Sat 5th August – 4th XI v Wimbledon

WIMBLEDON 133 (37.5) lost to DULWICH 184-9 (45) by 51 runs


If the likes of Paddy Power and William Hill took an interest in Dulwich 4XI, we would have already had their internal stat-geeks safely sectioned for their own good. How does this team defy the odds, at some point, in almost every game – from seemingly certain defeat to victory. How are we second in the league? Why does our top run scorer bat 8 and have a style so agricultural that he is in danger of losing EU subsides once Brexit kicks in…

This week’s win against league leaders Wimbledon was a perfect encapsulation of our form this year. A horrible batting performance from the top 6, rescued by some lusty blows down the order to set a target. That said, once we had 180-odd on the board, the result was never in doubt – We defend 130-150 every week. The confidence our team has in its bowlers is infectious and nobody ever lets the side down.

Arriving promptly at Wimbledon, skipper Dixon silently gave thanks that his pre-game duties didn’t regularly require him to assemble a B&Q gazebo. His opposite number Arthur Crocker, meanwhile, busied himself inserting pole B into point E, whilst ensuring the sides were perpendicular to the ground at all times.

While this was going on, our batsmen had a net and used all their runs up for the day. For a game as important as this, we had arrived with a strong side and 2 debutants, Henry Turner and Ollie Smith. We felt bullish about taking the game to the unbeaten Wimbledon side and dramatically closing the gap at the top. Losing the match would have given them a 40+ point lead at the top with 4 games to go and a likely second league title in 3 years.

Dixon lost the toss and unsurprisingly, the Wimbledon skipper asked us to have first go on a damp track, with multiple showers forecast. Under dark clouds, Siraj Durrani and Chris Stone ventured to the crease, only to run back to the shelter of the gazebo 5 balls later as the heavens opened. Unfortunately, in that time, Siraj had already been bowled.

The showers passed and we started again, only for Will Cooper to be cleaned up in identical fashion first ball. 2-2 off the first over. And for the next 90 minutes our batting effort didn’t get much better. Inglis made a decent 39, but there were few (no) highlights. With the two Wimbledon spinners, Whipple and Andrews bowling with pin-point accuracy and patience, the innings had wet-farted along to 102-8 by the time the covers came on again.

With the sun out and all bets off, Henry Turner and David Woods made a curious couple as they went back out to bat. Turner, powerfully built, with shoulders like Miranda Hart and Woodsy, wondering why he is the only man in the side with a forward defensive in his locker. However, over the next 30 minutes the two put on 62 for the 9th wicket and swung the game back in Dulwich’s favour.

Having seen Turner bat in the nets on Thursday, skipper Dixon knew he could clump a ball. And clump it he did, mainly for 4 or 6, with even a miss-hit shot clearing the rope. His clean-hitting power was impressive, demonstrated by one wince-inducing straight drive hitting the kneecap of bowler Andrews and bouncing all the way back to the wicketkeeper.

With a final 22 put on for the 10th wicket with rabbit Swain (2*), Turner had blasted 74 not out and destroyed the unbeaten Wimbledon confidence. The Dulwich bowlers smelled blood and knew there was only going to be one winner, looking forward to taking to the field with the luxury of 20 or 30 more runs to play with than normal…

With a very decent tea and some frantic prodding of an I-Phone calculator, a rain-reduced target of 172 off 40 overs was agreed. Leading wicket taker and chief odds-defier, Andrew Swaine took the new ball with man of the moment Turner. Opening up for Wimbledon were Josh Tallent and Rahul Desai. Tallent’s talent was no match for Swain, who despite delivering his usual shambles of an opening over had him caught behind by Durrani, slashing at a wide one. Turner soon got in on the act, removing evergreen danger man Husain and when Swain struck again to remove no.4 Pagett, the young Wimbledon side were under a ton of pressure at 19-3.

However, young opener Desai withstood everything Turner and Swain threw at him and will be a fine cricketer. He found support from ex-skipper Dan Peck, who seemed unconcerned about the rising run rate and the two of them ground out an attritional partnership of 20 before Turner caught and bowled Desai off a leading edge and scored himself 3 JL points with knowing such an honour existed.

Woods and Callaghan came into the attack and bizarrely both decided to bowl at the same pace. Prasanna, who was wearing the skipper’s spikes, had arrived earlier clasping only a small carrier bag of crumpled clothes and some sandwiches, in the manner of a pensioner who anticipated spending the day feeding ducks, instead of coming on as first change.

A rugged partnership of 48 had developed between Peck and Harry Thomas and although they were well behind the run rate, we didn’t want Wimbledon to go into the last 10 overs with wickets in hand.  Woodsy was the man to break the shackles, courtesy of a smart running catch by Ollie Smith. He followed this with a caught and bowled, accompanied by a slow-motion collapse to the ground, as if gravity had briefly been reversed.

Dulwich were firmly in control now, the field spread, happily allowing Peck the single and underarming the ball in from the boundary. Ben Lester picked up a couple of wickets and Woodsy claimed a third, before Prasanna took the final scalp capping a first-class bowling performance.

With Sunbury losing, it looks likely the league will be decided between Dulwich and Wimbledon. With 6 points separating the two teams, it is still theirs to lose. With both sides still having to play Spencer, Sunbury and Walton on Thames in their final 4 games, it is shaping up for another last day decider – What were the odds on that happening?

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