DULWICH 194-9 (47.5) beat ASHTEAD 193 (52) by 1 wicket
The 3rd XI won a thriller by one wicket off the penultimate ball on a roasting day in the depths of Surrey. Credit must go to both teams for one of those games that, whilst nervy, was a pleasure to play in, played in a good spirit and made the long journey worthwhile.
Playing at Dulwich you get used to rather annoying away trips but for our longest away trip of the season we were greeted by the beautiful architecture, surroundings, pitch and ground of Box Hill School. The delightful ground and setting would put many first team grounds to shame – how lucky Ashtead are to have such a facility as their second ground.
The much changed team once again gathered pretty much on time, except for (post-graduate student) Sam Hunt who had gone to the wrong ground!! First sight of the wicket resulted in a unanimous verdict that it was a road. This fact, plus the heat, did not stop skipper Graeme Hough choosing to field having won his 10th out of 11 tosses this season. In any case it did not get any cooler. Whilst Dulwich’s senior citizens initially made the most of the shade and watched an always youthful Ashtead side go through their warm up, match heads were soon switched on.
Jeremy Jones and young left-armer Rordon Daws opened up. Daws, quickly settling in to a good rhythm, made the first breakthrough with an in-swinging beauty to castle Ashtead’s captain Wint. Meanwhile, at the other end, Jones bowled what he would readily admit as being one of his worst spells for many a year. He did, however, manage to surprise the other opener with a good length ball on off stump and induced a regulation catch to keeper Dan Peters. The expletives of frustration became louder and stronger from Jones, but not as strong as those that the skipper was muttering to himself as he contemplated bowling changes at a very early stage. But in the ever increasing heat, second spells from seamers later in the day were a risk and so Jones was persevered with in the hope that it could only get better. Suffice to say it didn’t, and with Daws having bowled his allowed quota (1-21 off 7) a double change was made with off spinners Hough and Ben Lester entering the fray.
Now the above may sound a bit harsh on our ‘Jezza’ but that is only because we have been so used to his consistency. This was a very rare off day and Jez will be back next week to put things right no doubt – he remains one of the best opening bowlers in the league.
Back to the game, Hough settled in to his usual miserly line and length at one end and Lester offered his usual F&G with skipper Hough kindly letting him have use of the slight slope in his favour – a level of charity not usually becoming of the captain! Lester struck first bowling the no. 3 with a flighted beauty, Hough trapped another plumb in front and Lester induced a catch to mid-off. 69 for 2 had quickly become 81 for 5 and Dulwich scented blood. All through this Ashtead’s young no. 4 Ben Sidwell was holding things together and it was clear at an early stage he was a class act and was going to be difficult to budge. However, wickets were snaffled at the other end – another LBW by Hough and James ‘The Pickler’ Pickles got an excellent caught behind by Peters in his first over having replaced Lester (2-39 off 10).
At 122 for 7 a score of below 150 was on, but Sidwell continued to toy with bowlers and fielders. Without taking the bowling apart at any point his placement was excellent and skipper Hough was even forced to utter (very reluctantly of course) a couple of ‘good shot’ calls to him. Ashtead’s young tail wagged well as the heat took its toll on the fielding Dulwich team. Wickets were eventually gained through a third Hough LBW (had the heat got to umpire Chris Reardon? Were bribes involved? No, they were all just plumb out), a run out and another wicket from ‘The Pickler’. But Ashtead had moved well to 193 all out off 52 overs. Sidwell remained at the end on 82 not out in an innings of maturity, patience, concentration as well as skill. A rather tired Hough toiled through 19 overs for 3-41 and special mention again to Sam Hunt for some energetic and athletic fielding.
In such sumptuous surroundings it was no surprise that the tea was to match. After feasting and hydrating well, Guy Woodgate and James Chudley strode out with 48 overs to chase down 194. Things quickly took a turn for the worse as Woodgate miscued a pull shot second ball and Chuds surprisingly missed a straight one soon after. At 14 for 2 the target of 194 seemed some way off. The increasingly ‘Bearded Wonder’ Andy Cornick joined Julian Dean to begin to repair the damage. The openers were seen off and they were beginning to look comfortable as the score was moved to 43 for 2. Enter JD’s nemesis – any spinner in Surrey! The exotically named left arm spinner Marcus Caprano-Wint entered the fray – who, by the way, had figures of 16-11-8-3 the previous week. He is only 15 but had bowled well in the first match earlier in the season. Anyway, JD had a good look at him… well for two balls… then launched the third in to orbit… end of. 43 for 3 quickly became 55 for 4 as Dan Peters was bowled having played his shot seemingly in a different time zone to the ball – in his defence it was there to hit but kept on the low side.
Sam ‘I’m a keeper really’ Hunt joined Cornick who by now was unleashing some pleasingly timed drives for which he is known when on form. Sam Hunt is one of those who commentators would describe as a ‘busy cricketer’ and they began to build a good partnership and increase the run rate. Cornick cleanly lofted the spinner over the top a couple of times and Hunt showed a liking, as well as a skill, for the sweep shot which spinners generally do not like. Having serenely moved to 47 Cornick then attempted to go over the top again, missed and was stumped as he lay in a crumpled heap on the ground – 96 for 5 and game in the balance.
Lester joined Hunt and they upped the run rate as it was the turn of Ashtead’s bowlers and fielders to feel the heat. Hunt punished anything short with aggressive pull shots – this included a comical bit of fielding from Ashtead as a full blooded pull shot rebounded off deep square’s knee almost back on to the pitch… ouch! Lester also struck a monstrous 6 – well that is what he is telling everyone who wasn’t there as it was really a push for two followed by four overthrows! Having moved Dulwich in sight of victory at 163 for 5, Lester eventually perished to a good catch on the boundary showing his inability to hit a proper 6! ‘The Pickler’ joined Hunt and they moved the score up to 179 when Hunt was run out in a mix up for an excellent 65.
Dulwich nerves were beginning to increase, not helped by Jez Jones’s day not getting any better as he eyed a quick single… from a push straight back to the bowler – another run out and 185 for 8. This quickly became 187 for 9 as Pickles was cleaned up for a handy 12. So it all came down to the last over – 7 to win with Daws and the cool, calm and collected (not!) captain Hough. A couple of singles were followed by a couple of lusty Daws blows for two runs each. Scores tied and two balls to go. As Daws offered incredibly helpful advice to his captain to ‘just run fast’ (little chance) the penultimate ball thudded in to Daws’ pads. Whilst Ashtead appealed in vain for LBW they forgot about the ball and the victory was sealed with Hough thankfully not having to run that fast at all to make it home.
An excellent match, made better by news later in the evening that leaders Wimbledon had lost against Spencer. 7 points now separate four teams at the top – GAME ON!
Captain’s man of the match for the John Lawrence Award was Sam Hunt for his batting and fielding, with Andy Cornick second and Rordon Daws third.