Sat 25th June – 7th XI v Burgh Heath

The manner in which Dulwich’s side arrived at this match provided a metaphor for their performance, a number hurriedly pulling on their flannels as the umpires inspected the pitch for play, several new players who would have an impact on Dulwich’s game among them.

Put into bat on a slow and wet wicket, Dulwich got off to a slow start. Muhammad Afzal was unable to capitalise on his form away at Bank of England, giving up his leading edge to a tempting delivery and no doubt kicking himself all the way back to the boundary.  But like a Londoner in the Blitz Trevor Griffiths showed his stalwart spirit to deny the Burgh Heath bowlers with a mixture of cuts and deft touches leaving him on 11 before he was given controversially caught behind off Hoy.

Richard Blench’s positive strides down the wicket barely troubled the scorers before the 7th team’s batting discovery Rob Branch set about the Burgh Heath bowling like vagrant at a buffet. However, hungry as he was, he unable to prevent his dismissal on 18 from Smith caught at the hands of Moin Khan. A man the Dulwich team were soon to hear more of.

It may strike the reader as strange to note that skipper Jimmy Gibson – that alleged talisman of the Dulwich 7’s – was dismissed for only 9, caught at deep mid on from the less than threatening bowling of Mears. Such is the fickle game we play.  At this point the Dulwich innings was in crisis. Only 50 runs on the board with several wickets down. Enter Nick Rochford.

After an initial period of scratching and waiting before Gibson holed out, Rochford found a kindred spirit in Dulwich’s new found player Robert Webster. Bringing some of his Manhattan attitude, Webster’s insistence on running added more to Rochford’s score than it did to his own. Their partnership of 28 was a lifeline to Dulwich’s struggling innings before Webster was stumped, his eyes lighting up from a temptingly flighted delivery from Duke for 7.  Indeed such was the bond between these two batsmen their innings ended in exactly the same way, Rochford succumbing stumped to Duke on 31, so ending Dulwich’s innings following a cameo 19 not out from Michael Owen.

With 120 on the board, and in high spirits, Dulwich took the field with Webster taking the first over, and Captain Gibson choosing the bait of David Ward’s mixture of leg spin and slow medium pace at the other end.  Webster’s pace proved a handful for batsmen and fielders, with his first ball tapped tamely to cover and misfielded for four. Meanwhile Ward outthought the Burgh Heath No 2 Wood with a well flighted leg break. The weight of wood’s beard throwing him off balance, missing the ball, and leaving him stumped for 7 by Choney.  Unfortunately Ward’s moment of triumph proved a Pyrrhic victory once Moin Khan returned to the field. Striking his first ball from Ward for an effortless six, Khan set about Dulwich’s bowling with glee.

Ward. Webster. Gibson. Afzal.  Dear reader I must tell you none of these proved enough to meet Khan’s match as he smite Dulwich’s bowling to the four corners of Tattenham before Mike Owen dismissed him bowled for 65 with his quicker ball striking the top of leg stump.  Sadly by this point the game was all but gone. But Webster would have none of this and backed up his cries from the boundary of “one last push” by despatching Khan’s Burgh Heath 1st team colleague Maserd for 3 with an off cutter taking the top of his middle stump.

Only at this point did players familiar to Dulwich in their contests with Burgh Heath in days of yore begin to grace the pitch. Duke’s 5 not out providing a scratchy end to the match, and Alan Swift with respectable figures of eight runs conceded from only two and half overs.  But by this moment Burgh Heath had won this contest by nine wickets, and Dulwich sent packing. They can only reflect on heroics of Khan, the economical bowling of Basil and Smith, and a number of dropped catches from the bowling Webster as they lick their wounds before next year.

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