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Sat 12th August – 4th XI v Spencer

DULWICH 142 beat OLD ALLEYIANS 138 by 4 runs

Before I start this report, I feel obliged to say a few words about the man on whom this trophy has been named after. Now. Stephen was many things to many people, but the most unfortunate thing about Steve is that he was a Fulham supporter. You see, in my book, football supporters fall into two categories: Supporters of teams that win things and teams that don't. Steve, and I feel sure he would agree with me about this, was in the second category. What can one say about Fulham?

In the 1960's everybody walked through Fulham Palace Park from Putney Bridge Tube Station and watched Fulham lose AGAIN. It was a Masochist's nirvana. Except they had Johnny Haynes, who was Eden Hazard and Linal Messi in one. Every year Johnny, somehow kept this team of one legged donkeys in the First Division. The inside right was Jimmy Hill, who was campaigning to get the maximum wage bill abolished (£20 a week.) The left half, yes that's how long ago it was, was a bloke called Eddie Lowe. Now in those days a number of footballers were follically challenged. What Eddie had, was a hedge that ran from here to there. (Demonstrate). Then one day, against Luton Town, Eddie kicked the ball over our heads over the Bovril Sign into the River Thames. "Give that man a rise!" Said the man in the shabby raincoat. Fulham was not so much a football club as a music hall turn. It was, of course, then chaired by Tommy Trinder, whose catchphrase was "you lucky people" So when I met Steve I was overjoyed when he told me he was a Fulham supporter.

As the supporter of another team not noted for its success on the field, Crystal Palace, I recognised a kindred spirit. Even though he was educated at the same school and at the same time as Nigel Farage (known to 48% of the population as Nigel Bleeding Farage).

Now when I arrived today a number of ex Dulwich players said to me. "Blimey Jim You're still playing. How old are you?"

The fact is Ladies and G's I was born in 1947. Now as I am sure we are all aware much has changed since 1947.
in 1947, for example, the leader of the Labour Party was an uncharismatic but principled man who believed in fairness, equality, the welfare state the NHS and a redistribution of wealth. But time marches on.
As one asks frequently why is the Conservative Party like a Rainbow? You realise it's is devoid of substance and is only there because of the Sun.

Now some of you may be asking what has all this got to do with the Steve Mayers Trophy?

Well, Steve was also had very forthright opinions mainly about other cricketers, describing my own efforts as a wily and resourceful pie chucker as "filth, crap and bilge". Many other members of DCC have used even more colourful language, but those words are not repeatable in the present company.

Cricket clubs, like East End Gangsters, have a method of christening certain gang members with an epithet inserted into the middle of their names. Who can forget the likes of Frankie "Mad Axe" Mitchell, Barney "blowtorch" Thugsworth or Sid "Chainsaw" Hackman. DCC have also adopted this method to call your correspondent Jim "3 Counties" Gibson as the only bowler to have been hit into 3 separate Counties while bowling from the same end in a single Cricket match. And it must be said that the Dulwich innings in today's game did little to correct Steve's opinions. Having held Dulwich's early order batsmen in a vice like grip despite the best efforts of Pringle and Ford until the OA's skipper decided to introduce the ageing pie chucking thespian into the attack. He was not encouraged by the Zulu war dance of delight that took place amongst the watching Dulwich CC spectators as Gibson measured his out his run. They were not to be disappointed. Gibson's single over was a turning point as the runs flowed freely from Atkins bat 124444 was the analysis of Gibson' single over, scored in John Lewis book in an eye catching cerise: the only bowler to be scored in cerise. and suspicion must be pointed at the finger of Pres… Smith as to just why Gibson was singled out as the spare man to be offered with such cavalier insouciance to the 10 men of  Old Alleynians. If you are 1 short YOU CAN HAVE GIBSON was the phrase used.  

