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Sat 3rd Sep – 4th XI v Spencer

DULWICH 86-5 (22) lost to SPENCER 198 (45) on run rate (rain affected)

Scorecard

So in the end the 4th XI Premiers Division title was decided whilst sitting in a changing room, watching the rain fall and a sense of helplessness engulfing the team as we watched it slip away. With almost identical records in the league, maybe the elements were the most applicable way to separate the Dulwich and Spencer teams. Still hurts like hell though.

The day began so well. All players arrived bang on time and we were soon at the Spencer ground with Andrew Inglis leading some well organised training drills – we were a sharp and confident unit. Skipper Dixon then won the toss and with the threat of rain in mind rightly chose to bowl on a green track.

Things couldn’t have started better and within 30 minutes, Spencer were reeling at 17-5. Sunil Isaac had taken a sensational caught and bowled in his first over to remove Billingham. This was swiftly followed by Prasanna dismissing Willis with a regulation catch behind to Peters and Lipscombe caught by Chudley at mid-on.

This wicket brought Sameer Khan to the crease, making his debut for the 4th team. His first act was to run out partner Ali Naqvi, also making his first appearance for the side in 2016. At 17-4, Samad Lone came in, a very unusual position for him given the dominance of the Spencer 3rd team. He didn’t last long though, trapped plum in front for Sunil.

However, from this moment, Khan lead an impressive fight back and dragged Spencer back into the game. With support from the lower order, he dominated each partnership to steadily build a total which at least gave the Spencer bowlers something to work with. His hundred came up in the last over, with extras (25) the next highest total and no other batsman reaching 15.

In truth, the second half of their innings was where Dulwich really missed the pace and aggression of leading wicket taker, David Knightbridge. Ruled out before the game with a bruised ankle, he stood on the side lines with fellow sufferers Darren Casson (broken finger) and Simon Bailey (small child), watching as the Spencer score gradually grew. Bowlers Lester, Swain and Burgass were all solid and economical, but without that partnership breaking ability DK has shown through the season.

 

Spencer were eventually all out for 198 on the final ball of the innings, with Dan Peters stumping Wasim Malik to give Sunil his fourth wicket. Given the start Dulwich had made, it felt too many, but skipper Dixon was quick to reassure the team this was a very gettable total and one we would have happily accepted at the start of the innings, especially given our depth of batting.

With the welcome sight of a victorious 1st XI arriving to cheer us on after beating Purley in less time than it took to get there, the team were pumped up to knock off the runs.

Fresh from carrying the Spencer side with the bat, cricketing superhero Sameer Kahn was thrown the new ball and opened the bowling as well, quickly dismissing Alex Irvine. Chuds followed soon after, but the ship was steadied by Andrew Inglis and Will Cooper who confidently started to build momentum in the innings.

However, the rain had started to fall and aware that the total needed to be on 88 at the 20 over point, Inglis and Cooper started to up the ante and take a few risks. Spencer responded by getting their spinners Jaffri and Lone on to speed up the over rate. It was a canny move which ultimately won them the game, as the increasingly damp wicket made it harder and harder to get the ball away and the wet outfield slowed potential boundaries.

In their effort to score swiftly both Inglis and Cooper took one chance too many and new bat Dan Peters followed doing the same, all playing shots they would not have done in a typical run chase. The 20 over cut-off passed and at 22 overs and the umpires had no option but to take the players off as the rain pounded down.

After a long wait, and no hiatus in the weather, the game was awarded to Spencer, who were crowned champions. Congratulations to their skipper Hussein Jaffri and the team.

Sitting frustrated in the dressing room it was easy to dwell on the what-ifs of the game and the season as whole – the early season loss to Banstead, important catches that were dropped or the inability to beat Wimbledon last week.

