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.

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