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Sat 18th June – 7th XI v B of E


The banking industry has endured something of a bad press recently. Thanks to their mismanagement and reckless gambling with other people’s money, the world is now staring into the abyss. It is something of a surprise, therefore, to discover that the Bank of England Club continues to offer superb facilities for the playing of Cricket, Tennis and Squash. Even banks seem to be able to get something right. There is a sting in the tail, however: Young’s Ordinary was priced at £3.45 a pint. Your correspondent has it on reliable authority, that no-one has ever charged £3.45 a pint for this excellent, but usually reasonably priced beverage. Could it be that the private caterers who now run the Bank of England bar, not unlike Messers (sic!) Cameron and Osborne see the way to economic salvation in the following way: “Screw the bastards till the pips squeak and then screw them some more?”

After driving through heavy rainfall for most of the journey, suddenly, over the leafy suburb of Southfields a thin sliver of azure sky appeared: just enough to keep one naval seamstress in gainful employment for a couple of days. As a result the game started on time with Griffiths and Afzal opening the batting for Dulwich. The wicket turned out to be something of a two-faced untrustworthy Nick Clegg of a pitch. It was wet one end but dry and unyielding at the other. Griffiths succumbed quickly to a ball that climbed steeply from back of a length and the game became very attritional for some time as Afzal and the talisman Gibson tried to establish some sort of platform for the innings against some accurate bowling from the precociously talented Ramesh and the more mature Eddows.

Some more critical observers were quick to point out that Gibson and Afzal should have done more to get the score moving. Gibson, in particular, seemed to find himself in the firing line of this vituperation. As a neutral observer, with the benefit of hindsight, your correspondent would like to go on record as saying these criticisms are not entirely without foundation. He persistently missed quick singles that were there for the taking and his mind only seemed half on the problem of nudging, nurdling and rotating the strike. All one can surmise, is that the prospect of becoming a grandfather may have been “getting” to him. Happily, the birth of a 6lbs., 6 ozs. boy on 20th June may have resolved some of Gibson’s off-field concerns and we can look forward to some more fluent innings from this cricketing yeoman in the future. At length, Gibson succumbed to a full toss which may have had some late reverse swing on it. He was swiftly followed by what on paper should have been the Howitzers of the Dulwich batting order: Rochford, Pylas and Owen all failed to make significant contributions and at 55 for 5 it would be fair to say that the 7th’s found themselves deeply embedded in a particularly noxious and copious amount of foul-smelling excrement.

It was at this point, that things took a dramatic and unexpected turn for the better. Drafted in at the eleventh hour by his tenant, Rochford, Rob “Landlord” Branch arrived at the crease and without too much ceremony proceeded to cow shot both J and R Kendall to most parts of SW17 with some uncompromising and effective biffs. Branch finally succumbed with a debut score of 22. Meanwhile, at the other end, Afzal, who had survived all the innings’ vicissitudes, was steadily acquiring a shrewdly compiled 43. The pair added 39 to the score. Branch was replaced by the saxophonist O’Higgins, who had eschewed a “gig” at a Swanley nudist camp to play here today. We can only conjecturalise as to why O’Higgins made this surprising decision. Did O’Higgins have some inside information that the female residents of this establishment were not a particularly attractive bunch? Did O’Higgins worry about his own “equipment” being uninsured and therefore vulnerable to misuse? Your correspondent has never attempted to play the saxophone in the nude, but one does wonder if certain parts of the anatomy may impede a musician of O’Higgins undoubted stature while attempting to play a particularly intricate solo number. Whatever, O’Higgins batted very creditably for undefeated 8 and John Smith was run out on 3. Dulwich finished with a total of 120.