Undaunted, McKee and Lane set about the task of overhauling Dulwich's 142 with gusto, brio and elan. Sounds like a trio of kitchen cream cleaners doesn't it? Only in hindsight what must be seen as an act of great magnanimity did both of them retire with the score 89. Unfortunately, the nest OA's batsmen were unable to follow their example and it was left to your correspondent and Omar Faruqui to restore equilibrium. With Duckett offering some dubiously flighted floaters it was with some chagrin Gibson departed when he was stumped by the infant prodigy wicket keeper Rochford. As the inky cloak of night inserted its willowy sinews of darkness upon the game, it became clear that the target was just beyond the reach of the OA's. Nevertheless, ending 4 run short of victory after overcoming the handicap of acquiring Gibson in the team was no mean feat. I feel sure that somewhere up there the man after whom this trophy was named is looking down on us all cackling away shouting: "Come On Fulham!"

Sat 12th August – 4th XI v Spencer

DULWICH 138 (41.4) beat SPENCER 128 (42.1) by 10 runs

Scorecard

6.45pm Saturday: As we left the pitch, our faces flushed with the smug glow of victory, the look in the eyes of G. Hough Esq said it all. The incredulous gaze, knowing his fellow bowling-kind had once again overturned another display of batting muppetry from the Dulwich top six. Turns out the 4’s are so good at bowling, that even Will Cooper can get a wicket.

Batting first, we seemingly play a version of cricketing limbo each week – how low we can go, whilst still winning the game. Currently, our personal best for batting crappness is a 127 run turd of an innings, to beat Streatham and Marlborough. This week’s effort of 138 was equally woeful, but still enough to do the double over relegation hopefuls Spencer.

So, to the action; After a week of tense team negotiation, skipper Dixon arrived at a lush looking DSG with a side bearing a remarkable resemblance to the one chosen at selection on Tuesday – There is apparently now a waiting list to play for the 4’s longer than hip replacements operations on the NHS. He immediately caused confusion in the Spencer ranks by losing the toss, prompting their hesitant captain Hussein Jaffri to umm and ahh and eventually choose to field.

With no obvious opening partner in the team to accompany Zeeshan, the skipper naturally chose a man who hadn’t scored a single run since mid-June – himself. Any doubts around his credentials were immediately dispelled as he confidently clipped the first ball of the day off his stumps through square leg for a single.

Zeeshan, who was in convalescence from unknown surgery, was in no mood to use the lower half of his body. Facing the rest of the over from former Dulwich superstar Rehan Malik, he dispatched two fours through mid-off with typical ferocity, with bowler and batsman providing a private running commentary to each other. Whether Zeeshan told Malik, “the brighter your headband, the harder I hit the ball” was never proven.

The opening partnership ended abruptly, with the score on 28. Dixon caught at mid-off, trying to emulate Zeeshan, but without the required talent, timing, power or co-ordination. This brought Cooper to the crease, who was quickly bowled, thinking he was still playing Wimbledon last week.

Inglis arrived and plumped for some dogged stoicism. Firm in defense and grinding out runs whilst Zeeshan slapped the bowlers around at the other end – the scored moved along nicely. However, with Zeeshan falling for a power packed 47 and Kira being bowled by a ball that kept low, we were 4 wickets down and the de-ja-vu was kicking in.

Rhys Williams, back in the side after a period out injured with chronic buttock chaffing, due to an excessive cycling compulsion, made it through to the drinks break. Realising he was in the wrong underwear, he sacrificed hydration to leave the field and change into some big comfy pants, not caring that he was displaying some serious VPL when taking his guard once play resumed.

As we all know, when teams are struggling to make runs, there is always a period of comedy running between the wickets. Inglis and Williams took on the mantle this week – each channeling their inner Julian Dean to try and dismiss the other. Williams was the fall guy this time, run out after underestimating the toddler fielding at square leg’s ability to throw.

Inglis was bowled soon afterwards, after giving up playing straight and introducing a technique the skipper would be proud of. Pras came in and left a couple of balls later and we were quickly 90-7 with chief-biffer Henry Turner and chief-blocker David Woods now at the crease. So far, so Wimbledon. Their partnership was not as destructive as last week, but Turner’s quick fire 36 was enough to spread the field and get the score up. With Sunil and Swainy chipping in with a few at the end, we closed on an easy-win total of 138.

