Sat 18th June – 3rd XI v Reigate Priory

DULWICH 126-6 (49) losing draw with REIGATE PRIORY 222-9 (51.5)

Scorecard

The 3rd XI juggernaut ground to a halt on Saturday at a rather damp Reigate against a strong side. After six successive victories the team was probably given a reality check of how tough a league the 3rd XI Premier Division is. Three team changes from the selected team did not help, including one of the dreaded Saturday morning changes, but many thanks to those who stepped in and contributed to a hard gained draw.

Although Reigate were not impressed the intention was always to go out to try and win. But sometimes things do not go to plan, the opposition play well and on the day are superior. You have to dig in and avoid defeat, particularly against a team who are likely to challenge at the top. This was a good advert for all matches at this level being 50-over win/lose matches but that is another story for the Surrey Championship to address.

On to the match itself. Skipper Graeme Hough won the toss once again (‘tails never fails!’) and inserted the opposition hoping to exploit the seamer friendly conditions, and hoping for easier, drier batting conditions later in the day. Jeremy Jones opened up and induced an edge first over but this was spilled at second slip. Not a great start but little damage as Jones soon snared the same player caught by John Morris in the gully. At the other end the returning Ian Toppin settled in to a good rhythm and also got his name in the book inducing a caught behind to Dan Peters who donned the gloves. The game then became one of attrition with Reigate digging in and Dulwich containing on a sluggish wicket.

Another university returnee Euan Johnson entered the fray to replace Jones. Having assured the captain that he had bowled well the previous day, let’s be polite and just say he struggled for rhythm and consistency. First ball long hop disappeared in to the adjoining gardens (not the only one – see later), beamer thrown in, followed up by a yorker to uproot the opener’s stumps. Breakthrough achieved but time for a change so the (rather ill feeling) captain entered the fray and Ben Lester replaced Topin who had bowled a tidy 10 over spell. Reigate began to accumulate runs steadily, punishing the bad balls and running well between the wickets. But Hough wheeled away and made steady breakthroughs in the middle order as Morris caught a couple more whilst David Knightbridge replaced Lester. At six wickets down and only 130 on the board a total significantly less than 200 to chase down was on the cards.

However, Reigate’s number 8 – who we researched later had scored 145 off 39 balls in a match last season! – was not the nudger and nurdler type. Captain Hough has suffered at his hands previously and this was no different. Having bowled okay for 12 overs the 13th saw any gardeners or sun bathers (unlikely!) in the adjoining gardens, or maybe Tim Peake returning to earth, take cover as three rather large 6’s were launched. Take a blow, skip! At the other David Knightbridge was bowling with surprising control and the wicket helped his slow bouncer / long hop variation when they inevitably, and more frequently, came. But Reigate had shifted up the gears and the tail wagged aggressively. Jones returned to grab another wicket, as did Knighty but a big 52nd over meant Reigate could declare on a challenging 222 for 9.

Hough claimed three wickets and Jones a couple. Slanderous claims were made after tea that the captain had attempted to doctor his own bowling figures as he accidentally misread the runs conceded column and put 39 down instead of 49 which he, of course, denied claiming faulty vision after having had to locate balls launched high in to the orbit.

Out strode James Chudley and Julian Dean to open after tea with 49 overs to bat. From the off it was clear that it was going to be a challenge as Reigate’s openers gave little away. Chudley soon went and Chris Stone joined Dean. They dug in but run scoring opportunities were few and far between. The run rate was snail paced but the scored edged to 50 off 25 overs and with, only one wicket down, thoughts of victory were still there. After drinks, Reigate’s spinners offered more scoring opportunities than their miserly openers and the score surged to 91 for 1 off the next 5 or 6 overs. Stone passed 50 but the turning point came when, in the push for quicker runs, four wickets fell for next to nothing. 91 for 1 became 94 for 5 and signalled the end to the slimmest of slim chances of a win that had existed. Dean had battled hard for his 31 alongside Stone – both deserve credit for having to deal with an opening attack a cut above anything else they had faced this season.

The last 15 overs or so became a game of attritional cat and mouse. Reigate’s bowlers continued to threaten but Dulwich’s middle order held firm. Dan Peters led the way, supported by Ben Lester and Jeremy Jones to see the game out for a draw. Not ideal, not the way Dulwich wish to play their cricket, but sometimes you just have to do these things. Late team changes, a bit of an off day, lack of cricket for some of the players, opposition playing well, etc, all contrived to produce a less than ideal game of cricket. Whilst fully accepting their frustration, some of Reigate’s barbed comments at the end were a bit uncalled for – for sure they will have done the same in the past to opposition.

The team makes a welcome return to home turf for a couple of weeks after three successive away matches. Wimbledon just edged to the top of the table after Saturday but DCC will be determined to get back on track and back to winning ways.

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