Opener Gallimore was dropped by wicket keeper Griffiths off the fully clothed O’Higgins on the first ball of the Bank’s innings. This was unfortunate as Gallimore proceeded to make a further 16 before succumbing to a viciously turning off break, delivered from round the wicket by Gibson. Could the old Merlin of spin weave his magic web yet again and destroy the bank’s batting through cunning flight and guile? Unfortunately, we will never know: Gibson was removed from the attack after a couple of his deliveries slightly strayed from “the corridor of uncertainty” and were smacked for four by the unforgiving Lewis. He was replaced by the ex-government apparatchik David Ward who deftly dismissed Broughton who did not offer a stroke to a well-flighted googly which thudded into the top of the stumps. Ward was to make further inroads by dismissing Campbell, but bowlers Owen and Umesh could make no further impact and the Bank passed Dulwich’s total comfortably with 3 overs to spare and losing only 5 wickets.

Sat 4th June – 7th XI v Abinger

This game was not unlike watching one of the more prosaic episodes of the once popular TV Series “Baywatch”. At the start of the programme we are asked to gaze in wonder at what the programme makers obviously believe to be the epitome of female perfection. Wearing only bright orange swimsuits these women run along the beach. Each quivering movement of the female form is lovingly caught by the voyeuristic camera in slow motion and the average heterosexual male viewer is rapidly brought to the conclusion that the next 30 minutes of TV will be a bit “special.” All too often, as in Cricket, what promises well, rapidly declines into an almost unwatchable piece of television dross which serves merely as a clothes line on which the advertising agencies can hang their over blown messages of hyperbole: otherwise known as “commercials”.

The Abinger Hammer Cricket ground is a picture of perfection. Had Gainsborough been alive, he would have leapt on this rural idyll and replicated it in the finest materials Windsor & Newton has to offer. There is a swift flowing and clear bottomed stream at one end in which small children paddle and try and catch scaly members of the piscatorial species with large nets on the end of bamboo canes. [Ed’s note: I think we are talking about fish here. Can we please try and cut down on the unnecessary verbosity? We are now halfway through the second para. And I have yet to read anything about the game itself!] Their parents set out their picnic tables in anticipation of witnessing a cricketing “battle royale”.

The highly tuned athletes of the Dulwich 7th XI take the field and flex their muscles in the early summer sun, having much the same effect on any female bystanders that Pamela Anderson has on the male section of the TV audience. Skipper John Smith (who bears more than a passing resemblance to David Hasselhoff – the male lead of “Baywatch”) gathers his fine specimens of manhood around him and urges them into battle. Fast bowler David Hawes paces out his run and prepares to bowl full pelt downhill at the unsuspecting Abinger batters. He bowls 11 overs, 0 maidens and takes 1 wicket while conceding 62 runs.

In fact, the game, like many episodes of Baywatch, takes on a faintly humdrum aspect: bowlers are brought on and taken off, catches are offered and dropped, some wickets are taken but there is a feeling that Abinger are moving inexorably towards a satisfactory total. Even when the svelte and athletic Rochford leaps, salmon-like, to take a splendid and unexpected catch on the deep square leg boundary (off yet another of Gibson’s long hops) there is a feeling that Abinger are in control of the situation. They eventually declare on 203 for 6.

At tea, the vast multitude of spectators departed from the ground and did not return. Even the young anglers (who had hitherto shown only a passing interest in the activities on the playing area) left their watery playground and headed off for, presumably, a well-earned supper of Fish Fingers and Chips.

For the Dulwich 7th XI, it must be said that 203 is a large number of runs to chase down, especially in what amounted to 37 overs. Although talisman Gibson (5) departed early, Cook (48) and Blench (40) batted in spirited fashion to add 104 runs to the score before being separated. Cook, in particular, played some fine leg sweeps and pulls but showed a marked lack of tactical “nous” by hitting the ball into some very long undergrowth on several occasions before the final 20 overs had been called. A swiftly run 3 can have more advantages than a mightily hit 4 in these circumstances.

Rochford jnr and Peters attempted to revive the run chase, but it was clear that the target was well beyond Dulwich’s reach and the game (like episode 534 of Baywatch) petered out into an uneventful draw. The ground remained bathed in an evening sun and a very pleasant time was had on the patio of Abinger Hammer’s well appointed pavilion, quaffing Surrey Hills Ale from the local Ranmore brewery.

Dulwich 7th’s move off to the frozen wastes of Totteridge and Whetstone next week where the mighty Whittington (by their own admission: North London’s worst cricket team) lie in wait.

