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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.

Sat 30th July – 4th XI v SinjunGrammarians

DULWICH 237-7 (46.5) winning draw vs SINJUNGRAMMARIANS 200-8 (44)

Scorecard

Ok gang… quick quiz for you. Which of these ludicrous statements are true?

1. Prasanna Callaghan managed to arrive at 12.20pm for an 11.15am meet at the club and the skipper (im)patiently waited in his car for him to arrive.

2. Prasanna Callaghan channelled his inner Jayawardene to smack 10 fours and 4 sixes on his way to 97 not out.

3. Prasanna Callaghan spent the last 10 overs keeping wicket after Darren Casson broke a finger.

Following the old adage that fact is stranger than fiction, I can inform you that all three are true and joking aside, Prasanna’s innings drove the opposition, Sinjungrammarians, wild – reducing them to fighting and trading insults amongst themselves. But more of that later…

Starting the game six points behind leaders Banstead, skipper Matt Dixon took a much changed side to Wandsworth with 4th team debuts for Alex Irvine and James Worley. Arriving a few minutes before the scheduled start of play (due to you-know-who), he promptly lost the toss and was invited to have first go on a hard track that looked like it had a bit of

With no Julian and Zeeshan, Matt and newbie Alex Irvine opened up against the accurate Sinjuns opening pair of Murtaza and Khan. Both dug in and saw the shine off the new ball, running well between the wickets and with Irvine unleashing one gorgeously timed cover drive to see the score to 60 for no wicket. 

However, a bowling change brought about the wicket with evergreen maverick motor-mouth Roy Lawrence getting one through Irvine’s stoic defence. The skip went quickly after with a trademark LBW dismissal playing across the line and Stuart Gardner followed. Lawrence had three and 60-0 had quickly become 72-3 – We were having a classic 4th team wobble with Darren Casson and James Worley together at the wicket.

By this point Sinjuns appeared to have five captains on the pitch and the over rate slowed to a Charlton-esque crawl as each man re-arrange the field after ever ball. Darren then slashed a wide one to gully who clung on to a good catch whilst fully maintaining a full conversation with the slip next to him as he grasped the ball. 

The unlikely 5th wicket partnership of James Worley and Prasanna Callaghan then put on 51 for the next wicket, despite an ongoing verbal battle with bowler Lawrence to take the score to 144. After a nervy start Worley found his confidence but insulted the cricketing gods by changing his bat and they prompt ensure he was dismissed next ball. Rhys came and left in two balls and suddenly the innings was unravelling.

By this time skipper Dixon was umpiring to direct the final few overs from the middle. He instructed Prasanna and new batsman Sunil Isaac to get as close to 200 as possible. In response, the pair went nuclear, blazing 60 off the next 4 overs which prompted to the Sinjun’s captain to start abusing his team in a way that wouldn’t have been politically correct in 1985…

More misery was to follow as Prasanna and Alex Vinen took 36 runs off the last nine (legal) balls to take the score to an impressive 237-8 dec. A mighty effort considering 180 looked likely a few overs previously. A decent tea was enjoyed by all and Matt got the team out as quickly as possible to avoid finishing the game at around 10pm, given the painful over rate.

With a clear message to get stuck in and attack the Sinjuns top order from the outset, opening bowlers Reeve and Isaac proved effective and accurate. Reeve bounding in with plenty of pace and enthusiasm roughed up the batsmen, whilst Sunil exploited the overcast conditions and swung the ball prestigiously. The Sinjuns batsmen struggled and Sunil quickly had three wickets – two caught behind by Prasanna and Darren and their skipper caught by Matt at mid-off. Kieran joined the party bowling Thavam and the innings reeled at 8-4. 

This score brought together batsmen Zaheed Muneer and the obstinate Roy Lawrence who set about repairing the innings. Whilst Muneer looked to play his shots, Lawrence used every part of his body other than his bat. Muneer gave a chance a few overs later, but the Matt couldn’t hold a catch on the run behind the bowler’s head – a drop that proved costly later.

