Archive | July, 2011

Sat 23rd July – 2nd XI v Wimbledon

Dramatic Draw for Dogged Doggies

A makeshift Dulwich 2nd XI managed to earn an impressive point at home to high-flying Wimbledon.

July’s continued injury, wedding and holiday-related player exodus meant a patchwork team was still being put together on Friday afternoon.  From the 3rd XI came Jason Campbell, Simon May, Andy Bailey and Matt Ball and, from his advice-distributing pavilion plinth, Allen Blackford was recruited.  Facing a strong Wimbledon side – with nine victories in 11 games to date – a tough, and possibly chastising afternoon, was quietly feared.

In the absence of skipper Richard Reid, and his deputy Gareth Cornick, the captaincy was entrusted to Oliver Steward and he instantaneously equalled Reid’s toss winning record for the season (1) and asked Wimbledon to bat on a faintly clammy surface.

The overcast conditions were helpful for opening bowlers Bobby Iftikhar and Zabeh Mohammad, with the ball moving around in the air and off the surface.  Despite frequently beating the bat, the first breakthrough didn’t come until the score had progressed to 34 in eighth over when young Essex bowler Mohammad had Wimbledon skipper Eaves comfortably caught at point by Ball.  And in his next over he snared Gordon, who had crashed 29 of Wimbledon’s 39 runs to that point, caught behind by the tidy May.

Unfortunately, youth bowling restrictions meant Mohammad then had to be removed from the attack and he was replaced by James Bridgland.  At the other end, Dr Iftikhar (0-41) was carrying out his usual probing examination during a good 13 over spell which was unfortunate not to contain a victim.  After their reasonably quick start, the loss of their openers and the usual untrustworthy barking Dog forced Wimbledon to consolidate and progress more cautiously.  They reached 86 in the 22nd over before Bridgland had McNeilage well snaffled by Blackford at first slip, and the same bowler was the next wicket taker six overs later when Thompson skied a hook shot to Bailey at mid on.

With the pitch favouring seam bowling, a brief 10 over spin interlude was provided by Jason Campbell (0-21) and Allen Blackford (0-16) while the quicks rested before returning to complete the innings.  In his first over back Mohammad brilliantly bowled former Zimbabwe player Davies for 44, shouldering arms to one that came back in took his off stump.

Dulwich’s steady bowling and enthusiastic, if a little untidy, fielding had restricted Wimbledon to just 140-5 in the 40th over.  However, instead of keeping Wimbledon down to a very chaseable total Dulwich suffered a minor implosion.  The final overs saw too many hittable short balls dished up, the fielding flounder and Wimbledon crash 70 off the next eight overs.  Bridgland (2-60) suffered most from the poor fielding display, as overthrows and costly misfields tainted what would otherwise have been excellent figures.  Mohammad (4-68) thankfully ended the carnage by bowling Costin for 42 and Wimbledon declared on 210-6 in the 48th.

Wimbledon’s late surge had somewhat masked how tricky the pitch still was and Dulwich knew that coming unscathed through the first 10 overs against the new ball would be crucial in setting a platform to chase down 211 in their allotted 52 overs.

However, Wimbledon showed one of the reasons they are placed so far in front of the competition in the league this year; their bowlers largely stuck to a very tight line and jagged the ball around sharply and Dulwich were soon in some trouble.  James Siddle (2) was the first to go, adjudged LBW, and May showed glimpses of quality with some lovely pull shots before he too stuck his pads in the way of one and was gone for 17.  Opener Andy Cornick (28) had started scratchily but was just beginning to strike the ball nicely – including picking one up gloriously for 6 over square-leg – before he became the third LBW victim of the innings.  And when Steward was caught at slip for a snail-paced 1 and Ball (2) was bowled the aforementioned fear of a chastising afternoon was becoming be a fast-manifesting reality; the score reading 63-5 in the 24th.

The draw-rescuing recovery was begun, however, by Bailey and Blackford who defied the bowling and the pitch and recorded an excellent 64 run partnership.  With Wimbledon fielders crowding the bat, Bailey showed excellent fortitude and application in grinding out 23 tough runs, while Blackford showed he doesn’t just talk a good game; his positive intent surprising Wimbledon as he crashed several well-hit boundaries through the covers.

