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Sat 13th Aug – 3rd XI v Reigate Priory

DULWICH 176-9 (50) tied with REIGATE PRIORY 176 (50)

Scorecard

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.

Sat 6th Aug – 3rd XI v Malden Wanderers

DULWICH 242-2 (50) beat MALDEN WANDERERS 122 (40.2) by 120 runs

Scorecard

The 3rd XI’s championship challenge got back on track at DSG on Saturday with a comprehensive victory over mid-table Malden Wanderers as the format reverted back to the 50 over win/lose format. Victory was assured through a dominant batting performance, followed up by an efficient bowling display. The team was much changed once again with only four players surviving for various reasons from the previous week’s heavy defeat to Walton-on-Thames, and resembled much more of a 3rd team line up with a decent top 6 batting line up (well, top 5 plus Andy Bailey at 6) and an impressive array and variety of bowlers.

Skipper Graeme Hough once again won the toss (12 out of 13!) and chose to bat first on what looked like a decent DSG wicket, and in welcome sunshine. Chris Stone returned from his mini-tour of Europe and Oliver Steward from his poorly finger. Both set about setting the foundation and got things off to a rattling start at close to five an over against Malden’s seamers. Steward dominated the early proceedings playing some pleasing drives and clips off his legs, with Stone playing more of the anchor role. 50 was soon passed and the openers seen off. However, the introduction of left arm spinner Walters soon showed that the pitch was a bit of a ‘bunsen’.

Having looked comfortable on making his way to 44 Steward was then surprisingly stumped off Walters. As he trudged off muttering expletives the rest of the team were unsure whether this was aimed at himself or the decision – it turned out to be the former. Having racked up a number of TFCs in the 2nd team, and suffered immense pain for a few weeks with his sore finger, it was good to see him finding form albeit in August. Matt Balch, himself the holder of quite a few TFCs recently, joined Stone but immediately looked in fairly good nick. As his loud calling reverberated around Dulwich and its environs he continued to push the score along with Stone.

With Stone having rid himself of a bit of rustiness it was then a surprise to see him bowled for 31 playing back to Malden’s fairly impressive young leg spinner Morgan. The ‘Bearded Wonder’ Andy Cornick joined the fray at no. 4 with the score just past 100 close to the halfway point. The entrance of AC to the crease always brings a sigh to umpire Chris Reardon who knows he is going to be talked to death when AC is at the non-striker’s end – Andy likes nothing more than a chat with anyone in his vicinity. Both batted reasonably circumspectly to start with but were quick to punish anything loose. The spinners were eventually bowled out with the score continuing at around 4 runs per over. With plenty of eager batsmen waiting in the hutch a score well in excess of 200 was on.

On and on Balch and Cornick went, as poor no. 5 Jonny Stone’s pad rash began to set in. The last five overs saw a significant increase in tempo and the end came at a challenging 242 for 2 after 50 overs with Balch an excellent 84* and Cornick a more supporting, but still impressive, 47*.

As Dulwich took the field after tea, the 2nd team on the adjacent pitch were just walking off after walloping Beddington. The 3rd XI knew that the second half would be played in front of a welcome, but vociferous and increasingly boozy, crowd. Not quite the Western Terrace at Headingly but plenty of advice to bowlers, fielders and captain would be offered – why not, as the 2nd XI are such a talented array of cricketers who never, ever, ever make any mistakes….

