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Sat 17th June – 4th XI v Sunbury

DULWICH 210-7 (38.2) beat SUNBURY 206-9 (47) by 3 wickets

Scorecard

On a scorching hot day at the DSG, Dulwich got themselves back into the title mix with a hard-fought win at home to second-placed Sunbury.

Winning the toss, skipper Dixon duly inserted Sunbury on a firm looking wicket. Newbie Jack Mahoney and Joe Day opened up, looking to make inroads into Sunbury’s high-flying batting lineup, whose form has propelled them to a top-2 position in the league.

Unfortunately for Dulwich, some wayward bowling along with some clean hitting from Sunbury’s openers soon put paid to this idea. Both openers came out firing, edging good balls away for singles and boundaries and tucking in to anything short or wide, and soon the score had reached 60 off 6 overs. Dixon introduced Swain to the attack to try to bring some control to proceedings, but he too was unable to stem the flow of runs, being launched for boundaries off all parts of the bat.

After 10 overs of carnage, and the score fast approaching 100, Dixon rang the changes, introducing spin from both ends in the shape of Ramakrishnan and Lester. The rewards were immediate, opener Greaves bowled by Gokhul for a rapid 47, before number 3 came and went in the same fashion.

At the other end, Lester was tormenting the other opener Sehmi, who couldn’t lay a bat on him for 3 overs in a row, all of his big shots against the seamers apparently forgotten when facing spin. Eventually Lester put him out of his misery, trapped LBW for 37. Number 4 soon joined him back in the pavilion as Dulwich’s spin twins began to turn the screw.

Lester picked up his 3rd and 4th wickets via good catches from Ramakrishnan and Day, both batsman trying to hit over the top, and Gokhul claimed his 3rd scalp with a nice catch in the gully from Scannell (despite the batsman claiming he didn’t hit it – did I mention it went to GULLY!)

With Sunbury’s vaunted batting lineup collapsing like a proverbial pack of cards, Dulwich were hoping to skittle the tail and get in for an early tea. With Lester picking up a well-deserved 5th wicket, stumped by Durrani, things were looking good.

However, Sunbury had a sting in the tail, as numbers 9, 10 and 11 set about adding vital runs with some aggressive shot making. Lester had Patel caught for 20, to finish with incredible figures of 6-29, but as he and Ramakrishnan (3-44 off 13) bowled out, Dulwich still needed another wicket.

The returning seamers once again struggled to make any inroads on what was a pretty flat wicket, with Sunbury’s last pair adding over 40. Eventually Sunbury declared on 206-9 off 47 – a good comeback from Dulwich, having been staring down a 350+ chase before the spinners were introduced.

After a strong tea and inspiring team talk, the Dulwich openers strode out into the stifling heat to take on the challenge of this season’s biggest run chase. Unfortunately Zeeshan was striding back a couple of overs later, gone for 8.

4th XI debutant Durrani joined Scannell at the crease, and the pair set about milking singles and twos off the accurate Sunbury bowling. Durrani survived a leg-side catch scare, and Scannell a couple of edges through slips, but on the whole the batsmen looked comfortable as the score moved up past 70.

Having seen the impact Dulwich’s spinners had made at a crucial part of the first innings, the Sunbury captain soon turned to his own legion of slow bowlers, as the score continued to creep up. Durrani eventually fell to a great slip catch off the evergreen Clarke, and with Woodgate departing soon after, Dulwich were wobbling. Enter skipper Dixon, whose calm head and textbook sweep seemed a perfect counter to Sunbury’s spinners.

At the other end, Cian had begun to find his range, smashing the bowlers over the top on numerous occasions, and brought up a well-crafted 50 with a blow into the leg side which was dropped by the fielder over the boundary. Oops.

Dixon finally missed a straight one having made a crucial 25, and with Scannell’s leg giving him problems, Sunbury felt they were still in the game. Kaffurudeen joined the fray and kept up the attack, smashing the bowling to all parts to bring Dulwich’s score above 150, whilst Scannell, who could now hardly move, stood and delivered and the other end.

Having made an exquisite 69, Cian eventually fell to Sehmi, which brought number 7 Lester to the crease with 35 still needed and Dulwich nerves jangling.

