Sat 1st July – 2nd XI v Old Rutlishians

OLD RUTLISHIANS 141 (48.1) lost to DULWICH 145-2 (38.4) by 8 wickets


As the first half of the 2017 season drew to a close, the 2’s made their way off into the previously unknown territory of Morden and the old boys sports club of Rutlish school, alma mater of the 20th century’s least remarkable British P.M, Sir John Major.  To mark the occasion, this lefty scribe set off with Jnr Tory aid Ross Ewing and arguably the least political player to ever wear a Dulwich cap, Ed Hopkins.

In what has become a modern tradition of Dulwich away trips for those lucky enough to experience the blue 3 door Peugeot, the course was set via Balham (gateway to the south) where the driver was quick to regale his passengers of past glories (The Regent, Exhibit, B@1, Balham Bowling Club… the list goes on) and share stories of ‘how much Balham has come up since I moved here in 2002’ with fellow SW12 alumni and the soon to be fully fledged member of the South London ‘nappy valley’ brethren, Ed Hopkins.

Having negotiated the back streets of Earlsfield, we hooned on serenely past the old dog track and into the south Wimbledon badlands before a combination of traffic, Google Maps and the threat of PTSD earned at Malden Wanderers a fortnight earlier forced the driver into a what was to be his only pressure situation of the day, whereupon he failed abysmally in making an injudicious left onto the road to Morden and into the route we had specifically aimed to avoid from the outset. Nonetheless, we arrived only fractionally late and with the hairdryer tucked away, we embarked upon a short, entirely average warm up of tikka taka football (there were no winners) and wild throwing.

So onto the main event, where the sight of a worn, dry, flat pitch brought about the now ubiquitous decision to roll the oppo out. And that we did. With skipper Bridgland charging in from northern end with the wind at his tail and carthorse Quaife in support up hill from the other, the oppo had no answer in what was a brutal opening spell of pace, bounce and poorly masked fear. Quaife was the first to strike with a ball that lifted onto the splice and into the hands of the grateful skipper at mid off, before he struck again – this time to Rosco at second. Two for now’t quickly became 3-13 and 4-19 as Hopkins and Steve both took a couple of fine grabs to get into the act. With resistance in short supply and Bridgland smelling 3s players taking guard, some short tactics ensued, resulting in Hough moving well to take a skyer ‘reptilian’ style at square leg from a hurried attempted pull shot.  

At 5-30 odd off 16, thoughts turned to getting back to the club to watch a Sav masterclass and possibly a fight over the road at DSG involving the 4s stand-in skipper for the day and his leg spinning vice. Alas, it was not to be, as the students dug in against the miserly Hough whilst unfurling a few boundaries at the other off Crawford-Khan. As the runs accumulated, skipper Bridgland turned to the left arm mystery of Hirst, who duly delivered via a Hough low taken screamer at backward square. With his wicket column at zero and his weekly JL point in jeopardy, Hough was quick to capitalise on the absence of neutral officials, demonstrating a soft signal of ‘out’. In what soon became a battle of wills, the senior offie’s word was duly accepted as the batsmen became the second player to ‘walk’ to leave the home side on their knees at 7-70 at the 30 over mark.

With that came the arrival of the Old Ruts n.o 9 (amusingly nicknamed ‘half price’) and the home side’s first display of resistance, as he drove and cut his way to a well made 34, shepherding the tail effectively. With ‘half price’ showing the top half how to do it and the Dulwich attack starting to look ragged, it was left to Bridgland to take responsibility and finish off the tail. This he did with the minimum of fuss to end with a fine 5-36 to wind up on the newly built O.R.C.C honours board. Other standout performances were Quaife’s 3fa, Houghy’s 12 over spell of none fa not many and Steve’s 3 grabs.

After a tidy serving of half time oranges from the O.R.C.C tea ladies that will surely put them in the higher echelons of the COT tea table come end of season, Faizal and Ted set about chasing the the 142 needed for full GinKing tokens.  With the home side’s only seamer ‘half price’ opening up into the wind up the hill and some ‘dob’ at the other enjoying what could be his farewell appearance on the main ground, scoring was tough going as both openers exercised caution via some classic defence. It was left to Faizal to break the shackles in the 4th over with the first boundary of the innings courtesy of a smoked sweep shot, quickly followed by some tidy footwork down the wicket to smear one over wide long on. Unfortunately, this is where it was to end for the young Zimbawean from the east midlands, as he was soon adjudged LBW playing one smear too many to leave the score at 1-9 off 6.  

With the dismissal of Kassam brought June’s form player Crawford-Khan to the crease. Never one to to be tied down, Zaki was busy from the outset, sweeping and bludgeoning his way to 24 before the innings’ decisive moment saw him dropped by the Old Ruts captain at wide mid on. With Towner cruising on 1 at the other end, and ‘half price’ out to stables nursing cramp on the boundary, the partnership picked up the pace against the two off spinners as both batsmen took charge at various stages, Zaki’s cutting and Ted’s driving the un-doubted features.

As the Bridgland / Balch umpiring error battle reached a stalemate at 1-1, Zaki and red ink Ed moved on serenely. Zaki was first to pass fifty, as he mixed assured defence with violent drives, while Ed gave a masterclass in how to wait and capitalise on the bad ball. As the late afternoon sun came out, the Old Ruts heads went down and victory looked ever more assured.

Then, with 10 required, disaster struck as Crawford Khan smashed a ball from the young promising off spinner into the keepers’ gloves. Awoken by the commotion, the umpire at the southern end had not a clue as to the events which had taken place, until the guilty batsman, defying the gentleman’s agreement to ‘walk’ so diligently displayed by the home side stood his ground. Head bowed with the body language of a puppy that’s weed in the kitchen, the umpire’s finger was duly raised, sending the aggressive number 3 off to the showers to end the day’s stand out batting performance at 72.  This brought the rusty Ewing to the crease whereupon he nervously defended and attempted to blast 10 balls before Ed mercifully finished the game with a spanked 4 to end 57 rouge. 

And so we returned in good spirits to the warm, sun drenched confines of Burbage Rd with yet another away win to the good. As the season takes its half time oranges, we sit 19 points behind Malden Wanderers in second and 42 points ahead of Sutton in 3rd. 

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