Sat 12th August – 4th XI v Spencer

DULWICH 138 (41.4) beat SPENCER 128 (42.1) by 10 runs

Scorecard

6.45pm Saturday: As we left the pitch, our faces flushed with the smug glow of victory, the look in the eyes of G. Hough Esq said it all. The incredulous gaze, knowing his fellow bowling-kind had once again overturned another display of batting muppetry from the Dulwich top six. Turns out the 4’s are so good at bowling, that even Will Cooper can get a wicket.

Batting first, we seemingly play a version of cricketing limbo each week – how low we can go, whilst still winning the game. Currently, our personal best for batting crappness is a 127 run turd of an innings, to beat Streatham and Marlborough. This week’s effort of 138 was equally woeful, but still enough to do the double over relegation hopefuls Spencer.

So, to the action; After a week of tense team negotiation, skipper Dixon arrived at a lush looking DSG with a side bearing a remarkable resemblance to the one chosen at selection on Tuesday – There is apparently now a waiting list to play for the 4’s longer than hip replacements operations on the NHS. He immediately caused confusion in the Spencer ranks by losing the toss, prompting their hesitant captain Hussein Jaffri to umm and ahh and eventually choose to field.

With no obvious opening partner in the team to accompany Zeeshan, the skipper naturally chose a man who hadn’t scored a single run since mid-June – himself. Any doubts around his credentials were immediately dispelled as he confidently clipped the first ball of the day off his stumps through square leg for a single.

Zeeshan, who was in convalescence from unknown surgery, was in no mood to use the lower half of his body. Facing the rest of the over from former Dulwich superstar Rehan Malik, he dispatched two fours through mid-off with typical ferocity, with bowler and batsman providing a private running commentary to each other. Whether Zeeshan told Malik, “the brighter your headband, the harder I hit the ball” was never proven.

The opening partnership ended abruptly, with the score on 28. Dixon caught at mid-off, trying to emulate Zeeshan, but without the required talent, timing, power or co-ordination. This brought Cooper to the crease, who was quickly bowled, thinking he was still playing Wimbledon last week.

Inglis arrived and plumped for some dogged stoicism. Firm in defense and grinding out runs whilst Zeeshan slapped the bowlers around at the other end – the scored moved along nicely. However, with Zeeshan falling for a power packed 47 and Kira being bowled by a ball that kept low, we were 4 wickets down and the de-ja-vu was kicking in.

Rhys Williams, back in the side after a period out injured with chronic buttock chaffing, due to an excessive cycling compulsion, made it through to the drinks break. Realising he was in the wrong underwear, he sacrificed hydration to leave the field and change into some big comfy pants, not caring that he was displaying some serious VPL when taking his guard once play resumed.

As we all know, when teams are struggling to make runs, there is always a period of comedy running between the wickets. Inglis and Williams took on the mantle this week – each channeling their inner Julian Dean to try and dismiss the other. Williams was the fall guy this time, run out after underestimating the toddler fielding at square leg’s ability to throw.

Inglis was bowled soon afterwards, after giving up playing straight and introducing a technique the skipper would be proud of. Pras came in and left a couple of balls later and we were quickly 90-7 with chief-biffer Henry Turner and chief-blocker David Woods now at the crease. So far, so Wimbledon. Their partnership was not as destructive as last week, but Turner’s quick fire 36 was enough to spread the field and get the score up. With Sunil and Swainy chipping in with a few at the end, we closed on an easy-win total of 138.

With Spencer bewildered by our universally jovial mood and multiple high fiving over tea, they began their innings with Omer Shad and Felix Lamy taking guard. Things didn’t go to plan for Dulwich, with Swainy, for once, delivering a faultless first over, each ball landing in the close vicinity of the batsman. With the guesswork taken out of batting and only one run scored, Swainy looked visibly shaken, wondering where his stock of half-trackers had gone.

Joking aside, Swainy bowled beautifully. 9 overs on the spin for just 14 runs. He didn’t get any wickets, but being the modest type didn’t bang on about how he deserved some. Much. The pressure he created on the Spencer top order with such a miserly performance cannot be under estimated.

At the other end, Sunil kicked off the Spencer collapse, removing opener Lamy with his 3rd over, a good caught and bowled despite Prasanna charging in to perform a citizen’s arrest at the same time. Sunil bowled like Sunil does every week and picked up a dreamy 3 for 24 off his 9, also bowling straight through.

By the 10th over, Spencer were already up against it at 22-3 and the Dulwich team were collectively relieved to see Aun Naqvi coming in to bat at 5, instead of anyone with a ECB central contract. With Swainy and Sunil bowled out, Skipper Dixon looked to tighten the grip on the game by introducing Henry Turner and Woodsy to proceedings.

Turner, obviously injured and looking fragile, somehow bowled with great pace and aggression in the sun for his 9 overs. He claimed three scalps – anchorman Moin Khan, gobby ‘keeper Harrison and the dangerous Naqvi, who has scored plenty of runs against us in the past. Woodsy, meanwhile took a more seductive approach to life, teasing and tempting the batsman, like a stripper with a pint glass of change, until they dropped their guard. Both were backed up brilliantly behind the stumps by ‘fielder with gloves’, Inglis, who appears to have been taking irritation classes in the evening.

At 83-7 after 36 overs, Spencer were in real trouble. Dixon had turned to his ‘next in the queue’ bowlers – Prasanna Callaghan and Will Cooper to finish off the game.

However, the visitors had a sting in the tail in the form of the enthusiastic Rehan Malik. Having started cautiously, he saw two wickets fall to leave Spencer teetering on the brink at 9 down. He realized only he could win them the game, he took the attack to the bowlers, slapping 14 off Prasanna to swing the momentum and take the score to 128-9. But this brief frisson of tension didn’t last. Cooper trundled in and cleaned up Malik as he tried to swing him over square leg. Dulwich had won by 10 runs.

This rollercoaster of a title challenge continues next week at home to bottom team Walton on Thames. With leaders Wimbledon beating Sunbury, DCC’s favourite team remain in second place, 6 points off the top with 3 games to go. Come and watch us, we are currently the best quality entertainment currently available in South London. 

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