These two batsmen frustrated the Dulwich bowlers, putting on 159 for the 5th wicket. The skipper mixed it up with spinner Alex Vinen, Giles and Prasanna joining the attack but without any break though. Matt turned back to his opening pair and Sunil finally ended Lawrence’s stay at the crease, showing great focus to take a skied catch of his own bowling, whilst being simultaneously rugby tackled by James Worley.

We were back in the hunt – Keiran quickly bowled the new batsmen Khan to get his second wicket and Sunil followed this to claim his first five wicket haul for Dulwich, bowling Ali.

The game then took an unfortunate turn when keeper Darren Casson’s finger was badly broken. With no obviously replacements the skipper looked around the team for a volunteer and of course Prasanna was there with his hand up. Kieran was deployed as backstop and the game continued with Prasanna doing a great job behind the stumps.

Sunil picked up his 6th wicket leaving Dulwich needing 2 wickets from the last three overs. But alas, Muneer reached his century and then kept the strike to see Sinjuns home with a draw, intent on a red inker…

Although frustrated at not winning the game, there were some great performances in a much changed team that was only finalised late on Friday night. Alex Irvine and James Worley both played a part with the bat and Sunil’s 6-41 of 16 overs was a fine exhibition of controlled swing bowling. But the day did belong to Prasanna for batting, catching, bowling, sledging and keeping – it was almost enough for the skip to forgive him for being so bloody late.

News then filtered through that Banstead had lost, pushing DCC to top of the league with 5 games left. A top of the table clash with them is next with Dan Peters leading the side in Matt’s absence. The league is looking like a three horse race with Spencer certainly not out of it and all three teams still to play each other. We approach these games full of confidence and intent on securing the title.

Sat 16th July – 4th XI v Woking & Horsell

DULWICH 63-2 (15.5) beat WOKING & HORSELL 61 (31) by 8 wickets

Scorecard

A day of surprises for Dulwich on Saturday as they chalked up a comfortable win in a light hearted and friendly affair at Woking.

Where to start? Firstly, JD accidentally arrived at the ground at ten past 12 rather than five to 1 which meant there was a real danger of having to find numerous excuses as to why he couldn’t take part in the warm up and fielding drills. While Swainy practiced his newly discovered off-spin and Darren practiced diving full length on the floor, JD gave the wicket the low down and concluded, wrongly as it turned out, that it would play a lot better than it looked. Rigourous warm up completed by the four of us who had arrived by ten to 1, the skipper arrived, promptly won the toss and, correctly as the format requires, stuck the opposition in.

Knighty opened up and first ball, Darren fresh from his keeping warm up, let the ball through his legs for 4. The opening bowlers settled into their usual line and lengths with both Knighty and Prasanna hitting the same area of the pitch (a good length at the end Prasanna was bowling to). Runs were at a premium (although Darren quickly sprinted towards a double figure bye tally, which was highly unfair on him given the fact that he spent most of the time airborne down the leg side).

Zeeshan finally turned up about 45 minutes late (not that anyone had noticed he wasn’t on the field). With the score on 20 after 12 overs - a miracle! - Knighty, who admittedly had been building up an ill-directed head of steam from the top end, induced the opener to have a swing and the ball spiralled gently towards mid-wicket. Normally a regulation catch would ensue, but with all eyes following the trajectory of the ball hearts sunk as we realised the skipper was under it. Fortunately, the nay-sayers were proven wrong as the skipper hauled in the catch in a fashion that would never appear in the MCC coaching manual, and ended with him resembling someone reading the paper sitting on the lav.

Two balls later, Knighty, after the hallelujah moment, that if he pitched it up he might cause some trouble, won an LBW appeal (that WK and slips didn’t appeal for…) and followed it up with another LBW (which we gladly joined in for…). The hat-trick ball, which was decent and on target, was well kept out by the new batsman and Knight had a triple wicket maiden.