The truth is that this a 4th XI side that has loads of potential and will be stronger and certainly more street-wise for losing this game. The side has featured plenty of players new to Dulwich, but a strong nucleus and a great bond was quickly formed with everybody contributing over the season. The team is a pleasure to be part of and captain and it is so disappointing to end on such a (literally) damp note.

Most importantly we all want to stay in touch over the winter and be ready for next year. An indoor team is being organised and we’ll all be at nets in early 2017. Once the new season starts again, we will be more determined than ever to bring the premiership back to Dulwich.

Finally, big, big thanks to Chris Reardon who umpired in pretty awful conditions and kept order at several moments of high tension. Likewise thanks also to John and Jackie back at DSG for consistently good wickets and great teas. It is genuinely appreciated by all the team.

Sat 27th Aug – 4th XI v Wimbledon

DULWICH 205-9 (45) lost to WIMBLEDON 208-8 (42.1) by 2 wickets

Scorecard

Maybe it was always meant to be this way. After a season which saw a number of teams lead the league table at some point, it was probably fitting that Dulwich lost their penultimate game against current holders Wimbledon to set up a last day winner-takes-all showdown with old rivals Spencer.

It has to be said, that despite both sides being depleted of key players due to the bank holiday, the Dulwich team did not perform to their normal standard. Maybe there was complacency after smashing Woking and Horsell last week. This game should now be the wake-up call before playing Spencer – we will need to play a lot better to win this trophy .

To the game itself. Wimbledon won the toss and invited Dulwich to have first go on a green DSG track. They were swiftly rewarded with Kane Lawrence bowling Alex Irvine first ball of the game, with a peach that swung and clipped the top of off stump. Will Cooper joined Zeeshan and the two wasted no time in moving the scoreboard along, despite the wicket offering plenty of help to the seamers.

However, just as they were starting to look comfortable, Wimbledon struck twice with Salman Ahmed bowling Zeesh with a great delivery that jagged back off the seam and then Lawrence following up to bowl debutant Kira Chathli for 1.

The score was 43-3 and skipper Dixon went out, hoping to replicate the previous week’s blockbuster partnership with Cooper. Concentrating on seeing off the openers and putting away the bad ball, the two put on 50 together. Cooper played with his normal fluency and it was a surprise that he then fell to a long hop from young spinner Harry Thomas, pulling the ball straight into the hands of short mid-wicket.

Prasanna joined Matt, but the partnership was short lived as the skipper replicated Cooper’s dismissal, slog-sweeping Thomas to the same shell-shocked fielder at midwicket, who took a second smart catch. Prasanna soon followed, caught at deep square leg and the wheels were coming off the Dulwich innings. Credit must be given to the young Wimbledon attack of Thomas, Whipple and Kiritharan, all of whom bowled with control and tied down the Dulwich batsman.

With 6 wickets down and only a little over a hundred on the board, the skipper was mentally calculating scores he would settle for. Would 150 be enough, 180 perhaps? Aware that the Dulwich team was a bowler short, it was difficult to judge and this period was a nervy one.

However, a sensible and solid partnership between Rob Hawke and late order specialist Simon Bailey started to generate some momentum again. Bailey used his favourite shovel shot through square leg to good effect and hit some strong drives over the top. Hawke started to time the ball well and the two had boosted the total to 175, before Rob was bowled by the returning opening bowler Ahmed for a decent and valuable 27.

Knightbridge came and left within 3 balls and it was left to Will Burgass to play intelligently and wring a few more runs from the Dulwich innings, which closed on 205-9, with Bails a very good 47 not out.

It was a disjointed batting effort, finishing probably 30 runs short. However, the skipper went into tea feeling confident that given only two other teams had previously scored more than 190 against us this season, it would be enough.

With Sunil, Ben Lester and Swainey all missing, a lot rested on the shoulders of openers Knightbridge and Callaghan to inflict early damage. We had talked about getting quick wickets and putting the pressure on what looked a very young Wimbledon side.

