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Sat 30th July – 4th XI v SinjunGrammarians

DULWICH 237-7 (46.5) winning draw vs SINJUNGRAMMARIANS 200-8 (44)

Scorecard

Ok gang… quick quiz for you. Which of these ludicrous statements are true?

1. Prasanna Callaghan managed to arrive at 12.20pm for an 11.15am meet at the club and the skipper (im)patiently waited in his car for him to arrive.

2. Prasanna Callaghan channelled his inner Jayawardene to smack 10 fours and 4 sixes on his way to 97 not out.

3. Prasanna Callaghan spent the last 10 overs keeping wicket after Darren Casson broke a finger.

Following the old adage that fact is stranger than fiction, I can inform you that all three are true and joking aside, Prasanna’s innings drove the opposition, Sinjungrammarians, wild – reducing them to fighting and trading insults amongst themselves. But more of that later…

Starting the game six points behind leaders Banstead, skipper Matt Dixon took a much changed side to Wandsworth with 4th team debuts for Alex Irvine and James Worley. Arriving a few minutes before the scheduled start of play (due to you-know-who), he promptly lost the toss and was invited to have first go on a hard track that looked like it had a bit of

With no Julian and Zeeshan, Matt and newbie Alex Irvine opened up against the accurate Sinjuns opening pair of Murtaza and Khan. Both dug in and saw the shine off the new ball, running well between the wickets and with Irvine unleashing one gorgeously timed cover drive to see the score to 60 for no wicket. 

However, a bowling change brought about the wicket with evergreen maverick motor-mouth Roy Lawrence getting one through Irvine’s stoic defence. The skip went quickly after with a trademark LBW dismissal playing across the line and Stuart Gardner followed. Lawrence had three and 60-0 had quickly become 72-3 – We were having a classic 4th team wobble with Darren Casson and James Worley together at the wicket.

By this point Sinjuns appeared to have five captains on the pitch and the over rate slowed to a Charlton-esque crawl as each man re-arrange the field after ever ball. Darren then slashed a wide one to gully who clung on to a good catch whilst fully maintaining a full conversation with the slip next to him as he grasped the ball. 

The unlikely 5th wicket partnership of James Worley and Prasanna Callaghan then put on 51 for the next wicket, despite an ongoing verbal battle with bowler Lawrence to take the score to 144. After a nervy start Worley found his confidence but insulted the cricketing gods by changing his bat and they prompt ensure he was dismissed next ball. Rhys came and left in two balls and suddenly the innings was unravelling.

By this time skipper Dixon was umpiring to direct the final few overs from the middle. He instructed Prasanna and new batsman Sunil Isaac to get as close to 200 as possible. In response, the pair went nuclear, blazing 60 off the next 4 overs which prompted to the Sinjun’s captain to start abusing his team in a way that wouldn’t have been politically correct in 1985…

More misery was to follow as Prasanna and Alex Vinen took 36 runs off the last nine (legal) balls to take the score to an impressive 237-8 dec. A mighty effort considering 180 looked likely a few overs previously. A decent tea was enjoyed by all and Matt got the team out as quickly as possible to avoid finishing the game at around 10pm, given the painful over rate.

With a clear message to get stuck in and attack the Sinjuns top order from the outset, opening bowlers Reeve and Isaac proved effective and accurate. Reeve bounding in with plenty of pace and enthusiasm roughed up the batsmen, whilst Sunil exploited the overcast conditions and swung the ball prestigiously. The Sinjuns batsmen struggled and Sunil quickly had three wickets – two caught behind by Prasanna and Darren and their skipper caught by Matt at mid-off. Kieran joined the party bowling Thavam and the innings reeled at 8-4. 

This score brought together batsmen Zaheed Muneer and the obstinate Roy Lawrence who set about repairing the innings. Whilst Muneer looked to play his shots, Lawrence used every part of his body other than his bat. Muneer gave a chance a few overs later, but the Matt couldn’t hold a catch on the run behind the bowler’s head – a drop that proved costly later.

These two batsmen frustrated the Dulwich bowlers, putting on 159 for the 5th wicket. The skipper mixed it up with spinner Alex Vinen, Giles and Prasanna joining the attack but without any break though. Matt turned back to his opening pair and Sunil finally ended Lawrence’s stay at the crease, showing great focus to take a skied catch of his own bowling, whilst being simultaneously rugby tackled by James Worley.

