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Sat 2nd June – 7th XI v Milstead

DULWICH DEFEAT IN DEEPEST KENT DUE TO DILATORY CREASE DALLIANCE BY PORKY PORK BATTING

​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 jimbargibs@yahoo.co.uk.

 

Sat 19th May – 7th XI v Kingstonians

KINGSTONIANS 59 lost to DULWICH 60-2 by 8 wickets

DULWICH 7TH BOWLERS TIE KINGSTONIANS IN KNOTS
MALIK PERFORMS INDIAN ROPE TRICK, GIBSON DISPLAYS UNCHARACTERISTIC PARSIMONY

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.

Sat 12th May – 7th XI v Catford & Cyphers

DULWICH 105 beat Catford & Cyphers 63 by 42 runs

DULWICH 7TH’S EMULATE BOBBY FISCHER IN REMARKABLE TACTICAL WIN OVER CATFORD & CYPHERS

It has long been recognised by the intelligentsia and the literati that Cricket has much in common with the game of Chess: the shrewd use of finite resources, the deployment of key pieces at the appropriate moments and the ability to administer the coup de grace in the endgame. Today’s game, at the Rubens Street ground in SE23, was a classic example of the extraordinary similarities between the two games. Gibson, Dulwich’s captain today, has many of the qualities of the American Grand Master: Bobby Fischer. Both are keen cyclists (Ed’s note: what has that got to do with the price of fish?) and both possess a comprehensive understanding of strategy in their respective disciplines. What is even more remarkable is the self-effacing modesty and humility they both display in the milieux in which they move.
 
Fischer/Gibson having lost the toss, found himself “playing with the black pieces” and was “inserted” by the Catford & C skipper. Fischer/Gibson opened with a classic Morphy/Staunton combination of simultaneously moving two central pawns forward with a view to gaining control of the centre of the board. The combination of a jazz saxophonist and a solicitor as an opening pair (in the shape of O’Higgins and Griffiths) would surely see Dulwich controlling the game within a matter of a few overs. Sadly, this was not to be the case, the Catford skipper assiduously manipulated his knights, bishops and rooks with such effectiveness, on a sluggish and unresponsive pitch and removed Dulwich’s early batting with consummate ease. An element of bathos was introduced when Branch hoicked the ball to the Square leg boundary, only to discover he had, unfortunately, tripped over himself and fallen on his own wicket. Nevertheless, the shot should serve notice on Dulwich’s forthcoming opponents in 2012: Branch is not a batsman to be trifled with! Having played several game-changing, swash- buckling innings last season, great things are expected from this unorthodox but effective willow wielder.
 
It was left to Storey, coming in at number 6, to play an innings of great responsibility (36) with support from Gibson, Rehan Malik, Lindsay Morton and Sam Hulcoop. David Hawes also batted. Dulwich limped to a total of 101(?) all out. Had this been a chess match, the aficionados would have averred that the teams were level on material at tea and the game would be won by the player who now utilised his pieces with the greatest effectiveness. The “middle game” is where Chess matches are often won or lost.
 
Fischer/Gibson used the prosaic but persistent medium pace of merchant banker Hawes as his opening gambit, while, at the other end, the fiery Malik attempted to extract some life from a moist pitch. He was not unrewarded: removing the off-stump of the opening bat. Fischer continued to make inroads into Catford’s material, by skilfully moving his Queen (Lindsay Morton) into the attack. With a series of Coneyesque dibbly-dobblies, Morton contrived to take no less than four wickets. Malik dazzlingly ran out the opposing skipper with a direct hit on the stumps, Gibson using flight and guile, lured a greenhorn batsman from his crease and Hulcoop executed an efficient stumping, Aditya Verma bowled the penultimate batsman and it was left to the saxophonist O’Higgins to literally expose Catford’s Achilles heel by striking the number 11 on this part of his anatomy for an unlikely lbw from a full toss. Fischer/Gibson had used no less than seven bowlers, in spells of varying length, in reducing Catford to a total of 63 all out and many spectators went home marvelling at the depth of his tactical acuity and perspicacious cricketing acumen. Dulwich 7th’s start the season with a 100% record! Played 1, Won 1, Lost 0, Drawn 0.