Knighty removed the opener Denis and then the prized wicket of the evergreen Amjad Husain. With Prasanna uncharacteristically struggling at the other end, Jack came on and generated prodigious swing, bowling the young batsman Tim Lloyd. The skipper was further rewarded by introducing Will Burgass who immediately picked up Sam Richards to leave Wimbledon 62-4 and a lot to do.

However, this was the period where we lost the game. Instead of going for the jugular and getting stuck into the tail, a malaise set into the Dulwich bowling and fielding. It was crazy – we were six wickets away from the league and yet we went very flat and lost our focus. We bowled too short and the fielding lacked urgency and sharpness.

The two young batsmen, Harry Thomas and Ben Turner seized the initiative, grew in confidence and both passed fifty, with Thomas in particular looking an excellent prospect. Between them they shared a century partnership, and when Burgass finally broke through, courtesy of a smart catch by Alex Irvine at deep square leg, the game was almost won.

With one final push, the skipper replaced Chathli – who had bowled with great control and length, for a final blast of Knighty and the big man rewarded him with two swift wickets, leaving Wimbledon 7 down. Kira then came back and finally removed opener Thomas for an excellent 87, but Dulwich were now rueing their under-par innings total and Wimbledon bundled over the line with Salman Ahmed crunching a couple of boundaries to win the game.

I realise this is hardly the wittiest match report of the season, but there wasn’t much to joke about at the end – it was certainly a chance missed and a collectively average team performance. However, our consistency as a team this year affords us the second chance to win the league on Saturday at Spencer, which would be very sweet indeed. This performance is now banished to the depths of play-cricket stats and instead we look forward to Spencer with confidence to what is bound to be a very hard fought contest. With a full strength side, there is no excuse not to bring the Premier League trophy back to Dulwich.

Sat 20th Aug – 4th XI v Woking and Horsell

DULWICH 338-7 (45) beat WOKING AND HORSELL 41 (24.3) by 297 runs

Scorecard

If last week’s dreary victory against the dogged Reigate Priory was the cricketing equivalent of a British seaside holiday, this win against Woking was the full Las Vegas pool party with unlimited cocktails and a hot tub of admirers.

With a dodgy weather forecast giving skipper Dixon a few Friday night nerves, a chance rendezvous with Chris Reardon in the booze aisle of the East Dulwich Co-Op was enough to convince him to request a last minute move to the main Burbage Road ground and the security of a covered wicket.

Having bowled Woking out for 62 earlier in the season, this game was seen as a 20 point banker, especially with a strong line up of bowlers to call on. Keen to avoid any complacency, the team talk focussed on doing the basics well, playing to our strengths, blah, blah, blah… Ok, forget it it lads, attack them and win the game.

Winning the toss, the W&H skipper spotted Knighty lurking menacingly, (impossible to miss in a garish red top) and remembering how he destroyed their team in the reverse fixture, decided to bowl, with the resigned attitude of a man whose batting wouldn’t stand up to the Dulwich test for long.

After 25 minutes of play, his decision looked totally vindicated with the top three of Peters, Irvine and Chaudhry all back in the dressing room with only 24 on the board and the skipper on his way to the middle to join Will Cooper. 

Cooper making only his third Dulwich appearance of the season and using a borrowed bat and some pads from 1992, that Matt had dug out of his loft that morning, was imperious from the start. Using his diminutive stature to pull anything slightly short, he and Dixon attacked the Woking bowlers forcing numerous changes. Running well between the wickets, the pair accelerated to 145-3 by drinks, with the skipper starting to find the middle of the bat after a season which had brought him few runs.

Powered by orange squash and sensing the Woking team were struggling to contain the flow of runs, Cooper and Dixon turned on the afterburners and scored 70 in the next seven overs, flaying the bowling all around the ground, taking plenty of chances with the security of plenty of batting to follow. Cooper was first out, stumped for a pugnacious 87 that contained 5 sixes, a great knock. If he is able to play more regularly for the club more next season, he’ll be a massive asset to the higher teams. 