Back to the game skipper Hough decided to relegate Jeremy Jones to one of the change bowlers as Chris Hape/Hope and Ian ‘Level 2’ Toppin opened up. No room for complacency and early wickets were the order of the day. Hopey/Hapey probed his usual miserly line and length whilst Level 2 took on the role of ‘destroyer-in-chief’. Bowling with some pace he castled one of Malden’s openers and induced a lobbed up catch off the other. This was quickly followed by a catch behind to keeper Andy Bailey, another one bowled whilst Hapey also got in on the act bowling another. At five down and less than 30 on board the game was as good as over. This could have been 6 down and a 5-for for Toppin but Steward had spilled one at slip after manfully offering to field there despite only just returning from one of the worst finger injuries in history…

With the damage done Toppin was given a rest and Ben Swanson introduced to provide some classical left arm spin. Swanson quickly settled in to a groove beating the bat with regularity. With Hape bowled out (1-23) the skipper came on for a twirl and also found prodigious turn and bounce. Malden’s middle order went in to cross bat mode and the ball on numerous occasions fell agonisingly in to gaps. But the end was nigh and it was just a matter of time as the run rate required by now was close to 8 an over. Hough got a wicket through a fine one handed catch from Balch and Swanson bowled another. Jeremy Jones – the best 3rd change bowler in the league – replaced Hough whilst Swanson rattled through to complete his 10 overs capturing another (2-32). Jones induced a catch to Hapey at mid-on off that most dangerous of balls, the full toss.

At 9 down and with Toppin re-introduced to replace Swanson it was just a matter of whether Toppers would complete his 5-for, or whether Jonesy would spoil the fun. In the end it was the latter as the final wicket fell to a simple catch at point by Chris Stone (no brotherly love in action here as younger brother Jonny was due to bowl the next over). Toppin ended with an excellent 4 for 34 and Jones 2 for 9.

So a comprehensive win and a good all round performance which sets the team up well for the final run in when all three of the other challengers are to be played, starting with Reigate at DSG next week. With a similar strength of team there is no reason why the season cannot be kept alive down to the wire.

Close call for man of the match between Balch and Toppin, but the former just edges it for his innings.

Sat 30th July – 3rd XI v Walton on Thames

DULWICH 68 (34.3) lost to WALTON ON THAMES 147 (53.2) by 79 runs

Scorecard

The 3rd XI’s championship challenge was seriously dented with a comprehensive defeat to Walton-on-Thames at DSG on Saturday. You generally get what you deserve so no complaints at all as Dulwich’s bowling was generally below par and the batting capitulated against a surprisingly strong and disciplined opposition seam attack. But all credit to Walton-on-Thames who it is hoped avoid relegation as they were a good bunch who played the game in the right spirit.

Whilst not intended as an excuse in any way the batting line up was seriously affected by non-availability throughout the Club and late changes. But thanks to all those who stepped up, particularly those at the last minute. No one performs below par on purpose – it was just one of those days.

Skipper Graeme Hough won the toss once again (11 out of 12!) and inserted Walton on what looked the usual, good DSG wicket – something in it for bowlers and batsmen. Jeremy Jones and Ian ‘Level 2’ Toppin opened the bowling. However both were wayward as the opposition raced to 30 off 4 overs through a combination of wides and four balls. With a spin dominated attack, Hough persevered rather reluctantly with the openers and was rewarded by Jones snaring Walton’s dangerous looking opener, caught behind by Peters. Level 2 also began to find some rhythm and the captain’s faith was rewarded soon after with two excellent catches at first slip by Julian Dean off a couple of beauties from Toppin.

Despite Jones’s wicket runs were still coming too easily so Hough brought himself in to the attack early to try to bring some calm to the proceedings. As the runs were dried up at one end, Toppin found an excellent rhythm at the other and Dulwich began to exert some ascendancy. Hough got an LBW and, on drinks, an over the top bit of acrobatics from Andrew Swain at short midwicket meant Walton were 5 down at the halfway point as Hough bagged another. Toppin’s marathon stint (2-36 off 13) was brought to an end soon after drinks – an excellent spell apart from his first three overs.

Ben Lester’s more flighty off spin was introduced but he struggled for consistency, as did James ‘The Pickler’ Pickles when he followed. Meanwhile Hough continued at one end having snared another LBW. Jez Jones was brought back as Walton’s 7th wicket partnership began to take Walton to respectability. Despite runs continuing Jones took wickets on a regular basis and ended with the team’s first 5-for of the season, ending with 5-47 off 11 overs representing an excellent comeback in his second spell.

