DULWICH 86-5 (22) lost to SPENCER 198 (45) on run rate (rain affected)
So in the end the 4th XI Premiers Division title was decided whilst sitting in a changing room, watching the rain fall and a sense of helplessness engulfing the team as we watched it slip away. With almost identical records in the league, maybe the elements were the most applicable way to separate the Dulwich and Spencer teams. Still hurts like hell though.
The day began so well. All players arrived bang on time and we were soon at the Spencer ground with Andrew Inglis leading some well organised training drills – we were a sharp and confident unit. Skipper Dixon then won the toss and with the threat of rain in mind rightly chose to bowl on a green track.
Things couldn’t have started better and within 30 minutes, Spencer were reeling at 17-5. Sunil Isaac had taken a sensational caught and bowled in his first over to remove Billingham. This was swiftly followed by Prasanna dismissing Willis with a regulation catch behind to Peters and Lipscombe caught by Chudley at mid-on.
This wicket brought Sameer Khan to the crease, making his debut for the 4th team. His first act was to run out partner Ali Naqvi, also making his first appearance for the side in 2016. At 17-4, Samad Lone came in, a very unusual position for him given the dominance of the Spencer 3rd team. He didn’t last long though, trapped plum in front for Sunil.
However, from this moment, Khan lead an impressive fight back and dragged Spencer back into the game. With support from the lower order, he dominated each partnership to steadily build a total which at least gave the Spencer bowlers something to work with. His hundred came up in the last over, with extras (25) the next highest total and no other batsman reaching 15.
In truth, the second half of their innings was where Dulwich really missed the pace and aggression of leading wicket taker, David Knightbridge. Ruled out before the game with a bruised ankle, he stood on the side lines with fellow sufferers Darren Casson (broken finger) and Simon Bailey (small child), watching as the Spencer score gradually grew. Bowlers Lester, Swain and Burgass were all solid and economical, but without that partnership breaking ability DK has shown through the season.
Spencer were eventually all out for 198 on the final ball of the innings, with Dan Peters stumping Wasim Malik to give Sunil his fourth wicket. Given the start Dulwich had made, it felt too many, but skipper Dixon was quick to reassure the team this was a very gettable total and one we would have happily accepted at the start of the innings, especially given our depth of batting.
With the welcome sight of a victorious 1st XI arriving to cheer us on after beating Purley in less time than it took to get there, the team were pumped up to knock off the runs.
Fresh from carrying the Spencer side with the bat, cricketing superhero Sameer Kahn was thrown the new ball and opened the bowling as well, quickly dismissing Alex Irvine. Chuds followed soon after, but the ship was steadied by Andrew Inglis and Will Cooper who confidently started to build momentum in the innings.
However, the rain had started to fall and aware that the total needed to be on 88 at the 20 over point, Inglis and Cooper started to up the ante and take a few risks. Spencer responded by getting their spinners Jaffri and Lone on to speed up the over rate. It was a canny move which ultimately won them the game, as the increasingly damp wicket made it harder and harder to get the ball away and the wet outfield slowed potential boundaries.
In their effort to score swiftly both Inglis and Cooper took one chance too many and new bat Dan Peters followed doing the same, all playing shots they would not have done in a typical run chase. The 20 over cut-off passed and at 22 overs and the umpires had no option but to take the players off as the rain pounded down.
After a long wait, and no hiatus in the weather, the game was awarded to Spencer, who were crowned champions. Congratulations to their skipper Hussein Jaffri and the team.
Sitting frustrated in the dressing room it was easy to dwell on the what-ifs of the game and the season as whole – the early season loss to Banstead, important catches that were dropped or the inability to beat Wimbledon last week.
The truth is that this a 4th XI side that has loads of potential and will be stronger and certainly more street-wise for losing this game. The side has featured plenty of players new to Dulwich, but a strong nucleus and a great bond was quickly formed with everybody contributing over the season. The team is a pleasure to be part of and captain and it is so disappointing to end on such a (literally) damp note.
Most importantly we all want to stay in touch over the winter and be ready for next year. An indoor team is being organised and we’ll all be at nets in early 2017. Once the new season starts again, we will be more determined than ever to bring the premiership back to Dulwich.
Finally, big, big thanks to Chris Reardon who umpired in pretty awful conditions and kept order at several moments of high tension. Likewise thanks also to John and Jackie back at DSG for consistently good wickets and great teas. It is genuinely appreciated by all the team.