At 127-5 in the 38th Dulwich were daring to dream of the outside possibility of a victory.  But this was ended when first teamer Loubser returned to the attack.  He first had Bailey caught at slip and then Blackford controversially adjudged caught behind for a superb 43 two overs later.  When Mohammad holed out to square-leg shortly after, Dulwich had slipped to 139-8.

Thereafter, the innings became focused wholly on survival, but with 11 overs still to be bowled a degree of tension hung over every delivery.  Bridgland and Iftikhar battled magnificently, occupying the crease and looking to have got the job completed before late drama ensued when Iftikhar (4) was the fourth LBW of the innings from the first ball of the final over.  With a sizeable crowd of 3s, 4s and 5s players now watching, last man Jason Campbell strode out and blocked and left the remaining five deliveries with pressure-defying ease to secure the losing draw point.  Dulwich just about hanging on at 160-9 in 52 overs, Bridgland undefeated on 19.

A good point for the 2nd XI, but news of Ashstead’s victory against Banstead means they are now only two points behind as Dulwich travel to Epsom next weekend still very much involved in a relegation battle.

Sat 23rd July – 7th XI v Unavoidables

In 1964 Cy Endfield made the film “Zulu”. In this film, a tiny garrison of brave-hearted Welsh soldiers defeat thousands of Zulu warriors at the Battle of Rorke’s Drift. This game had many similarities to that story.  The Dulwich 7th’s arrived at Wandsworth Common bruised and battered after a number of defeats at the hands of the likes of Burgh Heath, Kingstonian and the Bank of England. President and captain Smith withdrew from the game through injury and it was left to vice-captain Gibson to metaphorically lead his team into a chorus of “Men of Harlech” at the start of the match.

Readers may wonder at some of the more tenuous connections between this match and the film. The Unavoidables arrived with nine players: the Zulus had considerably more than this number batting for them. However, the heroic nature of Dulwich’s victory, is worth noting. Gibson (alias Michael “Don’t throw bloody spears at me” Caine) won the toss and departed from normal practice by electing to bat first. Dulwich’s early batsmen were mediocre. The litany of failure extended down to number five in the batting order: Blench 1, Griffiths 8, Rochford 0, Branch 2 does not suggest a winning total was on the cards. But the Unavoidables had not reckoned with the estimable skills of newcomer Nikhil Lalwani, who proceeded to play an innings of match turning significance. This young man was quick to make his mark on the game with a series of well-timed boundaries, including a six. The fours were especially significant as the outfield was large and had not been recently cut. In fact, it resembled more the savannah lands of Natal (see the above allusion) than a public park in South West London.

The Zulus returned with another wave of attacks and dismissed Rob Webster for four. Dulwich were left apparently bleeding and dying behind leaky sandbags at 54 for 6. Michael Caine entered the fray intent on defying the native hordes. The vice-captain has always prided himself on his ability to bat in a crisis and he and Lalwani wasted no time in wresting the initiative from the Unavoidable warriors. Nevertheless, when Gibson foolishly and unnecessarily ran himself out on 23 with the total still only 115 there was much to be done by the Dulwich tail. They proved more than up to the task: Lalwani continued to flay the Zulus to all parts of the valley and ended with what turned out to be an invaluable 52. A great start from a clearly very talented cricketer. Pylas (James Booth) made four singles and then Lalwani was joined by yet another name for the future: William Spencer. This lithe and willowy framed 18 year old essayed some excellent strokes for a classy 10 not out and Dulwich’s innings finished on the not unsatisfactory total of 139 off 34 overs.

An al fresco tea was taken of mini scotch eggs, baby bels and doughnuts, and the Zulus started their counter attack. Webster and Lalwani were both frugal in their opening spells and Webster ultimately dismissed Thornton: lbw for 6. Gilbert arrived at the crease and it was clear that he was a cut above the other warriors. Could M. Caine marshall his slender resources with sufficient acumen to withstand Gilbert’s assault. With each bowler only allowed 7 overs the Captain took a gamble by introducing newcomers Wilson and Spencer to the attack. This proved to be a very effective ploy. Spencer bowled a flawless 7 overs of well-flighted leg spinners and undetectable googlies and returned the excellent figures of 7 overs, 4 maidens, 12 runs and 1 wicket. 16 year old Frank Wilson, at the other end, turned out to be another revelation.

