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Sat 2nd September – Dulwich D!ckheads vs Pillockshire Pilgrims

D!CKHEADS 158-4 (40) lost to PILGRIMS 149-9 by one wicket

It is the custom these days to give Cricket teams nicknames. It is not enough to call Warwickshire, "Warwickshire" anymore. They have to be called the Birmingham Bears, Nottinghamshire are now known as the Outlaws. Presumably, Sussex will become known as the Inlaws owing to the fact that Max Miller, who came from Brighton, told a great number of jokes about his mother-in-law: "when she comes round our house, I cut the tail off the dog. I don't want no sign of welcome. She went for a swim in Loch Ness, the monster got out and picketed the lake …"and so on ad nauseam.
So I have decided to call today's game a battle between the Dulwich Dickheads and the Pillockshire Pilgrims. Or Dickheads v Pillocks for short. The selection of the teams itself was a dubious process conducted in smoke filled rooms from which the 2 captains Rutherford and Brown, emerged whitefaced and withdrawn. A pairing system was apparently in operation., where two players deemed to be of equal abilities (I am not sure who did the deeming) were placed as a pair and each captain was invited to choose one of the pair. An agonising choice I am sure.

And so to the match played on a sun kissed day where the cotton wool cumulonimbus clouds wandered across the sky as if they were all bit part players in a Poem written by Wordsworth.

In the late 1950's and early 60's the Dulwich 1st XI boasted a Cambridge blue, who also played for Lancashire and opened the bowling for the Gents v the Players (he also managed to design the Dulwich pavilion in his spare time),  a South African who played in 3 tests in the 1960 tour of England, a man who scored 79 not out for the Club Cricket Conference against the West Indies team of 1963 and a man who played for Kent whenever Colin Cowdrey was playing for England. None of these players was named Peter Rice, but, nevertheless, he was the first choice opening bat in this glittering array of talent. In 2017 he is not mixing with quite such illustrious co. But he was still opening the batting. Chivvying his way to 34 in his last ever game ably supported by Blench who one would like to describe as something of a renaissance man: A bass guitarist of some skill, a property tycoon and and a househusband. The meat and two veg of the innings was, however, the innings played by Rhys Williams who swashbuckled his way to 69 not out. A batsman who takes no prisoners. Simon Moore essayed some classic off drives at the end of innings and the Dickheads amassed 158 for 4 off their 40 overs.

One should also mention Farhad Ahmed's opening spell of 6 overs 6 maidens 1 wicket for 0 runs. It must be said that several of these overs were bowled against the septuagenarian Gibson. A player who, on occasion, has been known to "dig in" in a rather unnecessary fashion in a 40 over match.

During this innings Gibson found himself having an interesting if not enlightening conversation with the wicket keeper Kira Chathli, when her father, Harry, came on to bowl.

"What does your Dad bowl, Kira?"
"You know what, I haven't the first idea".

Sadly, Forhad Ahmed's analysis was vandalised in his second spell when he went for 14 in 2 overs. As Shakespeare once said : "O World thy slippery turns." Scholars are divided on whether he was talking about Stratford on Avon's off spinner of 1564, but your correspondent thinks it is highly likely. 

The Pillocks innings was an altogether more pedestrian affair. David Begg was treated with perhaps unreasonable respect by both Father and daughter of the Chathli family and Griffiths the solicitor played an innings which the scorebook eloquently described as ………2……………2……..1……. OUT

Only Rutherford with a commendable 63 was able to extract himself from the vice like grip of the Dickheads parsimonious attack. Grimsey managed to bowl an over full of event and Gibson produced a ball of such devastating originality that it succeeded in dismissing Matt Craig on the second bounce. The Pillocks held on to to 149 for 9 but one felt the result was never really in doubt. A great day out for all, and one I hope Peter will remember with fondness as his last game of cricket in a career which began in the halcyon days of 1958.

