DULWICH 175-7 drew with BANK OF ENGLAND 207-0 dec
Pitch 3 at the sumptuous Bank of England facility in Roehampton, is found in front of a substantial four square office block, built in 1903, and resembling nothing more than Louis XIV's Palace in Versailles: the ultimate symbol of aristocratic decadence and extravagance. A monument to despotism. The Bank of England's sober but, I suspect, unwitting imitation clearly has a different purpose. It is there to remind the Bank's employees of the institution's permanence. The phrase "too big to fail" oozes out of every brick. At the top of this building, in the centre, is a large ornate clock with gold leaf Roman numerals. When the big hand was on 9 and the little hand was on 6, the first wicket finally fell in this curious game: Dulwich's charismatic talisman – the hapless Gibson bowled off his pads for the second time this season. But let us not linger for too long over Gibson's dismissal, no matter how fascinating the reader may find the gruesome details.
The entire game was played in a strange time warped 1960's sort of way. Limited overs were jettisoned in favour of an old fashioned concept which involved one team batting first and then stopping (declaring, in this case) to give themselves time to bowl the opposition out for less runs than they had scored themselves. Many readers may struggle to recall this type of Cricket, but, believe it or not, it is still played in a few more enlightened parts of the country, such as the Test Grounds.
Smith won the toss and "inserted" the opposition. Dulwich's problems began to appear very early in the Bank's innings. Not for the first time this season, that prolific run scorer: Extras was making his presence felt in the shape off 33 wides, 2 leg byes, 22 byes and 1 no ball, making a total of 58 extras. In addition S Hussain (102 *) wasted no time in setting about the wayward and profligate Dulwich bowling. Hussain even succeeded in placing the ball through one of the windows of the Versailles palace with a mighty 6. The ball was seen nestling on the sunlit desk of an employee of the Bank and presumably will be collected on Monday morning. Hussain was ably supported by Peter Andrews, who nudged and nurdled his way to 47*.
In the 32nd over, as Hussain reached his hundred the Bank's captain decided enough was enough and both teams repaired to the Bank's excellently appointed pavilion to eat tuna and cucumber sandwiches. Like all other banks, the Bank of England does not exhibit any signs of contrition or humility for the misery the financial industry has inflicted on the rest of humanity. Rather, it is business as usual (with the notable exception of Lehman Brothers). Should Mark Carney himself read this epistle, he will, no doubt, explain in incomprehensible multi syllabic words how the Bank of England itself was not responsible for the 2008 debacle and was, indeed, actively engaged in propping things up. The silk tongued mandarins of Threadneedle Street have mastered the art of self-justification with consummate ease.
Somewhere, in the darker recesses of my mind I can hear the reader asking what all this has to do with Dulwich 7th XI's titanic battle with the Bank's 3rd XI. To which I can only reply: no man is an island. The world is full of uneasy contradictions which cannot be simply ignored for the sake of a Match Report.
However, for the sake of brevity, (a word which I freely admit is not always attributed to these reports) I will return to the post-tea "action". Skipper Smith decided to gamble on the recklessness of youth with his opening pair of Gibson (first match for DCC 1963) and Rice (1958). Through judicious shot selection and careful running between the wickets, the pair were able to see the opening bowlers off and hoist 47 runs on the board in their quest of overhauling the Bank's formidable, but not unattainable, total of 207. As described above Gibson departed for a modest 13 but Rice, ably supported by Rochford, arrived at a carefully crafted 58 which included a number of fine onside lofted boundaries. With the exception of a swashbuckling innings of clean hitting by Warriss, the rest of the Dulwich batting was relatively prosaic and the game did not really catch alight as Dulwich completed their final and 51st over on 175 for 7. So that old fashioned result of a tame draw was how the game ended up. In this era of ersatz entertainment and instant manufactured excitement, perhaps it is as well that we occasionally remind ourselves that this wonderful, fragile but always intriguing game called cricket cannot always produce a "down to the wire" finish. To coin a relatively new but already well worn phrase: It is what it is.