Cooper and Dixon had added 184 in 22 overs and had set the attack, attack, attack, tone for the rest of the innings. By this point, the Woking fielders already believed Dulwich had won and so the question was how many runs they could get. With this in mind, Prasanna was promoted to join the skipper and he carried off from where he left in his last innings at Sinjuns – mainly the mid-wicket and cow corner areas of Burbage Road.

Matt had swept to a streaky but valuable 73 before finally being dismissed, leaving Prasanna to be joined by Swainey, in his new role of head of the tail. Freed from the shackles of his innings making any difference to the result, he and Prasanna (47) gorged on the shell-shocked Woking bowlers, powering past his previous 2016 best of 8* to end up with a red-inker of 55.

The innings came to an end with a blob from Knighty and a classy cameo from Ben Lester, to finish on a mighty 338-7. A holidaying Julian Dean toasted the innings with an extra portion of Carbonara in Rome and the skipper spared the team the ‘don’t take victory for granted talk’.

After a delicious tea, the Woking batsmen faced a mammoth task. This was not helped by their non striker, Michael Walsh running himself out of the first ball of the innings, trying to steal a sharp run to Alex Irvine who threw the stumps down – his second direct hit in two games.

More wickets followed. Scourge of Woking, Knighty extracted bounce out of the track to see off the number 3, gloving a catch to Dan Peters and then the opener Kumar who was snaffled by an uncharacteristically good one handed dive by Matt. Sunil got in on the act, proving too slow for Thabrew, who dollied to the skipper at mid-off and he then bowled Lumby soon after. Woking were 8-5, with their skipper tweeting about a club record 300 run plus loss.

Knighty picked up his third wicket, smartly caught by Ben Lester at point to rapturous applause from his watching family and dogs – his mother swinging her cerise pashmina scarf above her head in delight.  Such adoring crowd pressure prompted Dixon to immediately introduce him into the attack and he soon dislodged the impatient Khedekar, stumped by Dan. New bat Styles quickly followed, easily caught by Zeeshan at mid-on. Prasanna wrapped up the final two wickets and victory was achieved by a significant margin with a clear message of intent sent to next week’s opponents Wimbledon.

Despite the margin of victory, much credit should go to Woking who remained engaged and acted impeccably throughout the day, even scoring their innings in the Dulwich book. Their skipper has much to be proud of, even in defeat. They look to be safe from relegation the league and we look forward to playing them next season.

Back at the club, the team celebrated heartedly, although the skipper was slightly miffed to learn that James Hirst had toppled him as worse fielder in the club, after a particularly cack-handed afternoon for the 2s. 

Two games left and 21 points needed for the league title. The team now entertains defending champions Wimbledon at home. Whilst it is likely to be a much sterner test, this Dulwich side, full of confidence, camaraderie are capable of beating anyone in the league. On the day the 2nd XI won their league, we are determined to do the same.

Many thanks to Chris Reardon for umpiring.

Sat 13th Aug – 4th XI v Reigate Priory

DULWICH 142-2 (40.1) beat REIGATE PRIORY 141 (43.2) by 8 wickets

Scorecard

After last week's edgy nail biting win at Banstead, a game loaded with more plot twists than Jack Bauer gatecrashing Game of Thrones, I can report that this week Dulwich beat Reigate in an dourly efficient manner - with the highlight being the pre-game breakfast obtained from a garage somewhere around the Mitcham area.

