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Sat 20th May – 2nd XI v Guildford

GUILDFORD 125 (42.5) lost to DULWICH 156-9 (50) by 31 runs

Scorecard

As we all know Dulwich turns 150 years old this year. 20th of May certainly did not disappoint. With Captain Kirk leaving the bridge in the hands of Steve ‘Cheeky wish’ Patankar nobody could foresee what was to happen next.

With the finest burger stalls in England congregated on the hallowed ground of the Giant Arches car park, something extraordinary was about to happen. As ever, the top four were hungry, chomping at the bit to get their teeth in and they did not disappoint. 45-5 with the young Prince and his beloved Uncle, the Tulsman, two double stack burgers down, the scene was set.

Ed ‘Big Show’ Towner took it upon himself to be the resident weather man, claiming the BBC don’t have a clue. "Bright sunshine in Dulwich. The useless… Look up there - Armageddon is upon us," the gorgeous but, equally useless, Carrick impersonator grinned at me. It’s fair to say the rain dances were in full flow. For a while it looked like Towner: Messenger of the Gods had nailed it as the covers were rushed on to the field. Alas it was short lived. With Rinaldo rushing back to field all seemed doomed. We needed heros. "We need true Yorkshire grit" – Steve winked at me as he watched Kambo and Ishi stride to the crease, the prides of Yorkshire. For a while it seemed the White Rose would flourish again but a few quick wickets, and a master blaster innings from the Ginger Giles saw the entrance of The Lion, The Animal - Dulwich's very own Dorian Gray. Determined to show the War of the Roses is still at large, Houghy, accompanying The Big Cheese managed to hit Guildford for 150 - a total which the Tulsman was adamant equated to 260 at Guildford and was not shy about letting them know.

The belief was back and the fire was roaring. The Doggies were about to take the field but not before intimidating the prey. The new catching cradle was called for. Looking more like we belonged in a cradle than cricketers, needless to say it was a disaster. After a verbal lashing by the crucial 12th man, Jenny, we knew losing was not an option.

After a good start from Guildford, Kamran Amir decided to put his winter training into practice, getting two wickets in two overs from no balls - one of which saw the diving Jonty Marshall grab the dying ball at backward point, which has been dubbed the catch of the century. 36-0 and The Big Cheese and Kambo were fired up. Kam, speaking more with words and eyes than ball, refused to take a backward step, taking on the mental battle and leaving the cricket stage to his partner in crime. ‘The Big Cheese winds up, pulls out the cheese slicer as if cutting through Wensleydale and proceeds to Wallace and Gromit the opposition with a combination of flight and guile. Wallace and Gromit would have been proud.’ – Cheeky Steve. Thanks Steve. 45-5….Deja vu? Not in this life.

110-7 and Guildford had hope, but we all know. Hope is the worst thing you can give a man in this life. Running from long off to long off Mystic Towner kept mumbling "We’re gonna lose this." Oh Towner, sweet naïve Towner. In a moment of brilliance from the King of Spin, the gift that just keeps giving, Houghy - who had watched Hirsty grip, rip and rag his way to 9 overs 1 wicket for 19 – managed to leave the set batsman bamboozled as the ball turned from the outfield strip to take middle stump.

The brains trust wasn’t finished, Guildford were over the barrel, but who was going to pull the trigger? In typical Maverick fashion the skipper threw the ball to The Big Show. "MADNESS" were the cries from the boundary as Sav and Ed Matten chugged their 16th pint of the afternoon (shout out to you boys for funding the bar for another season by the 3rd game of the season). I for one, standing at deep cow had no doubt that a man who had been so consistently wrong all day had to come up with the goods. It was written in the stars.

The Warm Up: Honestly, I've seen more stability in a toddler on ice. Limbs flying everywhere, head all over the place. Criminal that I had been overlooked, but we play on. We digress.

First Ball: Once it got going it was rhythmical, from the handbook of Michael Holding himself. The stride, the take off, the action. Mesmerising. Unfortunately the umpire wasn’t as engrossed in the technique as I. Wide.

The Shearer: Called ‘The Big Show’ for a reason, Towner was never going to leave the field before The Shearer came out. Oh how it came out! It soon became apparent to me it had all been a brilliant joke. With a cheekiest of winks from Towner, the slow roll had been completed. Pushing mid off to the boundary, the next few moments became an emotional rollercoaster. Towner delivered the slowest of slower balls, pitching just back of a short ball length and the nagging line of 2 stumps outside off. Needless to say it went straight to long off.

The Catch: Seeing the ball thunder skywards I immediately knew it didn’t have the legs. Seeing Sav and Ed at the bar, I knew I had to get there asap. Silence had taken over. For clarity, I have provided three separate perspectives on the next couple moments (The Bowler, The Skipper and The Catcher) as its all a bit of a blur to me.

