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Sat 18th June – 3rd XI v Reigate Priory

DULWICH 126-6 (49) losing draw with REIGATE PRIORY 222-9 (51.5)

Scorecard

The 3rd XI juggernaut ground to a halt on Saturday at a rather damp Reigate against a strong side. After six successive victories the team was probably given a reality check of how tough a league the 3rd XI Premier Division is. Three team changes from the selected team did not help, including one of the dreaded Saturday morning changes, but many thanks to those who stepped in and contributed to a hard gained draw.

Although Reigate were not impressed the intention was always to go out to try and win. But sometimes things do not go to plan, the opposition play well and on the day are superior. You have to dig in and avoid defeat, particularly against a team who are likely to challenge at the top. This was a good advert for all matches at this level being 50-over win/lose matches but that is another story for the Surrey Championship to address.

On to the match itself. Skipper Graeme Hough won the toss once again (‘tails never fails!’) and inserted the opposition hoping to exploit the seamer friendly conditions, and hoping for easier, drier batting conditions later in the day. Jeremy Jones opened up and induced an edge first over but this was spilled at second slip. Not a great start but little damage as Jones soon snared the same player caught by John Morris in the gully. At the other end the returning Ian Toppin settled in to a good rhythm and also got his name in the book inducing a caught behind to Dan Peters who donned the gloves. The game then became one of attrition with Reigate digging in and Dulwich containing on a sluggish wicket.

Another university returnee Euan Johnson entered the fray to replace Jones. Having assured the captain that he had bowled well the previous day, let’s be polite and just say he struggled for rhythm and consistency. First ball long hop disappeared in to the adjoining gardens (not the only one – see later), beamer thrown in, followed up by a yorker to uproot the opener’s stumps. Breakthrough achieved but time for a change so the (rather ill feeling) captain entered the fray and Ben Lester replaced Topin who had bowled a tidy 10 over spell. Reigate began to accumulate runs steadily, punishing the bad balls and running well between the wickets. But Hough wheeled away and made steady breakthroughs in the middle order as Morris caught a couple more whilst David Knightbridge replaced Lester. At six wickets down and only 130 on the board a total significantly less than 200 to chase down was on the cards.

However, Reigate’s number 8 – who we researched later had scored 145 off 39 balls in a match last season! – was not the nudger and nurdler type. Captain Hough has suffered at his hands previously and this was no different. Having bowled okay for 12 overs the 13th saw any gardeners or sun bathers (unlikely!) in the adjoining gardens, or maybe Tim Peake returning to earth, take cover as three rather large 6’s were launched. Take a blow, skip! At the other David Knightbridge was bowling with surprising control and the wicket helped his slow bouncer / long hop variation when they inevitably, and more frequently, came. But Reigate had shifted up the gears and the tail wagged aggressively. Jones returned to grab another wicket, as did Knighty but a big 52nd over meant Reigate could declare on a challenging 222 for 9.

Hough claimed three wickets and Jones a couple. Slanderous claims were made after tea that the captain had attempted to doctor his own bowling figures as he accidentally misread the runs conceded column and put 39 down instead of 49 which he, of course, denied claiming faulty vision after having had to locate balls launched high in to the orbit.

Out strode James Chudley and Julian Dean to open after tea with 49 overs to bat. From the off it was clear that it was going to be a challenge as Reigate’s openers gave little away. Chudley soon went and Chris Stone joined Dean. They dug in but run scoring opportunities were few and far between. The run rate was snail paced but the scored edged to 50 off 25 overs and with, only one wicket down, thoughts of victory were still there. After drinks, Reigate’s spinners offered more scoring opportunities than their miserly openers and the score surged to 91 for 1 off the next 5 or 6 overs. Stone passed 50 but the turning point came when, in the push for quicker runs, four wickets fell for next to nothing. 91 for 1 became 94 for 5 and signalled the end to the slimmest of slim chances of a win that had existed. Dean had battled hard for his 31 alongside Stone – both deserve credit for having to deal with an opening attack a cut above anything else they had faced this season.

The last 15 overs or so became a game of attritional cat and mouse. Reigate’s bowlers continued to threaten but Dulwich’s middle order held firm. Dan Peters led the way, supported by Ben Lester and Jeremy Jones to see the game out for a draw. Not ideal, not the way Dulwich wish to play their cricket, but sometimes you just have to do these things. Late team changes, a bit of an off day, lack of cricket for some of the players, opposition playing well, etc, all contrived to produce a less than ideal game of cricket. Whilst fully accepting their frustration, some of Reigate’s barbed comments at the end were a bit uncalled for – for sure they will have done the same in the past to opposition.

