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Thurs 2nd November – Tour XI v Roshanara Club

DULWICH 102-9 (25) lost to ROSHANARA 103-3 (14.4) by seven wickets

Once again, this fixture took on a curious turn before a ball was bowled when the DCC selection ctte. Decided to leave out the white ball specialist: “bits and pieces man” Gibson. This left many spectators in a state of puzzled bewilderment, especially as Gibson had played against the Roshanara club 24 years ago, and therefore had a working knowledge of the opposition. But this cut no ice with an intransigent selection committee!

And so Dulwich took the field already reeling from this selection error. Roshanara CC were quick to capitalise. After a bijou skirmishette with a Delhi Traffic jam, which lasted a mere 2 hours and made the Friday night trudge through the Blackwall Tunnell look like a walk in the park, the Dulwich bus finally arrived at the sumptuously appointed Roshanara Cricket Club.

Dulwich skipper Kanak Patel decided to bat first in a 25 overs match, under the excellent Roshanara floodlights, which was augmented at one end by the neon sign and logo Vegetarian Kitchen. Woodgate and Steward led the charge. However, Dulwich’s resolution suffered a severe blow when opening bowler Malik unceremoniously ripped the heart out of Dulwich’s batting with a hat trick. Steward, Bailey and Skinner were all victims to Malik’s accuracy in both length and direction.

At 13 for 4, one was reminded of John Bunyan’s Pilgrims Progress as Dulwich waded through the oSlough of Despair. Roshanara proceeded to tighten the screw even further when spinners Shiv Puri and Sahil Harneja were introduced into the attack. As the cloak of inky night covered the ground with its silky embrace and the par score of 185 in the allotted 25 overs seemed like an unattainable palm tree lined mirage in an otherwise parched Sahara Desert.

However, the pugnacious Dan Peters and ebullient Ed Middleton refused to be cowed by the ignominy of Dulwich`s disastrous start. Peters in particular pulled, pulverised and peppered the periphery of the pitch with perspicacity, permeating the field with perfection.

Meanwhile, the Dulwich President’s wife, Hazel Smith, adopted a Dickensian demeanour in a rather fetching blue chiffon shawl and lovingly anointed her husband’s bald patch with Jungle Formula anti Insect roll-on lotion. When Dan Peters prematurely departed he was replaced by Middleton the Elder: this medieval epithet characterised his innings which was full of ancient but effective strokes such as the Surrey Cut, the Devon Bludgeon and the Somerset hoick. None of these shots are to be found in the MCC Coaching Manual. Both Father and son left the scene bloody but unbowed. Ed Middleton top scoring with with an excellent 31.

The Dulwich innings eventually folded at 101 for 9 off 25 overs.

It was obvious that Dulwich would have to bowl with Ebeneezer Scrooge like parsimony, if they were to contain Roshanara’s batsmen. It must be said that Simon Peters opened the bowling with the generosity of a man who had not only won the lottery but the Billy Butlin’s Skegness 1958 knobbly knees contest and the right to free garlic chapatis for 6 months.

At the other end Kanak Patel performed with his customary nagging length that would not allow Roshanara’s opening bats to slip the leash. Ed Middleton replaced the wayward and profligate Peters and dismissed Sachin Trehan with an excellent caught and bowled. While one hesitates to place this 16 year old in the same category as Anil Kumble or Adil Rashid, there is no doubt that a bright future awaits this young cricketer.

At length, Kanak Patel decided to replace himself with an altogether younger, fitter more sprightly bowler. Dave Woods was brought into the attack. One was immediately reminded of the words of Enobarbus in Shakespeare’s great tragedy Antony & Cleopatra: “Age cannot wither him, nor custom stale his infinite variety”.

However, Roshanara’s batsmen moved toward Dulwich’s flimsy and fragile total like a pack of lions closing in on an unsuspecting and naive antelope that had become seperated from the safety of the herd in the Masai Mara. Woods eventually dismissed Sahib Karan after he had scored a brisk 43 but Roshanara passed the required total in the 15th over.