To spice up what is destined to be a somewhat uneventful report, I have ingested a potent cocktail of LSD, absinthe and peyote and read the entire work of Hunter S Thompson as a literary sharpner. Alas, the overwhelmingly functional nature of our victory crushed such frivolity, so the facts are as follows:

1. Prasanna was only 15 mins late, despite being driven to the ground by Julian.
2. Matt won the toss and batted. 
3. Prasanna bowled the Reigate opener with the first ball of the game – a full bunger, which bamboozled everyone used to his normal first ball half-tracker.
4. Swainey went for 8 off his first over, then conceded 1 from the next 6. Cricket as a whole died and had to be resuscitated around this time. He did however remove the handy-looking Reigate no 3 with a leg stump full bunger, chipped straight to Chris Stone at square leg.
5. Reigate continued to block everything we bowled at them, with weapons-grade defensive play.
6. We had drinks. They were standard, watery, and unremarkable.
7. After drinks, Reigate accelerated to 3 an over. 
8. Will Burgass started bowling. Reigate continued to defend. Jon Stone Snr. put his lens cap back on.
9. Wickets started to fall. The run rate stuttered. 
10. Dan Peters held a splendid boundary catch, interrupting a jolly interesting looking chat with returning Jon Stone Snr.
11. Cricketing Armageddon people!!!!! Ben Lester was smacked for few sixes by the dangerous slogger Matt Van Staden. However the following over, Will dismissed him with skipper Dixon honouring the late Paul Daniels with some blockbuster catching magic on the long off boundary. This was made all the sweeter as Ben had used the classic Andrew Flintoff / Tino Best sport psychology and had invited him to 'make his day' and try and hit Will for six number 3.
12. Normal service then resumed as Reigate consolidated and blocked some more balls.
13. Remarkably Dixon then snaffled a second catch in a single game for the first time as an adult cricketer, although admittedly he did have to argue with the umpire to ensure it was given.
14. Lets cut it short there. Reigate were 141 all out from 44 overs. It's all you need to know. 
15. Tea. Homemade and delicious enough to persuade Swainey to brake his carb-free pre-holiday diet (in preparation for a Las Vegas pool party shindig) and gorge on cheese sandwiches, Breakaways and a swiss roll. Expect Calvin Harris to give a shout out to the tubby British dude, dancing in a smock in precisely 5 weeks' time.
16. We then batted. Dan Peters and Chris Stone opened. 
17. Dan and Chris were then both out cheaply.
18. New batsmen Guy Woodgate and Jonny Stone followed the stoic Reigate 3-an-over mantra and slowly broke the hearts of fielders and watching team mates alike.
19. Boundary chat hit an all time Bridget Jones-esque low as Ben Lester discussed in detail how he had recently proposed to his now-fiancée and described "The Ring". 
20. Guy and Jonny finally finished ambling to 142 with 4 overs to spare. Guy finished unbeaten on 68 and Jonny 29. Joking aside, they both batted incredibly well, showing utter composure and giving no chances – that would have been too exciting, I suppose.
19. The game had ended. We all shook hands. Boundary flags were collected and the crowd went wild.
20. In the absence of almost any action and still needing to raise money for the Blue Bails charity, Dan introduced on-the-spot random fines we raised another £25.

This victory keeps Dulwich 20 points clear of rivals Spencer in what is increasingly looking a two horse race. The team hasn't lost since the beginning of June and we have built good momentum at the business end of the season, with great collective spirit and everyone contributing. Next up is Woking and Horsell at home, a must win game with tough opponents Wimbledon and Spencer in the final two fixtures. 