We were back in the hunt – Keiran quickly bowled the new batsmen Khan to get his second wicket and Sunil followed this to claim his first five wicket haul for Dulwich, bowling Ali.

The game then took an unfortunate turn when keeper Darren Casson’s finger was badly broken. With no obviously replacements the skipper looked around the team for a volunteer and of course Prasanna was there with his hand up. Kieran was deployed as backstop and the game continued with Prasanna doing a great job behind the stumps.

Sunil picked up his 6th wicket leaving Dulwich needing 2 wickets from the last three overs. But alas, Muneer reached his century and then kept the strike to see Sinjuns home with a draw, intent on a red inker…

Although frustrated at not winning the game, there were some great performances in a much changed team that was only finalised late on Friday night. Alex Irvine and James Worley both played a part with the bat and Sunil’s 6-41 of 16 overs was a fine exhibition of controlled swing bowling. But the day did belong to Prasanna for batting, catching, bowling, sledging and keeping – it was almost enough for the skip to forgive him for being so bloody late.

News then filtered through that Banstead had lost, pushing DCC to top of the league with 5 games left. A top of the table clash with them is next with Dan Peters leading the side in Matt’s absence. The league is looking like a three horse race with Spencer certainly not out of it and all three teams still to play each other. We approach these games full of confidence and intent on securing the title.

Sat 16th July – 4th XI v Woking & Horsell

DULWICH 63-2 (15.5) beat WOKING & HORSELL 61 (31) by 8 wickets

Scorecard

A day of surprises for Dulwich on Saturday as they chalked up a comfortable win in a light hearted and friendly affair at Woking.

Where to start? Firstly, JD accidentally arrived at the ground at ten past 12 rather than five to 1 which meant there was a real danger of having to find numerous excuses as to why he couldn’t take part in the warm up and fielding drills. While Swainy practiced his newly discovered off-spin and Darren practiced diving full length on the floor, JD gave the wicket the low down and concluded, wrongly as it turned out, that it would play a lot better than it looked. Rigourous warm up completed by the four of us who had arrived by ten to 1, the skipper arrived, promptly won the toss and, correctly as the format requires, stuck the opposition in.

Knighty opened up and first ball, Darren fresh from his keeping warm up, let the ball through his legs for 4. The opening bowlers settled into their usual line and lengths with both Knighty and Prasanna hitting the same area of the pitch (a good length at the end Prasanna was bowling to). Runs were at a premium (although Darren quickly sprinted towards a double figure bye tally, which was highly unfair on him given the fact that he spent most of the time airborne down the leg side).

Zeeshan finally turned up about 45 minutes late (not that anyone had noticed he wasn’t on the field). With the score on 20 after 12 overs - a miracle! - Knighty, who admittedly had been building up an ill-directed head of steam from the top end, induced the opener to have a swing and the ball spiralled gently towards mid-wicket. Normally a regulation catch would ensue, but with all eyes following the trajectory of the ball hearts sunk as we realised the skipper was under it. Fortunately, the nay-sayers were proven wrong as the skipper hauled in the catch in a fashion that would never appear in the MCC coaching manual, and ended with him resembling someone reading the paper sitting on the lav.

Two balls later, Knighty, after the hallelujah moment, that if he pitched it up he might cause some trouble, won an LBW appeal (that WK and slips didn’t appeal for…) and followed it up with another LBW (which we gladly joined in for…). The hat-trick ball, which was decent and on target, was well kept out by the new batsman and Knight had a triple wicket maiden.

Lawrence replaced Prasanna (much to the relief of Darren, who had by this time lost about a stone from throwing himself around so much) and he settled into his usual full and straight methodology (reverse Knighty). Knighty picked up another bowler’s LBW in the next over (again no appeal from those behind the wicket), before Lawrence cleaned up 2 of his own to leave the hosts in big trouble at 40-6, which became 40-7 when Knighty cleaned up the number 3 who was giving himself room as the support from the other end ran out.

There followed a brief respite as the number 9 blocked everything Lawrence threw at him and Knighty tested out the middle of the pitch for no reason other than he’s Knighty. Knighty then won another LBW decision (jury split down the middle on that one, although reward for bowling that fuller length) and then had the number 10 caught at point by Will Burgass having “given himself room” (the batsman not Will). Knighty finally blew a gasket and had to be replaced by Will who cleaned up the opposition skipper off the last ball of his first over to see the home side all out for 62.   