And so Dulwich continue their illusive search through the sub continent for victory. They have now played 5, lost 5, however, your correspondent has it on the best authority that Gibson returns to the side for the final game (if only in a job sharing role) but has no doubt that his return will signal an up turn in their fortunes. The Roshanara CC are to be congratulated on their win, but they should be reminded that it is only their third win in this fixture in 24 years.

Sun 29th October – Tour XI v Amandeep Cricket Academy

DULWICH 186-7 (35) lost to AMANDEEP CRICKET ACADEMY 189-4 (29) by six wickets

In many ways this game resembled the Indo-Pak Border Ceremony the Dulwich party had witnessed the day before. In this ceremony, two implacable foes perform an elaborate ritual of Panto mimic inanity instead of blowing each other to smithereens. In the ceremony, the first thing that happens is what can only be described as a warm up man appears dressed in a white shirt and trousers and gets the watching multitude worked up to a frenzy of patriotic enthusiasm.

Skipper Bailey decided to follow suit by handing the opening batting slot to Gibson. Unfortunately, only one person on the Amandeep ground managed to work up the same enthusiasm watching Gibson’s batting and that was the man in charge of the public address system, who persisted in giving us an unintelligible commentary, even as the bowler was running up to bowl.

Amandeep opened with a fairly swift 15 year old and a professional cricketer from the Yorkshire League and it was no surprise when Gibson’s opening partner Woodgate had his middle stump surgically removed in the classic manner. Gibson continued in his alliterative way nudging, nurdling, and nabbing the odd single until, to the general relief of the rest of the Dulwich side, he played the ball on to his pad and on to the stumps.

Your correspondent would like it to be known that although he has always been known as a gutsy adhesive batsman in the Steve Waugh mould, he has occasionally, in his 44 years long cricketing career been prized from the crease, but never by a bowler calling himself “Lovely”.

The sheer pedestrian ordinariness of Gibson’s innings was camouflaged by a fine cameo vignette played by Steward who swept and drove with Compton-esque ease. Even this innings was eclipsed by the fine shotmaking of Skinner who lambasted the Amandeep bowlers to most parts of the Punjab. He was accompanied for some of this innings by the pugnacious Tulsiani who specialised in hitting the ball very hard, sadly, on several occasions this was directly to an Amandeep fielder.

Tulsiani was eventually bowled and replaced by the somewhat hungover and dissipated Blench. I have to say, Ladies and Gentlemen, that I have heard from a very reliable but anonymous source, that this is not the first time Blench has been somewhat the worse for wear at a DCC tour. He has what is known as “form”. Many will recall his first visit to South Wales as a young Dulwich College schoolboy pleading to be taken out with the “big boys” to the steaming fleshpots of Swansea Harbour where he first developed his famous John Wayne walk but ended up in the words of my anonymous source “poleaxed”. He insisted that he joined the younger elements of this tour on a rabble rousing tour of the more louche Amritsar bars and bordellos and yet again, ending the evening in a similar state of intoxication and inebriation. It is to be hoped that his old school colleague Nigel Farage does not demand Blench’s deportation as part of a hard Brexit.

Nevertheless, Blench did manage a couple of boundaries against the now relatively blunt sword of the Amandeep bowling and Dulwich concluded their innings on 186 for 6 off 35 overs.

The Amandeep innings was opened by the aforementioned Lovely and his partner in crime Micky. It is a matter of conjecture whether Micky and Lovely’s mothers were fans of the work of Walt Disney. Perhaps Grumpy or Dumbo would come in at number 4.

Unfortunately, the next batsman was, in fact, Abhay who’s innings of 60 retired included no less than 11 boundaries and left skipper Bailey in something of a pickle. None of his bowlers had made substantial inroads into the accomplished Amandeep batting and it was something of a relief to the watching Dulwich faithful when the wily and resourceful off spinner Gibson was ultimately brought into the fray.

