Sat 20th May – 2nd XI v Guildford

GUILDFORD 125 (42.5) lost to DULWICH 156-9 (50) by 31 runs


As we all know Dulwich turns 150 years old this year. 20th of May certainly did not disappoint. With Captain Kirk leaving the bridge in the hands of Steve ‘Cheeky wish’ Patankar nobody could foresee what was to happen next.

With the finest burger stalls in England congregated on the hallowed ground of the Giant Arches car park, something extraordinary was about to happen. As ever, the top four were hungry, chomping at the bit to get their teeth in and they did not disappoint. 45-5 with the young Prince and his beloved Uncle, the Tulsman, two double stack burgers down, the scene was set.

Ed ‘Big Show’ Towner took it upon himself to be the resident weather man, claiming the BBC don’t have a clue. "Bright sunshine in Dulwich. The useless… Look up there – Armageddon is upon us," the gorgeous but, equally useless, Carrick impersonator grinned at me. It’s fair to say the rain dances were in full flow. For a while it looked like Towner: Messenger of the Gods had nailed it as the covers were rushed on to the field. Alas it was short lived. With Rinaldo rushing back to field all seemed doomed. We needed heros. "We need true Yorkshire grit" – Steve winked at me as he watched Kambo and Ishi stride to the crease, the prides of Yorkshire. For a while it seemed the White Rose would flourish again but a few quick wickets, and a master blaster innings from the Ginger Giles saw the entrance of The Lion, The Animal – Dulwich's very own Dorian Gray. Determined to show the War of the Roses is still at large, Houghy, accompanying The Big Cheese managed to hit Guildford for 150 – a total which the Tulsman was adamant equated to 260 at Guildford and was not shy about letting them know.

The belief was back and the fire was roaring. The Doggies were about to take the field but not before intimidating the prey. The new catching cradle was called for. Looking more like we belonged in a cradle than cricketers, needless to say it was a disaster. After a verbal lashing by the crucial 12th man, Jenny, we knew losing was not an option.

After a good start from Guildford, Kamran Amir decided to put his winter training into practice, getting two wickets in two overs from no balls – one of which saw the diving Jonty Marshall grab the dying ball at backward point, which has been dubbed the catch of the century. 36-0 and The Big Cheese and Kambo were fired up. Kam, speaking more with words and eyes than ball, refused to take a backward step, taking on the mental battle and leaving the cricket stage to his partner in crime. ‘The Big Cheese winds up, pulls out the cheese slicer as if cutting through Wensleydale and proceeds to Wallace and Gromit the opposition with a combination of flight and guile. Wallace and Gromit would have been proud.’ – Cheeky Steve. Thanks Steve. 45-5….Deja vu? Not in this life.

110-7 and Guildford had hope, but we all know. Hope is the worst thing you can give a man in this life. Running from long off to long off Mystic Towner kept mumbling "We’re gonna lose this." Oh Towner, sweet naïve Towner. In a moment of brilliance from the King of Spin, the gift that just keeps giving, Houghy – who had watched Hirsty grip, rip and rag his way to 9 overs 1 wicket for 19 – managed to leave the set batsman bamboozled as the ball turned from the outfield strip to take middle stump.

The brains trust wasn’t finished, Guildford were over the barrel, but who was going to pull the trigger? In typical Maverick fashion the skipper threw the ball to The Big Show. "MADNESS" were the cries from the boundary as Sav and Ed Matten chugged their 16th pint of the afternoon (shout out to you boys for funding the bar for another season by the 3rd game of the season). I for one, standing at deep cow had no doubt that a man who had been so consistently wrong all day had to come up with the goods. It was written in the stars.

The Warm Up: Honestly, I've seen more stability in a toddler on ice. Limbs flying everywhere, head all over the place. Criminal that I had been overlooked, but we play on. We digress.

First Ball: Once it got going it was rhythmical, from the handbook of Michael Holding himself. The stride, the take off, the action. Mesmerising. Unfortunately the umpire wasn’t as engrossed in the technique as I. Wide.

The Shearer: Called ‘The Big Show’ for a reason, Towner was never going to leave the field before The Shearer came out. Oh how it came out! It soon became apparent to me it had all been a brilliant joke. With a cheekiest of winks from Towner, the slow roll had been completed. Pushing mid off to the boundary, the next few moments became an emotional rollercoaster. Towner delivered the slowest of slower balls, pitching just back of a short ball length and the nagging line of 2 stumps outside off. Needless to say it went straight to long off.

The Catch: Seeing the ball thunder skywards I immediately knew it didn’t have the legs. Seeing Sav and Ed at the bar, I knew I had to get there asap. Silence had taken over. For clarity, I have provided three separate perspectives on the next couple moments (The Bowler, The Skipper and The Catcher) as its all a bit of a blur to me.

"It was a sitter. Nowhere near as good as Jonty's at backward point, but I bet Hirsty will give you a great description." – Ed ‘The Big Show, Carrick’ Towner (Bowler)

"Well well well, given I have the best view in the house. The ball goes up in the air and Spaghetti Fingers Hirst, looking like a lamb underneath it decides, to run around, arms flailing, arms going everywhere. He's like 'Eurgh theres a ball there, I guess I better catch this.' Suffers some incontinence problems, but he takes a good catch.’ – Cheeky Steve (Keeper, Captain, Number 3)

"So Towner started his over, with a massive wide down leg side and I was thinking 'Oh we could be in trouble here. They only need 4 an over and this guy is going well – he's hit a couple of long balls before.' The next ball, outside off and I thought 'That’s gone a long way up in the air.' Seeing Steve running the opposite way I knew it was up to me to get there and claim it. Like a Northern Usain Bolt I’m off, thinking to myself, 'Really glad I was the one hitting the catches in the warm up – this is my time.' Sprinting a good 120 yards, the whole time thinking 'Oh no oh no oh no, if I drop this I’m going to look like a clown.' The doubt started to creep in. I composed myself – I’m having this JL fielding point. A man possessed I set myself. It lands in my hands. I looked around and thought 'Yeah boys, never in doubt.' Amazing what you can achieve with raw God-given talent and a massive pair of plums.’ – James ‘Big Plums’ Hirst (Catcher)

Who knows what really happened – I personally don’t even remember I was in the bar doing shots of tequila with Sav and Ed, but I do remember The Shearer. We all remember The Shearer.

Victory was ours, or so it seemed when Golden Arm Towner returned for his second over, figures already 1-0-1-1. He saw his name in lights, number 11 chipping the ball to the man at square leg and the second half of the brain trust, the man who engineered this winning position – the Daddy of Dulwich, Tulsman. Sprinting back to Sav and Ed for the next round, I knew it was over. However Raj Mignolet unleashed his inner keeper to push it round the corner. Alas it was not to be, ending with figures of 2-0-2-1, Towner didn’t get the fairytale ending but has put his name in contention for best all-rounder in the club – if not league.

With an angry and ruthless Sugarhut Edwards storming in 4 balls later it was all over. Guildford succumbed to 125 all out.

Dubbed the most epic game in Dulwich history I hope it is not another 150 years until we see another outfit as ruthless, devilishly handsome and banterful as the Dulwich 2nd XI. 3 Games, 3 Wins, Top of the league.

A special performance, by a special team, in a special year, on a special day, for a special captain.

Congratulations Skipper on your big day.

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