The team makes a welcome return to home turf for a couple of weeks after three successive away matches. Wimbledon just edged to the top of the table after Saturday but DCC will be determined to get back on track and back to winning ways.

Sat 11th June – 3rd XI v Spencer

DULWICH 103-8 (42.5 overs) beat SPENCER 102 (43) by 2 wickets

Scorecard

The 3rd XI’s winning start to the season continued with a close, tense victory away at Spencer.  Having seen off the last week’s second placed team, this was yet another top two clash.  The once again much changed team assembled on time, with the exception of James Read who needed additional time to prepare his hair but arrived, well coiffured, soon after the start.  The ‘tails never fails’ thinkers have been proven right by skipper Graeme Hough winning his fifth toss out of five and proceeding to insert Spencer to bat first.  With the weather set fair at the start but rain forecast for later early in roads were required.  Was the captain’s risky selection of just two seamers and three spinners to be proved folly?

Jeremy Jones and Chris Hope opened up with the Lords-type slope providing assistance to both.  Despite a couple of early, whipped boundaries from Spencer’s opener the breakthroughs came thick and fast.  Jones cleaned up said whippy opener trying one too many extravagant flicks through square leg, and Nick Hudson snaffled a blinder at second slip off Hope.  This was soon followed by two regulation edges through to Andy Bailey off Jones.  Ex-DCC player Shaq Farooqi entered the fray at number 6 but Jones and Hope continued to grind out the overs, keeping a lid on the run rate at less than two an over through the first 20 overs.

With the skies darkening the inevitable rain fell – nothing much but steady enough to take the players off.  A timely half hour or so rest for the two seamers was welcome, as the rain threatened to render the captain’s reliance on spin a bit of a calamity.  But the skies cleared, the sun came out and, after a period of stalemate where the batsmen dug in and wickets proved elusive, the skipper turned to himself to start the Plan B spin attack.  He quickly settled and took the 5th wicket.  Leg spinner Dan Peters entered the fray also to replace Hope who had begun whinging, in true Yorkshire softie style, of a sore side.  Bristling with natural anger and aggression, Peters settled in to a good rhythm and rendered law 42.6 a distant memory.  Hough meanwhile captured a further two wickets as, in true Lancashire style, he defied medical opinion, a catalogue of injuries, old age, etc, to show the (much) younger DCC upstarts to just get on with it.

With 7 wickets down Hough turned to fellow Lancastrian Ben Lester (though he is from Blackpool which most decent Lancastrians disassociate themselves from) to replace Peters who had bowled without much luck.  Lester proceeded to bowl no better than Peters but seems to have a ‘magic arm’ and cleaned up the tail capturing three quick wickets and even, somehow, managed a collector’s item (for him) maiden over.  A good bowling performance resulted in Spencer all out for 102 – Jones, Hough and Lester all with three wickets.  This could have been slightly less without the higher than average number of dropped catches.  Special mention for one of these ‘drops’ to James Read who fielded brilliantly all day and almost held on to what would have been a stupendous catch at deep square.  – no one else would have got near it let alone almost catch it.  But this was off skipper Hough so Mr Read unfortunately still enters his rather full book of players who have dropped catches off his bowling!

After a decent tea, Hudson and Morris strode out confidently.  Facing tight early Spencer bowling they started without alarm until Hudson flat batted a pull shot straight down the wicket, bowler’s boot stuck out, Morris out of his ground, run out complete.  Unfortunate, but as Geoffrey would say, ‘that’s cricket’.   As Chris Stone, Andrew Inglis and James Read came and went in quick succession nerves began to fray.  But Hudson was looking solid and Bailey joined him to edge a partnership along.  More alarm when Hudson miscued for a well-crafted 37 and, with half the side out and little more than halfway to the total, the match was in the balance.  Peters joined Bailey, the latter a pocket battleship of focus, concentration, nudging and nurdling and the former rendering batting text books worthless.  But it was effective and the winning line was in sight – surely nothing could go wrong?  But this is Dulwich after all.