Meanwhile skipper Hough had just bowled… and bowled… and then bowled some more at one end to get through 23 overs for 3 wickets, conceding just 20 runs and including 10 maidens. Without this control things may have been a lot worse than Walton’s eventual 147 all out in the 54th over.

With 47 overs to chase 148 the task was not a daunting one, on paper at least. But Walton’s excellent early control with the ball and keenness in the field quickly had Dulwich in trouble at 3 for 3 after 4 overs with JD, Zeeshan and Dan Peters having departed. Suddenly 148 seemed a mile away. Imran Iqbal-Mian and Jonny Stone began to repair the damage with some solid defence but Walton offered few balls to hit and the situation warranted circumspection.

Having frustrated Walton for a number of overs Jonny Stone eventually departed for a hard-fought and patient 16. Andrew Swain joined Imran to inch the score forward but fell shouldering arms to Walton’s incisive and accurate change bowlers. The end was getting close and neither Lester nor Pickles offered much resistance and Imran succumbed trying to push the score along after the drinks break. Only pride remained and the fact that the watching 2nd team wanted some entertainment. However, they got little even though captain Hough struck a few late blows but both Jones and Toppin fell to Walton’s flighty leg spinner to end the innings on a pretty feeble 68 all out in the 35th over.

This loss – only the second of the season it should be stressed – pushed Dulwich back to the 3rd place with 5 matches left. There is time to repair the damage but better availability in the Club and performances by the team are required.

Thanks to Chris Reardon for umpiring at both ends once again and to John Lawrence for scoring.

Sat 23rd July – 3rd XI v Ashtead

DULWICH 194-9 (47.5) beat ASHTEAD 193 (52) by 1 wicket

Scorecard

The 3rd XI won a thriller by one wicket off the penultimate ball on a roasting day in the depths of Surrey. Credit must go to both teams for one of those games that, whilst nervy, was a pleasure to play in, played in a good spirit and made the long journey worthwhile.

Playing at Dulwich you get used to rather annoying away trips but for our longest away trip of the season we were greeted by the beautiful architecture, surroundings, pitch and ground of Box Hill School. The delightful ground and setting would put many first team grounds to shame – how lucky Ashtead are to have such a facility as their second ground.

The much changed team once again gathered pretty much on time, except for (post-graduate student) Sam Hunt who had gone to the wrong ground!! First sight of the wicket resulted in a unanimous verdict that it was a road. This fact, plus the heat, did not stop skipper Graeme Hough choosing to field having won his 10th out of 11 tosses this season. In any case it did not get any cooler. Whilst Dulwich’s senior citizens initially made the most of the shade and watched an always youthful Ashtead side go through their warm up, match heads were soon switched on.

Jeremy Jones and young left-armer Rordon Daws opened up. Daws, quickly settling in to a good rhythm, made the first breakthrough with an in-swinging beauty to castle Ashtead’s captain Wint. Meanwhile, at the other end, Jones bowled what he would readily admit as being one of his worst spells for many a year. He did, however, manage to surprise the other opener with a good length ball on off stump and induced a regulation catch to keeper Dan Peters. The expletives of frustration became louder and stronger from Jones, but not as strong as those that the skipper was muttering to himself as he contemplated bowling changes at a very early stage. But in the ever increasing heat, second spells from seamers later in the day were a risk and so Jones was persevered with in the hope that it could only get better. Suffice to say it didn’t, and with Daws having bowled his allowed quota (1-21 off 7) a double change was made with off spinners Hough and Ben Lester entering the fray.

Now the above may sound a bit harsh on our ‘Jezza’ but that is only because we have been so used to his consistency. This was a very rare off day and Jez will be back next week to put things right no doubt – he remains one of the best opening bowlers in the league.