Sat 6th Aug – 4th XI v Banstead

DULWICH 198 (42.3) beat BANSTEAD 187 (39.5) by 11 runs

Scorecard

League leaders Dulwich travelled to second-placed Banstead for a top-of-the table clash, the format reverting from time to limited overs. Captain Peters lost the toss but was happy enough to be put in on a scorching afternoon, with a fast outfield and a short square boundary on one side. With Zeeshan cutting his arrival a little too fine to take his customary opener's position, Peters led partner Irvine out to the middle, puffed out his not-inconsiderable chest and wasted no time destroying the hearts, minds and souls of the Banstead opening bowlers. A top-edged pull for six in the third over was followed by four successive boundaries in the fourth, including a bludgeoning straight drive, a head-high no ball thumbed over the keeper and a good length ball edged though second slip's hands. Banstead's youthful first change bowler had clearly not learnt the adage 'they that sow the wind must reap the whirlwind' as he recklessly engaged Captain Peters in some 'chat', only to be told, as Peters dispatched the next ball past the oldest fielder to the longest part of the boundary: 'Watch me run four off your bowling. Just watch me." El Capitano brought up his 50 in just the seventh over wih a brutal square cut and a couple of sand wedges over midwicket. With Irvine playing an excellent foil, running excellently between the wickets and hitting the odd classy boundary, the hundred partnership came up in the 15th over. Dulwich were bossing it. 

However, Banstead's introduction of calmer heads and slower deliveries dragged back the scoring rate and soon Alex chipped to mid off for an excellent 34. Zeeshan took his customary three seconds to assess the pitch conditions before engaging in a personal game of one-upmanship with the field, blasting a four over mid on and next ball, with the man now at long on, smashing a six into the field behind him. The long-on conquest having thus been achieved, Zeeshan targeted the off side only to find the fielder at his first attempt. From a highwater mark of 140 for 1, Dulwich lost four wickets for one run thanks to some poor shot selection and some excellently impartial umpiring from Knightly. Captain Peters, with a triple-century in his sights, joined the general malaise and missed a heave to be bowled for a belligerent 86. Benny Lester's Michael Vaughan impression was excellent for a while but, with Banstead bowling with much greater control, scoring opportunities dried up and Dulwich scored only 26 from the last 10 overs. The innings finished when young Max Swanson disappointingly opted not to reverse switch hit his first ball, as all youngsters are taught to do these days, and instead middled a classical late cut straight to first slip. Swainy was left high and dry and secretly thrilled with an unbeaten 8 that doubled his batting average for the season. Banstead had fought back superbly and 193 was an eminently gettable target on a pitch that was still good for batting.

Nonethless, after an excellent tea, Dulwich came out confident that their bewildering array of bowling options would get them home. A neat catch by Will Burgass off Sunil was just reward for a controlled opening spell but Banstead settled in well. At 60-odd for 1, with opener Mayor and the dangerous Sultan starting to open up, Dulwich needed a bit of magic and sure enough Lester produced a delivery straight from the bottom drawer – a loopy long-hop that was toed to Alex at square leg. Shortly afterwards Mayor was pinned on the back foot by a ripping off break slow full toss but the umpire remained unmoved. It was at this point that the match became somewhat needly. Will had begun a steady spell at one end but it was Lester's wiles that suckered out two more wickets, including Mayor to an excellent running catch at deep mid wicket by Alex. Banstead however were well ahead of the run rate and moving steadily towards the target, with 55 needed off 15 overs and six wickets in hand. With a last desperate throw of the dice, Captain Peters summoned Knighty back to the top end. Charging in down the hill like an 80-year old Caucasian Patrick Patterson, Knighty unleashed the proverbial 'pace like fire'. His first ball was gloved to Captain Peters. Five down. His fourth flew off the edge to Pickles at slip, who almost wet himself with joy at holding onto the chance. Swainy had begun an excellent spell at the other end and suddenly Dulwich were back in it. The equation had narrowed to 30 with 4 wickets left when Knighty- Captain Peters conjoined joyously once again to produce another wicket-child. Ten nail-biting runs later Swainy got another one to nibble into Captain Peters gloves, then sharp work from Will at gully next ball made it nine down. Knightly's last over was successfully repelled and with plenty of overs still remaining to get the runs, Dulwich needed a wicket to seal it. Swainy got pumped over mid off for four but next ball jagged one back into the stumps off a mixture of inside edge and pad. Cue celebrations. 

Dulwich's win opens up a 17 point lead at the top but there's no room for complacency as they travel to Reigate next week.