Sat 10th Sep – 7th XI v The Mascarenhas Mangalisers

DULWICH 166-4 (30) beat THE MASCARENHAS MANGALISERS 163-? (30) by 3 runs

Many years ago, round about the time the vast single land mass Pangaea decided to split into into 5 separate continents, my Father was captain of the Dulwich Saturday 3rd XI. One day he came home from Cricket glowing with reports of a new leg spin and Google bowler who had joined his team. My Dad, unlike some of the current captains of DCC, no names no pack drill, but watch my eyes.,was a great believer of the efficacy of spin bowling. He was, of course, one himself. But this new addition had got him really excited.

"They can't read him from the hand: he mixes it up."

The only problem with this new wizard of spin was that when he was selected, he would frequently turn up with a small boy, wearing grey flannel shorts and long grey socks up to his knees with those little green tabs, that used to hang down to indicate you were in the junior section of the Boy Scouts (better known as the Cubs.) This small boy would always be carrying a small cricket bat and some small stumps, He would then plant the stumps in front of the pavilion and pick up his bat and demand that people bowl to him.

So, before I start this match report, I would like to ask Jeff Mascarenhas whether he still has the bat, the stumps and the garters with the green tabs? 

Some time later, when Cornwall had finally seperated from Brazil, I continued the family tradition, by finding myself the captain of the Dulwich 3rd XI and who should find himself Vice Captain? I would like to say that a great rapport was developed between Captain and Vice Captain: I would like to say that but relations did get a little strained when Jeff, having scored 3 successive 50's for the third eleven, still found himself selected for Jim Gibson's bunch of unlikely cricketers.

In those days, cricket matches were won at selection committee meetings, and not necessarily on the field of play. Under the Cabinet minutes 30 year rule, I can now confess to a policy of consistently rubbishing my team to the second eleven captain, (although we were top of our league) and, for some reason the second eleven suffered from dyslexia when it came to reading the third eleven scorebook. And there was Jeff (who was also the captain of Sunday 1st team at the time) having the temerity to suggest he should perhaps be promoted! 

And so, at last, we come to today's game: Dulwich 7th's versus Old Wilsonians Select XI. 

Who are the Dulwich 7th XI?

There is the myth and the reality.

The myth is that the Dulwich 7th XI is a bunch of ageing, overweight farts who once played together (Again roundabout the time Africa became a separate identity) who every Whitsun prevail upon their wives to let them go to Somerset  so they can each consume at least 6 pints of an unlikely sounding beverage called Timothy Taylor's Landlord 3 nights running in the same pub, in the same town, and then get up in the morning and attempt to play Cricket against the local populace. 

BUT that is the MYTH!

The reality is that the Dulwich 7th XI is a collection of highly tuned athletes who have, for reasons, more than often not, beyond their control, come tantalisingly close to victory on numerous occasions on these Somerset tours only to be denied by the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

So to compensate they arrange one final fixture each year on the last day of the season at home. As the big day approached these highly tuned athletes, one by one, made themselves unavailable for a variety of pathetic excuses. One of the team even claimed to have had a triple by pass operation and was therefore unable to play! Only Gibson, Griffiths and Peters made it to the final squad from the original squad. New recruits Brown and Balch were drafted in together with some flotsam and jetsam from the lower echelons of DCC.

The game started in the sort of drizzle that has a nasty habit of inserting itself into every orifice and crevice of the human body. Dulwich's opening pair strode to the wicket with resolution. 30 overs a side leaves little time for what is known in cricketing parlance as "fannying around". However, that is precisely what this opening pair proceeded to do. After 5 overs only 13 runs had been scored. The natives began to get restless and in the sixth over Tucker was caught at mid wicket. Gibson was joined by Irvine and the pair began to move through the gears. Both batsmen played crisp and well timed drives off both back foot and front. Gibson eventually succumbed to Pomering's deviously flighted full tosses on 22 and was replaced by Balch. 

Irvine and Balch purred along in the middle of the innings scoring 80 runs in 10 overs before Irvine was bowled for 54. The scene was set for the swashbuckling stroke maker solicitor Griffiths to dispatch the Old Wilsonians attack to all points of the SE21 postcode. The residents of Turney Road were seen putting up window protection as the Axe Murderer took guard. On only his second ball however, Griffiths rather tamely lofted the ball to cover. Dan Peters and Balch continued and the innings closed on a respectable 166 for 4 off 30 overs. Balch 72 not out.