Back to the game, Hough settled in to his usual miserly line and length at one end and Lester offered his usual F&G with skipper Hough kindly letting him have use of the slight slope in his favour – a level of charity not usually becoming of the captain! Lester struck first bowling the no. 3 with a flighted beauty, Hough trapped another plumb in front and Lester induced a catch to mid-off. 69 for 2 had quickly become 81 for 5 and Dulwich scented blood. All through this Ashtead’s young no. 4 Ben Sidwell was holding things together and it was clear at an early stage he was a class act and was going to be difficult to budge. However, wickets were snaffled at the other end – another LBW by Hough and James ‘The Pickler’ Pickles got an excellent caught behind by Peters in his first over having replaced Lester (2-39 off 10).

At 122 for 7 a score of below 150 was on, but Sidwell continued to toy with bowlers and fielders. Without taking the bowling apart at any point his placement was excellent and skipper Hough was even forced to utter (very reluctantly of course) a couple of ‘good shot’ calls to him. Ashtead’s young tail wagged well as the heat took its toll on the fielding Dulwich team. Wickets were eventually gained through a third Hough LBW (had the heat got to umpire Chris Reardon? Were bribes involved? No, they were all just plumb out), a run out and another wicket from ‘The Pickler’. But Ashtead had moved well to 193 all out off 52 overs. Sidwell remained at the end on 82 not out in an innings of maturity, patience, concentration as well as skill. A rather tired Hough toiled through 19 overs for 3-41 and special mention again to Sam Hunt for some energetic and athletic fielding.

In such sumptuous surroundings it was no surprise that the tea was to match. After feasting and hydrating well, Guy Woodgate and James Chudley strode out with 48 overs to chase down 194. Things quickly took a turn for the worse as Woodgate miscued a pull shot second ball and Chuds surprisingly missed a straight one soon after. At 14 for 2 the target of 194 seemed some way off. The increasingly ‘Bearded Wonder’ Andy Cornick joined Julian Dean to begin to repair the damage. The openers were seen off and they were beginning to look comfortable as the score was moved to 43 for 2. Enter JD’s nemesis – any spinner in Surrey! The exotically named left arm spinner Marcus Caprano-Wint entered the fray – who, by the way, had figures of 16-11-8-3 the previous week. He is only 15 but had bowled well in the first match earlier in the season. Anyway, JD had a good look at him… well for two balls… then launched the third in to orbit… end of. 43 for 3 quickly became 55 for 4 as Dan Peters was bowled having played his shot seemingly in a different time zone to the ball – in his defence it was there to hit but kept on the low side.

Sam ‘I’m a keeper really’ Hunt joined Cornick who by now was unleashing some pleasingly timed drives for which he is known when on form. Sam Hunt is one of those who commentators would describe as a ‘busy cricketer’ and they began to build a good partnership and increase the run rate. Cornick cleanly lofted the spinner over the top a couple of times and Hunt showed a liking, as well as a skill, for the sweep shot which spinners generally do not like. Having serenely moved to 47 Cornick then attempted to go over the top again, missed and was stumped as he lay in a crumpled heap on the ground – 96 for 5 and game in the balance.

Lester joined Hunt and they upped the run rate as it was the turn of Ashtead’s bowlers and fielders to feel the heat. Hunt punished anything short with aggressive pull shots – this included a comical bit of fielding from Ashtead as a full blooded pull shot rebounded off deep square’s knee almost back on to the pitch… ouch! Lester also struck a monstrous 6 – well that is what he is telling everyone who wasn’t there as it was really a push for two followed by four overthrows! Having moved Dulwich in sight of victory at 163 for 5, Lester eventually perished to a good catch on the boundary showing his inability to hit a proper 6! ‘The Pickler’ joined Hunt and they moved the score up to 179 when Hunt was run out in a mix up for an excellent 65.

