Sat 4th June – 3rd XI v Beddington

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Stephen Hale’s outstanding unbeaten century guided Dulwich 3rd XI through a comprehensive winning chase against Beddington on a scorching Saturday at the Dulwich Sports Ground.

With the temperature pushing 26°C, the day started unpromisingly as Dulwich captain Simon Leather struggled with the basic physics involved in the successful extraction of sun cream from its bottle – but showed greater aptitude at the toss and won it; a strong batting line-up dictating him in choosing to bowl first and chase later in the day.

The Beddington innings got off to a reasonable start before Prasanna Callaghan picked up the first wicket in the 7th over – his brutal yorker breaking through Zaman’s defences. At the other end David Gritton was exploiting an excellent line without due reward, not helped by a dropped chance by Oliver Steward at point. The second wicket arrived, however, when a questionable single was attempted to the same fielder and the run out completed with the aid of new ‘keeper Aled Griffiths. Callaghan was removed from the attack and Tom Gattenby given a go – and he was the next wicket taker, inducing a tiny edge from Austin which the Lector-masked Griffiths took superbly standing up to the stumps. Beddington were now 62/3 after 18 overs – Dulwich bowling well but the score still ticking over with the aid of a quick outfield and some sloppy Dulwich fielding.

 Sloppy soon would become a more than generous description of the fielding performance as four more catches were put down during the middle overs allowing each Beddington batsman to get settled, on what was proving a good wicket, and reach double figures. The unfortunate bowlers included David Woods – replacing Gritton who had manfully bowled 11 overs straight through in the sapping conditions without picking up a wicket – who eventually nabbed two of the middle order. Both were predictably caught by the luckless Gritton.

After a series of decent 20 and 30 run partnerships between the Beddington batsmen, Gritton was finally to get his reward as he came back to wrap up the innings, first removing Owen for 53 and then picking up three further tail-end wickets. He finished with 4-73 from 16 good overs. Callaghan added a further wicket to his figures at the end too, ending with 2-53 from 15. The Beddington innings, totalling 247 all out, had extended into the 53rd over – the last seven overs notable for captain Leather, necessitated by injuries to Dave Owen and Gritton, choosing to prepare his top 3 batsmen for the chase by having them complete long-on to long-on, long-off to long-off and cow corner to cow corner jogs respectively at the end of each over.

Retrospectively, this may have paid dividends as Dulwich’s reply was exploded into life by fired-up opener Andy Cornick. Unafraid to wantonly launch the Beddington bowlers aerially in the arc between mid off and cover, Cornick blazed to 51 within the first 13 overs of the innings, cleanly-striking some lovely shots. He surprisingly fell, however, as Beddington switched to some accurate medium pace – the Dulwich innings looking strong at 81/1, though.

A period of caution then followed as Steward joined Hale in the middle and only five runs were scored in the next six overs. The Beddington bowlers were by now feverishly wound up; the combination of Cornick’s assault, Steward’s monotonous forward defensive poke and Hale’s supposed unscrupulousness in not walking for a ‘nick’ he wasn’t really close to, resulting in some sub-par decorum ‘chat’. Being unable to sustain the pressure, though, the shackles soon fell off and Hale and Steward moved the score on to 149/1 in the 33rd before Steward fell to a sizeable edge behind for 21, looking to increase the rate. Hale meanwhile was really finding his touch after an introspective start and had brought up his 50 with a sublime cut through point. With the order re-jigged after Owen’s injury, Abu Arabi got a chance further up the order and struck a couple of pleasingly aggressive shots before super-crabbing down past one and getting stumped when on 16.

Leather was next to join Hale, the score well set at 194/3 – a further 55 runs required off of the final nine overs. This was achieved with some aplomb, as Hale smote a series of boundaries – including a glorious searing six down the ground – and Leather looked positive and ran hard for his 23 runs; Hale bringing up a magnificent, chanceless hundred in the process and finishing the innings unbeaten on 114. An excellent victory secured with seven wickets and eight balls to spare – a tighter margin than the actual ease of victory would suggest, but testament to a well-constructed and well-paced chase; Hale the chief architect.

Dulwich 3rd XI now sit third in the table and face top-of-the-table Sunbury next week; the manner of this comprehensive victory providing plenty of confidence ahead of that fixture, though the standard of fielding must improve if we are to give ourselves the best possible chance of victory.

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