Old Wilsonians started their reply in as low a gear as Dulwich but the uncompromising biffing and bashing of antipodean wicketkeeper James and brief cameos by Mascarenhas, Pilgrim and Forbes saw them edging towards the promised land. James was finally bowled by Scott-Coombes for 78. As Old Wilsonians got nearer to Dulwich's total it became obvious to all that what was needed, was an experienced off spin bowler with a cool head. Captain Brown threw the ball to Balch, who promptly had Pilgrim stumped. But Dulwich had not reckoned with the batting of Forbes and Murnane who pushed on to the final over needing 12 for victory. Warriss stood ready to deliver the coup de grace. On the third ball a high swirling catch was lofted to the half blind, half deaf Gibson, who had been parked out of harm's way at deep mid on. The crowd held its collective breath. Surely the useless old git could catch this one? Alas it trickled through his fingers and Old Wilsonians edged further towards victory. Happily it was not to be – Warris kept a cool head, bowling the final over and the OW's finished 3 runs short.

After the game, many of the participants repaired to the Tandoori Nights Restaurant in Lordship Lane. 

The President attended the match and it was good to see him clearly recovering from his recent medical ordeal.

Sadly, the ineptitude of Middlesbrough FC have done him no favours in aiding his recovery as they suffered a home defeat to the increasingly impressive Crystal Palace. The score was 2-1.

Sat 4th June – 7th XI v Bank of England

DULWICH 175-7 drew with BANK OF ENGLAND 207-0 dec

Pitch 3 at the sumptuous Bank of England facility in Roehampton, is found in front of a substantial four square office block, built in 1903, and resembling nothing more than Louis XIV's Palace in Versailles: the ultimate symbol of aristocratic decadence and extravagance. A monument to despotism. The Bank of England's sober but, I suspect, unwitting imitation clearly has a different purpose. It is there to remind the Bank's employees of the institution's permanence. The phrase "too big to fail" oozes out of every brick. At the top of this building, in the centre, is a large ornate clock with gold leaf Roman numerals. When the big hand was on 9 and the little hand was on 6, the first wicket finally fell in this curious game: Dulwich's charismatic talisman – the hapless Gibson bowled off his pads for the second time this season. But let us not linger for too long over Gibson's dismissal, no matter how fascinating the reader may find the gruesome details. 

The entire game was played in a strange time warped 1960's sort of way. Limited overs were jettisoned in favour of an old fashioned concept which involved one team batting first and then stopping (declaring, in this case) to give themselves time to bowl the opposition out for less runs than they had scored themselves. Many readers may struggle to recall this type of Cricket, but, believe it or not, it is still played in a few more enlightened parts of the country, such as the Test Grounds.

Smith won the toss and "inserted" the opposition. Dulwich's problems began to appear very early in the Bank's innings. Not for the first time this season, that prolific run scorer: Extras was making his presence felt in the shape off 33 wides, 2 leg byes, 22 byes and 1 no ball, making a total of 58 extras. In addition S Hussain (102 *) wasted no time in setting about the wayward and profligate Dulwich bowling. Hussain even succeeded in placing the ball through one of the windows of the Versailles palace with a mighty 6. The ball was seen nestling on the sunlit desk of an employee of the Bank and presumably will be collected on Monday morning. Hussain was ably supported by Peter Andrews, who nudged and nurdled his way to 47*. 

In the 32nd over, as Hussain reached his hundred the Bank's captain decided enough was enough and both teams repaired to the Bank's excellently appointed pavilion to eat tuna and cucumber sandwiches. Like all other banks, the Bank of England does not exhibit any signs of contrition or humility for the misery the financial industry has inflicted on the rest of humanity. Rather, it is business as usual (with the notable exception of Lehman Brothers). Should Mark Carney himself read this epistle, he will, no doubt, explain in incomprehensible multi syllabic words how the Bank of England itself was not responsible for the 2008 debacle and was, indeed, actively engaged in propping things up. The silk tongued mandarins of Threadneedle Street have mastered the art of self-justification with consummate ease. 