A whole innings without any dropped catches, Knighty bowling full and straight and the skipper bagging one….we were living the dream. Knighty ended up with 7 for 31 off 15 overs and Lawrence 2 for 11 off 9.

After a decent tea with doughnuts (always a winner) Shok wandered off to watch the bowls match going on next door (or was it to get the phone number of the granny playing) whilst JD and Zeesh set about arranging an early trip home. JD got a leading edge in the third over which looped in the air and fell equidistant between mid-off, the bowler and extra cover and promptly got the trademark booming drive over mid-off out next ball to be dropped again. Zeesh, on the other hand did connect with a haymaker that cleared the ropes by some distance but not enough obviously for Prasanna who signalled a four. Cunning plan from Prasanna as it riled Zeesh so much he took 14 off the over which prompted a Red Arrows fly-past, which did seem entirely unnecessary. With 30 off the first 5 overs the game was pretty much won, so the two openers amused themselves by seeing how ridiculous the calling and running could get, the answer being very ridiculous.

The introduction of the home skipper’s decent leg spin (he could have been a handful if we were chasing 150) saw Zeesh conduct his own fly past to be out for 30, which was closely followed by Swainy coming in to occupy the pinch-blockers role. One close LBW shout later, Swainy departed the scene as the third time he touched the ball in the game was to deflect an innocuous delivery into his own stumps. Darren thumped his first ball over square leg to seal the win by 8 wickets.

It was a great performance from the seam department and credit to Woking who, although on the end of a hammering, played with a smile on their face and with good “bants” throughout. The game finishing at 5ish meant that we could head home with the hope that we could barrack the third or fifth team, in traditional 4th team fashion. Sadly, due to Lawrence’s car having a top speed of 37 ½ mph (downhill), we arrived back to discover that the threes had done a similar demolition job on their opposition and the 5s had lost a nail biter themselves. Sadly all that was left was for us to add some “beer fuelled atmosphere” to the proper game going on with the second team.  A decent attendance at the bar that evening and high spirits by all saw your reporter leave at midnight for his normal soujourn home. Being a responsible human being, your reporter had already jettisoned the car at Turney Road and being on something of a fitness drive at the moment / being too tight to order an Uber, set off on the 5 mile walk home. Having rescued the lesser spotted Matten from a ditch and safely escorted him home, your reporter carried on his way to reach his door step at 2 in the morning only to realise his door keys were safely stashed in his cricket bag in the boot of the car in the now locked compound at Turney. So one joyful night’s sleep on the doorstep of the reporters house later and a 5 mile walk back to the club later to be reunited with the door keys, but surprisingly zero hangover, I feel obliged to warn younger readers of the peril of being responsible drink.

The league is the most open ever this year and with Wimbledon and Sinjuns both looking stronger in recent weeks, there is a case for anyone of seven teams being victorious at the end of the season. The 4s are back up to third six points behind top placed Banstead.

Sat 18th June – 4th XI v Reigate Priory

DULWICH 132-5 (40.1) beat REIGATE PRIORY 129 (36.1) by 5 wickets

Scorecard

The 4th XI have found themselves in unfamiliar territory recently, failing to win any of their last three games and languishing in the bottom half of the league table. So the visit of third place Reigate Priory to DSG was for many a must win game. Despite the rainy (or reverse dry) season remaining for most of the week a fairly dry (or reverse wet) pitch and outfield were waiting for the teams. Usual skipper Matt Dixon was away so Simon  'stand by skipper' Bailey was drafted in to lead the side. Things started well for Bailey as he skillfully flipped a 10 pence piece to land heads up (or reverse tails), after Reigate had called tails (or reverse heads).  Bailey made the only sensible decision and elected to field (or reverse bat).

Dulwich took the field to a rousing team talk from Bailey and the clear message – to work as a team and do it his way. Prasanna only just made it out for the first ball, having thought it was a 1.30 start he had to run on at the last second (or reverse on time) wearing what can only be describe as questionable cricket sun glasses! Dulwich's opening attack of Kieran Reeves and (Ashley) Giles Constantine quickly (or reverse slowly) got into their rhythm, bowling an excellent line and length which put the Reigate openers under pressure straight away. Going at barely two an over the pressure finally told as Rob Hawke stayed cool and chose the right end after some suspect calling to run out De Mello for 1. 

