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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.

Sat May 26th – 7th XI v Fonthill Park


In 1917 the Bolsheviks stormed the Winter Palace in Petrograd and brought about the socialist revolution which led to the foundation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. This country stayed in existence till 1990, when it collapsed under the weight of its own economic and political exhaustion. The performance of the Dulwich 7th XI in the field in today’s game against Fonthill Park bore a considerable resemblance to the history of the Soviet Union. Captain John Smith (who wears a moustache not dissimilar to the one worn by Joseph Stalin) led his men out and urged them on to ever more Stakhanovite labours. For the unitiated, Aleksei Stakhanov was a miner who laboured ceaselessly in the second 5 year plan in 1935 and produced an unpredented 102 tons of coal in 6 hours. Sadly, all this was to no avail: the tide of history in the shape of opening batsman Lord Rawlinson was ultimately against them. Lord Rawlinson, ably assisted by several other revisionists and White Russians in the Fonthill side, mounted an assault on the Dulwich proletariat with a series of disdainful carves, cuts and cleaves to all parts of the Fonthill Park Estate. The subtle and delicate flight and guile of Gibson was subject to a particularly disrespectful mauling by the patrician Rawlinson.  Eventually, Gibson was removed from the attack by Stalin and sent to the Gulag outfield where he proceeded to field like a three legged dromedary with piles. 

At length, Rawlinson fell to the Menshevik Mascarenhas, with his medley of moderate military medium pacers and Fonthill finished on the apparently unassailable 283 in 40 overs. 

Cook and Blench started the innings in sprightly fashion, but Cook’s less than sprightly running between the wickets proved to be his Achilles heel. Branch and Webster essayed some robust strokes and at the other end Blench continued his progress towards his century not unlike Cleopatra’s barge of “burnished gold with sails so perfumed that the winds were lovesick. “ (Act 2 Antony & Cleopatra by Shakespeare). Unfortunately, the barge never quite achieved the speed required for victory and Fonthill Park completed a hatrick of victories. But, Fonthill, a word of warning: Next year Dulwich 7th XI will screw their courage to the sticking place and they will not fail. The one flaw in this argument is that it was used by Lady Macbeth and we all know what happened to her. 

Sat 2nd June – 7th XI v Milstead


​MILSTEAD 250-4 beat DULWICH 154-6 by 9 wickets

In 1963, a promising 15 year old made his debut for Dulwich Cricket Club Sunday 3rd XI against the Ex-Blues in Mottingham. The Ex-Blues were a team of former fighter pilots, who, having single-handedly defeated the Third Reich at the Battle of Britain then, in celebration, formed a cricket club. It was quite a coincidence that at today’s game, some 49 years later, the promising colt concluded his career, as a Lancaster Bomber made its solitary and lazy way across the sky during Milstead’s innings. Just quite where it was going, we shall never know.

The coincidence arises from the fact that at the time this cricketer made his debut, one of his other pastimes was making a model of this aircraft complete from an Airfix kit with camouflage paint and RAF decals. In fact, it would be fair to say that in 1963 Jim Gibson divided his leisure time, more or less into three equal parts: in addition to Cricket and making model aircraft kits, he was also a keen reader of the Health and Efficiency magazine. (Ed’s note: Do you think it would be possible to get round to describe what actually happened in the match, at some point. I am not altogether sure our readers are that interested in the auto erotic habits of a 15 year old in the early sixties). In many ways, Gibson’s long cricketing career has not been dissimilar to that of Mark Ramprakash and John the Baptist. Although Gibson has scored considerably less centuries than the former and brought considerably fewer people round to his way of thinking than the latter, the words “unfulfilled potential” spring to mind with all three, do they not? (Further note from Ed: We are in great danger of lapsing into unsubstantiated hyperbole here, can we please move on!

The Garden of England was at its most fecund today at this rural delight of a Cricket ground in Milstead village, complete with thatched roof pavilion and scorebox. Hedges were overburdening themselves into the narrow country byways The ground seemed to slope in several directions at once and the Milstead batsmen wasted no time in putting opening bowlers Osborne and Peters to the sword. Dulwich’s fielders laboured to contain the Milstead batsmen but without success. A brilliantly attempted diving catch by Branch just failed to stick and, at length, captain Smith turned to the evergreen Svengali-like figure of Gibson, who still nursed a non-tour bowling average of 1.666667. (It must be said that this unlikely statistic did not survive the tour, but there is an old adage amongst professional actors: “What goes on tour, stays on tour.” And your correspondent sees no reason why this same maxim should not apply to bowling averages.) Alas, Gibson went away empty handed, having been asked to bowl up the hill and against the slope, and the much cherished 1.66667 was but an ethereal skein of times past. Smith then turned to Arts Council apparatchik and leg spinner David Ward who, unhappily, was treated with equal disdain by Milstead’s batsmen, one of who completed his hundred by twice lifting Ward into the graveyard which surrounded the local church. O’Higgins also bowled.