Sat 28th May – 7th XI v Fonthill Park


This game was played in the sylvan, arboreal splendour of the Fonthill Estate: a piece of highly desirable Wiltshire parkland complete with a lake and no less than fourteen varieties of deciduous trees and seven coniferous varieties on parade. The setting cried out for a batting exhibition of stroke-making majesty, artistry and skill. The expectant crowd were not to be disappointed. (Ed’s note: do you carry this “expectant crowd” round with you in your fevered imagination? Writer’s reply: the sheep were watching.)

Dulwich’s openers, Gibson and Nanda, were quick to impose their authority on Fonthill’s bowlers: but this was a game with more ebbs and flows, ups and downs, than Ryan Giggs’ attempts to impose silence on the world’s media. Nanda, Cross and Mascarenhas all came and went after playing cameo vignettes, but it must be said that the cement, adhesive, epoxy resin, and bathroom sealant of Dulwich’s innings was Gibson.

In 1962 Ken Barrington scored 121 at Port of Spain against the bowling of Hall, Griffiths and Sobers. At the time, Barrington’s innings was widely regarded as the finest innings ever played in Test Cricket, given the circumstances, the pitch and the opposition bowling. I would like to say that Jim Gibson’s innings of 52 for Dulwich 7th XI, bore a favourable comparison to that played by Barrington. I would like to say this, but only the stringent libel laws that enslave this country prevent me from doing so. Dulwich completed their allotted 34 overs on 177 for 6. (A tea time shower of rain meant that the innings lost an over.)

At the start of Fonthill’s innings Hawes kept the opening batsmen in a vice-like grip. His bowling was more miserly than the current rates of interest offered by the British Banking Industry for whom, coincidentally, Hawes is gainfully employed. So slow were Fonthill at the beginning of their innings, Dulwich looked to have the game in their pockets. A somewhat less than exuberant Gibson was brought into the attack and it must be said, that from this point the game seemed to slip inexorably from Dulwich’s grasp.

Although Gibson made the breakthrough by dismissing Leete. Then Barker and Jennings were also quickly dispatched by Peters but Power lived up to his name with a superbly measured 93. Burton showed a merciless contempt for the short ball and Fonthill emerged as worthy winners with two overs to spare despite Jon Cross’ valiant attempts to bowl out the last five batsmen.

And so Dulwich continued their tour with the sorry record of played 2, lost 2. However, Sunday’s game against Witham Friary usually takes place after our intrepid heroes have downed several pints of invigorating and revitalising Scruttock’s Olde Dirigible Cider/Furniture restorer, so it may well be that their first victory can be recorded. WATCH THIS SPACE.

A post-match message from Fonthill’s skipper:

From: James Street 
Sent: 01 June 2011 18:38
To: Jon Cross
Subject: RE: tour match dulwich c.c. vs. fonthill park c.c. wiltshire

You are most welcome, Jon, we too had a great day and will always look forward to our fixture.

It is just great playing cricket against a team with the attitude and competitiveness you and your troops have, long may it continue…

Sun 29th May – 7th XI v Witham Friary


After receiving a mauling at the hands of the Full Monty and Fonthill Park Cricket Clubs, the Dulwich 7th XI tourists arrived at their third fixture like a herd of thirsty elephants who had trekked hundreds of miles across the barren Savannah lands of the Great Rift valley and finally arrived at their favourite watering hole in Witham Friary. They were soon sniffing the nectar of victory when Witham’s openers Comas and Pole were dismissed for 19. Hyde turned the tables, by playing with elegance and wristy fluidity for his 37.

Skipper Smith ran through his Liquorice Allsorts of bowlers and Hawes, Peters, Mascarenhas and Nanda all claimed wickets but none of these bowlers were able to make the incisive inroads that off-spinner Gibson achieved with the not unimpressive figures of 3 for 33. Bowling a lethal mixture of full tosses, long hops and viciously spinning unplayable balls, Gibson wrapped the Witham Friary innings up with a chilling efficiency and the hosts were only able to post a modest 106 all out on the board.