Reeves continued to put the pressure on, gathering pace in his first appearance of the season (a reverse regular) and he soon had the second opener caught behind (or reverse dropped) by skipper Bailey for 14. The Reigate number four then strode to the crease and looked like a very useful batsmen playing his first few balls off Reeves with confidence, but after striking a solid boundary over mid-on he then tried to repeat his efforts, only to send the ball skywards and away over point. Ben Trembath chased back after it and pulled off a terrific reverse drop over his shoulder to snag a valuable wicket. Reigate then went about rebuilding their innings and Dulwich began shuffling their many seamers (or reverse spinners). Prasanna, Laurence Taylor and Will Burgass having a chance to build on the great start by Reeves and Gilo. It was Laurence who looked the most menacing and he broke the promising fourth wicket partnership as Guy Woodgate took a sharp reverse drop at gully. Wickets then fell at regular intervals. Laurence grabbed two more, and Will 'variations' Burgass got in on the act, Bailey and Woodgate each took another catch and it looked like Dulwich could restricted Reigate to under a 100 (or reverse over a 100).

Matt Van Staden at number seven for Reigate had other ideas and he came out on the counter attack (or reverse defensive), quickly finding the boundary on several occasions. Burgass had managed to execute a delightful slower bowl (or reverse pace) previously but when he tried a variation to Van Staden it slipped well down the leg side on the full (or reverse short) and was promptly dispatched a considerable distance over fine leg for a huge 6 (or reverse dot ball). Dulwich continued to take wickets at the other end, if not always in a conventional fashion. When Van Staden skied another Burgass slower ball straight up into the stratosphere, Bailey set off after it with the gloves, despite running full tilt (or reverse slow) for what seemed like forever, the ball was clearly swept up in the jet stream of the upper atmosphere and kept travelling away from Bailey. When it finally hit the ground Bailey was no where to be seen (much to the amusement of his team mates), fortunately Stuart Gardner watched the reverse catch closely and was quick to the landed ball and promptly threw to Burgass at the bowlers end to run the Reigate batsmen out attempting a second run! Gilo then returned to pick up his first wicket, before Reeves came back at the other end to dismiss Van Staden caught and bowled for 35. This closed the Reigate innings on 129. Reeves finished with impressive figures of 3-13 off 11.1 and Laurence finished with 3-32 off his 7.

It was as close to a perfect bowling and fielding display as the 4th XI have had for a while. They left the field in good spirits as attention turned to the second half of the game. Bailey delivered the batting line up which for a brief moment, as he looked to his left rather than right, appeared to indicate that Gilo might be opening with Andy Cornick, but it was clearly Guy Woodgate who should have been getting the skippers attention! Tea was enjoyed as usual and when Jackie delivered a plate of hot (or reverse cold) pizza to the table, thoughts of the run chase were put on hold for a few minutes of quiet munching. 

With the eating done Guy and Andy strode out to the middle to set about the job of chasing 130 in just over 50 overs. Reigate's opening bowling settled into a good line and length which provided little for the openers to get after. When they did stray, it was usually to Guy who quickly got bat to ball and did the bulk of the early scoring. Andy was determined to stay with him and look for some form himself but he soon played on for 5. Ben Trembath joined Guy at number three and the pair dug in as the bowling continued to stay tight (or reverse loose). Guy began to hit the ball crisply though and the scoreboard began to tick. Drinks came and went without the loss of another wicket and the score around 75. Soon after drinks Guy hit another boundary to pass 50 and see a much needed return to form for the reliable opener. Guy was finally dismissed with the score on 93 when he edged (or reverse middled) to the keeper for 56. Skipper Bailey then came to the crease, but he couldn't continue his recent good form and also reverse middled the ball to the keeper without scoring. Bailey left the crease very quickly to avoid giving Gilo (who was umpiring) the pleasure of raising his finger (or reverse not raising it) to the skipper. The resentment from Gilo dates back to an incident last season when stand in skipper Bailey correctly declared after Gilo had faced just one ball (albeit a wide – or reverse straight) , in order to give Dulwich more overs to bowl out the opposition.

