigh were going along nicely rebuilding the ship when Thirsty Hirsty was chucked the ball. Quaife, who was doing well at hiding exhaustion from his spell, was swapped with yours truly. LIKE THAT he's back in the game with a ball two deliveries later chipped straight to The Prince at midwicket. Hirsty is already off necking a pint, Bridgey is celebrating, Fergo is reattaching his body. Alas, straight through the ball goes. But luckily 3 runs were saved…

4:55pm: Language Barrier. Hirsty was thus taken off and placed next to a shell of a being in the covers, still red faced & speaking in Northern tongues, I knew it was about me.

5:15pm: DILF. After a quiet period in the field on came The Real Fergie, now relentless in his hunt for the JL points. It wasn't long before he had made up for The Prince's mistake and dismissed both set batsman in quick secession.

5:45pm: All day they tried all day we dared. Finally it happened - a single to Inglis. Desperation does strange things to men under pressure. Next man in…

6:34pm: Fergie Time. Finding myself on the boundary (right in front of the other Euan Johnson's family), I was acosted by my mother who handed me a bottle of water and asked "Why don’t you stop flirting and finish them off?" Next ball, Fergie Ferg caught a blinder off his own bowling, ending with 3-19 off six overs and ball. 

Dulwich 225/4 from 50
Cranleigh 185 all out from 44.1 Overs

Alas it was fair to say on Saturday there was only one.

Sat 13th Aug – 1st XI v Chessington

DULWICH 196-8 (50) beat CHESSINGTON 145 (47.3) by 51 runs

Scorecard

Dulwich were on the road for the third successive week, and duly completed their third successive victory, winning their Travelbag Surrey Championship Division 2 match at Chessington by 51 runs.

Dulwich chose to bat, but lost Ed Stolle to the second legitimate ball of the innings, after three wides in the previous four. Ed Towner and Henry Hazlewood then raced to 24 before Towner was run out off the first ball of the fourth over. Hazlewood continued to score freely, but lost Richard King, caught at slip for 6, and Ed Hopkins, who was also run out for 5, to make it 56-4 after just 11.3 overs.

Will Bancroft joined Hazlewood, and together they batted more circumspectly in adding 42 in 14 overs for the fifth wicket. Bancroft was just starting to accelerate when he was dismissed for 16. Salaar Waqar joined Hazlewood in a stand of 35 in 10.3 overs for the sixth wicket before the latter fell for 63, his highest score for the first team, scored off 116 balls. Jon Lodwick departed without troubling the scorers, and Waqar fell 14 runs later for 23.

Leon Sealy and Kamran Munawar thus came together at 149-8 after 43.2 overs. They took another 3.4 overs to reach 156, but then launched a blistering attack that saw 40 runs come off the last three overs, including 21 off the penultimate over, with both batsmen hitting a huge six. The innings closed on 196-8, with Sealy unbeaten on 28 and Munawar on 19. The most successful bowler was the overseas player, spinner Harli Givvens, with 4-21 off his ten overs.

Givvens then opened the batting with the 16 year old Prince Singh, and they were untroubled by the quicker bowlers until Givvens fell to Munawar for 20 with the score on 35 in the tenth over. Singh was joined by Roman Qazi, and they continued to score at close to the required rate, reaching 72 after 19 overs. By this time the Dulwich spinners Waqar and skipper Alex Gledhill were in action, and they imposed such a stranglehold that only 16 runs came off the next ten overs.

With 109 now needed off 21 overs King was brought on to bowl left arm spin, and while he could not match the accuracy of the other spinners, he reaped the reward of their tight bowling as the batsmen tried to speed up the scoring. He had Qazi stumped off his third ball to end his excruciating innings of 19 off 69 balls, which had included 29 dot balls between his 18th and 19th runs. Waqar disposed of Prince three overs later for an obdurate 35 off 94, and King followed up with the crucial wicket of skipper Dan Yarnley, caught on the boundary for 14. Waqar finished his ten over spell with the excellent figures of 1-18, whereupon Stolle came on and took a wicket with his first legal ball. Three more wickets for King in his next two overs reduced Chessington to 129-8 in the 42nd over.

Gledhill returned to take the ninth wicket and finish with 1-13 off a typically miserly nine overs in which the only runs scored off him were singles. The last wicket pair tried to add the ten runs required for a batting point, but could manage only five before King rounded off the innings to finish with 6-29 off 9.3 overs. Chessington were dismissed for 145, their last nine wickets going down in 18 overs for just 57 runs.

With the two sides above them also winning, Dulwich remain in fifth place. However they are only 18 points behind second placed Epsom, who visit Dulwich next week in a match that will be crucial for the promotion prospects of both sides.