Sat 6th May – 3rd XI v Reigate Priory

REIGATE PRIORY 164-7 (37.3) beat DULWICH 163 (45.4) by 3 wickets


The first league game of the season started at last years top of the table rivals, Reigate away. It should have been a wonderful honour to write this report, as last year at the same ground, almighty groans could be heard throughout Surrey as Dulwich patted back the majority of the game to secure a draw. The Reigate match report that day was titled “The Death of Cricket”, it would have been great to have written something similarly witty in response. Alas Dulwich 3rds lost this time round, and that’s not the best foundation on which to brag. 

The chat on the train to the ground was that the pitch away at Reigate 3s can vary massively. Some had played on roads here, some of the Northerners in the team felt it was sometimes similar to an early April pitch that they’re used to back home. As we turned up though, it was clear to see the pitch was a cracker, hard, even and promising lots of runs. 

Andy Bailey took on where his predecessor had left off, by winning the toss, and electing to bat. 
Sadly, the response from the Dulwich top order did not reflect the state of the pitch, due to some extremely tight bowling from Reigate’s openers. 

To begin with, two league debutants for Dulwich opened the season's batting account and looked to be progressing nicely. Ross Ewing and Faizal Kassam scoring early boundaries when the opportunities presented themselves. The deadlock was undone as Ross missed a good one from Briggs clipping the top of off. This brought John Morris to the crease, just as Briggs was getting into his groove, slanting the ball down the considerable slope. 

Morris was trapped in front without scoring, and when Faizal clipped a ball into a leg side trap at mid wicket, the team were in trouble. New parent Inglis who has had more practice with nappies than he has with the bat followed quickly after to leave Dulwich 28/4. 

Stepping to the crease, new skipper Andy Bailey, to join the Aussie pro and Chief Intensity Officer, Matt Balch. The situation was ripe for both batsmen, and Bailey started making up for the awful shout of batting first on a 28/4 pitch. 
They soaked up the pressure as Briggs bowled out his ten, and then looked to push on. The gritty Bailey knew which shots to play at which time, and Balch played some sensual drives and pulls to the fence. He even pulled the trigger on a lofted cover drive, yes, LOFTED! 

The most memorable of Balch's innings however was a stunning on drive from the left arm seamer that seemed to accelerate as it split mid on and mid off, reminding everyone why they’d missed cricket so much over the winter. This was not be the only thing the Sydney star would smoke today, as later he revealed he liked a cheeky toke on a fag at cricket. We apologise if this is news to the new Mrs Balch. 

The pair pushed on and registered a very much needed 100 partnership. 

However, the acceleration to the 50 over mark was a little premature, as Balch miscued a pull to the keeper, Lester nicked off for 1, and Bailey followed shortly after which tarnished the recovery somewhat. The 50 overs were not batted out as the top order and the tail could not provide "Benson & Hedges" Balch (51) and "Bollocks to Buying a Jug" Bailey (49) with the support they needed. Nonetheless, 165 had been posted which was something to bowl at. 

Tea was taken to the already rather grating dulcet tone of David Knightbridge trying to upset as many of his own team as possible. 

He turned his attention away from below par chat to opening the bowling, and to be fair to the Inferno’s regular, he bowled with controlled aggression, perfect for a flat deck. 

It was his new ball partner who opened Dulwich’s wicket taking season though, with a wicket we’re likely to see repeated many times this summer. Like Jeremy Corbyn, Jeremy Jones swung to the left, finding the all too eager outside edge of the opener, sailing through into the grateful Bailey’s gloves. 

A couple of overs of tight bowling and pressure building led to an interesting passage of play. Two rash shots either side of some “run out at the non-strikers’ end” luck saw Knightbridge involved in three quick wickets for the Doggies. A short and wide one was spooned to Lester at point followed by someone going for one too many swipes (an expression Tinder Knightbridge knows all too well) and being bowled. 

Jez carried on his campaign making a mess of the left hander's stumps with yet more swing. 5 down and the game was on. 

However, things slowed down in the period before drinks as both teams wrestled for the upper hand. 

At the half way point overs wise, Reigate were at roughly half the runs, but with half their batsmen in the hutch. Their hopes appeared to hang on their talisman Briggs who had earlier taken 3 wickets. 

Straight away after drinks, Joe Day picked up a wicket at the other end to Briggs as a catch was given to Knightbridge at short cover. Briggs was still there though and he didn’t disappoint. He, like Bailey and Balch before him seemed to choose the perfect situations to attack and defend, his balls stay hit slightly longer than Balch and Bailey though. 

Dulwich had chances to remove Briggs, newbie Gokhul bowled impressively to him with little luck, but the Reigate man passed fifty with a top knock. 

The target loomed, but there was to be a late twist, some lovely field placing from Bailey saw Briggs drive Day in the air to deep extra cover, as Faisal held on to an important catch. 

With plenty of overs to go, Dulwich’s only chance was to take the remaining 3 wickets. On another day, some chances many have gone our way and seen us victorious, but Reigate got home as Burgess flayed just wide of mid on to hit the winning runs.

There were plenty of positives to take from the game however, and we look on to next week where Ashtead come to the DSG.

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