Bowling a brisk medium pace he tied down Gilbert and Webb with equal aplomb. Wilson finally reaped his just deserts by taking 3 wickets in one over including 2 in 2 balls and finishing with figures of 3 for 33 off 6 overs. Pan Pylas caught a very easy catch behind the wicket off Lalwali. The 35 over restriction left Caine/Gibson with something of a problem, however. To whom could he entrust a further 7 overs? The choice was unenviable: should he enlist the aid of the tattooed insurance broker Owen, with his sub-Coneyesque “dibbly-dobblies”? Owen had wasted no time in informing Gibson/Caine that he had taken 4 wickets against the same opposition last year.

To improve the credibility of his case he had even gone to the lengths of carrying in his pocket, his personal plastic bowling marker. This latter ploy had no effect on Gibson: a captain with no susceptibility to such thinly veiled ruses. The other alternative was Gibson himself: a bowler never known for his frugality. “Pie-chucking crap”, is just one of the more printable phrases that have been used to describe Gibson’s unique brand of flighted off-breaks. If Gibson should find himself bowling “a load of ordure” all may be lost. Gilbert was still at the crease and batting with increasing authority. At such times, men of steel grasp the nettle, stiffen the sinews and summon up the blood. Gibson measured out his run and bowled. To everyone’s astonishment his first over turned out to be a maiden and his second conceded only 1 run. At which point, a loud and audible wail was heard from the watching teammates of Gilbert and Webb: “We have to score 140 to win chaps” was the refrain. But all was lost for the Unavoidables: increasingly desperate and improbable singles were run and it was from one of these that Gilbert was run out thanks to a brilliant throw by Branch at deep mid-on, which hit the wicket direct and left the hapless Gilbert stranded.

The troops of Dulwich closed in for the coup de grace, which was not long in coming as Wilson and Webster did their work in dismissing the last four batsmen for 1 run. Dulwich triumphant. The Unavoidables were left to bury the dead amidst the carnage of Wandsworth Common as empty mini egg cartons were blown away by the four winds. Both teams repaired to the adjacent County Arms where pints of Young’s Waggle Dance were quaffed with great relish in the pub garden.

Sat 23rd July – 1st XI v Farnham

Farnham 182 all out (51.5 overs) beat Dulwich 99 all out by 83 runs

A poor batting display saw Dulwich fall to an 83 run defeat in their Ryman Championship Division Two fixture at Farnham. The hosts chose to bat but lost their first three wickets for 53 in 18 overs. Chris Lester struck twice while conceding only 21 runs off ten overs, and Mark Kelly gave good support with 1-37 off eleven overs. Australian Ian Higgins with 79 off 109 balls and Tom Caines (39 off 78) then added 98 for the third wicket to take Farnham to 151-3 in the 43rd over. Higgins’ dismissal lbw to Majeed Jehangir then sparked a collapse in which the last seven wickets fell for 31 runs in 9.1 overs. Jehangir took a second wicket to finish with 2-38 off 15 overs. The other five wickets all fell to James Soulsby who took 3-21 and ran out the other two with direct hits. Farnham were dismissed for 182 off the last ball of the fifty first over.

In reply skipper Anil Mahey and Ed Matten saw off the opening bowlers to put on 38 for the first wicket in eighteen overs. Local teacher Matten was dismissed for 13 which sparked a collapse with all ten wickets falling for 61 runs in just twenty three overs. Mahey was run out for 39 off 86 balls. Jehangir and keeper James Balmforth were both adjudged caught close to the wicket whilst the other batsman unerringly picked out fielders in the outfield. Only Kelly of the last batsmen with eleven runs to his name made double figures as Dulwich were dismissed for 99 in the forty second over.

Despite their defeat, Dulwich stay in second place and will be hoping to return to winning ways next week at home to bottom of the table Epsom.

Sat 9th July – 2nd XI v Normandy

Damp Dog Destroys Doggies

For weeks this writer has been hoping for a game that was completed comprehensively; a game that didn’t twist and turn every five overs, suggesting a degree of schadenfreude on the part of his ten team mates who expect him to pick through – and fairly describe – the narratives of the titanic tussles the 2nd XI seem to delight in.

Unfortunately, this wish has manifested itself in a comprehensive battering at the hands on Normandy on Saturday.

