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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.]

Sat 14th May – 7th XI v Nat West Amblers

7s without credit as the Bank calls the shots 

Nat West Amblers 294-4 (40 overs) beat Dulwich 133 all out

With much anticipation the 7s – formerly and forever known as the 6s despite the recent Great Name Robbery – rolled up against Nat West for their first game of the season in a metaphorical Triumph Stag and bounded out with a spring-like Terry-thomas gait and a cheery wave. Within an hour and a half of the start the 7s were already rolled over and heading for a sound thrashing. ’I say’, indeed. 
The team was skippered by the brave David Straker, with the regular duo of John Smith and Jimmy Gibson absent. John was on a trip to the Midlands and vice skip Gibbo acting in a medical role-play. Reports that it was prostate s(t)imulation have been vigorously, though not too forcefully, denied by his agent. 

David’s wide-eyed enthusiasm and positivity - generated through many years playing in higher teams - was soon broken by the realities of an early season Dulwich 7th team. The opposition openers, hitherto not known as calypso cricketers, started quickly in the face of indifferent bowling and reached a total of 184 before Pratish Solanki made the breakthrough.

 The bowling was generally patchy with numerous wides, perhaps some overzealously called as if an IPL match, slapping into the gloves of a frequently diving and increasingly exasperated Steve Choney. Perhaps the single-minded careerists Hawes and O’Higgins, called up at the start of the new season for the higher teams (and therefore possibly treading the path of upwardly-mobile former 7s alumni such as Nanda, Osborn and countless others), would have made a difference.  
The bowlers were not helped by some fielding mishaps that should have been accompanied by music that is usually heard at Billy Smart’s Big Top. That said, Nat West’s subsequent mid-order batsmen provided no respite for Dulwich’s toiling bowlers.  The formerly teenaged opposition middle order – once wiry and callow but now young men – greedily devoured the pies and sent the ball to all parts of Beckenham as they fell only just short of the magic 300. 
The situation demanded a response from the 7s top order. 
The response was forthcoming. But it was to wave flags as big and as white as witnessed on any Italian tank. John Cross with his mind on his newborn, a returning Clarky with his thoughts on smashing them out of the ground and Simon ‘Sparky’ Peters dreaming of his fuses and screwdrivers all promised much but failed.  Griffiths, Rochford jnr and others surrendered even more tamely. Notable exceptions were Solanki with bat (and earlier, to some extent, with ball), a late contribution from Ward and the skipper, generous to a tee, batted at 7 and gamely and skilfully amassed an invaluable 37 as Dulwich narrowly avoided an ego-shattering 200 run defeat.
So, one of the 7s worse cricketing days, but hope, and beer, springs eternal and next Saturday sees… wait, who are the visitors at the DSG? Why, it is the Nat West Amblers and the second in The Series. Another weekend, another match…I say!