With Spencer bewildered by our universally jovial mood and multiple high fiving over tea, they began their innings with Omer Shad and Felix Lamy taking guard. Things didn’t go to plan for Dulwich, with Swainy, for once, delivering a faultless first over, each ball landing in the close vicinity of the batsman. With the guesswork taken out of batting and only one run scored, Swainy looked visibly shaken, wondering where his stock of half-trackers had gone.

Joking aside, Swainy bowled beautifully. 9 overs on the spin for just 14 runs. He didn’t get any wickets, but being the modest type didn’t bang on about how he deserved some. Much. The pressure he created on the Spencer top order with such a miserly performance cannot be under estimated.

At the other end, Sunil kicked off the Spencer collapse, removing opener Lamy with his 3rd over, a good caught and bowled despite Prasanna charging in to perform a citizen’s arrest at the same time. Sunil bowled like Sunil does every week and picked up a dreamy 3 for 24 off his 9, also bowling straight through.

By the 10th over, Spencer were already up against it at 22-3 and the Dulwich team were collectively relieved to see Aun Naqvi coming in to bat at 5, instead of anyone with a ECB central contract. With Swainy and Sunil bowled out, Skipper Dixon looked to tighten the grip on the game by introducing Henry Turner and Woodsy to proceedings.

Turner, obviously injured and looking fragile, somehow bowled with great pace and aggression in the sun for his 9 overs. He claimed three scalps – anchorman Moin Khan, gobby ‘keeper Harrison and the dangerous Naqvi, who has scored plenty of runs against us in the past. Woodsy, meanwhile took a more seductive approach to life, teasing and tempting the batsman, like a stripper with a pint glass of change, until they dropped their guard. Both were backed up brilliantly behind the stumps by ‘fielder with gloves’, Inglis, who appears to have been taking irritation classes in the evening.

At 83-7 after 36 overs, Spencer were in real trouble. Dixon had turned to his ‘next in the queue’ bowlers – Prasanna Callaghan and Will Cooper to finish off the game.

However, the visitors had a sting in the tail in the form of the enthusiastic Rehan Malik. Having started cautiously, he saw two wickets fall to leave Spencer teetering on the brink at 9 down. He realized only he could win them the game, he took the attack to the bowlers, slapping 14 off Prasanna to swing the momentum and take the score to 128-9. But this brief frisson of tension didn’t last. Cooper trundled in and cleaned up Malik as he tried to swing him over square leg. Dulwich had won by 10 runs.

This rollercoaster of a title challenge continues next week at home to bottom team Walton on Thames. With leaders Wimbledon beating Sunbury, DCC’s favourite team remain in second place, 6 points off the top with 3 games to go. Come and watch us, we are currently the best quality entertainment currently available in South London. 

Sat 5th August – 4th XI v Wimbledon

WIMBLEDON 133 (37.5) lost to DULWICH 184-9 (45) by 51 runs

Scorecard

If the likes of Paddy Power and William Hill took an interest in Dulwich 4XI, we would have already had their internal stat-geeks safely sectioned for their own good. How does this team defy the odds, at some point, in almost every game – from seemingly certain defeat to victory. How are we second in the league? Why does our top run scorer bat 8 and have a style so agricultural that he is in danger of losing EU subsides once Brexit kicks in…

This week’s win against league leaders Wimbledon was a perfect encapsulation of our form this year. A horrible batting performance from the top 6, rescued by some lusty blows down the order to set a target. That said, once we had 180-odd on the board, the result was never in doubt – We defend 130-150 every week. The confidence our team has in its bowlers is infectious and nobody ever lets the side down.

Arriving promptly at Wimbledon, skipper Dixon silently gave thanks that his pre-game duties didn’t regularly require him to assemble a B&Q gazebo. His opposite number Arthur Crocker, meanwhile, busied himself inserting pole B into point E, whilst ensuring the sides were perpendicular to the ground at all times.

While this was going on, our batsmen had a net and used all their runs up for the day. For a game as important as this, we had arrived with a strong side and 2 debutants, Henry Turner and Ollie Smith. We felt bullish about taking the game to the unbeaten Wimbledon side and dramatically closing the gap at the top. Losing the match would have given them a 40+ point lead at the top with 4 games to go and a likely second league title in 3 years.

