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Sat 21st May – 3rd XI v Old Rutlishians

DULWICH 144-1 (29.3) beat OLD RUTLISHIANS 140 (46.1) by 9 wickets

Scorecard

Skipper Hough won the toss and, with one eye on the weather, elected to field first on a wicket that looked like it would offer a bit with the new ball. Jones opened up from the 'pavilion' end, and Swain from the tennis court end. Swain, fresh from not bowling for a couple of years, fired down a couple of half pace Harmison-esque deliveries towards 2nd slip in his first over before settling down into an excellent rhythm to tie the two young Old Ruts openers down. Jones struck first with the wicket of the day, a good length away-swinger pinging back the top of off-stick, to reduce the hosts for 16-1. This quickly became 33-2 as the number three chipped Jones (2-25 from 9) to Hollows at mid-off; the Doggies were on top. Hollows was introduced to the attack, bamboozling the number four with a leggy, followed by a toppy that would have had Boycott purring as it kissed the top of off.

Enter the main man to the stage, who quickly decided the best way to deal with the spinning ball was to try and break the hand of the man who bowled it. He hammered a full ball back at the bowler who could only deflect it, and what was left of his fingers, for 4 through wide mid-on – still a drop's a drop and his no show in the bar later means a double fine is due next week. Whilst this chap was in, there was never a dull moment with some good shots interspersed with a few ugly heaves and some interesting calling. Swain (1-32 from 9) at the other end deservedly got into the wickets column with a loopy caught and bowled (that actually carried – see below). Old Ruts recovered to 78-4 before the big fella tried to clear Peters at long off, who gleefully accepted the flat catch, the ball before drinks.

Callaghan replaced Swain and quickly settled into a rhythm in tandem with evergreen skipper Hough as Dulwich applied the squeeze. Callaghan (1-18 from 8) pushed one through a little quicker that surprised the solid looking number six as he top-edged into his lid with Bailey running round to take what many witnesses believe was the best catch they have ever seen (based on a survey of one). Hough had the opposing skipper caught by the diving Tulsiani (genuinely!) – the first of three catches for big fella - at cover before pinning the next man LBW. Promising young leggie Daniel 'I would never dare drop a catch off my own bowling' Peters was introduced into the attack and gave nothing away (0-6 from 4). He thought he had grabbed his first Dulwich league wicket via a cheeky caught & bowled, only to find out the one-hand one bounce rule doesn't apply in the Surrey Championship. Thankfully a regulation nick (top edged heave via the keepers grille) to slip gave Hough (3-22 from 9) his third wicket and an early tea looked on the cards. However the young numbers nine and 11 showed great application in a last wicket stand of 20, before a returning Hollows (3-37 from 7) had ended the innings for 140, via another catch to Tulsiani, this time at mid-wicket.

After a pretty good tea in the rain, and a "heads on" pep talk from the skipper, the experienced Dulwich campaigners Tulsiani and Cornick strode out to bat. After a couple of early half chances the two settled down, punishing the bad balls and progressing the score at a healthy rate with a number of quick singles to the men in the ring big biffs to the boundary. Meanwhile on the edge of the field Swain, obviously pleased with his earlier bowling performance, went to lengths to explain how he pinned Headingley hero Jonny Bairstow lbw when he was about ten with some raw pace. Thankfully a large Tulsiani six over long on ended the conversation/fairytale early, and Jones ensured the new cherry was wet through by throwing it over the fielders head into the long grass. Further errant village throws from Peters and Morris only further embarrassed the skipper, who retired to chain smoke under the cover of the changing hut roof.

Peters handed over scoring duties to Jones, who was so perplexed by having to add balls faced by the batsmen that we only got round to cheering Raj's 50 when he was on 55. Stingray by this point was pulling his hair out as Cornick, often at the non-strikers end with Tulsiani very adept at counting to six, talked his ear off all innings. When Cornick departed, clipping the young Old Ruts seamer to square leg for a well made 39 off 59 balls, his delight at the peace and quiet mirrored Morris' annoyance at having to bat with only 6 to win. With new pup Henry Hazlewood scrabbling around for his pads Morris finished the game off quickly with a boundary. Tulsiani (90* off 109) was clearly the stand out performance of the day as he deservedly left the field to a standing ovation.

Another good win for the 3s, who host newly promoted Ashtead next Saturday in a confident mood.

Sat 14th May – 3rd XI v Sunbury

DULWICH 216-8 (50) beat SUNBURY 91 (26) by 125 runs

Scorecard

Dulwich 3rd XI continued their winning start to the season as the reigning champions Sunbury were brushed aside at a windswept DSG.

A visit from the perennial title challengers is always a tough test, especially for a Dulwich team shorn of their skipper due to family commitments. Stand-in leader Andy Bailey got off to an inauspicious start with DCC's most promising colt losing the toss. After a moment of deliberation, Sunbury chose to field. Though a touch green, the pitch appeared to have few demons.

It looked like a sizeable total would be required as Raj Tulsiani and Andy Cornick strode to the crease. Tulsiani in particular began in confident mood. Collar up, sweating out the previous night's Chablis, he deposited the Sunbury openers to all corners as Dulwich hurtled to 60/1 off the first 10; the only blemish being Cornick's dismissal, LBW for 8.