Some fine boundary hitting and single-running later, and Dulwich were well within sight of the total. Kaffurudeen and Swain fell before the total was reached, but Mahoney smashed his first ball for four and the game was won. Lester had added a chanceless 20* to his earlier 6 wickets, and a brilliant run chase was completed in just 38 overs.

A great win, and a message to the rest of the league. Next up are Oxted at home.

Sat 10th June – 4th XI v Spencer

SPENCER 131 (38.5) lost to DULWICH 169 (32.2) by 38 runs

Scorecard

Dulwich got back to winning ways with a hard-fought 38 run win away at local rivals Spencer.

With Skipper Dixon away on business, VC Swain stepped up to lead the side against a team that had cruelly denied the 4s the league title on the last day of the 2016 season. After a very professional and engaging warm-up led by Ollie Tobin, Swain marched out to the middle and promptly lost the toss, meaning Dulwich were asked to have a bat.

The stand-in skipper was hoping for some big early runs from openers Peters and Zeeshan to pile the pressure on a depleted opposition, who started the game with only 8 players. After 2 overs we were 7-2, not ideal. Chris Marshall and number 4 Darren Cason thus set about repairing the innings – Marshall mixing a solid defence with some powerful shots to punish any wayward bowling, while Cason milked singles and 2s with some great field manipulation.

Having seen the score advance above 60 and the Dulwich batsmen looking well set, the Spencer skipper sought to introduce some pressure in the form of a 13 year old off spinner. Unfortunately for him, Cason and Marshall took a liking to the youngster’s head-high full tosses, taking him for 23 in his first over as the score swiftly approached 100 and Cason moved serenely past 50 (his second of the season for the 4s).

Eventually Spencer managed to get the breakthrough, Marshall falling to Abbas for a gritty and well-made 36. Pickles followed soon after stumped down the leg side, and then the Dulwich innings really began to fall apart when Cason was caught at mid-on for 62. Hope, promoted to number 7, lasted a couple of balls before being bowled by Abbas, who then proceeded to clean up Swain and Ramakrishnan first ball for a pretty uninspiring hat-trick.

At the other end Ollie Tobin was showing some good form with the bat, running well and hitting some cultured boundaries, and he managed to inch the score above 150 before being caught off Sindhu for 26. Last pair Jones and Day managed to squeeze a few more runs out before Day was last man out for 8, leaving Jones unbeaten on a useful 12. 169 all out in just 32 overs, having been 108-3 off 17. Not a great total, but on a seaming wicket and slow-ish outfield, Dulwich had a chance.

After sampling one of the better teas on the circuit, the Dulwich team came out fired up and ready to get stuck into the home side’s lineup.

Jeremy Jones and Chris Hope opened up, both bowling with good control in the face of some immediate aggression from opening batsman Naqvi. After a few edgy boundaries and some aerial wafts, the first wicket fell when Naqvi was well caught by Zeeshan off Hope for 19. A suicidal run-out then helped the Dulwich cause, Tobin’s accurate throw accounting for the other opener. This brought together Jafri x2, as captain Hussain joined Hassan at the crease.

Jones had bowled with good accuracy and pace but without any luck, and with the skipper signalling to debutant Joe Day to warm up, JJ knew he needed a wicket in order to get another over.

2 balls later, Jones had a pair of wickets and another over – first bowling Hussain Jafri with a great ball which nipped off the seam, before having Aun Naqvi caught behind by Peters off a decent edge. Unfortunately JJ couldn’t match the feats of Abbas and complete his hat-trick, despite having 8 catchers around the bat!

The next few overs featured some calamitous catching from Dulwich, which in truth almost let Spencer back into the game. Hassan Jafri was dropped twice early in his innings before going on to make 32, while Ali Hussain made the most of 3 chances going to ground to move the Spencer total up towards 100.

The introduction of Joe Day to the attack finally removed Jafri, before the gritty Khan was bowled by Ramakrishnan with an excellent ball which turned sharply down the slope past the batsman’s textbook leave.

Ex-Dulwich man Rehan Malik immediately provided some hope for Spencer, smashing a pair of boundaries off Ramakrishnan, whilst at the other end Hussain continued to chance his arm, smashing the ball in the air to all parts of the infield.

Ramakrishnan, however, held his nerve and eventually grabbed a second wicket, Malik chipping a lofted offspinner straight to Hope, who managed to hold the catch and atone slightly for his two earlier drops. With Hussain approaching his half century and Spencer 7 down with 40-odd to get, the game was on a knife-edge. Luckily Dulwich had a secret weapon – Spencer’s comical running.