Rob Hawke replaced Bailey at the wicket and Dulwich still looked set for victory (or reverse defeat) at 98-3 with plenty of overs remaining. Ben was then trapped LBW for a solid 35, before Stuart Gardner fell shortly afterwards for 5, trying one of his trademark blasts (or reverse defensive shots) down the ground. This raised Reigate's confidence and with Dulwich 5 down and still with 20 to win, their were suddenly a few nerves. Dulwich had been here before a few weeks ago when chasing another low total and had capitulated. Lightning wasn't going to strike twice though and Will Burgass joined Rob to patiently guide Dulwich to their target. With 2 to win, and the field up, Rob struck a lofted drive (or reverse forward defensive) down the ground for 4 to bring up a 5 wicket win (or reverse loss) with 10+ overs to spare.. It was a welcomed return to winning ways and credit must go to both sides for playing a good game in superb spirit.

With all the other 4th XI Premier League games succumbing to the weather thanks must go to John Howard and his team at DSG for producing such a good playing surface after a week of poor (reverse good) weather. Dulwich are certainly fortunate to have such facilities at their disposal week in week out. Thanks as always to John Lawrence, not just for his tireless selection work but for scoring all day too. Where would we be without him?

Old Ruts away (or reverse home) next week, and hopefully this will be the start of a winning (or reverse losing) run that sees the 4th XI challenge again for those higher (or reverse lower) places in the table. After a visit to Ken's Fish Bar (don't be too jealous, Julian) the team enjoyed some celebratory drinks in the bar. Well done to all.

Sat 11th June – 4th XI v Spencer

DULWICH 133 (42.5 overs) lost to SPENCER 134-4 (22.2) by 6 wickets

Scorecard

Dulwich 4s lost their third game on the spin on Saturday in a disappointing performance. Things looked ominous on Tuesday night when it appeared that the majority of bowlers in the club seemed to be drawn like a moth to the light to the football and fighting the Russians in France. The skipper with his hands firmly tied selected a team heavy with batting. Sadly, this included the same player twice, who ended up not playing anyway. We were grateful for the fact that he hadn’t written the team on the back of a fag packet as it may have featured a new opening attack of Benson and Hedges.

Copious team changes subsequent to the event meant that the team featured 8 (yes 8!!!!) changes from the previous week. In truth only two actually turned up on the day and credit must go to the Skipper and Simon Bailey for their sterling efforts. Matt must be hard pushed to award the third placed 1 point for the game – although I think I would award it to his dad for turning up to sit through the tosh that we served up and for his pre-match analysis of our performance the week before. He was spot on!

Having been inserted, Julian Dean gave his partner, Guy “Road Runner” Woodgate the benefit of his considerable experience of how to bat on the main square, explaining that the game would be won by adopting an attrittional approach and that getting a score on the board was paramount. Somewhere between that conversation and the end of the fourth over with no runs on the board, Julian forgot his Churchillian speech by slapping the first ball pitched up in the mooooo-zone straight up in the air. Caught Mid-on. 0-1.

Shortly after, Guy was bounced out by a brute of a delivery. The ignominy of being bounced out by our old friend and colleague, Rehan “the Prancing Horse” Malik. 2-2.

Sean “Buster” Keaton looked to be positive. Unfortunately, he too didn’t last long as he was pinned LBW. 4-3 and the opening bowler had the figures of 4-4-0-2.

Enter the skipper to join young Harry Chathli. They both rode their luck early on, picking the gap between keeper and first slip with regularity. The opening bowlers bowled exceptionally tidily and gave nothing away such that we had crept into the 30s in the 18th over. Harry, played one too many unorthodox shots and was comprehensively bowled and Shok went soon after 33-5.

Enter Simon “the Piano Man” Bailey. Until last week’s return to form Simon’ s batting stats since mid-way through last season had resembled a premium rate telephone number 0-8-0-0… Anyhow, a radical rethink of how to go about things has seen a return of confidence for the chunky (or reverse thin as we call it these days) left-handed stodge merchant. With Matt digging in and for once exploring the delights of the off-side, Bails unleashed and middled a couple of trademark short-arm pulls and we were at least off and hobbling…

A rain break with the score on 72 after 25 overs shortened both innings by 5 overs. On return, Spencer introduced spin at both ends. Matt conscious of his reputation for sweeping everything (which he did for the first 5 balls without connecting), unleashed an uncharacteristic cut to the sixth and was promptly caught behind for a well-constructed 30. Stick to the broom Matt. Knighty arrived and took the score beyond 100 with Bails, and a few lusty blows over mid-wicket / cow prompted the return of the quicks. Knighty had a look (for one ball) and then essayed a “metaphorical” mighty haymaker at Rehan and lost his middle stump.  This brought into the fray Stuart Gardner for an entertaining 8 over cameo. If Stuey had connected with only half the shots he offered he would have scored a 20 ball ton and the croquet lawn would have been cratered, but sadly just a couple of lusty blows materialised and a lot of swishing at thin air.