Somewhere, in the darker recesses of my mind I can hear the reader asking what all this has to do with Dulwich 7th XI's titanic battle with the Bank's 3rd XI. To which I can only reply: no man is an island. The world is full of uneasy contradictions which cannot be simply ignored for the sake of a Match Report. 

However, for the sake of brevity, (a word which I freely admit is not always attributed to these reports) I will return to the post-tea "action". Skipper Smith decided to gamble on the recklessness of youth with his opening pair of Gibson (first match for DCC 1963) and Rice (1958). Through judicious shot selection and careful running between the wickets, the pair were able to see the opening bowlers off and hoist 47 runs on the board in their quest of overhauling the Bank's formidable, but not unattainable, total of 207. As described above Gibson departed for a modest 13 but Rice, ably supported by Rochford, arrived at a carefully crafted 58 which included a number of fine onside lofted boundaries. With the exception of a swashbuckling innings of clean hitting by Warriss, the rest of the Dulwich batting was relatively prosaic and the game did not really catch alight as Dulwich completed their final and 51st over on 175 for 7. So that old fashioned result of a tame draw was how the game ended up. In this era of ersatz entertainment and instant manufactured excitement, perhaps it is as well that we occasionally remind ourselves that this wonderful, fragile but always intriguing game called cricket cannot always produce a "down to the wire" finish. To coin a relatively new but already well worn phrase: It is what it is.

Fri 24th May – 7th XI v Full Monty


E. W. Swanton and Neville Cardus are rightly regarded as the doyennes of Cricket penmanship. Both are renowned for their sagacity and erudition but even they would have struggled to find the right adjectives to describe the bowling of Talisman Gibson in tonight’s pipe-opener of the Dulwich 7th’s tour of Somerset, Wiltshire and Dorset. (All 3 counties are mentioned as Gibson’s bowling was dispatched to each one of these shires, during the course of the tour).

The game was played in the sylvan delights of the Bruton School Ground, complete with doleful church bell and surrounding graveyard: the symbolism of which, was not lost on the hapless Gibson as the ebullient, pugnacious and agricultural Bundy (Full Monty’s opening bat) duly filled not only his boots, but also his coal scuttle and a conveniently placed Cement Mixer on the long on boundary. Gibson’s 2 over analysis make interesting reading: 64441.  .416.6. Modesty prevents your correspondent going into any detail in describing the 4 “dot” balls bowled, all cunningly flighted, viciously spinning off-breaks, apart from one which bounced twice. After 2 overs Gibson was, unsurprisingly, removed from the attack. Bundy, however, continued on his merry way. Normally, when writing these reports your correspondent looks for a literary leitmotif to describe excellent individual performances. The only apposite metaphor in these circumstances would be that of Ming the Merciless from the Flash Gordon Comics. But even this could not be construed as a correct parallel as Bundy revealed his charitable side retiring unhurt with 54 not out to his name. The Full Monty completing their 20 overs with a daunting 152. 

This total became considerably less daunting, however, when the Full Monty contrived to bowl no less than 25 wides. Such philanthropy still left Dulwich struggling to reach the required scoring rate. Cook, Branch and the rejuvenated Rochford (41*) struck some lusty blows and Captain Pylas ran between the wickets in much the same way that his Greek compatriots run their economy. He did, however, strike a mighty 6 which almost interrupted the progress of Great Western’s Taunton to Paddington 7.49. Dulwich hearts were lifted when The Full Monty’s two guest players – Rob Webster and Mike Owen – were introduced into the attack. Could this be Dulwich’s first chance to win this fixture in 5 attempts. Sadly, it was not to be: a tantalising 13 runs was all that separated the 2 teams when the 20 overs ran out and both teams repaired to the Montacute Arms and consumed several pints of Chuffin’ Ale: a passable beverage of questionable parentage, but with some redolent notes of Golding Hops and a flowery bouquet.