"It was a sitter. Nowhere near as good as Jonty's at backward point, but I bet Hirsty will give you a great description." – Ed ‘The Big Show, Carrick’ Towner (Bowler)

"Well well well, given I have the best view in the house. The ball goes up in the air and Spaghetti Fingers Hirst, looking like a lamb underneath it decides, to run around, arms flailing, arms going everywhere. He's like 'Eurgh theres a ball there, I guess I better catch this.' Suffers some incontinence problems, but he takes a good catch.’ – Cheeky Steve (Keeper, Captain, Number 3)

"So Towner started his over, with a massive wide down leg side and I was thinking 'Oh we could be in trouble here. They only need 4 an over and this guy is going well - he's hit a couple of long balls before.' The next ball, outside off and I thought 'That’s gone a long way up in the air.' Seeing Steve running the opposite way I knew it was up to me to get there and claim it. Like a Northern Usain Bolt I’m off, thinking to myself, 'Really glad I was the one hitting the catches in the warm up - this is my time.' Sprinting a good 120 yards, the whole time thinking 'Oh no oh no oh no, if I drop this I’m going to look like a clown.' The doubt started to creep in. I composed myself - I’m having this JL fielding point. A man possessed I set myself. It lands in my hands. I looked around and thought 'Yeah boys, never in doubt.' Amazing what you can achieve with raw God-given talent and a massive pair of plums.’ – James ‘Big Plums’ Hirst (Catcher)

Who knows what really happened - I personally don’t even remember I was in the bar doing shots of tequila with Sav and Ed, but I do remember The Shearer. We all remember The Shearer.

Victory was ours, or so it seemed when Golden Arm Towner returned for his second over, figures already 1-0-1-1. He saw his name in lights, number 11 chipping the ball to the man at square leg and the second half of the brain trust, the man who engineered this winning position – the Daddy of Dulwich, Tulsman. Sprinting back to Sav and Ed for the next round, I knew it was over. However Raj Mignolet unleashed his inner keeper to push it round the corner. Alas it was not to be, ending with figures of 2-0-2-1, Towner didn’t get the fairytale ending but has put his name in contention for best all-rounder in the club – if not league.

With an angry and ruthless Sugarhut Edwards storming in 4 balls later it was all over. Guildford succumbed to 125 all out.

Dubbed the most epic game in Dulwich history I hope it is not another 150 years until we see another outfit as ruthless, devilishly handsome and banterful as the Dulwich 2nd XI. 3 Games, 3 Wins, Top of the league.

A special performance, by a special team, in a special year, on a special day, for a special captain.

Congratulations Skipper on your big day.

Sat 13th May – 2nd XI v Cranleigh

CRANLEIGH 101 (28.4) lost to DULWICH 102-6 (29.5) by 4 wickets

Scorecard

A four wicket win against fellow newcomers Cranleigh CC was enough to place Dulwich firmly at the top of the 2nd XI Surrey Division 1 and underline their credentials as early season promotion favourites.

Dulwich welcomed back opening bowler Matt Quaife to their ranks as Bridgland won the toss and elected to field – sticking to a formula that’s turned him into one of the most feared captains in Surrey cricket.

Bridgland and Quaife took the new ball and made early inroads, destroying Cranleigh’s hopes of setting anything resembling a competitive total. The pace and swing combination proved too much as Quaife recorded a season’s best haul of 5-35 off 10 overs, removing four of the top six, most noticeably the threatening Max Barson (22), while Bridgland happily took the back seat picking up 2-32 off his eight overs.

At 46-6, an early finish seemed inevitable yet Cranleigh’s captain, Josh Cummings (44) stood strong, protecting his partners with mature crease and strike management. It was left to Dulwich legend, Graeme Hough, to clean up the tail, finishing with figures of 2-6 off just 2.4 overs.

Such was the clinical efficiency of the home side’s bowling, only two Cranleigh batsmen reached double figures in a miserable total of 101 off 29 overs. Dulwich’s caterers had misjudged the strength of Cranleigh’s batting line up and weren’t prepared for the players to take an early tea, therefore both teams were instructed to head straight back onto the field of play for 20 overs. Many spectators were questioning whether Dulwich even needed that long.

Tulsani (13) and Towner’s (11) dreams of a 10-wicket win were quickly dashed as both were removed cheaply. It was left to Northern Irishman, Ross Ewing, on his Dulwich 2nd XI debut, to take control of the innings. He played with trademark panache, dominating Cranleigh’s bowling attack while carting them to all parts, before being bowled by Sam Wade for a promising 33.

A middle-order crisis ensued as Dulwich lost a number of wickets, AJ Patanker (0), Jacko The Aus (5) and Lloyd Edwards’ slightly dubious innings of 0, all fell in quick succession. Bowling hero Matt Quaife (2*) and a solid looking Ishy Baksh (23*),who was keen to finish the job and crack on with some Year 9 marking, were both calmness personified as they steered Dulwich to a four wicket victory and another 20 points.

Another win means, once again, Dulwich are top of the league (ignore the fact it’s purely by means of alphabetical order), it’s certainly a promising start for a team yet to field a full-strength side. Joyous captain, James Bridgland, reflected on the win with cautious optimism: “I’m proud of the lads, racking up the wins at this stage of the season is essential.

“Frustratingly, a couple of us are unavailable next week, I’m getting married, but the lads are in safe hands with Matt Quaife. I’m not sure what I’m more nervous about, getting married or how the team will get on without me. I’ll be checking my phone throughout the ceremony”.