Lawrence replaced Prasanna (much to the relief of Darren, who had by this time lost about a stone from throwing himself around so much) and he settled into his usual full and straight methodology (reverse Knighty). Knighty picked up another bowler’s LBW in the next over (again no appeal from those behind the wicket), before Lawrence cleaned up 2 of his own to leave the hosts in big trouble at 40-6, which became 40-7 when Knighty cleaned up the number 3 who was giving himself room as the support from the other end ran out.

There followed a brief respite as the number 9 blocked everything Lawrence threw at him and Knighty tested out the middle of the pitch for no reason other than he’s Knighty. Knighty then won another LBW decision (jury split down the middle on that one, although reward for bowling that fuller length) and then had the number 10 caught at point by Will Burgass having “given himself room” (the batsman not Will). Knighty finally blew a gasket and had to be replaced by Will who cleaned up the opposition skipper off the last ball of his first over to see the home side all out for 62.   

A whole innings without any dropped catches, Knighty bowling full and straight and the skipper bagging one….we were living the dream. Knighty ended up with 7 for 31 off 15 overs and Lawrence 2 for 11 off 9.

After a decent tea with doughnuts (always a winner) Shok wandered off to watch the bowls match going on next door (or was it to get the phone number of the granny playing) whilst JD and Zeesh set about arranging an early trip home. JD got a leading edge in the third over which looped in the air and fell equidistant between mid-off, the bowler and extra cover and promptly got the trademark booming drive over mid-off out next ball to be dropped again. Zeesh, on the other hand did connect with a haymaker that cleared the ropes by some distance but not enough obviously for Prasanna who signalled a four. Cunning plan from Prasanna as it riled Zeesh so much he took 14 off the over which prompted a Red Arrows fly-past, which did seem entirely unnecessary. With 30 off the first 5 overs the game was pretty much won, so the two openers amused themselves by seeing how ridiculous the calling and running could get, the answer being very ridiculous.

The introduction of the home skipper’s decent leg spin (he could have been a handful if we were chasing 150) saw Zeesh conduct his own fly past to be out for 30, which was closely followed by Swainy coming in to occupy the pinch-blockers role. One close LBW shout later, Swainy departed the scene as the third time he touched the ball in the game was to deflect an innocuous delivery into his own stumps. Darren thumped his first ball over square leg to seal the win by 8 wickets.

It was a great performance from the seam department and credit to Woking who, although on the end of a hammering, played with a smile on their face and with good “bants” throughout. The game finishing at 5ish meant that we could head home with the hope that we could barrack the third or fifth team, in traditional 4th team fashion. Sadly, due to Lawrence’s car having a top speed of 37 ½ mph (downhill), we arrived back to discover that the threes had done a similar demolition job on their opposition and the 5s had lost a nail biter themselves. Sadly all that was left was for us to add some “beer fuelled atmosphere” to the proper game going on with the second team.  A decent attendance at the bar that evening and high spirits by all saw your reporter leave at midnight for his normal soujourn home. Being a responsible human being, your reporter had already jettisoned the car at Turney Road and being on something of a fitness drive at the moment / being too tight to order an Uber, set off on the 5 mile walk home. Having rescued the lesser spotted Matten from a ditch and safely escorted him home, your reporter carried on his way to reach his door step at 2 in the morning only to realise his door keys were safely stashed in his cricket bag in the boot of the car in the now locked compound at Turney. So one joyful night’s sleep on the doorstep of the reporters house later and a 5 mile walk back to the club later to be reunited with the door keys, but surprisingly zero hangover, I feel obliged to warn younger readers of the peril of being responsible drink.

The league is the most open ever this year and with Wimbledon and Sinjuns both looking stronger in recent weeks, there is a case for anyone of seven teams being victorious at the end of the season. The 4s are back up to third six points behind top placed Banstead.