It was no surprise to the spectators when Gibson almost took a wicket with his first ball: a delicately flighted long hop which almost ended up in the hands of extra cover. Could we see a repeat of Gibson’s remarkable spell of 7 for 14 against the National and Grindlay’s bank in 1973? A bowling spell so devastating that the bank itself went out of business a few years later. Sadly, it was not to be: Montu and Sawan saw the Amandeep batsmen home with 6 overs to spare. The game ended with a splendid ceremony when various plaques, shirts, ties and ephemera were exchanged and John Smith made a speech of surprising brevity.

Thurs 26th October – Tour XI v Chandigarh Veterans

CHANDIGARRH VETERANS 359-6 (30) beat DULWICH 79 (21.3) by 280 runs

Who can forget the Tony Richardson classic "The Charge of the Light Brigade"? In this film, John Gielgud, Harry Andrews and sundry other elderly military buffoons sent a brigade of light cavalry consisting of 600 young men, and horses, let us not forget the horses, to their death in a hopelessly one sided fight against the entire Crimean Army. Watching today's game between Dulwich and a Chandigarh XI was not an entirely dissimilar experience. Some of you may recall the Manfred Mann hit of 1967 "Into the valley of death they thundered 54321. Onward onward rode the 600's 54321. Ah huh it was the Manfreds"

The inept and incompetent top brass of the British Army/DCC Selection committee in the shape of Kanak Patel (alias Lord Raglan) and the moustachioed John Smith (also known as Lord Lucan and we all know what happened to his grandson) . But I digress, this inept and incompetent top brass positioned themselves under an awning of golden silk above the Valley of Death while below their feet, all was carnage. Lieutenant Quaife led the charge but was mercilessly count down with figures of 6 overs 2 for 75. Even the seasoned, battle hardened Subaltern Veness was not spared. He retired from the field of battle nursing his wounds with 4 overs 1 for 53. The brave Captain Peters was unceremoniously unseated from his mount and conceded 75 runs in 5 overs. Bailey mounted a rearguard action by stumping the rampaging Rajesh off Veness, but batsman Puri went on cutting and cleaving the Dulwich Light Brigade into small pieces of red meat until, sated with blood lust, he retired with 121 runs to his name. Meanwhile the callous old buffers of Great Britain's military establishment stood by and watched this debacle, offering nothing but bottles of Bisleri Water to the poor suffering cavalry.

Meanwhile, Jim Gibson (alias Florence Nightingale also known as Vanessa Redgrave) offered some succour to the wounded troops, but many of the soldiers were beyond repair. And it was a relief when the Chandigarh high command mercifully called a halt to the carnage at 30 overs, with the score 359 for 6. It was fortunate for Dulwich that the rules of the Geneva Convention on unnecessary suffering in wartime were invoked.

After an excellent lunch Florence Nightingale decided she could witness no more bloodshed and, instead had a very pleasant net where she scored 43 against the Bolatic F735 Bowling Machine in an adjacent net. Many of the Chandigarh fielders witnessed this innings full of flowing back foot drives into the off side and could only surmise why Florence had been denied the opportunity to show her nursing skills by batting for Dulwich. But who can explain the deliberations and machinations of the aloof and enigmatic Dulwich selection committee? Of those who did make it to the middle, only Steward, Anthony and Peters made it to the enchanted land of double figures and the Dulwich innings was wrapped up at 2.46 p.m. Chandigarh's Karanveer was the main architect with 5 for 13 in 5.3 overs. As the game wore on, Dulwich edged tantalisingly close to victory: but ended the innings a mere 280 runs short of what could have been a remarkable turnaround in the touring side's fortunes. But it was not to be! Dulwich's quest for victory on this tour is becoming like Monty Python's search for the Holy Grail. Maybe they will find it in Amritsar against the Mighty Knights who say “NIH!”

Or maybe they won't.