Dulwich’s innings, however, was one of toil and attrition against the Witham bowlers. Unfortunately, these same bowlers did themselves no favours by conceding more wides to the opposition than the Liberal Democratic Party conceded in policies to the Conservatives in order to gain a partial and tenuous grip on power in the House of Commons. Like a glacier moving through a terminal moraine, the Dulwich batsmen edged towards the required score.

At one point, with the score 45 for 4 it seemed that they might stumble and fall down a precipice of their own making. But Gibson arrived at the crease and fought a titanic cat and mouse struggle with ex Dulwich and Minor Counties player, spinner Jerry Barnes who bowled a mixture of skidding leg breaks and seamers reminiscent of his namesake: the great S.F. Barnes.

Gibson prodded and pushed (occasionally pulling Barnes to the square leg boundary with with wrist rolling authority) and carefully allowed Barnes to bowl out his allotted 8 overs (it was a 40 overs a side match). Gibson emerged as top Dulwich run scorer (19) but the most successful player was called Extras who scored no less than 43.

Peters finally hoisted the flag of victory for Dulwich with what can only be described as an unorthodox flat batted tennis shot to the square leg boundary.

Sat 21st May – 7th XI v NatWest Amblers



by Jimmy Gibson

The sporting history of these islands is a long and rich tapestry of success and failure. The 1950’s were a particularly significant time in that both Football and Cricket produced outstanding teams. The Hungarians arrived at Wembley Stadium in 1953, with the novel idea of passing the ball with the side of the foot accurately and at the right velocity to a fellow team mate and then moving into an empty space to receive the return pass. Unsurprisingly, the England team found themselves unable to deal with such an underhand tactic and lost 6-3. At the same time, across London, one of the finest cricket teams to ever exist were in the process of winning one of their seven consecutive County Championships. The success of Surrey, at this time, was, in no small way, due to the skill and dexterity of their “spin twins”: Lock and Laker. Jim Laker was a fine exponent of the art of off-spin, using flight, guile, and prodigious turn. The more cynical observer might be tempted to say that the only resemblance the Dulwich 7th XI off-spinner has to Jim Laker is the fact that they share the same christian name. On the other hand, the more attuned and observant spectator might reflect on the surprising similarities between the two. Although Jim Gibson did not take 19 wickets in a Test Match against Australia it cannot be forgotten that he did once take 7 for 39 for the Dulwich Sunday 3rd XI in 1973 against Grindlay’s Bank using the same techniques that Laker employed so successfully against the baggy greencaps.

Today’s game at the DSG was the first one played with the new “Scorehut”. It must be said that this new facility does not compare favourably with the scoreboard found at the Sydney Cricket Ground. This monument to comprehensiveness supplies the names and individual scores of all participants. It will even tell you on which day of the week is late night shopping in Sydney and where the nearest urinal may be found. The scorehuts at the DSG will simply tell you the score and the number of overs bowled. However, your correspondent overheard a conversation yesterday which suggests these new score huts have the benefit of a versatility of use that the Sydney scoreboard lacks. 2 members of the Dulwich 7th’s (who, for obvious reasons, must remain anonymous) were heard discussing the possibility of using these structures to further the carnal dimensions of a clandestine relationship they may be having with a member of the opposite sex. The word “Shagbox” was coined on more than one occasion during this conversation. It is to be hoped that the new scorehuts are not subjected too frequently to this secondary use and that the participants will remove all traces of their visit(s). Your correspondent is aware that a certain exasperation may be creeping in to the reader’s mind at this point, and so he will move on to actually reporting today’s match.

Dulwich took the field for the first time this season under elected Captain Smith. The current fad for pre-match on-field “huddles” was exercised and the team gathered round to hear Smith’s words of insight and inspiration, especially as the team had lost so ignominiously last week to the same opposition. The situation was not entirely dissimilar to the disciples attending the Last Supper. The team crowded round Captain Smith to hear what pearls of wisdom, inspiration and insight he may be offering:

“The bar will be open tonight and will be selling Meantime Pale Ale in small green bottles”. Unsurprisingly, a note of incongruity chimed at this moment. A look of puzzlement spread across the other members of the team. Are these the words that Jardine or Brearley used when preparing their teams to do battle with our ancient antipodean foes? I think not. One can only surmise that in this day of rampant and incessant commercial exploitation, Smith has entered into some shady sponsorship deal with the Meantime Brewery. The reader (if he has actually got this far?) may draw his own conclusions.

