Sat 27th Aug – 3rd XI v Wimbledon

DULWICH 118 (45.4) beat WIMBLEDON 104 (47.1) by 14 runs


Although the 3rd XI’s own title chances had disappeared over the last couple of weeks, the destiny of the title still lay in Dulwich’s hands with the top two of Wimbledon and Spencer to play. Bit of a Hobson’s Choice here but the title was decided as Dulwich saw off Wimbledon in a tight encounter and Spencer won elsewhere to clinch the title.

The early start time of 12.00 did not deter an impressively on time crew assembling for the reasonably short hop over to Chessington. Good progress was made until the ground was neared. An impressive crowd looked as though it was on its way to the match as a tailback of a mile or two was encountered close to the ground but the Chessington World of Adventures signs were a bit of a giveaway.

Those who have played at Wimbledon’s second ground a few times know to expect a ‘sporting’ wicket. Although the wicket looked OK it turned out it had many demons. This, together with the long grass on the outfield, contributed to the low scoring though questionable batting and good bowling on both sides also played a part. Wimbledon won the toss, chose to field and Olly Steward and Guy Woodgate strode out to bat. Both looked reasonably comfortable, or as comfortable as you can be on a pitch where it could rear past your head off a length. Both took a couple of blows and progress was sedate which was not surprising as a 1 or 2 on this outfield was worth easily double on a normal outfield. It therefore came as a bit of a shock when Steward mistimed to mid-off.

Enter Guy Skinner to provide a pair of Guys at the wicket and provide ammunition to those who like the pun related to a famous, former Turkish footballer (Tugay for the uninitiated). Now having the same name does not mean you share the same wavelength so, after another period of calm batting, Skinner decided to call Woody for a run that was not there – a tad unnecessary.

To cut a long story short much of the rest of the innings followed a similar path- batsmen battling the pitch and some decent bowlers, not getting value for money for shots but fighting hard knowing every run will matter. So scraping in to double figures does not sound much but it was a fair achievement.

The first boundary came in the 22nd over (byes), with Matt Balch hitting the first one off the bat soon after from a crisp cover drive. James Chudley had perished the ball before drinks (aarrgghh !!) chipping one up Balch missed a straight one though he will give a different interpretation of the extent of movement on the ball; Rordon Daws also missed one and Be ‘pretty boy’ Lester popped a nasty lifter back to the bowler. Through much of this Rhys Williams, playing his first 3s league match, stood pretty firm and played some nice aerial shots until skying one to the keeper. At 81 for 9 things looked bleak as skipper Hough strode to the crease to join Chris Hope. Though a dodgy wicket and a ridiculously slow outfield a par score was a bit higher than this.

Talk between the two was trying to get to 100 and take it from there with 120 or 130 deemed a very good score. Numbers 9 and 11 showed those higher up how to do it and put together the biggest partnership of the match to take the score up to a competitive 118. Hope hit powerfully and went aerial a bit, and Hough provided good support until he holed out to deep square leg on the hook. Hope ended with an excellent 22 not out which turned out to be the highest score of the match.

Buoyed by the last wicket effort Dulwich took the field in positive mood but knowing that Wimbledon can easily take the game away from you. Hope and Rordon Daws opened up, with Wimbledon captain Eddison eager to add to his 800+ runs this season. A big swing at the first ball showed his intention, and caused Dulwich’s more vocal players to immediately ramp up the chat volume. Hope struck in the first over as Eddison’s opening partner fell first ball to a shot a no. 11 would have been embarrassed about. The dangerous Anand joined Eddison and played a couple of pleasing leg side shots before Daws made the crucial breakthrough trapping Eddison plumb in front, soon followed by Anand hitting a long hop straight to Balch at cover. Hope then followed up Daws’ crucial wickets with another lobbed up catch to Daws.

Hough rang the changes as Daws had reached his age group limit of overs and Hope was held back for later – but they had done the early damage that set Wimbledon back and Dulwich in the ascendancy. Now for the spinners to follow this up. Hough started well bowling tightly whilst Ben Lester offered more flight with a slope to utilise to his advantage (very unusually kind of you, skip!). Lester struck first with a flighted delivery beating the huge, injudicious heave of Wimbledon’s number 5. Meanwhile Hough was in a personal duel with no. 6 Oliver James who played a few nice shots whilst at the same time being bamboozled regularly. As the close fielders questioned his technique and ability to read deliveries, Hough just glared or smiled and eventually won trapping him plumb in front. Although Dulwich were on top at 6 down there was still much to do defending the small total. More spin was introduced with Matt Balch and Spencer Daws, on his debut. Balch bowled tidily (apart from a few wides) and snaffled another caught by Chudley at point. It could have been more but two caught and bowleds were put down – one probably regulation for Matt, the other a great effort.

At 7 down Wimbledon began to dig in and the score crept along to less than 30 to win with plenty of overs left. Hough returned to replace Spencer Daws who bowled well in his first appearance at this level. A series of probing deliveries and close calls ended with a rap on the pads right in front, umpire’s finger raised – 8 down and the end getting closer. Wimbledon’s no. 10 did not last long, again trapped plumb in front by Hough. Hope returned and with his first (long hop) ball the ball was blazed to cover where Woodgate held a good catch to seal victory by 14 runs in the 48th over. A great win, with Dulwich fighting hard with the bat and competing fiercely in the field with a fantastic team spirit. All credit with nothing riding on the game for Dulwich other than pride.

Thanks once again to Chris Reardon for umpiring. The final game next week is at home to Spencer with the title decided but the captain will ensure that whatever team takes the field goes out with the same attitude, fight and desire as shown here. Man of the match was Chris Hope for his performance with bat and ball, Rordon Daws second for helping to set up the win at the start and Rhys Williams for his battling innings.

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