Tues 24th October – Tour XI v Cricket Club of India

CRICKET CLUB OF INDIA 352-5 (35) beat DULWICH 114 (27.2) by 238 runs

You may recall that yesterday's report concluded with a quote from the Bard of Avon, William Shakespeare. Today's match report bears a not immediately apparent similarity to Act Four of the master's greatest tragedy: Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Those Shakespearean scholars amongst you will be aware that Act Four is remarkable in that Shakespeare removes from the action the Prince himself, who is sent to England, before returning in Act Five to defeat Laertes in a sword fight and avenge himself on his murderous stepfather. Many members of Dulwich Cricket Club have remarked how similar in character your correspondent is, to the ill-fated and flawed tragic hero. Although one or two cynical members of the club were moved to say: "well actually Jim I see you more as Edmund the Bastard in King Lear.”

The fact is, for reasons known only to the selection committee, Gibson was not selected for this match. He was sent to England along with Trevor Griffiths (alias Rosencrantz) and Mike Owen (Guildenstern).

But we will let that pass.

Today's game also had more than a passing resemblance to Shakespeare's play. The Brabourne Stadium, like Elsinore Castle, inhabited by ghosts. In the former’s case, they are of Farookh Engineer and Sunil Gavaskar. Both of whom, I have it on the highest authority, are ringers for the ghost of Hamlet's father. Dulwich's captain for the day was Polonius, also known as Dave Woods, a cricketer of advanced years but one who, in cricketing terms is highly experienced and when the wind is southerly knows a hawk from a handsaw.

Many of you will recall the David Lean classic film "Bridge on the River Kwai". In this film Sir Alec Guinness, a wartime prisoner of the Japanese, was asked to sit in a small corrugated iron box for many hours at a time. One suspects that the temperature inside that box was not dissimilar to those experienced by the Dulwich fielders in this vast concrete and steel bowl of a cricket ground.

Nevertheless, the Dulwich bowlers stuck to their task. Woods rotated his bowlers and as each one stepped up to the plate the CCI batting was frustrated and restricted to the modest and not unattainable total of in of 352 off 35 overs. Simon Peters was the most miserly of these bowlers with figures of 7 overs 0 maidens 0 wickets 72 runs conceded. Only your correspondent can claim to have more niggardly statistics as a bowler, on one occasion he was actually dispatched into 3 separate counties by the same batsman in the same match. Somerset, Wiltshire and Dorset have never been the same.

At one point Quaife, (the hero of yesterday's Titanic struggle against Hindu Gymkhana) found himself on a hat trick. He also bowled an illuminating couple of overs which reads 4 wide dot 4 wide wide wicket wicket . Wide 1 wide 4 4 wide 6 wicket. Other than this the first hour and a half of the game passed without incident, or at least, your correspondent thinks this is the case as he was not actually on the ground for this session of play. He was waylaid in Leopold’s Bar the previous evening working his way through the prodigiously named Leopold’s Lager Tower. You do not need me to tell you that Leopold’s Lager Tower is like Ronseal, it does what it says on the tin. The only other interesting that happened at this point was that John Smith ran out of people to delegate tasks to and there was an anxious moment when we thought he might have to actually do some of these tasks himself.

It would be fair to say that the Dulwich innings was more like the Midsummer Night's Dream play within a play “Pyramus and Thisbe” which is performed by rude mechanicals in front of the Duke of Athens. Only Guy Skinner, happily recovered from his dalliance with the dreaded lurgy the day before, Ed Middleton and Simon Peters made it to double figures and the Dulwich innings subsided to 114 all out. It was interesting to note, however, the puzzlement on the faces of the CCI fielders as they watched the Crown Prince of Denmark bowling one perfectly flighted off break after another to a standing sprinkling hosepipe on the other side of the boundary.

Can we look forward to Hamlet uttering the famous words "Alas poor Yorick" in the Gravediggers scene in Chandrigarh?

Mon 23rd October – Tour XI v Hindu Gymkhana

HINDU GYMKHANA 223-9 (35) beat DULWICH 196-8 (35) by 27 runs

As this is the first match of the tour, I thought I would begin at the beginning, in fact I have decided to go further back. As far back, in fact, as 1947.

