Sun May 27th – 7th XI v Witham Friary


The narrative behind today’s game does not begin at the start of the match, but in the smoke-filled denizens of the oak-panelled snug bar of the George Inn, Castle Cary, Somerset where the Captain and the Tour Organiser but, significantly, not the Vice-Captain met to select the Dulwich team for this game. It is a moot point as to whether these two professors represent the epitome of sagacity and insight into the game of Cricket. Many neutral observers were left speculating on their selection policy for today’s game. As the name implies: the Dulwich 7th XI has at its disposal a glittering array of swashbuckling willow wielders and purveyors of subtly flighted spin. One has only to cast a casual glance at the scorebook for the corresponding 2011 fixture to find the names of some of these multi-talented players. Inexplicably, none of these players (although available) found themselves in the team. Instead, the septagenarian Peter Rochford made his debut: arguably, the oldest debutante in the history of the game.

 But enough of this fatuous preamble (Ed’s note: yes, enough is definitely enough!) let us turn our attention to what actually took place in the match. Owen, Dulwich’s opening bat, sadly made little impact, finding himself bowled by a straight one in a very similar fashion to the way Matt Prior had been dismissed by Darren Sammy just an hour earlier in the Test Match. It must be said, however, that your correspondent struggles to find any further similarities between Mike Owen and the England wicket keeper. Your correspondent had the same difficulty when he came to compare and analyse the performances of the Witham Friary wicket keeper and his England counterpart. It is true that they both have beards and are well versed in the political shenanigans that take place in such hotbeds of  Machiavellian intrigue as the House of Commons and the England dressing room, but it must be said that Matt Prior and David Heath find themselves in different constellations when it comes to Wicket keeping. Matt Prior would have struggled to emulate Heath’s two efficient stumpings this afternoon. But let us return to the main events of the match: the Dulwich innings began to gain momentum when Webster and Mascarenhas found themselves at the crease.  However, the initiative was wrested from them by some resolute Witham Friary bowling and some less than satisfactory running between the wickets which resulted in the octogenarian Rochford  left high and dry: not for the first time in his long and eventful career.

At length, Dulwich reached what has become a “par” score of 152 all out. The last batsman, Smith, was dismissed for 0, when he departed from his usual modus operandi: the optimistic leg side hoick into cow-shot corner. Though this shot has not been particularly lucrative for the President over the years, it is what all his admirers have come to expect. It was something of a shock, therefore, to see him get out for 0 attempting an off-side shot. This is clearly not to be advised again.

A tea of sumptuous comestibles was served in the church hall and the game resumed with Dulwich in control and Witham Friary in disarray at 19 for 4, including the much prised scalp of the Deputy Leader of the House of Commons, who generously offered the Dulwich fielders some gentle catching practice. If only the coalition government could be equally beneficent in their fiscal policies. The youthful sapling of a cricketer Rob(?) Wood led the recovery and it is remarkable that the most technically correct forward defensive shot played by any batsman on either side was that of Rob(?) Wood. Despite Wood’s resolute defence all looked set for a win by Dulwich until the uncompromising Paul Wacey arrived at the crease. It was clear that Wacey, with his pugnacious pulls and drives had the capability to win the match for Witham Friary. It was, therefore, an horrific moment for Dulwich when the nonagenarian Peter Rochford dropped a regulation catch behind the stumps from Wacey. 

It was finally left to Peters (regarded in some quarters, as Dulwich 7th XI’s most valuable player) to bowl Wacey and then the obdurate but precocious Wood departed thanks to a wonder slip catch by Arts Council apparatchik Ward. And so, this fluctuating and pulsating game of Cricket entered its fifth act. The counter distractions of BMX Bikers,  passing Roto Bull Mengele silage carriers and the noisy activities of the nearby campanologists were all forgotten as Webster and Hawes put pressure on the Witham Friary lower order batsmen. Dulwich had not reckoned, however, with trenchant pulling and driving of Comas at no. 10, but even he was no match for the accurate Webster and Witham Friary duly succumbed to 132 all out. Both teams repaired to the local hostelry where some members of the Dulwich team partook of the local cider, while others took quantities of the beverage home in specially supplied jamjars to assist them in their paint stripping endeavours.

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