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