Meanwhile at the other end, Bails accumulated steadily and confidently playing some delightful shots including a back foot glide to the point boundary which seemed to gather pace up the hill. Simon brought up an excellent 50 (or reverse zero as it is called these days) shortly before Stuey was put out of his misery and the innings closed on 133. Respectable really and it was a good save from 4-3. Special mention should go to Rehan who bowled with good pace throughout with the ball occasionally beating his follow-through to the other end. The only bowler I know who could actually field at first slip to himself!

With the need to attack paramount, Dulwich unleashed Knighty to bowl what they hoped was a hostile spell to put the visitors on the back foot. Spencer had given away 5 extras in our innings, a total we had bettered in 1 legitimate ball as Knight generated maximum pace and minimum grouping (or reverse line and length as we call it ). Bails took an outstanding low catch at gully to make a breakthrough, but the score raced along to 50 off 9 overs with the bowling being somewhat erratic (or Knighty not being reverse Knighty). Two quick wickets got us back in the game, but the experienced heads of Spencer’s middle order then took the game by the scruff of the neck and took them home for the loss of 1 further wicket with about 15 overs to spare. The skipper gets another mention for taking a good comedy catch at Mid-Off despite the usual lack of hand-eye co-ordination and at no point looking like catching it! 

The skipper and Simon apart, I think we would all hold our hands up and say we weren’t very good. Hopefully, after two weeks where only 2 or 3 of us have turned up, we will get a grip next week and at least be competitive.

Sat 4th June – 4th XI v Banstead

DULWICH 132 (44) lost to BANSTEAD 146 (41) by 14 runs

Scorecard

The 4th XI stumbled to a “disappointing” defeat (my words, as the skipper’s more prosaic and accurate Anglo-Saxon description is best left in the changing room) at the hands of themselves Banstead on Saturday. As ever “squad rotation” led to five changes from the team that came third at Streatham and Marlborough the week before, although the captain professed to being happy with the team looking good on paper. Sadly, that judgment was badly misplaced as we were apparently playing on grass not vellum!

For the second week running Matt defied probability by persuading the opposition captain to call wrong and duly inserted the opposition. With the teams lined up to start, the skipper finally appeared having done battle with the lock on the changing room door for 15 minutes and took his position at mid-on. Thirty seconds later, the skipper vacated said location to go and look for a match ball, firstly in the back of his old man’s car and latterly back in the changing room before finally the game started.

The opening attack of Swain and Rutherford used their contrasting styles to good effect. Jack “skip to me Lou” Rutherford gently kissing the batting surface on the cheek and extracting movement in the humid air and off the seam and Swainy, charging in from the top end, clubbing the pitch over the head with a baseball bat. It was Jack who made the first break-through, the opener totally unimpressed by Jack’s pace mistimed a sweep which lobbed into first slip’s hands. Then a collector’s item. A genuine LBW that both batsmen and bowlers agreed upon giving Jack a deserved second wicket. This was quickly followed by another LBW that met universal Dulwich approval but sadly not with the man that matters, the umpire, which prompted Jack to be removed from the attack for bowling too well. 

The skipper rang the changes which saw Lawrence Taylor (who looks a little like Andy Bailey’s bigger brother) make his bowling bow for the 4th XI. Lawrence’s first ball drew appreciative purrs from the keeper and slip cordon being fast, full and well directed prompting a repositioning of the cordon a further three yards back. This unusual method of attack (unheard of at 4th team level) brought two quick wickets with middle stump uprooted. Sadly the promised fireworks from the newly acquired IPL style bails turned out to be more like sparklers on a wet bonfire night. At the other end, it was dibble time. The Vicar finally persuading the opening bat to stop using his pads in front of middle stump and use the bat instead lobbing the ball to cover. At 80 for 5, the innings was in the balance. The number seven was given an early life when Lawrence induced an edge that Julian could only parry into his face and then drop the rebound (better just to bowl at the stumps Lawrence!). He then defended extremely well in support of the left-handed number four bat who made a very useful 40 odd whilst hitting the ball adeptly to places you would never dream of putting a fielder and in some cases don’t have a name.

