DULWICH 132-5 (40.1) beat REIGATE PRIORY 129 (36.1) by 5 wickets
The 4th XI have found themselves in unfamiliar territory recently, failing to win any of their last three games and languishing in the bottom half of the league table. So the visit of third place Reigate Priory to DSG was for many a must win game. Despite the rainy (or reverse dry) season remaining for most of the week a fairly dry (or reverse wet) pitch and outfield were waiting for the teams. Usual skipper Matt Dixon was away so Simon 'stand by skipper' Bailey was drafted in to lead the side. Things started well for Bailey as he skillfully flipped a 10 pence piece to land heads up (or reverse tails), after Reigate had called tails (or reverse heads). Bailey made the only sensible decision and elected to field (or reverse bat).
Dulwich took the field to a rousing team talk from Bailey and the clear message – to work as a team and do it his way. Prasanna only just made it out for the first ball, having thought it was a 1.30 start he had to run on at the last second (or reverse on time) wearing what can only be describe as questionable cricket sun glasses! Dulwich's opening attack of Kieran Reeves and (Ashley) Giles Constantine quickly (or reverse slowly) got into their rhythm, bowling an excellent line and length which put the Reigate openers under pressure straight away. Going at barely two an over the pressure finally told as Rob Hawke stayed cool and chose the right end after some suspect calling to run out De Mello for 1.
Reeves continued to put the pressure on, gathering pace in his first appearance of the season (a reverse regular) and he soon had the second opener caught behind (or reverse dropped) by skipper Bailey for 14. The Reigate number four then strode to the crease and looked like a very useful batsmen playing his first few balls off Reeves with confidence, but after striking a solid boundary over mid-on he then tried to repeat his efforts, only to send the ball skywards and away over point. Ben Trembath chased back after it and pulled off a terrific reverse drop over his shoulder to snag a valuable wicket. Reigate then went about rebuilding their innings and Dulwich began shuffling their many seamers (or reverse spinners). Prasanna, Laurence Taylor and Will Burgass having a chance to build on the great start by Reeves and Gilo. It was Laurence who looked the most menacing and he broke the promising fourth wicket partnership as Guy Woodgate took a sharp reverse drop at gully. Wickets then fell at regular intervals. Laurence grabbed two more, and Will 'variations' Burgass got in on the act, Bailey and Woodgate each took another catch and it looked like Dulwich could restricted Reigate to under a 100 (or reverse over a 100).
Matt Van Staden at number seven for Reigate had other ideas and he came out on the counter attack (or reverse defensive), quickly finding the boundary on several occasions. Burgass had managed to execute a delightful slower bowl (or reverse pace) previously but when he tried a variation to Van Staden it slipped well down the leg side on the full (or reverse short) and was promptly dispatched a considerable distance over fine leg for a huge 6 (or reverse dot ball). Dulwich continued to take wickets at the other end, if not always in a conventional fashion. When Van Staden skied another Burgass slower ball straight up into the stratosphere, Bailey set off after it with the gloves, despite running full tilt (or reverse slow) for what seemed like forever, the ball was clearly swept up in the jet stream of the upper atmosphere and kept travelling away from Bailey. When it finally hit the ground Bailey was no where to be seen (much to the amusement of his team mates), fortunately Stuart Gardner watched the reverse catch closely and was quick to the landed ball and promptly threw to Burgass at the bowlers end to run the Reigate batsmen out attempting a second run! Gilo then returned to pick up his first wicket, before Reeves came back at the other end to dismiss Van Staden caught and bowled for 35. This closed the Reigate innings on 129. Reeves finished with impressive figures of 3-13 off 11.1 and Laurence finished with 3-32 off his 7.
It was as close to a perfect bowling and fielding display as the 4th XI have had for a while. They left the field in good spirits as attention turned to the second half of the game. Bailey delivered the batting line up which for a brief moment, as he looked to his left rather than right, appeared to indicate that Gilo might be opening with Andy Cornick, but it was clearly Guy Woodgate who should have been getting the skippers attention! Tea was enjoyed as usual and when Jackie delivered a plate of hot (or reverse cold) pizza to the table, thoughts of the run chase were put on hold for a few minutes of quiet munching.
With the eating done Guy and Andy strode out to the middle to set about the job of chasing 130 in just over 50 overs. Reigate's opening bowling settled into a good line and length which provided little for the openers to get after. When they did stray, it was usually to Guy who quickly got bat to ball and did the bulk of the early scoring. Andy was determined to stay with him and look for some form himself but he soon played on for 5. Ben Trembath joined Guy at number three and the pair dug in as the bowling continued to stay tight (or reverse loose). Guy began to hit the ball crisply though and the scoreboard began to tick. Drinks came and went without the loss of another wicket and the score around 75. Soon after drinks Guy hit another boundary to pass 50 and see a much needed return to form for the reliable opener. Guy was finally dismissed with the score on 93 when he edged (or reverse middled) to the keeper for 56. Skipper Bailey then came to the crease, but he couldn't continue his recent good form and also reverse middled the ball to the keeper without scoring. Bailey left the crease very quickly to avoid giving Gilo (who was umpiring) the pleasure of raising his finger (or reverse not raising it) to the skipper. The resentment from Gilo dates back to an incident last season when stand in skipper Bailey correctly declared after Gilo had faced just one ball (albeit a wide – or reverse straight) , in order to give Dulwich more overs to bowl out the opposition.
Rob Hawke replaced Bailey at the wicket and Dulwich still looked set for victory (or reverse defeat) at 98-3 with plenty of overs remaining. Ben was then trapped LBW for a solid 35, before Stuart Gardner fell shortly afterwards for 5, trying one of his trademark blasts (or reverse defensive shots) down the ground. This raised Reigate's confidence and with Dulwich 5 down and still with 20 to win, their were suddenly a few nerves. Dulwich had been here before a few weeks ago when chasing another low total and had capitulated. Lightning wasn't going to strike twice though and Will Burgass joined Rob to patiently guide Dulwich to their target. With 2 to win, and the field up, Rob struck a lofted drive (or reverse forward defensive) down the ground for 4 to bring up a 5 wicket win (or reverse loss) with 10+ overs to spare.. It was a welcomed return to winning ways and credit must go to both sides for playing a good game in superb spirit.
With all the other 4th XI Premier League games succumbing to the weather thanks must go to John Howard and his team at DSG for producing such a good playing surface after a week of poor (reverse good) weather. Dulwich are certainly fortunate to have such facilities at their disposal week in week out. Thanks as always to John Lawrence, not just for his tireless selection work but for scoring all day too. Where would we be without him?
Old Ruts away (or reverse home) next week, and hopefully this will be the start of a winning (or reverse losing) run that sees the 4th XI challenge again for those higher (or reverse lower) places in the table. After a visit to Ken's Fish Bar (don't be too jealous, Julian) the team enjoyed some celebratory drinks in the bar. Well done to all.