Despite a second successive Charlie Kemp century, Dulwich 3rd XI managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in an improbable ending to their game against Wimbledon 3rd XI on Saturday.
The DSG pitch was an especially green one, and conditions overhead very cloudy, so it was little surprise that Wimbledon skipper Paul Swift chose to bowl first after calling correctly at the toss. After losing Dave Owen in the first over Charlie Kemp and Oliver Steward negotiated some precise bowling on a reasonably tricky pitch before Steward fell in the 13th over with the score on 42. After Zakir Rostami followed quickly after, a period of rebuilding was required as Kemp was joined by Dulwich captain Simon Leather. Wimbledon chose to bowl their third and fourth bowlers straight through the middle innings; some decent leg-spin at one end and accurate mediums at the other. Despite their accuracy, Kemp by now had resolutely played himself in and started knocking the ball around nicely while Leather displayed a multitude of over-my-dead-body forward defensive shots. With the score on 62 however, Leather was undone by the leggie Houlder’s ‘rank long-hop’ variation and nicked behind. He was soon followed on the long hike back to the DSG changing rooms by ‘keeper Simon May, also adjudged caught behind by a questionable umpiring decision.
Dulwich’s teetering innings of 76/5 in the 29th over was magnificently rescued by Kemp, in partnership with the new batsman Abu Arabi. Kemp, pacing his innings with genuine class, reached a very fine 50 off 88 balls and, having seen off the middle over bowlers, the pair were able to take on Wimbledon’s fourth and fifth change bowlers. Arabi gave himself a few sighters before playing with his usual aggressive intent, including sending one beautifully hit six down over the long on boundary. Kemp also began finding the boundary regularly, as the opening bowlers came back on with eight overs remaining, and brought up his second hundred in as many weeks off 136 balls. Such was the consummate ease with which Kemp was now making batting look, it was a surprise when he finally fell for 103 but Arabi continued the flourishing end to the innings, moving himself to 51 not out off of 60 balls. Dulwich went into the tea break satisfied with a very competitive 199/8 off their 50 overs.
After the restart, Rostami and Jeremy Jones opened Dulwich’s bowling and exploited a good line and, generally, a good length. Rostami bowled with considerable effort, particularly after controversially having a both very decent LBW appeal and then a regulation caught-behind decision turned down in his third over, but the break-through did not come until the Wimbledon score had progressed to 40 when Lukens sportingly walked after tickling one through to the keeper.
For 48 overs of the Wimbledon reply, Dulwich were without question on top. David Woods bowled with his usual accuracy, picking up 2-26 from his 10 overs, while Tom Barnard dealt admirably with the drizzly conditions to get through 10 economical overs as well. A steady collection of wickets – including a superb long-distance direct hit run out from Rostami – and a lack of any real urgency from Wimbledon’s batsmen – meant 31 were needed off the final 12 balls with two wickets remaining; Thompson having just reached 50 for the visitors.
Rostami bowled the penultimate over, but went for a boundary off of the first three balls – one edged, one the result of a dire piece of fielding from Steward on the boundary and one a good shot over midwicket from Thompson. Only four more were picked up off of the remaining three balls though, leaving Wimbledon 15 to win from the final over with Thompson on strike.
Prasanna Callaghan was charged with the unenviable task of bowling it, and unfortunately got off to about the worst possible start as his first ball – a no ball – was hit for 2 and then the first legal delivery launched over long off for 6. From being way out of contention, Wimbledon now needed 6 off 5. Callaghan recovered well to drag Dulwich back into it, though, and a run out off the fourth ball left Wimbledon needing 2 off 2. Controversy then again ensued with Callaghan’s fifth ball – a full toss struck the batsman in front of all three but was somehow adjudged to be “going over the top” by the umpire. With the field up to save 1 off the final ball, Thom, the Wimbledon number 11, Chinese-cut the ball past his own stumps and to the fine-leg boundary.
A fairly galling defeat for Dulwich, especially after Kemp and Arabi’s efforts with the bat. This game must be added to the team’s collective memory, alongside the defeat to Ashstead two weeks ago, and used as motivation to ensure we push ourselves over the line in close games for the rest of this season.