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Sat 20th May – 4th XI v Banstead

BANSTEAD 163 (45) lost to DULWICH 164-8 (37) by 2 wickets

Scorecard

After a couple of champagne wins to kick off the season, Banstead were expected to provide a sterner test for Matt Dixon’s men, having finished third in the league last year. The corresponding fixture in 2016 was a, how to put it…, ‘lively’ encounter, with Knighty sprinting from the field to keep his boyish good looks at the end of the game, having managed to antagonise the opposition more than his own team for once. This fixture contained little of this needle, but it certainly delivered a tense finish as Alex Easedale (playing his first game for the 4th XI) and David Woods (er, not playing his first game for the 4th XI) saw DCC maintain their 100% start to the season by two wickets.

Arriving with a team that bore little resemblance to those in the first two games, the skipper knew it was time for the players to grind out a result and win ugly. And trust me, this victory was ugly; Shane McGowan, the morning after St. Patrick’s day ugly.

Winning the toss Dixon was delighted to insert Banstead in to bat on a damp green wicket. Prasanna took the new ball, but without his preferred partner, Sunil Isaac who was on holiday in the 3’s, new ball was thrown to young spinner Forhad Ahmed. This tactic paid dividends straight away with veteran opener David Stow scooping him to point where Sakid Rashed took a comfortable catch. Joining the attack Sakib then removed over opener Shields for a dreary 12 and Banstead were wobbling with two down and Dixon mentally congratulating himself on his luck tactical genius.

However, in strode Surrey over 50’s superstar Irfan Sultan, who slapped his first two balls to the boundary and set about exhorting his authority from the start. Finding an ally in no 3 Estall, the pair took on the below-par Dulwich attack and took the score past 50.

The critical period of the innings was the bowling partnership between Alex Easedale and David Woods. Introduced in placed of Sakib, Woods immediately applied a tourniquet to the Banstead innings, strangling the run rate to the odd single. At the same time Easedale who had struggled for length and bowling in borrowed boots, found some rhythm and became equally economical. The pressure started to tell as Alex removed Estall with the first of two catches from Zeeshan and Woodsy suckered batsmen 5 and 6 into ill-fated lofted drives.

The rest of this Banstead innings was a dash to clobber a few late runs, with Forhad coming back into the attack and picking up a couple more wickets, including a beauty that turned through the batsman’s gate. A couple of late runouts saw Banstead finish on 163. A very gettable target and a good reflection of a decent fielding and bowling effort, given we had many key players missing. Special note should go to Cian Scannell and Rhys Williams in the field who were outstanding.

After one of the best teas on the circuit, Zeeshan and Cian Scannell lead the DCC reply. Making his debut, Scannell immediately looked solid and technically sound. Zeeshan looked like… well, Zeeshan. Things were going swimmingly, when at 49-0, Cian was hit on the pads in front and became the first man down. Dan Peters was next in, and remembering his innings in the 2016 fixture, the opposition skipper scattered his field randomly with little intuition as to where the ball might go.

Having reached a brisk 39, Zeeshan was caught one handed on the boundary by the leaping Mark Gordon. He stood his ground, uncertain that it was caught within the boundary, but had to take the fielder’s word and reluctantly left. The skipper Dixon came to the wicket and he and Peters were determined to see the innings through. For the next few overs, runs were easy to come by and the chirpy Banstead fielders were silenced, seemingly accepting their fate of another Dulwich win.

However, against the run of play, the accurate seamer Kukulan removed Peters for a belligerent 29 and then had Dixon caught off the back of his bat for 23.

Suddenly Dulwich were 4 down with 40 still needed.

The Banstead team sensed the nervousness in the Dulwich ranks, as the runs dried up and the pressure increased. Skipper Dixon went out to umpire and keep things calm from close quarters, but he watched helplessly as Kukulan sent Rashed and Bailey back to the hutch in the same over and then saw Rhys Williams scoop one to cover.

