Sat 6th Aug – 3rd XI v Malden Wanderers

DULWICH 242-2 (50) beat MALDEN WANDERERS 122 (40.2) by 120 runs


The 3rd XI’s championship challenge got back on track at DSG on Saturday with a comprehensive victory over mid-table Malden Wanderers as the format reverted back to the 50 over win/lose format. Victory was assured through a dominant batting performance, followed up by an efficient bowling display. The team was much changed once again with only four players surviving for various reasons from the previous week’s heavy defeat to Walton-on-Thames, and resembled much more of a 3rd team line up with a decent top 6 batting line up (well, top 5 plus Andy Bailey at 6) and an impressive array and variety of bowlers.

Skipper Graeme Hough once again won the toss (12 out of 13!) and chose to bat first on what looked like a decent DSG wicket, and in welcome sunshine. Chris Stone returned from his mini-tour of Europe and Oliver Steward from his poorly finger. Both set about setting the foundation and got things off to a rattling start at close to five an over against Malden’s seamers. Steward dominated the early proceedings playing some pleasing drives and clips off his legs, with Stone playing more of the anchor role. 50 was soon passed and the openers seen off. However, the introduction of left arm spinner Walters soon showed that the pitch was a bit of a ‘bunsen’.

Having looked comfortable on making his way to 44 Steward was then surprisingly stumped off Walters. As he trudged off muttering expletives the rest of the team were unsure whether this was aimed at himself or the decision – it turned out to be the former. Having racked up a number of TFCs in the 2nd team, and suffered immense pain for a few weeks with his sore finger, it was good to see him finding form albeit in August. Matt Balch, himself the holder of quite a few TFCs recently, joined Stone but immediately looked in fairly good nick. As his loud calling reverberated around Dulwich and its environs he continued to push the score along with Stone.

With Stone having rid himself of a bit of rustiness it was then a surprise to see him bowled for 31 playing back to Malden’s fairly impressive young leg spinner Morgan. The ‘Bearded Wonder’ Andy Cornick joined the fray at no. 4 with the score just past 100 close to the halfway point. The entrance of AC to the crease always brings a sigh to umpire Chris Reardon who knows he is going to be talked to death when AC is at the non-striker’s end – Andy likes nothing more than a chat with anyone in his vicinity. Both batted reasonably circumspectly to start with but were quick to punish anything loose. The spinners were eventually bowled out with the score continuing at around 4 runs per over. With plenty of eager batsmen waiting in the hutch a score well in excess of 200 was on.

On and on Balch and Cornick went, as poor no. 5 Jonny Stone’s pad rash began to set in. The last five overs saw a significant increase in tempo and the end came at a challenging 242 for 2 after 50 overs with Balch an excellent 84* and Cornick a more supporting, but still impressive, 47*.

As Dulwich took the field after tea, the 2nd team on the adjacent pitch were just walking off after walloping Beddington. The 3rd XI knew that the second half would be played in front of a welcome, but vociferous and increasingly boozy, crowd. Not quite the Western Terrace at Headingly but plenty of advice to bowlers, fielders and captain would be offered – why not, as the 2nd XI are such a talented array of cricketers who never, ever, ever make any mistakes….

Back to the game skipper Hough decided to relegate Jeremy Jones to one of the change bowlers as Chris Hape/Hope and Ian ‘Level 2’ Toppin opened up. No room for complacency and early wickets were the order of the day. Hopey/Hapey probed his usual miserly line and length whilst Level 2 took on the role of ‘destroyer-in-chief’. Bowling with some pace he castled one of Malden’s openers and induced a lobbed up catch off the other. This was quickly followed by a catch behind to keeper Andy Bailey, another one bowled whilst Hapey also got in on the act bowling another. At five down and less than 30 on board the game was as good as over. This could have been 6 down and a 5-for for Toppin but Steward had spilled one at slip after manfully offering to field there despite only just returning from one of the worst finger injuries in history…

With the damage done Toppin was given a rest and Ben Swanson introduced to provide some classical left arm spin. Swanson quickly settled in to a groove beating the bat with regularity. With Hape bowled out (1-23) the skipper came on for a twirl and also found prodigious turn and bounce. Malden’s middle order went in to cross bat mode and the ball on numerous occasions fell agonisingly in to gaps. But the end was nigh and it was just a matter of time as the run rate required by now was close to 8 an over. Hough got a wicket through a fine one handed catch from Balch and Swanson bowled another. Jeremy Jones – the best 3rd change bowler in the league – replaced Hough whilst Swanson rattled through to complete his 10 overs capturing another (2-32). Jones induced a catch to Hapey at mid-on off that most dangerous of balls, the full toss.

At 9 down and with Toppin re-introduced to replace Swanson it was just a matter of whether Toppers would complete his 5-for, or whether Jonesy would spoil the fun. In the end it was the latter as the final wicket fell to a simple catch at point by Chris Stone (no brotherly love in action here as younger brother Jonny was due to bowl the next over). Toppin ended with an excellent 4 for 34 and Jones 2 for 9.

So a comprehensive win and a good all round performance which sets the team up well for the final run in when all three of the other challengers are to be played, starting with Reigate at DSG next week. With a similar strength of team there is no reason why the season cannot be kept alive down to the wire.

Close call for man of the match between Balch and Toppin, but the former just edges it for his innings.

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