After just a couple of balls at the crease, the young number 9 decided to run out Hussain for 42 (a great throw from Pickles), all but sealing the game for Dulwich. The batsman could then only watch as the newly introduced Pickler cleaned up his mate at the other end for the 9th wicket.

Not to be out-done, the young man decided to run himself out to end the game, with Spencer all out for 131.

A great bowling and fielding performance (the less said about the catching and batting the better), and with Sunbury and Wimbledon both dropping points this weekend, Dulwich are right back in the title hunt. Next week we host Sunbury, who we must beat to maintain our charge.

Sat 27th May – 4th XI v SinjunGrammarians

SINJUNGRAMMARIANS 137-7 (36) beat DULWICH 136 (34) by two wickets (10 players)

Scorecard

It wasn’t meant to happen like this. After selection on Tuesday, skipper Dixon had hatched a (very simple) plan and it went something like this….

Having seen the depth of batting riches in the team at his disposal, he was going to win the toss, choose to bat, score 300-ish in the scorching sunshine, reduce the Sinjun team to melted wrecks in the heat and skittle them for 100. Simple.

The plan was going well. The sunshine was out, Dixon won the toss, batted and the Sinjun fielders were sloping out to field with nine men and the weariness of a team who had been hammered for 275 runs the previous week against an understrength Spencer.

Cian played out the first over for a maiden and Zeeshan then slapped his first boundary straight past the bowler. Peters, Dixon and Williams – batsmen 5, 6 and 7 were still in shorts – Life was sweet…

This was where the masterplan began to unravel like that toilet roll in the Andrex adverts. Except Sinjun’s aren’t half as cute as that puppy…

At 2.30pm we were 60-7. This was not part of the plan. Peters, Dixon and Williams still had

shorts on. Unfortunately, they had changed back into them since being dismissed.

There is not a lot to say about that first hour and a half. Sinjuns bowled very well. In fact, they didn’t bowl a single wide in the innings – a miracle in 4’s cricket. Their openers Lawrence and Salman bowled with nagging accuracy and the Dulwich batsmen simply could apply themselves to build an innings despite wickets falling at both ends.

However, this scenario was familiar. Did we not do this in the same fixture last year? Back in

2016, Prasanna had strolled to the wicket in equally catastrophic circumstances and broke the oppo’s collective mind, body and soul with an explosive 97 not out. Could he do this again?

Er, no. Instead of tearing the game away from Sinjun’s, he tore his hamstring. Rhys had to, yet again, get changed out of his shorts and become a runner for him.

In fact, for a 15 minute period a handy partnership formed between Prasanna, who despite batting on one leg, could still swipe a ball to cow and Ollie Tobin who chipped in with a handy and relatively cultured 19. Together they wagged the Dulwich tail and dragged us to 136. Half ofwhat the skipper wanted, but something to bowl at.

With Prasanna standing gingerly in the slips, Ollie and Luke Howard took the new ball. Ollie was fired up and soon manged to remove Sinjun opener Ali for a duck. This was obviously something of a shock to the next batsman, Latty Clunes, who after much shouting towards the pavilion, carried his kit to the square and padded up next to the stumps. First time for everything….

Howard, although short of match fitness, was very economical, frustrated both batsmen, who swung wildly at almost every ball without a breakthrough and prompted a doubled change with Woods and Pickles coming into the attack.

In an entirely predictable fashion, Clunes charged Woods second ball, trying to hit him into the nearby Spencer ground. Dan Peters efficiently completed the comical stumping. Woods soon picked up his second, with opener Muneer carting him to Rhys Williams at deep midwicket, who took a comfortable catch and the game started to get interesting when Pickles removed Walters to a smart catch by Cian Scannell.

Sensing the batting didn’t run particularly deep, Dulwich attacked, but Sinjuns’ held firm and Lawrence and Akbany got the score close to victory. Working in rotation, Woods, Tobin and Howard all then picked up a wicket each to leave Sinjun’s 7 down (and with 10 players) Dulwich had only 2 wickets to take.

Alas it was not to be. They scraped over the line, to typically gentile and reserved applause.

All in all, a bad day at the office for the 4’s which shone a spotlight on the batsmen needing to perform over the coming weeks, for our title challenge to maintain momentum.

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.

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