Sat 23rd July – 7th XI v Unavoidables

In 1964 Cy Endfield made the film “Zulu”. In this film, a tiny garrison of brave-hearted Welsh soldiers defeat thousands of Zulu warriors at the Battle of Rorke’s Drift. This game had many similarities to that story.  The Dulwich 7th’s arrived at Wandsworth Common bruised and battered after a number of defeats at the hands of the likes of Burgh Heath, Kingstonian and the Bank of England. President and captain Smith withdrew from the game through injury and it was left to vice-captain Gibson to metaphorically lead his team into a chorus of “Men of Harlech” at the start of the match.

Readers may wonder at some of the more tenuous connections between this match and the film. The Unavoidables arrived with nine players: the Zulus had considerably more than this number batting for them. However, the heroic nature of Dulwich’s victory, is worth noting. Gibson (alias Michael “Don’t throw bloody spears at me” Caine) won the toss and departed from normal practice by electing to bat first. Dulwich’s early batsmen were mediocre. The litany of failure extended down to number five in the batting order: Blench 1, Griffiths 8, Rochford 0, Branch 2 does not suggest a winning total was on the cards. But the Unavoidables had not reckoned with the estimable skills of newcomer Nikhil Lalwani, who proceeded to play an innings of match turning significance. This young man was quick to make his mark on the game with a series of well-timed boundaries, including a six. The fours were especially significant as the outfield was large and had not been recently cut. In fact, it resembled more the savannah lands of Natal (see the above allusion) than a public park in South West London.

The Zulus returned with another wave of attacks and dismissed Rob Webster for four. Dulwich were left apparently bleeding and dying behind leaky sandbags at 54 for 6. Michael Caine entered the fray intent on defying the native hordes. The vice-captain has always prided himself on his ability to bat in a crisis and he and Lalwani wasted no time in wresting the initiative from the Unavoidable warriors. Nevertheless, when Gibson foolishly and unnecessarily ran himself out on 23 with the total still only 115 there was much to be done by the Dulwich tail. They proved more than up to the task: Lalwani continued to flay the Zulus to all parts of the valley and ended with what turned out to be an invaluable 52. A great start from a clearly very talented cricketer. Pylas (James Booth) made four singles and then Lalwani was joined by yet another name for the future: William Spencer. This lithe and willowy framed 18 year old essayed some excellent strokes for a classy 10 not out and Dulwich’s innings finished on the not unsatisfactory total of 139 off 34 overs.

An al fresco tea was taken of mini scotch eggs, baby bels and doughnuts, and the Zulus started their counter attack. Webster and Lalwani were both frugal in their opening spells and Webster ultimately dismissed Thornton: lbw for 6. Gilbert arrived at the crease and it was clear that he was a cut above the other warriors. Could M. Caine marshall his slender resources with sufficient acumen to withstand Gilbert’s assault. With each bowler only allowed 7 overs the Captain took a gamble by introducing newcomers Wilson and Spencer to the attack. This proved to be a very effective ploy. Spencer bowled a flawless 7 overs of well-flighted leg spinners and undetectable googlies and returned the excellent figures of 7 overs, 4 maidens, 12 runs and 1 wicket. 16 year old Frank Wilson, at the other end, turned out to be another revelation.

Bowling a brisk medium pace he tied down Gilbert and Webb with equal aplomb. Wilson finally reaped his just deserts by taking 3 wickets in one over including 2 in 2 balls and finishing with figures of 3 for 33 off 6 overs. Pan Pylas caught a very easy catch behind the wicket off Lalwali. The 35 over restriction left Caine/Gibson with something of a problem, however. To whom could he entrust a further 7 overs? The choice was unenviable: should he enlist the aid of the tattooed insurance broker Owen, with his sub-Coneyesque “dibbly-dobblies”? Owen had wasted no time in informing Gibson/Caine that he had taken 4 wickets against the same opposition last year.

To improve the credibility of his case he had even gone to the lengths of carrying in his pocket, his personal plastic bowling marker. This latter ploy had no effect on Gibson: a captain with no susceptibility to such thinly veiled ruses. The other alternative was Gibson himself: a bowler never known for his frugality. “Pie-chucking crap”, is just one of the more printable phrases that have been used to describe Gibson’s unique brand of flighted off-breaks. If Gibson should find himself bowling “a load of ordure” all may be lost. Gilbert was still at the crease and batting with increasing authority. At such times, men of steel grasp the nettle, stiffen the sinews and summon up the blood. Gibson measured out his run and bowled. To everyone’s astonishment his first over turned out to be a maiden and his second conceded only 1 run. At which point, a loud and audible wail was heard from the watching teammates of Gilbert and Webb: “We have to score 140 to win chaps” was the refrain. But all was lost for the Unavoidables: increasingly desperate and improbable singles were run and it was from one of these that Gilbert was run out thanks to a brilliant throw by Branch at deep mid-on, which hit the wicket direct and left the hapless Gilbert stranded.