Dulwich nerves were beginning to increase, not helped by Jez Jones’s day not getting any better as he eyed a quick single… from a push straight back to the bowler – another run out and 185 for 8. This quickly became 187 for 9 as Pickles was cleaned up for a handy 12. So it all came down to the last over – 7 to win with Daws and the cool, calm and collected (not!) captain Hough. A couple of singles were followed by a couple of lusty Daws blows for two runs each. Scores tied and two balls to go. As Daws offered incredibly helpful advice to his captain to ‘just run fast’ (little chance) the penultimate ball thudded in to Daws’ pads. Whilst Ashtead appealed in vain for LBW they forgot about the ball and the victory was sealed with Hough thankfully not having to run that fast at all to make it home.

An excellent match, made better by news later in the evening that leaders Wimbledon had lost against Spencer. 7 points now separate four teams at the top – GAME ON!

Captain’s man of the match for the John Lawrence Award was Sam Hunt for his batting and fielding, with Andy Cornick second and Rordon Daws third.

Sat 16th July – 3rd XI v Weybridge

DULWICH 113-0 (17.4) beat WEYBRIDGE (36.2) by 10 wickets

Scorecard

The 3rd XI romped to a 10-wicket victory against relegation threatened Weybridge at DSG on Saturday. The team was greeted with some surprising sunshine and a move to Turney Road pitch 1. The only down side to such a comprehensive victory was that the number of TFCs was more than is desirable with just four bowlers and two batsmen called in to action.

A much changed team welcomed Chris Hope and James Pickles back from injury with other changes required due to lack of availability. Skipper Graeme Hough’s skills at the toss continued as he won his 9th out of 10 this season and did not hesitate to insert Weybridge to bat on what looked a good deck and quick outfield. After a good warm up and a little wait for Weybridge to arrive Jeremy Jones opened up and cleaned up one of Weybridge’s openers in the first over. At the other end Hopey quickly settled in to a good rhythm. Weybridge’s giant number 3 (6ft 8ins was the official stat) showed a keenness to put bat to ball, whilst their left handed opener showed a remarkable skill to play and miss on a regular basis as a full slip cordon waited in anticipation.

Hopey soon cleaned up Weybridge’s BFG and Jones got in on the act soon after with a strangled caught behind down the leg side by Bailey. A suicidal attempted run saw a run out thanks to ‘The Pickler’ and Hopey cleaned up another to leave Weybridge in trouble. Matt Balch had replaced Jones (an excellent 2-19 off 8 overs) by now whilst skipper Hough wrung every ounce of energy out of ‘sore side’ Hope until he threw in the towel after 11 overs. A welcome return (2-35) dampened somewhat by his after match announcement of non-availability for two weeks, after 5 weeks out with injury….

Hough replaced Hope to provide some double spin action and the remaining five wickets did not take long to snaffle. Smart catches from Hough, Skinner and Bailey gave Balchy another three wickets (3–32) whilst Hough snared a couple (2-20). Weybridge 111 all out after a good bowling and fielding performance. Aside from the catches special mention to Sam Hunt for an outstanding piece of fielding on the boundary to protect the captain’s figures – this always goes down well!

After tea the two Guys – Woodgate and Skinner – strode out and both looked confident from the off, keeping out the good balls, punishing anything loose, and running well between the wickets against an increasingly dispirited Weybridge. Both timed the ball well in particular off their legs and it quickly became clear that victory was going to be a formality, just by how much as ‘pad rash’ began to set in on the boundary. The race to 50 was on which Skinner just edged as Weybridge’s change bowlers offered little threat. Game over by 5.30pm in the 18th over leaving lots of celebration time – Skinner 50* and Woodgate 46*.

As the team tucked in to a few jugs they were joined by the victorious 4th team to cheer on the 2nd team in a nail biter on the next pitch. The weekend’s results saw Dulwich move up to 2nd place but still more than a win behind the seemingly rampant Wimbledon 3s. We can only win our games and so the team moves on to the long trip to Ashtead hoping to keep up the pressure in what continues to be an excellent season with 8 wins out of 11.

Thanks as ever to Chris Reardon for umpiring and JL for scoring.