The introduction of Jonny “Pebbles” Stone led to the breakthrough with 120 on the board. Persuading the left hander to give him the charge, he was adeptly stumped by Ben “where’s my jumper” Trembath. Speaking of which, if anyone has seen a well-worn “fisherman’s style” cable knit cricket jumper then please contact Ben who is in mourning. The rest of the innings passed quickly the highlight being Will “Richard Hadlee” Burgass’s perfect run up, him running through his full repertoire of 27 different slower balls and Swainy returning to club a few more seals. The innings ended somewhat farcibly with the opposition skipper being given out caught behind with half of the Dulwich side believing he hit it but opposition skipper, wicket keeper and first slip equally convinced that he didn’t get within 3 feet of the ball.

After the as usual decent Turney kitchen fare, Pebbles and Julian “Bam Bam” Dean opened up proceedings. Dean flirted with the opposition fielders lobbing the ball just out of catching range twice in the first two overs before deciding a bit of long handle was required in taking 20 from the next two overs. With the score on 30, Pebbles got a leading edge which lobbed to mid-wicket to bring in James “Gressingham” Read to the crease. James has looked in fine form all season. The trouble being that he has been getting out first and second ball. Once again he looked in fine fettle and cruised into the 20s with minimum effort with the score ticking into the 70s with 15 overs gone. Taking a liking to the young leg-spinner, James played one glorious lofted straight drive before running past one trying to take the game by the scruff of the neck. Still at 73 for 2 with 34 overs left there should still have been only one winner.

Ben entered the fray hitting his first ball sweetly for 4. However, bereft of his jumper all his magic batting powers deserted him and he departed the scene somewhat meekly in the next over. The skipper didn’t last long too top edging a pull off the opposition’s skipper (or was it a sweep!) and 73 for 1 had become 80 for 4. The opposition bowled a nice tight length and line and extracted just enough movement from the surface to make batting uncomfortable. Swainy dug in and Julian nudged nurdled and moo’ed in his normal style to take the score to 110. Julian survived a strong LBW decision having immaculately middled a forward defensive and being accused of not playing a stroke, before chaos ensued. What happened next is the subject of debate. The authors view is that the ball was to the right of the fielder who had to move a fair distance to it, that Swainy was slow in responding to the call and not backing up properly and that Guy would have got there easily, Swainy’s view of it was @@!!@@@. Nonetheless, 5 down but with less than 40 required. Steve “not a Villa Fan” Walker arrived and went being completely bamboozled by a straight one leaving the Vicar to join Julian. 

Julian somewhat becalmed and not sure whether to stick or twist, picked up the returning opening bowler for a trademark extra cover drive heave over cow corner to bring up his well constructed and attractive 50, the beneficiary of at least four lives, to take the score into the 120s. With the introduction of the sixth bowler and with overs starting to become an issue, it was a time for cool heads and a measured approach - two things for which Julian is renowned. The opposition skipper, 40 overs in, now realising that the off-side field was a waste of good man power, posted a man to deep cow, who Julian promptly found whilst trying to push the ball gently to mid-off for a single smack the ball out of Surrey. The Vicar (whose nickname had somewhat confused Steve earlier) offered up a prayer for salvation. Sadly if he hadn’t been doing this whilst facing he may not have got bowled and we were down to Jack and Will.

Jack has pretensions to being a batsman (much like Gilo!) and with Will who gives the ball a good biff we still had a chance of getting close. Jack played the most immaculate clip off his pads second delivery, making sweet contact and sending the ball sailing towards the mid-wicket boundary. Sadly, the flight of the ball was rudely interrupted by the mid-wicket fielder who didn’t have to move. Enter Lawrence. A couple of ball survived and Will surmised that it was up to him to win the game and do it quickly. A few lusty blows took us to within striking distance but the need to farm the strike proved too much, with Will only able to lob the ball so short mid-off.

A disappointing end to a game that we were always going to win, until we lost and a salutary lesson from the opposition in never giving up, executing your skills to the maximum and building pressure.

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