Sat 27th Aug – 2nd XI v Esher

DULWICH 219-9 (50) lost to ESHER 220-6 (40.1) by 4 wickets


With promotion and the title secure Dulwich travelled to Esher CC to play out the penultimate game at quite possibly the best ground/tea combination going. However, despite the Doggies rolling uncontrollably to the title, the only impressive team event of the day came in their ability to consume the majority of match tea.

It never quite seemed to be a conventional 2nd XI Saturday. The enthusiasm left firmly in the bar, players all over the South of London and a warm up that would make even a village team embarrassed. A far cry from the usually intense warm up and atmosphere that would intimidate even the strongest of sides.

With only nine players ready by the toss batting became more a formality over a tactical choice, and Hirsty could hardly control the excitement of opening in the absence of the world’s most hungover individual. Alas, with minutes to spare his hopes were cruelly dashed as the unmistakeable Aston rolled in. Not that the driver was in a state to bat, gingerly hugging the skipper on arrival.

Despite this Dulwich started well, for all of four overs. For the fifth consecutive innings Stone 2 was sent packing by the outswing keeper combination bringing The Prince to the crease. Raj and The Prince re-built and moved Dulwich along at a steady five an over. But then in true Dulwich fashion, and with some inspiration from the game at Burbage Road, the collapse began. The Prince missed a straight one, which ‘broke his toe’, Raj took on the spinner, and lost, and Stone 1 failed to dig out a yorker.

With five wickets down for just over 100 Dulwich needed a calm and composed partnership after drinks. Yet, unlike the previous Esher fixture, the wickets continued to fall at regular 20 run intervals. Marshall showed the dangers of taking on a rank long-hop and Quaife, who now boasts the best batting average for the year, failed to capitalise on his start. The joy of being the only team to dismiss the invincible batsman was reflected by the magnitude of Esher’s celebrations.

Buoyed by the chance to bat at three for the Academy, Hirsty strode out to join Bailey to revive the stalling innings. With some solid power hitting and creating his own leading edge dil-scoop, Hirsty entertained for at least a while. Unfortunately, it was not the be as Bailey, in his typical style, tried to run two off a misfielded nurdle and Hirsty, after reaching his goal of 20, gave point useful – albeit simple- catching practice (178-8).

All was not lost! The skipper, pumped up on his memories of his first Dulwich innings, showed the batsmen what real intent looks like. As Pickles took a more measured ‘bat out the overs approach’, the skipper showed no let up, his strike rate more akin to a T20 than a save the innings situation. Like eight others before him it came to an all too abrupt end, his strike rate impressive – his score not so. Caught for 15.

At 200-9 the Coach made his way out. With sweatband on his arm the intent to bat the long haul was clear for all to see. In a flurry of singles, and the occasional crowd pleasing drive to the cover boundary from Pickles, Dulwich finish on 216-9. And thus marked the start of Dulwich’s finest work. The Prince leading the way in the competition to recreate Mount Everest out of spring rolls and chicken satay.

Dulwich started fantastically in the field, the skipper taking the first wicket on the fourth ball, the batsman gloving the ball to a delighted Bails behind the sticks. The Esher number 3 failed to trouble the scorers as the skipper took his second wicket, making it two in his opening overs.

It was nearly three, but the call was turned down by the umpire. Esher began to put a few runs together. With wickets being a priority the skipper threw the ball to Hirsty, high on confidence from his impressive batting performance. With few runs off his early overs, all seemed to be going swimmingly, until the third wicket fell and Esher’s number 5 entered the fray.  It was at this time we saw the first of Hirsty’s trademark longhops, the batsman gleefully excepted the freebie as Hirsty’s eyes lit up as the batsman fell into his trap, all eyes were focused on the deep mid-wicket boundary.  However, it didn’t go to plan, instead of going straight down Stone 2’s throat the ball flew high and long, so long infact that it not only cleared the boundary but it also cleared the fence of the house across the road narrowly missing the car. Hirsty was not beaten. He regrouped and prepared to bowl again. However, the ball once again disappeared over into the same front garden.

However it was Quaife, who had now overtaken Hirsty as leading wicket taker for the season who ended the short but swashbuckling innings of the Esher number 5. As the new batsman made his way to the crease he was given some advice from his partner. “You know how to bat – see ball, hit ball.” However the advice was taken the wrong way, the new batsman proceeded to chip the ball directly to the skipper at mid-off.

Again Esher began to form a partnership, when the sixth wicket fell Dulwich were still in with a chance, however a strong partnership between the Esher captain and the remaining opener, who ended up making a strong hundred, saw Esher home to a four wicket win.

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