Sat 13th Aug – 2nd XI v Cranleigh

DULWICH 225-4 (50) beat CRANLEIGH 185 (44.1) by 40 runs


‘There can only be one’

Picture this, a beautifully English overcast Saturday morning. 11:45 meet. The mighty top-of-the-league Dulwich Dogs chomping at the bit to get their teeth into second placed Cranleigh. Outfield brown, wicket green, Patrick George still complaining about all he does for the club. 

12pm: The lads emerge from the changing rooms like Lions on a hunt, the warm up is about to begin…

12:15pm: …the warm up is still going. WHEN! A Prince in a black BMW pulls into the car park, the ground shakes, hearts stop, panties drop, everyone holds their breath (apart from "Daddy" John Morris, walking past, asking the Prince whether he has the Vaseline – to the absolute disgust of his poor on looking mother. I digress…)

12:45pm: The toss loss. In a game full of rare occurrences, Dulwich were asked to bat first. Explicit instructions came from the captain: "Be greedy." The game was about to begin… 

1pm: Start of play. With the absence of the ever reliable long ball hitter The Tulsman, Screech (aka ‘Mr Hudson’ aka ‘Forever Young’) took up the mantle, striding to the crease with the ever lippy Enrique Inglis. Could he be our hero?

1:18pm: First wicket. Unfortunately not. Inglis was the first to depart LBW, shortly followed by ‘Huddo’, beautifully guiding a ball to gully and falling to Cranleigh's 12 year-old opening bowler – Zaki left watching the celebrations at the other end. Here entered arguably the most hated player in the circuit. Called a **** more times this season than he has had hot dinners, Prince strode out like a Gladiator entering his amphitheatre, knowing he had to get his head down.

1:28pm: The Anchor. Zaki and the Prince stood at the wicket. “Please give me one of your runs” the Prince begged Zaki, having reached the godly heights of 17 while the Prince was sitting on a 25 ball duck. On came Cranleigh's very own Thirsty Hirsty and, in a fashion that would make the man himself proud, he lured Zaki into snicking off with a ball so short and so wide it was taken on the next strip.

1:29pm: The Legend, The Pro, My Idol. Stuart Ferguson walked to the crease offering solid advice to the young Prince: "GET A F*CKING RUN". Fergie calmly caressed his first ball off the back foot for a single. The young Prince watched on in awe whilst the single was run and proceeded to block out the remaining five balls of the over.

2pm: Drinks. With The Prince finally off the mark Dulwich went into drinks 69 (favourite number) for 3, with strict instructions to rotate the strike. Fergo effortlessly found the gaps whilst the rock at the other end scampered singles on the odd occasion he got bat on ball.

2:10pm: The end of a Balchy-esque innings. Euan Johnson quite simply got the ball of the season, which saw him bowled, caught behind and stumped all in the same instance. Clueless as to what had happened he walked off for 17 off 76 balls – a solid innings from a solid bloke.

2:11pm: With the score 89/4 from 30 overs it wasn’t looking good. Until…

2:11:30pm: The Coach. With coaching via whatsapp from Wham Bamm Tulsman ("Get 180 then slog"), the best keeper-batsman in the league, and quite possibly the planet, entered the fray. Not soon after, Cranleigh were begging for the return of the Prince as the DILF Fergo and AJ started to show why Dulwich are top of the league. Spanking, smashing and bludgeoning with the occassional cry thrown in – it was starting to looki more like a scene from John Morris' Chinese Takeaway party than a cricket match.

2:55pm: The Redemption. After sending the ball to all parts of the ground and watching Cranleigh heads drop, Fergo and AJ both passed their half centuries – guaranteeing jugs for the boys! They managed to secure a respectable score of 225/4 off 50. Fergo 76* and AJ 69* (again, my favourite number).

3:30pm: Lunch. After hearing nonstop complaints from clubman through-and-through Patrick George  it became apparent this game was no longer merely for the top spot in the league but the top Euan Johnson in the league. With the Quaifester singing to the Prince all through lunch "You’re not even the best Euan Johnson in the league’" he knew we had to get off to a flyer.

3:35pm: O Captain My Captain. Jamesy Bridgey Bridgland took the new ball and entrusted The Prince to go and flirt the batsmen out so that while they weren’t concentrating he’d bowl and they’d miss a straight one. The master tactician had done it again, trapping the opener plumb in front of all three. To the extreme excitement of The Real Euan Johnson, his namesake was removed for just 2. There can only be one.

3:50pm: In came Cranleighs no. 3? After snicking off through vacant areas of the slip cordon Bridgey decided to take matters into his own hand, bowling an inducking yorker that took the base of the off stump. Captain Dulwich finished with 2-22 from 10 overs and was backed up well by young Sameer Saleem who bowled with good pace but little luck.

4:25pm: Resistance. After a period of Cranleigh fighting back admirably it was very much level at drinks. After some soul searching, strong leadership and words the Dogs went back.

4:27pm: The Dogs. Quaife Dog, The Quaife, Quaifeyyyyy was bowling well in hot conditions and found the edge that flew wide of gully, or so we all thought… Out of nowhere Zaki leaps like a salmon to take quite simply the best gully catch ever taken ever. Silencing all the haters – no man under 44 could take that catch. 

4:28pm: THE DOOOOOOGS. The next in leaves a disguised inswinger first ball. BOOM – top of off. Poor kid. 

4:29pm: HATTRICK BALL. Quaife steaming in. He releases. It’s a wide. A tragic end to a fairytale story.

4:50pm: Thirsty. Cranleigh were going along nicely rebuilding the ship when Thirsty Hirsty was chucked the ball. Quaife, who was doing well at hiding exhaustion from his spell, was swapped with yours truly. LIKE THAT he's back in the game with a ball two deliveries later chipped straight to The Prince at midwicket. Hirsty is already off necking a pint, Bridgey is celebrating, Fergo is reattaching his body. Alas, straight through the ball goes. But luckily 3 runs were saved…

4:55pm: Language Barrier. Hirsty was thus taken off and placed next to a shell of a being in the covers, still red faced & speaking in Northern tongues, I knew it was about me.

5:15pm: DILF. After a quiet period in the field on came The Real Fergie, now relentless in his hunt for the JL points. It wasn't long before he had made up for The Prince's mistake and dismissed both set batsman in quick secession.

5:45pm: All day they tried all day we dared. Finally it happened – a single to Inglis. Desperation does strange things to men under pressure. Next man in…

6:34pm: Fergie Time. Finding myself on the boundary (right in front of the other Euan Johnson's family), I was acosted by my mother who handed me a bottle of water and asked "Why don’t you stop flirting and finish them off?" Next ball, Fergie Ferg caught a blinder off his own bowling, ending with 3-19 off six overs and ball. 

Dulwich 225/4 from 50
Cranleigh 185 all out from 44.1 Overs

Alas it was fair to say on Saturday there was only one.

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