Mon 23rd October – Tour XI v Hindu Gymkhana

HINDU GYMKHANA 223-9 (35) beat DULWICH 196-8 (35) by 27 runs

As this is the first match of the tour, I thought I would begin at the beginning, in fact I have decided to go further back. As far back, in fact, as 1947.

In 1947 two momentous things happened. This country shuffled off the yoke of British Imperialism and on 23rd May of that year, your correspondent first saw the light of day in Dulwich Hospital Maternity Ward. On the same day, incidentally, as his father was playing for Dulwich second XI against Malden Wanderers. These facts have absolutely no relevance whatsoever to today's match between Dulwich and the Hindu Gymkhana. But those of you who may have listened to any match reports by this correspondent before, will be aware that relevance and sticking to the point are not necessarily hallmarks of his literary endeavours.

Indeed many of his more philistine and insensitive critics have been heard to express such an opinion in forthright and uncompromising language. Jim, “please cut out all the b0llocks” was one reader's caustic advice.

And so, without further prevarication I will turn my attention to today's game. The Dulwich selection committee, a body who your correspondent has had an uneasy relationship with over the years, decided to select 13 players for this match. It was pointed out to the selection committee that Cricket was usually played by 11 players on each side but your correspondent was curtly informed that his own presence in the side was such a handicap that two other players were required to make the game an even contest.

And so the Dulwich 13 made their intrepid way to the Hindu Gymkhana . The tour mgt. had imposed a strict health regime, necessary to success in any sporting endeavour on the sub- continent. This consists of a limitless diet of the health giving elixirs Kingfisher Ultra and Kronenbourg 1666 premium.

This stood them in good stead in the field in the sultry atmosphere of a late October Mumbai day.

Hindu Gymkhana were inserted and Dulwich quickly seized the initiative when the two biblically named Simon and Daniel Peters combined to dismiss Suhel Mistry for 5. They continued to make inroads into the Hindu Gymkhana's fragile upper order thanks to an excellent spell from Sean Middleton (3 for 21 in 5 overs and some containing support bowling from Kushal Patel and Matt Quaife.. At 134 for 7 it could be said that Dulwich's attack were like Apache Indians circling the Hindu Gymkhana wagon train moving in for the kill. They had reckoned without the arrival of the Lone Ranger alias Kevin Talati who fought off the marauders with some well aimed rifle shots (12 fours and 2 sixes) in his 94.

Nevertheless, skipper Steward was convinced that a target of 223 in 35 overs was not beyond the reach of the Dulwich batsmen, especially when he filled the engine room of the Dulwich batting order with the swashbuckling talents of Owen, Griffiths and Gibson. The tour representatives of the Dulwich 6th XI were entrusted with the responsibility of steering the ship of Dulwich Touring XI into harbour. Unfortunately, the first 2 of this unholy trinity contributed the grand total of 3 balls received and 0 runs scored. Only the septuagenarian Gibson survived for any length of time, playing an innings that lends itself to a certain alliterative style. For 26 minutes Gibson prodded, poked, pushed and pissed about, until, unsurprisingly he was told by skipper Steward to have a hoick . This he duly did, in a particularly inept fashion and holed out to his chief tormentor the slow left arm spinner Aaylish Parikh.. Gibson was accompanied during this travesty of an innings by the uncompromising Woodgate who, at one point, almost created a multiple pile up on the fast running Mumbai Coast Road with a mighty 6.

Woodgate departed and wickets tumbled like plastic balls falling into a plastic bowl prior to the 3rd round draw for the FA Cup. Slow left armer Merchant produced a fine spell of 4 for 38 (including a hat trick: again the hapless Griffiths occupying the middle slot in this achievement).

But like all good stories, this one literally had a sting in its tail. The ebullient Quaife (74) ably assisted by the pragmatic Sean Middleton (38) began to revive the, by now, almost deceased and defunct Dulwich innings. New Testament images of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead began to spring to mind as these two took the score from 80 for 8 to an implausible 196 for 8. They are to be congratulated for their fine rearguard efforts only once ever matched by Michael Caine who singlehandedly fought off 50,000 Zulus at the battle of Rorke's drift uttering the immortal words "don't throw bloody spears at me."

And so Dulwich conclude their first match with a not altogether discreditable loss. The words of Lady Macbeth immediately spring to mind as Dulwich confront the Cricket Club of India in their lion's den of the Brabourne Stadium: “Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.”

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