Bailey skied one to deep square (one six a season is really your limit), Jones ran himself out and Peters went for a big one… and missed.  With 8 wickets down, six to win, a rather nervous captain padded up, which way would it go?  Lester and Hope survived a couple of vociferous LBW shouts and saw things home, however.  A win is a win, 6 out of 6, but closer than it should have been.  The author refuses to name and shame but the list of unnecessary dismissals was rather long – lessons learnt it is hoped.

On to the final leg of the mini road trip sees the team take on Reigate next week.  Always a tough fixture but the team will travel with confidence hopefully to what has been, over the years, a less than happy hunting ground for Dulwich.

Sat 4th June – 3rd XI v Malden Wanderers

DULWICH 207-4 (40.1) beat MALDEN WANDERERS 206 (52.3) by 6 wickets

Scorecard

The 3rd XI’s unbeaten start to the season continued with a comprehensive victory away at Malden Wanderers who were in second place at the start of the game. The team gathered in timely fashion, except for Messrs. Peters and Morris who once again showed poor cross-London navigational skills. Overnight stays will be booked for the lengthier trips to Reigate and Ashtead.

With captain Graeme Hough in particular still bearing the scars of the heavy defeat and his own bowling statistics from last year’s fixture (not helped by constant reminders from keeper Andy Bailey!) the bowlers eyed the incredibly short boundaries with trepidation, whilst the batsmen were licking their lips. The pitch was damp after the midweek rain but looked good, and the first part of the game plan went well with DCC’s skipper winning the toss and inserting the opposition.

Jeremy Jones and David Knightbridge opened up and quickly found a good rhythm. Knighty struck early when one of the four keepers in the team, Andrew Inglis, took a blinding catch at second slip without gloves on. After this, patience was in order as Malden’s batsmen settled in, with their captain showing a particular liking for the pull shot which DCC’s opening bowlers began to increasingly feed. Sam Hunt replaced Knightbridge and bowled a jaffa first up to take the second wicket, followed by what felt like five full tosses! Sunil Isaac replaced Jones with the captain very nervous about introducing spin with batsmen set. Malden’s opener was proving obdurate and their number four showed an interesting technique but could hit the ball. With the score now over 100 with just two wickets down time for some F&G.

Captain Hough replaced Isaac and stuffed keeper Bailey first ball down the leg side for four byes – that will teach him! – but he quickly settled in to a rhythm and took the 3rd wicket bowling Malden’s captain. Dan Peters had entered the fray by this time with his full toss count and ratio well down on last week, but he still tested law 42.6 every now and again. Yes, reference to law 42.6 is getting boring now but people should read and understand it and, even better, stop bowling high full tosses !! Comedy moment of the day was a full toss no ball from Peters, catch at long on, batsmen sets off for a run, run out completed. All part of a Peters’ cunning plan!

145 for 3 quickly became 178 for 9 as Hough and Peters turned the screw aided and abetted by an excellent fielding performance (which does not get written often!). An annoying last wicket partnership took Malden’s score to 206 all out – Hough four wickets and Peters with two.

After tea, John Morris and James Chudley strode out with 48 overs to chase down the total. Some tight early bowling saw just 7 runs off the first 6 overs. With a good pitch and small boundaries no need to panic you would have thought, though the captain needs little invitation so was beginning to. He really should have more faith as Morris and Chudley began to unleash the ball to all parts – Chudley strong off his legs, Morris on the pull shot. But shot of the day was a booming 6 from Morris over long off from their young quickie who, it turned out after, had begun to rile Mr Morris – not a wise move.

The partnership moved to 100 before Chudley was dismissed for a valuable 37 – he must have been getting a bit tired the poor soul! Morris continued plundering boundaries and was joined by Sam Tennant who quickly got in to his stride and played some pleasing shots before he was out for 33 with the score on 159. Not over and still plenty of time for a ‘Dulwich wobble’. Although Inglis came and went and Morris eventually departed for an excellent 76 – a previously thought of impossible run 3 on such a small ground maybe tipped him over the edge – Hunt and Bailey saw Dulwich home with 8 overs to spare.

Whilst the team downed a well-earned post match drink, Malden thanked umpire Chris Reardon by inviting him to down three shots which he did with consummate ease – legend!

Five out of five wins, top of the league so the excellent start continues. No time for let up, however, as testing fixtures at Spencer and Reigate loom. Standards, confidence and team spirit are high with the strength in depth of the Club clearly evident giving genuine competition for places. What is most pleasing to see is that valuable contributions to victories are coming from different players and there is less reliance on a handful of key players with bat or ball.