Dixon lost the toss and unsurprisingly, the Wimbledon skipper asked us to have first go on a damp track, with multiple showers forecast. Under dark clouds, Siraj Durrani and Chris Stone ventured to the crease, only to run back to the shelter of the gazebo 5 balls later as the heavens opened. Unfortunately, in that time, Siraj had already been bowled.

The showers passed and we started again, only for Will Cooper to be cleaned up in identical fashion first ball. 2-2 off the first over. And for the next 90 minutes our batting effort didn’t get much better. Inglis made a decent 39, but there were few (no) highlights. With the two Wimbledon spinners, Whipple and Andrews bowling with pin-point accuracy and patience, the innings had wet-farted along to 102-8 by the time the covers came on again.

With the sun out and all bets off, Henry Turner and David Woods made a curious couple as they went back out to bat. Turner, powerfully built, with shoulders like Miranda Hart and Woodsy, wondering why he is the only man in the side with a forward defensive in his locker. However, over the next 30 minutes the two put on 62 for the 9th wicket and swung the game back in Dulwich’s favour.

Having seen Turner bat in the nets on Thursday, skipper Dixon knew he could clump a ball. And clump it he did, mainly for 4 or 6, with even a miss-hit shot clearing the rope. His clean-hitting power was impressive, demonstrated by one wince-inducing straight drive hitting the kneecap of bowler Andrews and bouncing all the way back to the wicketkeeper.

With a final 22 put on for the 10th wicket with rabbit Swain (2*), Turner had blasted 74 not out and destroyed the unbeaten Wimbledon confidence. The Dulwich bowlers smelled blood and knew there was only going to be one winner, looking forward to taking to the field with the luxury of 20 or 30 more runs to play with than normal…

With a very decent tea and some frantic prodding of an I-Phone calculator, a rain-reduced target of 172 off 40 overs was agreed. Leading wicket taker and chief odds-defier, Andrew Swaine took the new ball with man of the moment Turner. Opening up for Wimbledon were Josh Tallent and Rahul Desai. Tallent’s talent was no match for Swain, who despite delivering his usual shambles of an opening over had him caught behind by Durrani, slashing at a wide one. Turner soon got in on the act, removing evergreen danger man Husain and when Swain struck again to remove no.4 Pagett, the young Wimbledon side were under a ton of pressure at 19-3.

However, young opener Desai withstood everything Turner and Swain threw at him and will be a fine cricketer. He found support from ex-skipper Dan Peck, who seemed unconcerned about the rising run rate and the two of them ground out an attritional partnership of 20 before Turner caught and bowled Desai off a leading edge and scored himself 3 JL points with knowing such an honour existed.

Woods and Callaghan came into the attack and bizarrely both decided to bowl at the same pace. Prasanna, who was wearing the skipper’s spikes, had arrived earlier clasping only a small carrier bag of crumpled clothes and some sandwiches, in the manner of a pensioner who anticipated spending the day feeding ducks, instead of coming on as first change.

A rugged partnership of 48 had developed between Peck and Harry Thomas and although they were well behind the run rate, we didn’t want Wimbledon to go into the last 10 overs with wickets in hand.  Woodsy was the man to break the shackles, courtesy of a smart running catch by Ollie Smith. He followed this with a caught and bowled, accompanied by a slow-motion collapse to the ground, as if gravity had briefly been reversed.

Dulwich were firmly in control now, the field spread, happily allowing Peck the single and underarming the ball in from the boundary. Ben Lester picked up a couple of wickets and Woodsy claimed a third, before Prasanna took the final scalp capping a first-class bowling performance.

With Sunbury losing, it looks likely the league will be decided between Dulwich and Wimbledon. With 6 points separating the two teams, it is still theirs to lose. With both sides still having to play Spencer, Sunbury and Walton on Thames in their final 4 games, it is shaping up for another last day decider – What were the odds on that happening?

Sat 1st July – 4th XI v Streatham & Marlborough

DULWICH 127 (37) beat STREATHAM & MARLBOROUGH 122 (37.1) by 5 runs

Scorecard

On Saturday afternoon, Dulwich 4th XI welcomed Streatham and Marlborough to the DSG. It was understood that S&M had endured a difficult week with the news that a long serving clubman and father of two of the players at the club had sadly passed away. A minutes silence was held before the game and on behalf of Dulwich I would like to pass on our thoughts and condolences to S&M at what must be a challenging time.