7 down and 25 needed.

Prasanna rode his luck for a streaky but welcome 14, but he soon became Kukulan’s 5th victim, caught behind. With 13 needed, DCC had David Woods and Alex Easedale at the crease, with only genuine no. 11 Forhad to follow.

The fielders crowded the bat and the noise level started to increase. For the next 7 overs, the two ground out the odd run and slowly kept towards the target. Woodsy maintained a Yoda-like calmness throughout the situation and the common sense Alex showed was admirable.

In the 39th over, they sneaked it over the line and Dulwich’s 100% record was maintained.

This was a scrappy win and truthfully a situation we should not have found ourselves in. However, the character the team demonstrated to see it over the line was admirable and it is likely that later in the season, this will be one of those games we look back on and realise it’s significance.

Next up will be the warm welcome of SinjunGrammararians followed by big rivals Wimbledon and Spencer where the league table will really start to take shape.

Sat 13th May – 4th XI v Oxted and Limpsfield

OXTED AND LIMPSFIELD 134 (39) lost to DULWICH 256 (38) by 122 runs

Scorecard

Dulwich picked up a comfortable second win of the season in a one-sided affair at the picturesque O&L ground. With the majority of the batsman getting their first competitive knock of the season, the game was excellent conditioning for sterner tests to come in future weeks.

Upon losing the toss, skipper Dixon was delighted to be asked to bat on a flat looking track and fast outfield. He was less thrilled watching Julian Dean miss a straight one to be cleaned up with the first ball of the game from the athletic fifteen year old opening bowler. With the scorecard 0-1 at 1:01pm it looked more binary code than the beginnings of a title challenge. None of this of course phased Zeeshan at the other end, who for the next half hour launched a nuclear assault on the O&L ground troops. Supported by Pickles who was scratching himself into some form, they took things through to 60-1 off the first 10.

Eventually Zeesh played one big shot too many and found the hands of backward point for a swift 34. With Pickles finding some fluency at the other end and striking some sweet boundaries square of the wicket, it was new batsman Darren’s turn to scratch around for a few overs, picking up the odd run off the edge as he looked for some early season touch.

With Pickles eventually departing for a well-made 34, and Dixon coming and going in the space of a couple of balls (eagerly triggered by the grinning Julian), the Dulwich innings threatened to stall somewhat. Step forward Darren Cason, who decided the best method of finding form was to begin launching the Oxted bowling attack to all parts of the ground. Ably supported by debutant Sakib Rashed (21), Darren set about ruining the fledgling careers of Oxted’s young bowlers, in particular taking a liking to their twelve year old leggie, smashing him for numerous boundaries including an audacious switch hit for a one-bounce four.

Darren eventually fell to a great boundary catch as he looked to launch the spinner over long off for yet another 6, his 77 coming at more than a run a ball and putting Dulwich in a great position. However, with Rashed and then Swain departing, Dulwich found themselves 7 down with almost 15 overs still to bat.

Unfortunately for Oxted, this mini-collapse didn’t seem to affect new pair Rhys Williams and Prasanna one bit, as they carried on where Darren had left off, abusing the Oxted bowlers with big shot after big shot. With the score motoring past 200, Rhys decided to up the ante by hitting the returning opening bowler for a pair of huge sixes over long on, and at the other end Prasanna continued to cut and pull his way to 25. Both batsmen eventually fell to the dibble of bowler Hunt (5-44), with Rhys continuing his great early season form, making 38 off about 20 balls.

Last pair Taylor and Ahmed hung around for an over or so, a beautiful straight drive from Loz giving the impression of some serious off-season technique improvement, before reality returned and he was bowled next ball by Hunt to end the innings. 256 all out in just 38 overs – slightly above par, but with a fast outfield and short boundaries, a gettable target.

After a tasty and home-made tea, Dulwich took to the field with Prasanna opening up from the pavilion end, immediately hitting his line and length and putting the openers under pressure. Unfortunately the same could not be said for Swain, whose first two balls pitched half way down an adjacent strip. Oh dear.

