Sat 7th May – 3rd XI v Walton-on-Thames

DULWICH 195 (47.4) beat WALTON-ON-THAMES 176 (47.3) by 19 runs

Scorecard

As something more resembling cricket weather made an appearance, the 3rd XI ventured down by the river to Walton-on-Thames for the first league fixture of the season. A late departure and typical sunny weather resulted in traffic issues which meant the team assembled just in time for the start. Not a great beginning which put the always-on-edge Dulwich captain even more on edge, but not quite over it!

With a few promising league debutants, a strong (on paper) batting line up, the captain winning the toss and choosing to bat things looked good. However, it did not take long for things to turn less good. Openers Raj Tulsiani and newcomer Ed Towner started circumspectly against accurate bowling but both succumbed to full tosses, quickly followed by the unnecessary run out of John Morris. 20 for 3 soon became 50-odd for 5 as batsmen struggled for early season form.

Then followed a match turning and, ultimately, match winning partnership between newbies Guy Skinner (57) and Imran Iqbal-Mian (79). Skinner took a while to get in to his stride but proceeded to bat with some elegance and timing. Iqbal-Mian also batted sensibly but proceeded to punish any wayward bowling with some brutality, showing a particular liking for the pull shot as he unleashed a few tracer bullets to the boundary.

The tail did not quite wag as strongly as was hoped but enough players hung around with Iqbal-Mian to eke out runs steadily. 200-plus was the target but the team fell just short with Iqbal-Mian the last man out for 79 – an excellent start to his Dulwich career.

With the ball, early pressure and wickets were the key. The latter arrived as Walton’s top order batsmen also fell to that underrated wicket taking ball – the full toss! Despite the wickets there was a degree of early season rustiness and lack of rhythm in the bowling which meant that Walton continued to accumulate runs at a steady rate. Skinner’s day continued positively with a stunning low diving catch as Dulwich took control with half the wickets taken with just 59 on the board. Then followed a 50 run partnership between Walton’s veteran, but very capable, number 3 batsman and their hard hitting number 7. Spinners Dan Peters and skipper Graeme Hough were now in tandem and it was the latter who made the crucial breakthrough enticing a skier and Skinner taking his third catch of the match.

The victory was in sight but Walton’s number 3 continued to provide stubborn resistance and, on a slow wicket, wickets were hard gained. The captain looked for someone to bowl full and straight and up stepped reluctant bowler Ed Towner who proceeded to tie the batsmen down and take a couple of wickets. A more comfortable victory was in sight at 142 for 9 but a stubborn last wicket partnership, and some wayward bowling, delayed the inevitable. A run out in the penultimate over secured the victory by 19 runs.

Any win has to represent a good start, but room for improvement in many areas and for many individuals – exceptions being Skinner and Iqbal-Mian. The latter was clear man of the match with his 79 and 4 for 31. Champagne moment of the day probably goes to Skinner for his low diving catch.

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