Onto the cricket and stand in skipper Inglis lost the toss and was duly asked to make first use of the deck. With a strong batting line up this caused no worries to Dulwich which was backed up by an excellent start with the scoreboard rocketing to 32 for 0 off 4 overs, Durrani taking a particular liking to opening bowler Guest who went for 27 from his first two overs. However, revenge was soon served as after Choudrey was adjudged LBW to Harris, Guest finally found his line and length to not only induce a caught behind for Durrani (24) but also quickly picked up Marshall and Peters, both also caught behind to leave Dulwich at 32 for 4. It was great faith shown by the S&M skipper to leave Guest on and it paid dividends.

A rebuilding job was needed by Woodgate and Meade but unfortunately the S&M bowlers had really hit their straps, bowling excellent line and length on a wicket offering something for the bowlers. With the score just above 50, Meade drove to short cover where James took a wonderful reflex catch and shortly afterwards Inglis also nicked off after the ball popped viciously off a length and Dulwich were suddenly 61 for 6.

Mahoney joined Woodgate at the crease and the two were excellent foils for each other with Woodgate watchful whilst Mahoney counter punched. The score ticked just over 100 before Woodgate (33) was the 5th caught behind of the innings and a jug was due from the S&M keeper Lansdown. Some lusty blows by Mahoney (32) and good nudging from Woods lifted the Dulwich total to 127 before Scott-Coombs became the last man out, caught at mid-on.

At tea, the general feeling was that if the bowlers could hit a good line and length there was plenty on offer in the wicket and the score was perhaps not as below par as what was first thought. However, a quick look at Whatsapp showed that 4th team regular and club nutritionist Prassana had put a few quid down on an S&M win declaring Dulwich had no chance.

Rea and James opened for S&M facing Mahoney and Taylor. After 4 evenly matched overs, S&M found themselves at 24 without loss with a mixture of good shots and plays and misses. Rea in particular looked impressive whilst James struggled with the pace of both Mahoney and Taylor. In the end, Mahoney was too good for James who edged to slip where Woods took a sharp chance with some minor juggling and commentary before it was finally snaffled. Gray did not last long, being clean bowled by Taylor and suddenly S&M were 30 for 2.

Bartolo joined Rea, with Bartolo seeming more interested in providing commentary to the game than actually batting. With a partnership materialising, the first bowling change was made with Peters coming on for Mahoney. The change worked instantly, Bartolo looking to sweep Peters first ball, but only managed to glove the ball to Durrani, shortly followed by skipper Hughes who pinged Peters straight down Woodgate’s throat. S&M were now 55 for 4 and worse was to follow quickly as Woods, who had replaced Taylor at the Pavillion end trapped Henderson LBW.

A real cat and mouse period ensued in which Peters and Woods probed and nagged the batsmen but S&M held firm with Davis and Rea steadily getting closer to the target. Woods eventually broke the deadlock, enticing Rea into one drive to many where Inglis used midrift and hands to keep the ball from the ground. This was the important breakthrough as Rea had scored a magnificent 59 and was the real key wicket in the S&M line up.

There was one more wicket apiece for Woods and Peters, bowling Lansdown and Taylor catching Davis respectively. The latter being a fantastic diving catch on the 45 by Taylor, before Inglis turned back to opening pair Taylor and Mahoney to try to capture the last two wickets with about 15 runs needed for victory.

Taylor did the damage, his first ball enticed Harris to edge through to the keeper. Mahoney thought he had also struck with his first over back trapping Guest full on the toe without much foot movement but the appeal was turned down. 

Tension grew as Davies and Guest brought the runs required down to 5 with very cautious and sensible batting. The tension, similar to that of Edgbaston 2005 was mounting, Mahoney came steaming in, a good length ball, a faint edge, a regulation catch for Durrani… cue wild scenes of celebration by Dulwich and 24 points for the league.