Sun May 27th – 7th XI v Witham Friary


The narrative behind today’s game does not begin at the start of the match, but in the smoke-filled denizens of the oak-panelled snug bar of the George Inn, Castle Cary, Somerset where the Captain and the Tour Organiser but, significantly, not the Vice-Captain met to select the Dulwich team for this game. It is a moot point as to whether these two professors represent the epitome of sagacity and insight into the game of Cricket. Many neutral observers were left speculating on their selection policy for today’s game. As the name implies: the Dulwich 7th XI has at its disposal a glittering array of swashbuckling willow wielders and purveyors of subtly flighted spin. One has only to cast a casual glance at the scorebook for the corresponding 2011 fixture to find the names of some of these multi-talented players. Inexplicably, none of these players (although available) found themselves in the team. Instead, the septagenarian Peter Rochford made his debut: arguably, the oldest debutante in the history of the game.

 But enough of this fatuous preamble (Ed’s note: yes, enough is definitely enough!) let us turn our attention to what actually took place in the match. Owen, Dulwich’s opening bat, sadly made little impact, finding himself bowled by a straight one in a very similar fashion to the way Matt Prior had been dismissed by Darren Sammy just an hour earlier in the Test Match. It must be said, however, that your correspondent struggles to find any further similarities between Mike Owen and the England wicket keeper. Your correspondent had the same difficulty when he came to compare and analyse the performances of the Witham Friary wicket keeper and his England counterpart. It is true that they both have beards and are well versed in the political shenanigans that take place in such hotbeds of  Machiavellian intrigue as the House of Commons and the England dressing room, but it must be said that Matt Prior and David Heath find themselves in different constellations when it comes to Wicket keeping. Matt Prior would have struggled to emulate Heath’s two efficient stumpings this afternoon. But let us return to the main events of the match: the Dulwich innings began to gain momentum when Webster and Mascarenhas found themselves at the crease.  However, the initiative was wrested from them by some resolute Witham Friary bowling and some less than satisfactory running between the wickets which resulted in the octogenarian Rochford  left high and dry: not for the first time in his long and eventful career.

At length, Dulwich reached what has become a “par” score of 152 all out. The last batsman, Smith, was dismissed for 0, when he departed from his usual modus operandi: the optimistic leg side hoick into cow-shot corner. Though this shot has not been particularly lucrative for the President over the years, it is what all his admirers have come to expect. It was something of a shock, therefore, to see him get out for 0 attempting an off-side shot. This is clearly not to be advised again.

A tea of sumptuous comestibles was served in the church hall and the game resumed with Dulwich in control and Witham Friary in disarray at 19 for 4, including the much prised scalp of the Deputy Leader of the House of Commons, who generously offered the Dulwich fielders some gentle catching practice. If only the coalition government could be equally beneficent in their fiscal policies. The youthful sapling of a cricketer Rob(?) Wood led the recovery and it is remarkable that the most technically correct forward defensive shot played by any batsman on either side was that of Rob(?) Wood. Despite Wood’s resolute defence all looked set for a win by Dulwich until the uncompromising Paul Wacey arrived at the crease. It was clear that Wacey, with his pugnacious pulls and drives had the capability to win the match for Witham Friary. It was, therefore, an horrific moment for Dulwich when the nonagenarian Peter Rochford dropped a regulation catch behind the stumps from Wacey. 

It was finally left to Peters (regarded in some quarters, as Dulwich 7th XI’s most valuable player) to bowl Wacey and then the obdurate but precocious Wood departed thanks to a wonder slip catch by Arts Council apparatchik Ward. And so, this fluctuating and pulsating game of Cricket entered its fifth act. The counter distractions of BMX Bikers,  passing Roto Bull Mengele silage carriers and the noisy activities of the nearby campanologists were all forgotten as Webster and Hawes put pressure on the Witham Friary lower order batsmen. Dulwich had not reckoned, however, with trenchant pulling and driving of Comas at no. 10, but even he was no match for the accurate Webster and Witham Friary duly succumbed to 132 all out. Both teams repaired to the local hostelry where some members of the Dulwich team partook of the local cider, while others took quantities of the beverage home in specially supplied jamjars to assist them in their paint stripping endeavours.

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