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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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