Sat 2nd June – 7th XI v Milstead


​MILSTEAD 250-4 beat DULWICH 154-6 by 9 wickets

In 1963, a promising 15 year old made his debut for Dulwich Cricket Club Sunday 3rd XI against the Ex-Blues in Mottingham. The Ex-Blues were a team of former fighter pilots, who, having single-handedly defeated the Third Reich at the Battle of Britain then, in celebration, formed a cricket club. It was quite a coincidence that at today’s game, some 49 years later, the promising colt concluded his career, as a Lancaster Bomber made its solitary and lazy way across the sky during Milstead’s innings. Just quite where it was going, we shall never know.

The coincidence arises from the fact that at the time this cricketer made his debut, one of his other pastimes was making a model of this aircraft complete from an Airfix kit with camouflage paint and RAF decals. In fact, it would be fair to say that in 1963 Jim Gibson divided his leisure time, more or less into three equal parts: in addition to Cricket and making model aircraft kits, he was also a keen reader of the Health and Efficiency magazine. (Ed’s note: Do you think it would be possible to get round to describe what actually happened in the match, at some point. I am not altogether sure our readers are that interested in the auto erotic habits of a 15 year old in the early sixties). In many ways, Gibson’s long cricketing career has not been dissimilar to that of Mark Ramprakash and John the Baptist. Although Gibson has scored considerably less centuries than the former and brought considerably fewer people round to his way of thinking than the latter, the words “unfulfilled potential” spring to mind with all three, do they not? (Further note from Ed: We are in great danger of lapsing into unsubstantiated hyperbole here, can we please move on!

The Garden of England was at its most fecund today at this rural delight of a Cricket ground in Milstead village, complete with thatched roof pavilion and scorebox. Hedges were overburdening themselves into the narrow country byways The ground seemed to slope in several directions at once and the Milstead batsmen wasted no time in putting opening bowlers Osborne and Peters to the sword. Dulwich’s fielders laboured to contain the Milstead batsmen but without success. A brilliantly attempted diving catch by Branch just failed to stick and, at length, captain Smith turned to the evergreen Svengali-like figure of Gibson, who still nursed a non-tour bowling average of 1.666667. (It must be said that this unlikely statistic did not survive the tour, but there is an old adage amongst professional actors: “What goes on tour, stays on tour.” And your correspondent sees no reason why this same maxim should not apply to bowling averages.) Alas, Gibson went away empty handed, having been asked to bowl up the hill and against the slope, and the much cherished 1.66667 was but an ethereal skein of times past. Smith then turned to Arts Council apparatchik and leg spinner David Ward who, unhappily, was treated with equal disdain by Milstead’s batsmen, one of who completed his hundred by twice lifting Ward into the graveyard which surrounded the local church. O’Higgins also bowled.

At length, Smith was obliged to return to Gibson and, in much the same way that night follows day, one of the Milstead batsmen finally succumbed to his subtle flight and guile by attempting to hit a 6 into cow shot corner. Many batsmen have attempted this manoeuvre and, it must be said, some have succeeded on grounds with miniscule boundaries. Milstead Cricket Ground did not fall into this category and Rob Branch took a quite brilliant catch on the very edge of the perimeter. The vast crowd held its breath while a video review was run to see if Rob had “stepped over”, but this turned out not to be the case and Gibson finished with the not altogether disreputable figures of 1 for 45, given Milstead’s final forbidding total of 250 for 4 off 40 overs. Clarke Osborne, making a welcome return to the 7th XI fray, finished with 2 for 41.

After tea, Blench and Gibson set out like two polar explorers in search of this far off goal. They were asked to proceed at 6.25 an over for 40 overs and quickly fell behind the asking rate. Eventually, runs began to flow: Blench lifted Milstead’s young leg spinner to the square leg boundary and Gibson played a couple of Pietersen like straight drives, but it, must be said, the asking rate could not be sustained by either batsman. The arrival of the pugnacious and ebullient Branch at the crease promised better things, but when Gibson finally holed to out  to mid wicket, for a pedestrian 33, the target was a dim and distant chimera. Blench 24, Osborne 22 and Owen 17* all made contributions. The solicitor, Griffiths, also batted. But Dulwich’s less than satisfactory start left the later batsmen with too much to do and the innings closed on the highly unsatisfactory 154 for 6.  Perhaps the dilatory Gibson is finally entering the fifth stage of man immortalised by Shakespeare’s Jaques’ seven ages of man speech in “As you Like It”:

“…and then, the Justice

In fair round belly, with good capon lin’d,

With eyes severe, and beard of formal cut,

Full of wise saws, and modern instances,

And so he plays his part..”

Broadly translated, this means Gibson is eating too much KFC and is getting too full of bullshit. He is taking an extended sabbatical from the game for professional reasons. Your correspondent would like to think that somehow the 7th’s will manage to compete without this yeoman cricketer.  When Sir John Falstaff dies at the start of Henry V it is significant that Pistol, Nym and Bardolph soldier on at Agincourt, with no little success as pillagers and battlefield scavengers.

By the way, if anybody has the Airfix version of the Wellington or Lancaster Bomber, or any copies of Health and Efficiency Magazine between October 1958 and August 1965 please contact

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