Sat 6th May – 2nd XI v Epsom

EPSOM 110 (44.5) lost to DULWICH 112-3 (27.3) by 7 wickets

Scorecard

After a long winter break, Dulwich 2nd XI picked up where they left off, with an emphatic seven wicket victory at Epsom.

Last season, the 2nd team had steamrollered all before them and came into 2017 in confident mood. Unusually for Dulwich, no players had left the club and some promising new recruits had arrived. So, despite being shorn of three of his star performers, captain Bridgland was still able to put out a very strong side.

On winning the toss, Bridgland stuck to type and asked Epsom to bat. As the innings began, all signs pointed to a long day in the field for Dulwich. The sun had made a fleeting appearance, the outfield was lightning and the track was flat. After four overs, Epsom had strolled to 18/0, both Bridgland and Matt Wright had been taken for early boundaries and Steve Patanker had dropped a stinker behind the stumps. The omens looked bad.

Bridgland rarely fails to get an early wicket though, and again found the edge of Berry (11). This time, Steve made no mistake and Dulwich were off the mark.

At the other end, walking ego Matt Wright was not to be outdone. His new teammates were quickly learning that you do not want to make Mad Matt angry… and EVERYTHING makes Mad Matt angry. “I’ll show them who the Big Cheese is around here”, he roared as he sent Windsor’s off stump tumbling for a duck. 19/2.

The two quick wickets knocked Epsom on to the back foot as Bridgland and Wright delivered five maidens in a row. Eventually the pressure told as the batsmen attempted a suicidal single to Jonty Hough – 19/3. Dulwich were well and truly on top. Runs had stopped, wickets were tumbling and Mad Matt was bullying colts.

A double change followed, but the pressure did not let up as perma-tanned Lloyd Edwards took a quick break from his bronzing regime to deliver yet more maidens. At the other end, Hough took no time in ending the obdurate resistance of Allen (8). 22/4.

Looking to get through the overs, Bridgland opted for spin “spin” at both ends. Even Hirst’s ‘variations’ were proving difficult to get away as the scoreboard crawled along, but Retief (27) and Beswick (13) were proving difficult to dislodge. Reaching to the bottom of his crafty bag of tricks, Hirst found the ball labeled “Big Full Toss, Wide of Cut Strip”. It did the trick – Beswick chipping straight to Steward at short cover.

Epsom tried to push on, but could never quite get going. Retief and Hudson (12) fell to Hirst (3-26) and Mad Matt (2-17) trapped Secchi in front for 5, giving him another opportunity to practice his send-offs.

Only a hard-hitting cameo from Stranger at number 9 did any damage as he took 29 off 26 balls, including a monstrous 6 off Bridgland.

Bridgland had the last laugh though, as Stranger sliced to point where Ismail Baksh took an excellent catch. Two balls later, the innings was over as Bridgland (3-23) took his third.

Epsom finished with a below-par 110 off 44.5 overs thanks to a hugely impressive display from Dulwich. All 5 bowlers were on top form, assisted by a magnificent all-round fielding performance, in particular from Hough, Baksh and Ed Towner’s knee.

Despite the small total, Raj Tulsiani was taking nothing for granted, enlisting the help of James ‘The Arm’ Hirst for some testing pre-match throw downs. Hirst extinguished his 47th cigarette of the day and heeded Raj’s plea to “throw it as fast as you can”, delivering some testing 25mph wide yorkers to help him get his eye in. Alas, Hirst’s efforts were all in vain as Tulsiani was beaten for pace third ball; chipping the ball to point for a duck, Dulwich were 0/1 – his lack of hangover obviously affecting his batting mojo.

At the other end, Ed Towner was having no such problems. Tonner had been struggling all day after a ‘big one’ the night before. Flagrantly disregarding the captain’s strict curfew, Towner had hit the town straight after work, throwing back no fewer than three pints of lager shandy and a shot of Apple Sourz. Sure, he’d had fun at the time, but when he staggered to bed at 8.45pm the night before, he’d given scant thought to the hangover hell he would have to suffer at the crease.

Towner is made of stern stuff though. Whilst many of us would have been in bed for days after such a heavy one, Towner was out in the middle and doing what he does best – stroking it straight to mid-on for no run. At the other end, Steve Patanker looked in fine touch, before he edged behind for 19 to make way for mid-week specialist, Guy Skinner.

Skinner’s weekend travails were well documented in these pages last season. Try as he might, he just couldn’t replicate his Jazz hat form in a Dulwich cap at the weekend. But this year he looks determined to change that reputation. “Deus facere Martis, augendae mea mediocris” he told himself as he strode to the wicket to join the struggling Towner.

It seemed to work. Skinner raced to a well-made 33, including a barrage of boundaries off his legs, before being adjudged LBW with just 27 needed. Steward (11*) entered the fray to see Dulwich home alongside Towner (45*), by now severely dehydrated.

The perfect start to the season for a 2nd XI with big ambitions; a fine effort in the field backed up with solid knocks from Towner, Skinner and Patanker. With three home games to come, Dulwich will be looking to impose themselves on their new league.​​


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