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Sat 10th Sep – 7th XI v The Mascarenhas Mangalisers

DULWICH 166-4 (30) beat THE MASCARENHAS MANGALISERS 163-? (30) by 3 runs

Many years ago, round about the time the vast single land mass Pangaea decided to split into into 5 separate continents, my Father was captain of the Dulwich Saturday 3rd XI. One day he came home from Cricket glowing with reports of a new leg spin and Google bowler who had joined his team. My Dad, unlike some of the current captains of DCC, no names no pack drill, but watch my eyes.,was a great believer of the efficacy of spin bowling. He was, of course, one himself. But this new addition had got him really excited.

"They can't read him from the hand: he mixes it up."

The only problem with this new wizard of spin was that when he was selected, he would frequently turn up with a small boy, wearing grey flannel shorts and long grey socks up to his knees with those little green tabs, that used to hang down to indicate you were in the junior section of the Boy Scouts (better known as the Cubs.) This small boy would always be carrying a small cricket bat and some small stumps, He would then plant the stumps in front of the pavilion and pick up his bat and demand that people bowl to him.

So, before I start this match report, I would like to ask Jeff Mascarenhas whether he still has the bat, the stumps and the garters with the green tabs? 

Some time later, when Cornwall had finally seperated from Brazil, I continued the family tradition, by finding myself the captain of the Dulwich 3rd XI and who should find himself Vice Captain? I would like to say that a great rapport was developed between Captain and Vice Captain: I would like to say that but relations did get a little strained when Jeff, having scored 3 successive 50's for the third eleven, still found himself selected for Jim Gibson's bunch of unlikely cricketers.

In those days, cricket matches were won at selection committee meetings, and not necessarily on the field of play. Under the Cabinet minutes 30 year rule, I can now confess to a policy of consistently rubbishing my team to the second eleven captain, (although we were top of our league) and, for some reason the second eleven suffered from dyslexia when it came to reading the third eleven scorebook. And there was Jeff (who was also the captain of Sunday 1st team at the time) having the temerity to suggest he should perhaps be promoted! 

And so, at last, we come to today's game: Dulwich 7th's versus Old Wilsonians Select XI. 

Who are the Dulwich 7th XI?

There is the myth and the reality.

The myth is that the Dulwich 7th XI is a bunch of ageing, overweight farts who once played together (Again roundabout the time Africa became a separate identity) who every Whitsun prevail upon their wives to let them go to Somerset  so they can each consume at least 6 pints of an unlikely sounding beverage called Timothy Taylor's Landlord 3 nights running in the same pub, in the same town, and then get up in the morning and attempt to play Cricket against the local populace. 

BUT that is the MYTH!

The reality is that the Dulwich 7th XI is a collection of highly tuned athletes who have, for reasons, more than often not, beyond their control, come tantalisingly close to victory on numerous occasions on these Somerset tours only to be denied by the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

So to compensate they arrange one final fixture each year on the last day of the season at home. As the big day approached these highly tuned athletes, one by one, made themselves unavailable for a variety of pathetic excuses. One of the team even claimed to have had a triple by pass operation and was therefore unable to play! Only Gibson, Griffiths and Peters made it to the final squad from the original squad. New recruits Brown and Balch were drafted in together with some flotsam and jetsam from the lower echelons of DCC.

The game started in the sort of drizzle that has a nasty habit of inserting itself into every orifice and crevice of the human body. Dulwich's opening pair strode to the wicket with resolution. 30 overs a side leaves little time for what is known in cricketing parlance as "fannying around". However, that is precisely what this opening pair proceeded to do. After 5 overs only 13 runs had been scored. The natives began to get restless and in the sixth over Tucker was caught at mid wicket. Gibson was joined by Irvine and the pair began to move through the gears. Both batsmen played crisp and well timed drives off both back foot and front. Gibson eventually succumbed to Pomering's deviously flighted full tosses on 22 and was replaced by Balch. 

Irvine and Balch purred along in the middle of the innings scoring 80 runs in 10 overs before Irvine was bowled for 54. The scene was set for the swashbuckling stroke maker solicitor Griffiths to dispatch the Old Wilsonians attack to all points of the SE21 postcode. The residents of Turney Road were seen putting up window protection as the Axe Murderer took guard. On only his second ball however, Griffiths rather tamely lofted the ball to cover. Dan Peters and Balch continued and the innings closed on a respectable 166 for 4 off 30 overs. Balch 72 not out.

Old Wilsonians started their reply in as low a gear as Dulwich but the uncompromising biffing and bashing of antipodean wicketkeeper James and brief cameos by Mascarenhas, Pilgrim and Forbes saw them edging towards the promised land. James was finally bowled by Scott-Coombes for 78. As Old Wilsonians got nearer to Dulwich's total it became obvious to all that what was needed, was an experienced off spin bowler with a cool head. Captain Brown threw the ball to Balch, who promptly had Pilgrim stumped. But Dulwich had not reckoned with the batting of Forbes and Murnane who pushed on to the final over needing 12 for victory. Warriss stood ready to deliver the coup de grace. On the third ball a high swirling catch was lofted to the half blind, half deaf Gibson, who had been parked out of harm's way at deep mid on. The crowd held its collective breath. Surely the useless old git could catch this one? Alas it trickled through his fingers and Old Wilsonians edged further towards victory. Happily it was not to be - Warris kept a cool head, bowling the final over and the OW's finished 3 runs short.

After the game, many of the participants repaired to the Tandoori Nights Restaurant in Lordship Lane. 

The President attended the match and it was good to see him clearly recovering from his recent medical ordeal.

Sadly, the ineptitude of Middlesbrough FC have done him no favours in aiding his recovery as they suffered a home defeat to the increasingly impressive Crystal Palace. The score was 2-1.

Sat 4th June – 7th XI v Bank of England

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.