At length, Smith was obliged to return to Gibson and, in much the same way that night follows day, one of the Milstead batsmen finally succumbed to his subtle flight and guile by attempting to hit a 6 into cow shot corner. Many batsmen have attempted this manoeuvre and, it must be said, some have succeeded on grounds with miniscule boundaries. Milstead Cricket Ground did not fall into this category and Rob Branch took a quite brilliant catch on the very edge of the perimeter. The vast crowd held its breath while a video review was run to see if Rob had “stepped over”, but this turned out not to be the case and Gibson finished with the not altogether disreputable figures of 1 for 45, given Milstead’s final forbidding total of 250 for 4 off 40 overs. Clarke Osborne, making a welcome return to the 7th XI fray, finished with 2 for 41.

After tea, Blench and Gibson set out like two polar explorers in search of this far off goal. They were asked to proceed at 6.25 an over for 40 overs and quickly fell behind the asking rate. Eventually, runs began to flow: Blench lifted Milstead’s young leg spinner to the square leg boundary and Gibson played a couple of Pietersen like straight drives, but it, must be said, the asking rate could not be sustained by either batsman. The arrival of the pugnacious and ebullient Branch at the crease promised better things, but when Gibson finally holed to out  to mid wicket, for a pedestrian 33, the target was a dim and distant chimera. Blench 24, Osborne 22 and Owen 17* all made contributions. The solicitor, Griffiths, also batted. But Dulwich’s less than satisfactory start left the later batsmen with too much to do and the innings closed on the highly unsatisfactory 154 for 6.  Perhaps the dilatory Gibson is finally entering the fifth stage of man immortalised by Shakespeare’s Jaques’ seven ages of man speech in “As you Like It”:

“…and then, the Justice

In fair round belly, with good capon lin’d,

With eyes severe, and beard of formal cut,

Full of wise saws, and modern instances,

And so he plays his part..”

Broadly translated, this means Gibson is eating too much KFC and is getting too full of bullshit. He is taking an extended sabbatical from the game for professional reasons. Your correspondent would like to think that somehow the 7th’s will manage to compete without this yeoman cricketer.  When Sir John Falstaff dies at the start of Henry V it is significant that Pistol, Nym and Bardolph soldier on at Agincourt, with no little success as pillagers and battlefield scavengers.

By the way, if anybody has the Airfix version of the Wellington or Lancaster Bomber, or any copies of Health and Efficiency Magazine between October 1958 and August 1965 please contact


Sat 19th May – 7th XI v Kingstonians

KINGSTONIANS 59 lost to DULWICH 60-2 by 8 wickets


For the second successive week Dulwich 7th’s recorded an efficient victory. This time against Kingstonians. This is now equal to the number of victories they recorded in the whole of last season. What made this victory all the more remarkable was the fact that it was gained without the team spending their usual hour-long preparation of physical warm-up exercises, rigorous fielding routines and grooving and throwdown sessions. Skipper Smith eschewed these practices by, instead, dragooning the entire team into a series of IQ and initiative tests based around the age-old problem of how to uncoil a newly purchased boundary string. For the buspass holders in the team, this proved to be a knotty problem and several of them felt a bit ropey by the time the task was completed. (Ed’s note: please can we be spared anymore jokes about being strung out, never the twine shall meet or tempers getting frayed round the edges). In fact, it is quite possible that the game might not have started at all were it not for the intervention of two 7th XI stalwarts from previous campaigns (Clark Osborne and Mike Owen) who used every skill they had learned under the skilled tutelage of Baden Powell and his deputies whilst members of the 21st Camberwell Cub pack in 1983. At length, the rope was laid out around the boundary. The Kingstonian batsmen, however, did little to disturb its pristine condition.

Dulwich’s opening bowlers Saxophonist O’Higgins and Performance Artist Malik found themselves lassooing one wicket after another. Malik, in particular, put a string of wickets together (including that of Fawad – last year’s centurion). Fawad was out for a duck to a good slip catch by Blench. Unfortunately, Blench’s catching skills deserted him later in the innings, but it is the not the job of this reporter to dwell on the odd blemish in what was a pretty efficient win by the team. Rehan Malik, with his brisk fast medium deliveries returned the excellent figures of 5 for 27. Lindsey Morton also returned a very satisfactory 5 overs, 1 maiden, 7 runs conceded for 1 wicket. Smith, in his efforts to bring the Kingstonian innings to a swift and humane end, resorted to the flight and guile of Street Performer and Medical Roleplayer Gibson. Smith was not disappointed. Gibson subjected Kingstonian’s lower order batsmen to a forensic examination with his high quality off-spinners and doosras. In just 8 balls Gibson accounted for the last two wickets. Hulcoop, for the second week running, executing an efficient stumping. Gibson is now blazing a trail as the club’s most successful bowler of 2012, with a bowling average of 1.66667. Even the great S.F. Barnes could not quite match such parsimonious figures. Your correspondent fervently hopes that the selection committee will take note.

Although Solicitor Griffiths and Psycho Branch both succumbed to Kingstonian’s opening bowler Tom (both lbw) early on, Blench and Rochford secured the victory with a series of straight and cover drives, some of which almost reached the new boundary rope.