Eventually Swain managed to pitch one on the correct wicket, and with his 7th ball of the over induced opener Wardley to chip a check-drive to skipper Dixon at mid-off. In past years this was a perfectly safe shot, normally resulting in an easy single off the dropped catch, however Wardley clearly hadn’t heard about Dixon’s one-on-one catching practice sessions this week – £80 clearly well spent as Matt took the absolute blinder dolly.

Number 3 Powell looked eager to get stuck in, and Swain obliged first ball up with a wide long-hop which deserved to get sent into Kent. Unfortunately for the batsman, he decided to chop it onto his stumps instead, leaving Swain on the most village, undeserved hat-trick the Surrey Championship has ever seen.

With Oxted skipper Damesick joining the fray, Prasanna continued to pile on the pressure, bowling with good pace and control for the second week in a row, beating the bat on numerous occasions with no luck forthcoming. At the other end, Swain finally found his radar and began to bowl some better lines, culminating with pinning Damesick plum LBW. Unfortunately the umpire disagreed on the plumness of hitting the batsman on the back leg half way up middle stump, and turned down the appeal. Luckily for Dulwich this perceived injustice only served to fire up Swain, and two balls later a bit of extra pace saw the batsman bowled off his back pad.

Dixon rang the changes, replacing Prasanna with Loz, and Swain with debutant spinner Forhad Ahmed. While Forhad bowled with good loop and generated some turn off the still very good pitch, at the top end the Loz Ness Monster charged down the hill like a young Fidel Edwards, chucking the ball down fast and straight.

Eventually the Lozbian’s excessive pace paid dividends, cleaning up the stubborn #5 with a vicious in-swinger that actually snapped the base of off stump! The next batsman in had barely managed to take a guard before Loz Vegas struck again, sending the same stump cartwheeling past the jubilant slip cordon. 

By this point, however, Oxted opener Hanrott was seeing it like a beach ball, and his 6 forward defensives per over were now starting to threaten the 30 yard circle on occasion. He was joined by 12 year old keeper-batsman Walton, who looked effortlessly comfortable against the varied challenges presented by the pace of Lozceister City and the spin of Ahmed. Unfortunately for the young man, Ben Lozter reached into his bag of tricks and pulled out the ‘out-swinging Jaffer’, taking the edge of the bat and sending the ball to 2nd slip where Rhys took an exceptional falling catch.

Clearly bored of blocking for 30 overs, Hanrott eventually missed a quick, straight ball from Lozt-and-found, and Oxted found themselves 7 down with still more than 150 runs to get. New pair Hunt and Kearns managed to see off both Ahmed (0-36 off 9), who had bowled with good control and guile, and the very impressive Lozenge (4-17 off 9).

Openers Swain and Callaghan were brought back to try to finish off the match, but neither could quite get it right and were eventually seen off – Callaghan unlucky to finish with a very economical 0-24, Swain taking 3-41 in his 9.

The stubborn partnership was finally brought to an end by a brilliant piece of fielding from Queen eLozabeth, scoring a direct hit runout with just one stump to aim at, in the process securing some big JL points for himself. With one end opened up, Dulwich’s secret weapon the Pickler, fresh from an impressive display with the bat, proceeded to clean up numbers 10 and 11, finishing with 2-5 off 2. Oxted 134 all out in 39, Dulwich top of the league.

Two impressive wins in as many weeks for the 4s, but undoubtedly there are sterner tests to come. Next week we travel to Banstead, where the team will look to continue their march to the Premier League title.

Sat 6th May – 4th XI v Reigate Priory

REIGATE PRIORY 64 (30.4) lost to DULWICH 65-0 (12.1) by 10 wickets

Scorecard

After two seasons where we deserved more, the 4th XI are looking to settle a score. Reigate bowled out for nothing, Jules gave them a buffing and we were back in the clubhouse by 4!