With a monstrous total looming, Sunbury turned to spin and the decision paid off instantly. Tulsiani was bowled for a well-crafted 40, quickly followed by Ed Towner (17) and Guy Skinner (0). With the score at 74/4 off 20 some serious rebuilding was required. John Morris (34) and Imran Iqbal-Mian (29) showed admirable application as they negotiated the threatening spinners. Sati Lowme for Sunbury was particularly impressive, returning miserly figures of 2 for 9 off his 10 overs, including 7 maidens in a row. Having done much of the hard work, neither batsman could capitalise and at 130/6 with 10 overs remaining, a competitive total felt a long way off.

Enter the captain. Something special was needed and the diminutive Bailey knew, for the first time in his career, he needed to go big. He was trying…..oh how he was trying. He swung the bat with vigour – for a two scampered to mid-wicket. A full blooded cover drive… trickled to silly mid on. And then. The ball rose above his eye line, as it nearly always does for someone so vertically challenged. He cleared his left leg and swung his arms. The ball rose high towards mid-wicket; the crowd held their breath. The fielder set himself, but to no avail. This was the one he'd be waiting for. High and handsome. Bailey's first ever legitimate six (the only other witnessed was a top edge over the keeper’s head) cleared the 40 yard boundary comfortably. The innings was back on track.

Inspired by their skipper (27), the tail wagged ferociously. Powerful hitting from Jeremy Jones (23) and Chris Hope (14*) saw Dulwich surge to a competitive 216/8 from their 50 overs.

Sunbury's reply began in explosive fashion with 34 runs taken from the first two overs with Chris Hope, beginning as he finished last week, on the receiving end of some particularly brutal hitting from the Sunbury skipper. Like all Yorkshiremen, generosity does not come naturally to Hope. Aided by the excellent swing bowling of Jones (2-28), he bounced back with supreme skill, demolishing the Sunbury top order with figures of 10-3-31-4. From that point on, Dulwich never released the pressure, with Hollows (2-12) and Hirst (1-15) mopping up the tail to complete an easy victory by 125 runs.

A fine win in what could easily have been a tricky fixture. Two wins from two and top of the league (even if only on alphabetical order), a promising start to 2016 for the 3rd XI.

Sat 7th May – 3rd XI v Walton-on-Thames

DULWICH 195 (47.4) beat WALTON-ON-THAMES 176 (47.3) by 19 runs

Scorecard

As something more resembling cricket weather made an appearance, the 3rd XI ventured down by the river to Walton-on-Thames for the first league fixture of the season. A late departure and typical sunny weather resulted in traffic issues which meant the team assembled just in time for the start. Not a great beginning which put the always-on-edge Dulwich captain even more on edge, but not quite over it!

With a few promising league debutants, a strong (on paper) batting line up, the captain winning the toss and choosing to bat things looked good. However, it did not take long for things to turn less good. Openers Raj Tulsiani and newcomer Ed Towner started circumspectly against accurate bowling but both succumbed to full tosses, quickly followed by the unnecessary run out of John Morris. 20 for 3 soon became 50-odd for 5 as batsmen struggled for early season form.

Then followed a match turning and, ultimately, match winning partnership between newbies Guy Skinner (57) and Imran Iqbal-Mian (79). Skinner took a while to get in to his stride but proceeded to bat with some elegance and timing. Iqbal-Mian also batted sensibly but proceeded to punish any wayward bowling with some brutality, showing a particular liking for the pull shot as he unleashed a few tracer bullets to the boundary.

The tail did not quite wag as strongly as was hoped but enough players hung around with Iqbal-Mian to eke out runs steadily. 200-plus was the target but the team fell just short with Iqbal-Mian the last man out for 79 – an excellent start to his Dulwich career.

With the ball, early pressure and wickets were the key. The latter arrived as Walton’s top order batsmen also fell to that underrated wicket taking ball – the full toss! Despite the wickets there was a degree of early season rustiness and lack of rhythm in the bowling which meant that Walton continued to accumulate runs at a steady rate. Skinner’s day continued positively with a stunning low diving catch as Dulwich took control with half the wickets taken with just 59 on the board. Then followed a 50 run partnership between Walton’s veteran, but very capable, number 3 batsman and their hard hitting number 7. Spinners Dan Peters and skipper Graeme Hough were now in tandem and it was the latter who made the crucial breakthrough enticing a skier and Skinner taking his third catch of the match.

The victory was in sight but Walton’s number 3 continued to provide stubborn resistance and, on a slow wicket, wickets were hard gained. The captain looked for someone to bowl full and straight and up stepped reluctant bowler Ed Towner who proceeded to tie the batsmen down and take a couple of wickets. A more comfortable victory was in sight at 142 for 9 but a stubborn last wicket partnership, and some wayward bowling, delayed the inevitable. A run out in the penultimate over secured the victory by 19 runs.

Any win has to represent a good start, but room for improvement in many areas and for many individuals – exceptions being Skinner and Iqbal-Mian. The latter was clear man of the match with his 79 and 4 for 31. Champagne moment of the day probably goes to Skinner for his low diving catch.