The bare facts of the situation pre-game did not bode well for the recently-struggling 2nd XI.  Coming up against last year’s champions Normandy, currently riding high again in second place this season, an incredible dearth of Dulwich players – through injury and unavailability – significantly weakened the side.  This was particularly true of the batting line-up, missing 2nd XI luminaries Ferguson, Cornick (A) and Hale.  And on a heavily saturated pitch, Dulwich were required to send their fragile order into bat first after poor captain Richard Reid lost his ninth toss in ten games – a record now so incomprehensively desperate it would seem particularly pitiless to even attempt any loose tosser/tossing-based quip.  Overall, it wouldn’t have been unfair to surmise early on that it was going to be something of a struggle.

Openers James Siddle and Oliver Steward were first into the firing line.  An over from each end was enough to confirm suspicions about the damp pitch; a particularly squidgy area, just short of a length at one end, was being vandalised with inch-deep divots that sent the ball scatter-gunning both vertically and horizontally.

The Dulwich innings was a procession of wickets interspersed by 0-15 run partnerships as the home team somewhat flakily accepted their own plight and subsequent limp demise.  Steward (2) was first to depart in the fifth over, nicking one that lifted to second slip, and Zak Rostami (5) left one that cut back in and struck him in front.  Siddle (13) looked like he might be set to tough it out, but was unfortunate in cutting back onto his sticks, and skipper Reid (4) tickled through to the keeper.

Gareth Cornick and Stephen Heath, warmly welcomed back for his first game of the season, then showed that robust positivity might be the best way in dealing with the oppressive pitch as they rattled up a pair of 19s.  Cornick hit one beautiful blow over square-leg for 6 but next over played forward, was greeted by some conspicuous pop and the ball brushed his glove on the way through to the keeper.  Heath followed a couple of overs later, launching vertically to square-leg and, next ball, Abu Arabi became the fourth of the first seven wickets to be snaffled behind the wicket as he tried to defend.

The Dulwich tail, like a weary wife, has often had to clean up the top order’s mess this season.  But at 70-odd for seven, and on a damp Dog, it was a task too great.  Jamie Pettigrew has managed it on a couple of occasions this season and looked like carrying on that, and his previous nights’, accurate shot-playing but he was the last man out for 13.  Before him, Anthony Dalton (2) had swiped and missed and James Bridgland (3) had planted Larry left-foot straight down the line of one.  Dulwich were, sadly unlike the pitch, mopped up for 91; former Middlesex player Peter Wellings the chief destroyer with 5-22.

In response, Normandy chose to give their youngsters a go up the order.  An amount of sunshine over the course of the day meant the pitch was a little more docile in the second innings and they managed to wrap up victory by seven wickets in 29 overs.  Bridgland (2-21, including one that sponged into the track halfway down, comically looped to the batsman and was absurdly chopped straight to cover) and Dalton (1-10) the only men to pick anything up.

Dulwich should now be aware of their standing in the league – third-bottom and 14 points off the drop zone.  A response is required, starting next week away at second-bottom Ashtead, else spending the back-end of the season in a relegation battle will become a very real eventuality.

Dulwich CC Alumni Reunion

Former Dulwich cricketers used the opportunity of the Australia Transplant XI playing the GB Transplant XI at Dulwich to meet together. Robyn Hookes was making her first visit to Dulwich to see where her husband David played in 1975.

Here are a few shots (courtesy of Peter Rochford and John Soldan) of the former players sharing a joke or perhaps sharing a memory of a particular game…..

Robyn Hookes takes in the David Hookes Memorial Shield match accompanied by her husband’s former team and clubmates David Woods, Peter Rice and Stuart Courtney

Back Row (L. to R.): Lance Keene, Peter Rice, Francis Bowyer, John Sunter, John Smith (Pres.), Andy Ford, Colin Smith, Jeremy Gotch, Stuart Courtney

Front Row: Jim Gibson, Andy Lang, Ginger Thurlow, John Lawrence, Giles Bowyer, Peter Rochford, John Soldan, David Woods

The former players share a joke about Jimmy’s career stats –  (L. to R.): Giles Bowyer, John Smith,  Andy Ford, Jimmy Gibson, Stewart Harmer, Colin “CC” Smith  and John Lawrence who was on the phone to Frank Jackson. John Howard can just be seen in the background

The former players interrupt looking at the team photographs to check when Eddie is buying the drinks (L. to R.): Edward Robinson,  John Lawrence, Tom Smith (son of CC), Colin Smith, Andy Lang, Andy Ford and Ginger Thurlow

Everyone enjoyed the day and we all thought that this has been too long and when do we meet again?