Sat 2nd July – 2nd XI v Malden Wanderers

Familiarly Inconsistent Dulwich Blow Chance of Victory

Dulwich lost by seven wickets to Malden Wanderers in another game that swung one way to another that will, again, take this writer most of Monday morning to piece together.

Saturday afternoon started in familiar fashion for Dulwich – warming up from the ankle upwards, hand hockey and captain Richard Reid losing the toss.  Reid’s record now stands at a so-bad-it’s-impressive eight losses out of nine.

So, as is always the winning captain’s want in this format of the game, Dulwich were invited to bat.  And for eight overs it looked a very good toss to lose as Andy Cornick blazed a hasty 25, hitting some sweetly timed shots over the infield, before he was bowled (off the seventh ball of the over) by one that jagged back to end a positive opening stand of 42.  His partner Stephen Hale, who was struck a sharp blow to his elbow first ball, was easing himself into the game, nicely making use of the pacey openers to frequently guide the ball through point.  He and Stuart Ferguson (6) took Dulwich past 50 in the tenth over before Ferguson was trapped LBW.

Vice captain Gareth Cornick joined the action and looked like carrying on his good form from the previous week with a couple of early boundaries.  With Dulwich pushing the score up to 75 in the 17th over, and a sizeable total in construction, Malden opted to change tact and removed all pace from the ball.  Meds bowler Shakeel and spinner Wightwick proved ideal Dog bowlers and immediately made a break through when Cornick (8) took a leaf out of the Richard Reid Guide to Being Catastrophically Unlucky and was snaffled by a wonder catch at first slip off a genuine jaffa.

Given Dulwich’s proclivity for sub-par first innings scores in recent weeks, a degree of circumspect accumulation then ensued; also necessitated by the accurate slow bowling and tight ring field.  Hale looked to find the gaps while new batsman Oliver Steward looked to just find anything approaching the middle of the bat.  Drinks came and went with the innings beginning to crawl and when the fourth wicket fell – Hale bowled off an inside edge for a gritty 49 – Dulwich were teetering at 96 in the 31st over.

Coming in and looking to be positive was now difficult for new batsmen as Dulwich desperately looked to reach at least 200.  Tom Peacock (9) was assertive with his running before being bowled, captain Reid (5), and his Paradox, tried to force the issue but was caught at mid off and Tom Barnard (0), James Bridgland (1) and Graeme Hough (0) weren’t able to contribute.  Steward was eventually the last man out for a grubby 39 as Dulwich lamentably failed to bat to 55 overs, ending up 153 all out in the 50th.

Again, a degree of familiarity was apparent in the way Dulwich’s opening bowlers Bridgland and Nick Pritchard went in search of crucial early wickets.  A mixture of good line and length stuff was mixed with some misdirected four balls, although Pritchard was unlucky not to have the initial breakthrough caught at slip.  Similarly to Dulwich’s innings, Malden progressed to 44 before a wicket finally arrived; Bridgland bounced Dicker who miscued his hook shot to Steward at mid on.  Malden continued to press on and were playing reasonably well at 66-1 in the 14th over.

Dulwich’s usual shift into gear was then facilitated in dramatic fashion by Tom Peacock, who swung the game right around.  Replacing Bridgland, he bowled Barford in his first over and went even better with his next; a fantastic triple wicket maiden – one bowled, one LBW and one caught behind – decimated the Malden middle order.  Four wickets for one run had seen Malden crash to 67/5.

Graeme Hough had replaced Pritchard and was bowling steadily at the other end, with the odd ball occasionally biting and jumping on the worn surface.  He picked up the next wicket, with the score on 73 when Hollingsworth was caught low at gully by Steward.  Wary of not letting the innings drift, Dulwich continued to assert themselves, the slow combination of Peacock and Hough mirroring the effectiveness of Malden’s slower bowlers earlier in the day.  Hough, who finished with 2-16 from 11 economical overs, made another break-through when Mander skied one to Barnard at cover.

At 87-7, and with more than 20 overs remaining, Malden were going to have to bat well to even draw the game.  To back up the good bowling from Peacock and Hough, Dulwich had also been superb in the field; Barnard and Andy Cornick in particular impressing with some diving stops at cover and point.

That was as good as it got, though, for Dulwich.  For the second week running they weren’t able to kill off the opposition when victory was well within their grasp.  Pritchard (0-24), Bridgland (1-49), Barnard (0-18) and Ferguson (0-7) were all tried but were unable to remove Malden’s Gorrod and Richardson, both of whom batted well, and without really offering a chance, to see their team home with plenty of overs to spare.

As with many of the games in recent weeks, Dulwich were good in parts and far below average in others; putting in a more consistent and focused performance will be required in order to beat third place Normandy who visit Burbage Road next week.

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