After coming excruciatingly close to winning the title in each of the past two years, going into the 2017 season the target for the 4s is crystal clear – win the league. First up was Reigate at the DSG, the team who had denied Dulwich on the final day of the 2015 season.

Skipper Dixon won the toss and, with the pitch looking green and slightly damp, duly inserted the opposition. With revenge in mind, Dulwich kicked off the season with Prasanna opening up from the top, backed by a stiff breeze, and Sunil swinging the ball into the wind from the clubhouse end.

Sunil was first to strike, dismissing opener Chay via a sharp catch from keeper Peters, taking the ball one handed in front of a recoiling Julian at first slip. One wicket soon became three, as first Yapahugedara and then Coxon mis-timed swipes at Sunil’s deft outswingers, skying simple catches to Woodgate and Chuds. With Prasanna tearing in from the other end and causing the batsmen numerous problems with his (inconsistent) bounce and pace, the pressure soon told and Sunil picked up his 4th wicket, sticky opener Brewis toe-ending a hack at a tempting outswinger, sending the ball into orbit and safely down into Chuds’ hands/chest/shoulder region.

Reigate 4 down for not many, the skipper rang the bowling changes. Prasanna had bowled quickly and accurately and was unlucky to go wicketless, finishing with 0-19 off his 7. The pressure he had built undoubtedly contributed to the reckless shots at the other end, and he must take some credit for Sunil’s haul. Swain replaced him at the top end, and soon settled into a good rhythm, bowling five good balls an over and getting a lot of help from a misbehaving pitch.

Pickles replaced Sunil at the other end, and his usual variations had the batsmen in all sorts of trouble, unable to score off his miserly bowling (0-6 off 5). Swain eventually managed to get one to rear off a length and take Cass’s glove, before the next ball (pitching in a similar spot) scuttled along the floor and bowled Morris. A true batting paradise.

A rare piece of genuinely good cricket saw Swain bring Pickles into a short third man/fly-slip position, and 2 balls later he enticed De Mello into a top edge straight to the reliable Pickler. 7 down and an early tea on the cards.

Dixon brought back Sunil to try to finish off the Reigate innings, and his faith was rewarded when Sunil enticed Brewis Jr into a leading edge straight to mid-on. Unfortunately said mid-on was Dixon himself, and a dropped dolly was the only result. Sunil finished with 4-16 off 9, very well bowled and cruelly denied a 5-fer.

At the other end, Swain (3-20 off 8) had gone wicketless for an over, so Dixon pulled him from the attack and introduced newbie Tobin, who set about demolishing the Reigate tail. 10 balls was all it took for him to remove Makelow, Irwin and Chovil, 2 bowled and 1 caught at slip – a devastating display of accurate, pacey bowling, with good movement in the air and off the pitch. Innings wrapped up and a great debut performance from the northerner, finishing with 3-1 off his 1.4 overs (the 1 being a misfield by Pras!).

With Reigate all out for 64 in 30.4 overs and tea not yet ready, the players switched sides and the Dulwich openers strode to the middle with purpose. 11 taken off the first over, and the game was already coming to a close.

Some average bowling from the Reigate opening pair, coupled with some powerful top edges from Julian and a couple of sweet leg-side flicks from Chuds, pushed the Dulwich score towards the target at a rate of knots. A beautifully struck 6 over long-on from Julian brought the score to the brink, and with Reigate’s first change bowler running in for his first ball, Chuds ended the game with a single into the off side.

A potentially tricky run chase on a difficult pitch made to look comfortable by Dulwich’s opening pair. Julian’s normal powerful hitting and watchful defence saw him finish on 36*, with Chuds 20* at the other end. A 10 wicket win completed by 4 o'clock, leaving ample time to enjoy the 5th team’s victory and several beers.

Next week Oxted away, and a chance to send another strong message to the rest of the league. In the spirit of Sunil & Prasanna’s beloved Liverpool, this year is our year.​​


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