In 1947 two momentous things happened. This country shuffled off the yoke of British Imperialism and on 23rd May of that year, your correspondent first saw the light of day in Dulwich Hospital Maternity Ward. On the same day, incidentally, as his father was playing for Dulwich second XI against Malden Wanderers. These facts have absolutely no relevance whatsoever to today's match between Dulwich and the Hindu Gymkhana. But those of you who may have listened to any match reports by this correspondent before, will be aware that relevance and sticking to the point are not necessarily hallmarks of his literary endeavours.

Indeed many of his more philistine and insensitive critics have been heard to express such an opinion in forthright and uncompromising language. Jim, “please cut out all the b0llocks” was one reader's caustic advice.

And so, without further prevarication I will turn my attention to today's game. The Dulwich selection committee, a body who your correspondent has had an uneasy relationship with over the years, decided to select 13 players for this match. It was pointed out to the selection committee that Cricket was usually played by 11 players on each side but your correspondent was curtly informed that his own presence in the side was such a handicap that two other players were required to make the game an even contest.

And so the Dulwich 13 made their intrepid way to the Hindu Gymkhana . The tour mgt. had imposed a strict health regime, necessary to success in any sporting endeavour on the sub- continent. This consists of a limitless diet of the health giving elixirs Kingfisher Ultra and Kronenbourg 1666 premium.

This stood them in good stead in the field in the sultry atmosphere of a late October Mumbai day.

Hindu Gymkhana were inserted and Dulwich quickly seized the initiative when the two biblically named Simon and Daniel Peters combined to dismiss Suhel Mistry for 5. They continued to make inroads into the Hindu Gymkhana's fragile upper order thanks to an excellent spell from Sean Middleton (3 for 21 in 5 overs and some containing support bowling from Kushal Patel and Matt Quaife.. At 134 for 7 it could be said that Dulwich's attack were like Apache Indians circling the Hindu Gymkhana wagon train moving in for the kill. They had reckoned without the arrival of the Lone Ranger alias Kevin Talati who fought off the marauders with some well aimed rifle shots (12 fours and 2 sixes) in his 94.

Nevertheless, skipper Steward was convinced that a target of 223 in 35 overs was not beyond the reach of the Dulwich batsmen, especially when he filled the engine room of the Dulwich batting order with the swashbuckling talents of Owen, Griffiths and Gibson. The tour representatives of the Dulwich 6th XI were entrusted with the responsibility of steering the ship of Dulwich Touring XI into harbour. Unfortunately, the first 2 of this unholy trinity contributed the grand total of 3 balls received and 0 runs scored. Only the septuagenarian Gibson survived for any length of time, playing an innings that lends itself to a certain alliterative style. For 26 minutes Gibson prodded, poked, pushed and pissed about, until, unsurprisingly he was told by skipper Steward to have a hoick . This he duly did, in a particularly inept fashion and holed out to his chief tormentor the slow left arm spinner Aaylish Parikh.. Gibson was accompanied during this travesty of an innings by the uncompromising Woodgate who, at one point, almost created a multiple pile up on the fast running Mumbai Coast Road with a mighty 6.

Woodgate departed and wickets tumbled like plastic balls falling into a plastic bowl prior to the 3rd round draw for the FA Cup. Slow left armer Merchant produced a fine spell of 4 for 38 (including a hat trick: again the hapless Griffiths occupying the middle slot in this achievement).

But like all good stories, this one literally had a sting in its tail. The ebullient Quaife (74) ably assisted by the pragmatic Sean Middleton (38) began to revive the, by now, almost deceased and defunct Dulwich innings. New Testament images of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead began to spring to mind as these two took the score from 80 for 8 to an implausible 196 for 8. They are to be congratulated for their fine rearguard efforts only once ever matched by Michael Caine who singlehandedly fought off 50,000 Zulus at the battle of Rorke's drift uttering the immortal words "don't throw bloody spears at me."

And so Dulwich conclude their first match with a not altogether discreditable loss. The words of Lady Macbeth immediately spring to mind as Dulwich confront the Cricket Club of India in their lion's den of the Brabourne Stadium: “Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.”

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