The troops of Dulwich closed in for the coup de grace, which was not long in coming as Wilson and Webster did their work in dismissing the last four batsmen for 1 run. Dulwich triumphant. The Unavoidables were left to bury the dead amidst the carnage of Wandsworth Common as empty mini egg cartons were blown away by the four winds. Both teams repaired to the adjacent County Arms where pints of Young’s Waggle Dance were quaffed with great relish in the pub garden.

Sat 25th June – 7th XI v Burgh Heath

The manner in which Dulwich’s side arrived at this match provided a metaphor for their performance, a number hurriedly pulling on their flannels as the umpires inspected the pitch for play, several new players who would have an impact on Dulwich’s game among them.

Put into bat on a slow and wet wicket, Dulwich got off to a slow start. Muhammad Afzal was unable to capitalise on his form away at Bank of England, giving up his leading edge to a tempting delivery and no doubt kicking himself all the way back to the boundary.  But like a Londoner in the Blitz Trevor Griffiths showed his stalwart spirit to deny the Burgh Heath bowlers with a mixture of cuts and deft touches leaving him on 11 before he was given controversially caught behind off Hoy.

Richard Blench’s positive strides down the wicket barely troubled the scorers before the 7th team’s batting discovery Rob Branch set about the Burgh Heath bowling like vagrant at a buffet. However, hungry as he was, he unable to prevent his dismissal on 18 from Smith caught at the hands of Moin Khan. A man the Dulwich team were soon to hear more of.

It may strike the reader as strange to note that skipper Jimmy Gibson – that alleged talisman of the Dulwich 7’s – was dismissed for only 9, caught at deep mid on from the less than threatening bowling of Mears. Such is the fickle game we play.  At this point the Dulwich innings was in crisis. Only 50 runs on the board with several wickets down. Enter Nick Rochford.

After an initial period of scratching and waiting before Gibson holed out, Rochford found a kindred spirit in Dulwich’s new found player Robert Webster. Bringing some of his Manhattan attitude, Webster’s insistence on running added more to Rochford’s score than it did to his own. Their partnership of 28 was a lifeline to Dulwich’s struggling innings before Webster was stumped, his eyes lighting up from a temptingly flighted delivery from Duke for 7.  Indeed such was the bond between these two batsmen their innings ended in exactly the same way, Rochford succumbing stumped to Duke on 31, so ending Dulwich’s innings following a cameo 19 not out from Michael Owen.

With 120 on the board, and in high spirits, Dulwich took the field with Webster taking the first over, and Captain Gibson choosing the bait of David Ward’s mixture of leg spin and slow medium pace at the other end.  Webster’s pace proved a handful for batsmen and fielders, with his first ball tapped tamely to cover and misfielded for four. Meanwhile Ward outthought the Burgh Heath No 2 Wood with a well flighted leg break. The weight of wood’s beard throwing him off balance, missing the ball, and leaving him stumped for 7 by Choney.  Unfortunately Ward’s moment of triumph proved a Pyrrhic victory once Moin Khan returned to the field. Striking his first ball from Ward for an effortless six, Khan set about Dulwich’s bowling with glee.

Ward. Webster. Gibson. Afzal.  Dear reader I must tell you none of these proved enough to meet Khan’s match as he smite Dulwich’s bowling to the four corners of Tattenham before Mike Owen dismissed him bowled for 65 with his quicker ball striking the top of leg stump.  Sadly by this point the game was all but gone. But Webster would have none of this and backed up his cries from the boundary of “one last push” by despatching Khan’s Burgh Heath 1st team colleague Maserd for 3 with an off cutter taking the top of his middle stump.

Only at this point did players familiar to Dulwich in their contests with Burgh Heath in days of yore begin to grace the pitch. Duke’s 5 not out providing a scratchy end to the match, and Alan Swift with respectable figures of eight runs conceded from only two and half overs.  But by this moment Burgh Heath had won this contest by nine wickets, and Dulwich sent packing. They can only reflect on heroics of Khan, the economical bowling of Basil and Smith, and a number of dropped catches from the bowling Webster as they lick their wounds before next year.

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