Sat 28th May – 3rd XI v Ashtead

DULWICH 252 beat ASHTEAD 133 (34) by 119 runs

Scorecard

After an unbeaten start to the season the 3rd XI entertained newly promoted Ashtead at the Dulwich Sports Ground on Saturday. The nature of the 3rd team meant a much changed team once again but the team was confident. Arriving with rain falling dampened this slightly as captain Graeme Hough fretted that his week-long plan of batting first if winning the toss could be scuppered. But the rain soon went and plans were back on track. In any case Ashtead won the toss and inserted Dulwich.

Andy Cornick and James ‘I am not a bowler’ Chudley strode to the wicket. Both started confidently until Cornick mistimed a pull shot to square leg. Strange, as said player then proceeded to tell everyone for the rest of the innings how he has never been able to play the pull or hook shot… as if we needed telling! Anyhow, out strode Henry Hazlewood for his first innings for Dulwich to join Chudley. These two proceeded to settle in but scored freely at five an over in a partnership of 123 for the second wicket. Hazlewood in particular unleashed some beautiful square cuts and pulls amongst many other good shots, whilst Chuds also punished anything wayward. The introduction of Ashtead’s young spinners put a bit of a brake on things as loose deliveries became rarer, particularly from their young left arm spinner who bowled an excellent spell.

Stamina and self-confidence are not things that come to Chuds naturally and so he eventually succumbed for a valuable 39. At 132 for 2 and with plenty of overs remaining things were well set. Will Cooper (11) entertained briefly and Hazlewood eventually departed for an excellent 93 with the score on 188. An impressive first innings indeed. DCC’s skipper, whilst pleased is also a Northerner and was quick to look for the negatives, so rued the fact that this may be Hazlewood’s one and only game in the 3rd XI as he is definitely destined for higher teams for the rest of the season. (Note to all of Henry’s team mates – he really does need a nickname!)

Andy Bailey entered the fray and lauded the fact that his strike rate was the best in the team as he scored 23 off 21 balls to keep the momentum going whilst Sam Hunt settled in to some crab-like batting but showed promise on his debut scoring 18. The run rate continued at close to 5 an over although wickets fell quickly towards the end. Dan Peters (18no off 21) kept thingstogether, Prasanna unleashed a corker of a cover drive for 4 first ball (but then reverted to type), and the captain forgot his age and attempted a quick single unsuccessfully. The innings came to a close off the penultimate ball – 252 all out.

On a good wicket and quick outfield there was no room for complacency as Jez Jones and Sam Hunt opened the bowling. Jones quickly settled in to his usual rhythm whilst Hunt showedboth promise and rustiness, though the fact he is a wicket keeper should be noted. The captain’s mid innings urgings for focus, concentration, energy and sharpness in the field quickly became a case of ‘do as I say, not as I do’ as he proceeded to let one through his legs for 4 early on! As the captain desperately searched for bobbles on the ground, he sought solace in the fact that, as captain, he would not have to face his own wrath as others would have done!

Jones made the first breakthrough at 34 and this quickly became 53 for 3 following a Callaghan wicket and a run out by Cornick. Dulwich were now in the ascendancy. After an excellent first spell of seven overs from Jones, Dan Peters entered the fray and proceeded to run through his full repertoire – low full tosses, knee high ones, waist high and chest high ones all interspersed by some balls of promise. Anyway, it does not say ‘rank full toss’ in the book and he snared a couple of victims, whilst encouraging more chat about law 42.6.

By this time Sunil Isaac had replaced the hamstrung Callaghan and settled in to an impressive spell of nagging, medium pace swing and seam and was rewarded with a (rather generously described) ‘tumbling’ caught and bowled, a couple of catches behind and a smart low slip catch from the captain to reap 4-37 off his 10 overs – an impressive 3rd XI league debut. With Peters having bowled more full tosses in one six over spell than captain Hough had bowled in his whole 35-year career of bowling spin he was duly replaced to restore some semblance of order as Hough, along with Isaac, brought things to a swift conclusion – Ashtead 133 all out off 34 overs.

