Sat 5th August – 2nd XI v Worcester Park

DULWICH 181-7 (50) beat WORCESTER PARK 109-9 (28) by 19 runs


After a couple of damp weeks and two hollow performances, the 2nd XI welcomed Worcester Park to Burbage Road on Saturday, seeking to record a first victory since the opening weekend in July and the chance to re-affirm their promotion push. The side was missing skipper Bridgland – on demand for 1st XI duties – and Graeme 'Just Get On With It And Play' Hough, laid low by a bout of hypocrisy with a knee strain. Hirsty, last seen on Tuesday heading to the laundrette to pick up his whites, was also otherwise engaged.

The warm-up began in earnest in the new net facility, with several of the assembled contingent making serious pitches for the third or forth spinner spot – including Ben Lester, valiantly looking to overcome his 4th XI selection as a hinderance to his chances. Football followed (1-0 to the Blues, a counter-attacking move through the left wing casually finished by Jeremy Jones and an intensity-raising fielding session led by the CIO himself.

With the weather proving as predictable as The Tulsman's Friday night movements, Travis "Only 360 degree batsman in the Surrey ChampionshipTM" Scott of Worcester Park chose to have a bat first and openers Towner and Tulsiani made strides to the middle. Tulsiani immediately returned, whereupon Balch proudly joined Ed on his freshly-cultivated Dog. 

Some accurate early bowling was negotiated by the pair, complimented by the occasional piece of sweet timing – particularly from Balch, whose cut shot renaissance continues with aplomb. In fact, with Balch having forgotten to put his shackles in the kitbag the previous night, he was able to really push the initiative for Dulwich – at one stage thrashing Scott through cover and over the top for a scarcely believable three boundaries in an over. Meanwhile, Towner was 4* off 9 full tosses at the other end and really enjoying his batting.

At 60-odd for 1 in the 18th over, with Steward and Bailey reclining topless on the boundary and basking in the glorious sunshine, everything was looking figuratively and, indeed, aesthetically wonderful for Dulwich. Fast-forward two overs later and Matt Quaife is kneeled over the side of cover with a bucket as lashings of rain and hail – interjected by bursts of thunderous lightening – crashed around him.

Quaife returned to his teammates, huddled in the dressing room, looking still significantly less wet than he does three balls into his second over most weeks, to report that we were in some trouble. As the monsoon passed the damage soon become clear. A missing pipe on the middle cover had allowed a pool of water to congregate and leave an area just back-of-a-length damper than Faiz Kassam's face. All eyes looked for the Ground and Works Coordinator, who spent half an hour trying to retrieve a supersoaker from another county while captain Steward attacked the offending patch with a floor mop.

Play resumed an hour and 45 minutes later, after some good work from the Dulwich boys and the sacrificing of at least one shower towel. Balch and Towner continued ut prius before Balch cut one to a juggler at backward point for a very well made 38. 

The Prince entered the fray and straightaway confirmed Towner's rightful suspicion of the low full toss (now 4* off 12) by pumping one straight to shortcover. Steward then embarked on a run only marginally less disappointing in its outcome than the Bolt-Gatlin 100m showdown later that evening. No amount of anabolic assistance could rectify a calamitous yesnoyesnoyesyes call and he was run out by the best part of 36 yards for 1. 82-1 had become 86-4 and there was work to be done. 

Andy Bailey, and his amusingly inconsistent covering of stomach hair, helped Towner move the score on to 96 before yet more rain brought proceedings to a halt again. Tea was taken, and another 15 minutes lost. Shortly after, the dual keeper axis of Bailey and Patankar departed and we were 120-6. It was left to Quaife (19) to help push things along with Towner, now finding his range, and Dulwich posted 181-7 in 50 overs and 9 and a half hours. Towner was dismissed for an important 82 in the final over to take his tally versus Worcester Park this season to well over 200 runs.

Five men, three calculators, a NASA computer and Rinaldo's ouija board were utilised in working out the Worcester Park target – importantly remembering to carry the 0.01 and setting them 128 in 28 overs in reply.

Steward opted to open the bowling with Quaife (3-15) and the spin of Abu Arabi on the basis of trying something different, but not too different (wish we'd picked Ben Lester), and some excellent containing bowling brought a flurry of early wickets – that man Quaife removing Mayhew and King for ducks. Bowlers were chopped and changed, and Jeremy Jones (3-20) entered the fray, soon removing the very dangerous Scott and the resulting middle order to reduce the visitors to 40-odd for 6. A couple of tricky partnerships were ended by spin-twins Arabi and Balch and Toppin held his nerve with the final over to seal a good 19 run win.

A long and interesting day's cricket, one that Dulwich were decent value to win. We remain second with four games to go. We wish Quaife a swift recovery from his finger-breaking effort at long-off off Abu and hope he is able to play some part – whether on the pitch or with the other fossils (Hough) on the sideline – in the final weeks of the season. Get better soon Q!

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