DULWICH 176-9 (50) tied with REIGATE PRIORY 176 (50)
The 3rd XI’s championship challenge was dented with a rare, but thrilling tie with Reigate at DSG which did neither team any good in terms of their league standing. Sitting in 3rd and 4th place before the game both teams remain there, but with the top two Spencer and Wimbledon both winning Dulwich are now more than one win behind. Although Dulwich have to play both these teams they both seem to be winning comfortably against the other teams they are playing in the bottom half. Hopes are slim but it is still too early to give up and it should be remembered that, whatever happens, this has been an excellent season.
The team gathered on time once again, the usual warm up undertaken (except the skipper who is too old for all that running around), whilst Reigate lounged in the sun on the grass. But that is their way and they always present strong opposition. Skipper Graeme Hough lost a rare toss and Reigate understandably chose to bat in what turned out to be a lovely summer’s day. Blue bails on in support of the Cricket United initiative, Chris Hope and Ian Toppin opened up the bowling. Both bowled OK but runs came freely from Reigate’s aggressive openers, Bukhari in particular, as it quickly became obvious the wicket was offering little assistance to the seamers. Having raced to 50 plus off the first 10 overs it looked like a long day in the field but Hope induced an aggressive shot too many from Bukhari and Toppin took a good catch at mid-off for the first wicket.
By this time JeremyJones had been promoted from last week’s third change bowler to first change to replace Toppin and a degree of control began to be exerted. This improved as Hough replaced Hope and the second wicket came when Morris caught the no. 3 off a well-disguised short of a length (long hop!!) delivery from Hough. Further wickets quickly came as Hough snared the other opener LBW and bowled Reigate’s no. 4. At 4 down, and the run rate quickly reducing to manageable proportions, things were looking a lot better. Ben ‘Milky’ Swanson replaced Jones and the spin twins (or should that be more like grandfather and grandson!) of Swanson and Hough turned the screw on a helpful, turning wicket. Swanson bowled with maturity and control with Toppin taking an excellent catch out of the sun at mid-off and two classical dismissals caught at slip by Oliver ‘sore hand’ Steward. Swanson’s spell was topped off with snaring the dangerous Briggs LBW.
Having been looking at 250 plus at one point 60 for 0 had changed to 130 for 8. Swanson returned an excellent 4-32 off his 10 overs and Hough a miserly 3-18 off his. On a turning wicket the captain turned to Matt Balch’s off spin to replace himself and he quickly reeled off three overs for little whilst the seamers returned at the other end. However, Reigate’s youthful number 10 Tiley showed he is an avid watcher of 20:20 cricket as he mixed obdurate defence with more extravagant shots including a switch hit for 6 off Balch – annoying but most Dulwich players could not help raising a chuckle to themselves. The end eventually came as Toppin cleaned Tiley up attempting a ramp shot (!!) and Jones captured the final wicket. 176 all out was a good effort in the end considering the start, the only criticism being there was still too many wides (17).
Steward and Morris opened up and the former again looked in good nick with a couple of nice pull shots to the boundary. Third time unlucky, however, as the next one lobbed to mid-on. Balch joined Morris and began to grind things out against Reigate’s tight opening bowlers. The score edged to 50 or so at the 20 over point but things were in control, wickets in hand and the run rate more than manageable. Things can turn quickly in cricket though and Balch lobbed an easy return catch to spinner Tiley, Morris fell LBW and Guy Skinner hit a full toss to mid-on. 50 for 1 to 60-odd for 4 and the game had taken on a different complexion.
Although our own ‘Bearded Wonder’ Andy Cornick at no.4 was perturbed to see that Reigate’s captain, Brickley, had beaten him hands down in the facial hair competition he was not put off by this as AC and Andy Bailey at no.6 began repairing the damage. Both batted circumspectly but punished anything loose and nudged and nurdled the score along. 100 was well passed and the required run rate under control with wickets in hand. At around 130, however, AC missed a straight one for a well-crafted 42. Chris Hope joined Bailey and a few lusty blows took the score closer to the target, including an exquisite cover drive from Bailey amid the stoic defence. Hope tried one hit too many and skied one, then Jones did not last too long. Suddenly the game was back in the balance at 7 down with still 20 or so to win and the run rate creeping up. The captain joined the fray to bash a few runs but Bailey skied one and Hough followed soon after in similar fashion – a bit of panic from these experienced players.
The match came down to the final over – 6 to win with last pair Swanson and Toppin at the crease. A wide, some scampered singles resulted in two runs off the last ball to win. Toppers swung but hit straight to mid-on for a single – match tied. A good match that swung various ways throughout the day but Dulwich got themselves in a position to win at a few points. Some soft dismissals in the top order and injudicious shots from the lower order contrived to throw it away. But credit to Reigate for not giving up and bowling with discipline at the end to make it difficult.
It is vital that the team finish strong, as you never know what may happen and Dulwich will have a crucial say in who might win the league - though the choice is Wimbledon or Spencer…
Man of the match was Ben Swanson for an excellent spell of left arm spin bowling and thanks once again to umpire Chris Reardon.