And so, to the game itself: it will come as no surprise to regular readers of Dulwich 7th Match Reports that the team quickly found itself in the toils. Osborne and O’Higgins found themselves dispatched to various parts of the DSG by openers Gibbons and Pett. O’Higgins is a saxophone player of prodigious talent and skill and leaves one speculating on why such skill has not translated itself to the Cricket field. But then again, one has to ask whether Courtney Pine or Coleman Hawkins ever learnt to bowl with reverse swing? I suspect not. O’Higgins was eventually replaced by Peters but this change made little impression on the serene progress of Gibbons and Pett. It was becoming clear to all, that Gibson would have to be brought into to the attack, despite the still shiny appearance of the ball. With his usual self-effacing reluctance, Gibson duly stepped up to the plate. An air of expectancy hung over the crowd. (Ed’s note: what bloody crowd? Reporter’s reply: if there was a crowd, there would have been an air of expectancy.) The crowd (imaginary or otherwise) were not to be disappointed. Gibson measured out his seven pace run, turned and bowled. His first ball floated innocently into the air, dipped, and bit into the pitch approximately 18 inches outside Pett’s off-stump. The ball continued on its way but changed direction by 45 degrees. Pett was suitably flummoxed and could only offer a half hearted flail at the ball. Gibson leapt in the air with glee only to find the ball missing Pett’s off-stump by a space as thin as the husk of an insect after it has been eaten by a spider. The reader will, no doubt, be pleased to hear that it is not your correspondent’s intention to describe every ball bowled by Gibson with quite the same attention to detail with which his first ball was described. In fact, the only other ball worthy of mention was that which finally made the breakthrough: Gibson lured Pett into a rash slash and it looked as if Griffiths was about to make a hash until he made a late dash and scooped the ball up one-handed, inches before it would have plummeted to the ground with a crash. The solicitor does not always display such gazelle-like athleticism on the field, but on this occasion he surpassed all expectations and received the well-deserved plaudits of the rest of the team. Dulwich’s elation was short-lived, however, as this only brought to the crease the redoubtable Lynch who then batted with consummate skill and scored 113.

Dulwich’s reply started optimistically enough with Griffiths and Solanki setting about the Amblers target of 268 like two small boys in a beach pedalo setting out for an oil tanker on the far horizon. The pedalo began to ship water, however, when Griffiths was caught and bowled by Dolby with only 20 runs on the board. Gibson and Solanki then showed no little skill in getting the pedalo moving through the gears with a series of well-essayed cuts and “nurdles” into the unguarded third man area. Unfortunately, their progress was halted by an unidentified injury to Solanki who retired hurt. Osborne then came and went, having been dismissed by a straight ball by the accurate Dolby. This brought the 7th’s own Mike Hussey to the crease. Nick Rochford (alias “Mr. Cricket”), in partnership with the resourceful all-rounder Gibson, stopped up the holes in the pedalo and the two of them found themselves in open water heading for the still distant target. Drinks were served with the score 105 for two. 20 overs were left. A “big ask” but not entirely unreasonable, given a fair wind and a favourable current. But then alas! the innings hit a submerged wreck when Davey penetrated Gibson’s hitherto reliable defence with an inswinging and late dipping yorker and the Dulwich innings foundered. Gibson had made 25 and Rochford a valiant 45 with a series of lusty drives and heaves but the last 6 Dulwich batsmen contributed 12 runs between them and the Dulwich innings folded with an ignominious 135 all out. Both sides retired to the bar to drink.  Meantime Pale Ale.

It is to be hoped that better form will be found by Dulwich on their forthcoming Somerset tour.

[Enough – ed.]

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