So the impressive start to the season continues with four wins out of four. No room for complacency but signs are positive with the many team changes having little impact on overall performance or results showing strength in depth and genuine competition for places. The team begins its three match road trip next week starting at 2nd placed Malden Wanderers – one game at a time andall such clichés

Sat 21st May – 3rd XI v Old Rutlishians

DULWICH 144-1 (29.3) beat OLD RUTLISHIANS 140 (46.1) by 9 wickets

Scorecard

Skipper Hough won the toss and, with one eye on the weather, elected to field first on a wicket that looked like it would offer a bit with the new ball. Jones opened up from the 'pavilion' end, and Swain from the tennis court end. Swain, fresh from not bowling for a couple of years, fired down a couple of half pace Harmison-esque deliveries towards 2nd slip in his first over before settling down into an excellent rhythm to tie the two young Old Ruts openers down. Jones struck first with the wicket of the day, a good length away-swinger pinging back the top of off-stick, to reduce the hosts for 16-1. This quickly became 33-2 as the number three chipped Jones (2-25 from 9) to Hollows at mid-off; the Doggies were on top. Hollows was introduced to the attack, bamboozling the number four with a leggy, followed by a toppy that would have had Boycott purring as it kissed the top of off.

Enter the main man to the stage, who quickly decided the best way to deal with the spinning ball was to try and break the hand of the man who bowled it. He hammered a full ball back at the bowler who could only deflect it, and what was left of his fingers, for 4 through wide mid-on – still a drop's a drop and his no show in the bar later means a double fine is due next week. Whilst this chap was in, there was never a dull moment with some good shots interspersed with a few ugly heaves and some interesting calling. Swain (1-32 from 9) at the other end deservedly got into the wickets column with a loopy caught and bowled (that actually carried – see below). Old Ruts recovered to 78-4 before the big fella tried to clear Peters at long off, who gleefully accepted the flat catch, the ball before drinks.

Callaghan replaced Swain and quickly settled into a rhythm in tandem with evergreen skipper Hough as Dulwich applied the squeeze. Callaghan (1-18 from 8) pushed one through a little quicker that surprised the solid looking number six as he top-edged into his lid with Bailey running round to take what many witnesses believe was the best catch they have ever seen (based on a survey of one). Hough had the opposing skipper caught by the diving Tulsiani (genuinely!) – the first of three catches for big fella - at cover before pinning the next man LBW. Promising young leggie Daniel 'I would never dare drop a catch off my own bowling' Peters was introduced into the attack and gave nothing away (0-6 from 4). He thought he had grabbed his first Dulwich league wicket via a cheeky caught & bowled, only to find out the one-hand one bounce rule doesn't apply in the Surrey Championship. Thankfully a regulation nick (top edged heave via the keepers grille) to slip gave Hough (3-22 from 9) his third wicket and an early tea looked on the cards. However the young numbers nine and 11 showed great application in a last wicket stand of 20, before a returning Hollows (3-37 from 7) had ended the innings for 140, via another catch to Tulsiani, this time at mid-wicket.

After a pretty good tea in the rain, and a "heads on" pep talk from the skipper, the experienced Dulwich campaigners Tulsiani and Cornick strode out to bat. After a couple of early half chances the two settled down, punishing the bad balls and progressing the score at a healthy rate with a number of quick singles to the men in the ring big biffs to the boundary. Meanwhile on the edge of the field Swain, obviously pleased with his earlier bowling performance, went to lengths to explain how he pinned Headingley hero Jonny Bairstow lbw when he was about ten with some raw pace. Thankfully a large Tulsiani six over long on ended the conversation/fairytale early, and Jones ensured the new cherry was wet through by throwing it over the fielders head into the long grass. Further errant village throws from Peters and Morris only further embarrassed the skipper, who retired to chain smoke under the cover of the changing hut roof.

Peters handed over scoring duties to Jones, who was so perplexed by having to add balls faced by the batsmen that we only got round to cheering Raj's 50 when he was on 55. Stingray by this point was pulling his hair out as Cornick, often at the non-strikers end with Tulsiani very adept at counting to six, talked his ear off all innings. When Cornick departed, clipping the young Old Ruts seamer to square leg for a well made 39 off 59 balls, his delight at the peace and quiet mirrored Morris' annoyance at having to bat with only 6 to win. With new pup Henry Hazlewood scrabbling around for his pads Morris finished the game off quickly with a boundary. Tulsiani (90* off 109) was clearly the stand out performance of the day as he deservedly left the field to a standing ovation.

Another good win for the 3s, who host newly promoted Ashtead next Saturday in a confident mood.

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