Unconfirmed reports quickly circulated that club nutritionist Prassana has agreed to fund the next team social for doubting the Doggies' ability to defend the total so well worth getting ahead of the game and getting required passes for the night from other halves. A special mention should also be made to Tom Scott-Coombes who agreed to play on Saturday morning following a late withdrawal from the team, it was very much appreciated. Next up, Walton-on-Thames away.

Sat 24th June – 4th XI v Oxted & Limpsfield

DULWICH 238-8 (43.5) beat OXTED & LIMPSFIELD 129 (32.2) by 109 runs 224-7 (40) by 23 runs

Scorecard

Runs from Inglis, Durrani and Callaghan coupled with 8 wickets for stand-in skipper Swain propelled Dulwich 4s to their 3rd win on the bounce at the DSG.

Once again losing the toss, stand in skipper Swain was asked to bat on a breezy, cloudy day at the DSG. Openers Peters and Durrani led an inexperienced but talented lineup out to the crease, on a pitch which had seen over 400 runs scored on it the previous week.

Peters looked good early on, striking some classy boundaries square of the wicket, before some uneven bounce took his edge, caught behind for 11. Durrani was joined at the crease by Inglis, and together they proceeded to add almost 100 runs for the second wicket. Both players played with strong defence and punished any wayward bowling on a fair track that was offering assistance for both sides.

Durrani continued to work the ball calmly around the field, while at the other end Inglis showed some of the classy shots which have often seen him play for higher teams at Dulwich. With the score reaching triple figures Durrani was the first to fall, caught trying to work the ball down to 3rd man for a classy 49. Inglis lasted only a few overs longer, caught for a fine 56.

With the batting lineup having a slight wobble, newcomers McNeice and Emery looked to consolidate in their own ways – McNeice working the singles effectively and Emery hitting his first ball for 6 over mid off…

Unfortunately Emery’s judgment of a run was not up to the standards of his hitting, as he was soon run out, the 6 his only scoring shot. Next up was youngster Cormac Meade, who immediately looked at home in the 4s, playing several classy and powerful shots on his way to 21. McNeice fell for 15 and Williams made only 3, and with Meade joined by Callaghan, the game was finely balanced with Dulwich 5 down.

20 minutes of Prasanna, however, and Dulwich were well on top. 48* off about 25 balls, Dulwich reaching 238-8 and a slightly early declaration on the cards. Swain gave Prasanna one ball to reach his 50 before declaring, he didn’t get it.

A fine batting performance, with great performances from newcomers and old heads alike.

With 47 overs to take the required 10 wickets, Dulwich started off with an aggressive field for Sunil’s opening over. A good start from him and Swain opened up at the other end. First ball, head high wide down leg side. 2nd ball, banged in and hit for 4. 3rd ball, full toss. This was not looking good.

From out of nowhere on the 5th (legal) ball of the over, Swain induced an edge from the opener which flew straight to Inglis at gully, before he trapped number 3 LBW first ball. Oxted 5-2 and reeling.

Another good over followed from Sunil but with no luck, before Swain was hit for 4 first ball of his 2nd over. Next ball, another leading edge induced, this time taken by Meade at Gully, and Oxted were looking a long way off the target.

This pattern continued for the first 9 overs of the game – Sunil bowling with good control and movement, Swain mixing 4 or 5 dangerous, seaming balls with one pie each over. 

By the end of the 10th, Swain was on his 2nd hat-trick ball and had taken a 5-fer in just 5 overs – number 5 bowled and 6 LBW first ball. The game was all but over as a contest.

Prasanna got in on the act, bowling with great pace and seam movement to dislodge the tricky Hanrott for 44 caught by Inglis. With one end open, Swain proceeded to dispatch his 6th, 7th and 8th victims in quick succession – one to a very good catch behind from Durrani, a catch by McNeice at 2nd gully, and a swinging, seaming ball to clip the top of off. Oxted 9 down, Swain bowled out with figures of 13-1-55-8. Not bad.

The last wicket pair managed to hold out for 9 overs, Sunil and Woodsy (FINALLY introduced to the attack) bowling well but unable to get the penetration on a dampened wicket, before finally Woodsy trapped the last man LBW for 66 in the 33rd over.

Some fine individual performances, a great team effort, and a 3rd win in a row – the 4s go marching on.

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