Thurs 2nd November – Tour XI v Roshanara Club

DULWICH 102-9 (25) lost to ROSHANARA 103-3 (14.4) by seven wickets

Once again, this fixture took on a curious turn before a ball was bowled when the DCC selection ctte. Decided to leave out the white ball specialist: “bits and pieces man” Gibson. This left many spectators in a state of puzzled bewilderment, especially as Gibson had played against the Roshanara club 24 years ago, and therefore had a working knowledge of the opposition. But this cut no ice with an intransigent selection committee!

And so Dulwich took the field already reeling from this selection error. Roshanara CC were quick to capitalise. After a bijou skirmishette with a Delhi Traffic jam, which lasted a mere 2 hours and made the Friday night trudge through the Blackwall Tunnell look like a walk in the park, the Dulwich bus finally arrived at the sumptuously appointed Roshanara Cricket Club.

Dulwich skipper Kanak Patel decided to bat first in a 25 overs match, under the excellent Roshanara floodlights, which was augmented at one end by the neon sign and logo Vegetarian Kitchen. Woodgate and Steward led the charge. However, Dulwich’s resolution suffered a severe blow when opening bowler Malik unceremoniously ripped the heart out of Dulwich’s batting with a hat trick. Steward, Bailey and Skinner were all victims to Malik’s accuracy in both length and direction.

At 13 for 4, one was reminded of John Bunyan’s Pilgrims Progress as Dulwich waded through the oSlough of Despair. Roshanara proceeded to tighten the screw even further when spinners Shiv Puri and Sahil Harneja were introduced into the attack. As the cloak of inky night covered the ground with its silky embrace and the par score of 185 in the allotted 25 overs seemed like an unattainable palm tree lined mirage in an otherwise parched Sahara Desert.

However, the pugnacious Dan Peters and ebullient Ed Middleton refused to be cowed by the ignominy of Dulwich`s disastrous start. Peters in particular pulled, pulverised and peppered the periphery of the pitch with perspicacity, permeating the field with perfection.

Meanwhile, the Dulwich President’s wife, Hazel Smith, adopted a Dickensian demeanour in a rather fetching blue chiffon shawl and lovingly anointed her husband’s bald patch with Jungle Formula anti Insect roll-on lotion. When Dan Peters prematurely departed he was replaced by Middleton the Elder: this medieval epithet characterised his innings which was full of ancient but effective strokes such as the Surrey Cut, the Devon Bludgeon and the Somerset hoick. None of these shots are to be found in the MCC Coaching Manual. Both Father and son left the scene bloody but unbowed. Ed Middleton top scoring with with an excellent 31.

The Dulwich innings eventually folded at 101 for 9 off 25 overs.

It was obvious that Dulwich would have to bowl with Ebeneezer Scrooge like parsimony, if they were to contain Roshanara’s batsmen. It must be said that Simon Peters opened the bowling with the generosity of a man who had not only won the lottery but the Billy Butlin’s Skegness 1958 knobbly knees contest and the right to free garlic chapatis for 6 months.

At the other end Kanak Patel performed with his customary nagging length that would not allow Roshanara’s opening bats to slip the leash. Ed Middleton replaced the wayward and profligate Peters and dismissed Sachin Trehan with an excellent caught and bowled. While one hesitates to place this 16 year old in the same category as Anil Kumble or Adil Rashid, there is no doubt that a bright future awaits this young cricketer.

At length, Kanak Patel decided to replace himself with an altogether younger, fitter more sprightly bowler. Dave Woods was brought into the attack. One was immediately reminded of the words of Enobarbus in Shakespeare’s great tragedy Antony & Cleopatra: “Age cannot wither him, nor custom stale his infinite variety”.

However, Roshanara’s batsmen moved toward Dulwich’s flimsy and fragile total like a pack of lions closing in on an unsuspecting and naive antelope that had become seperated from the safety of the herd in the Masai Mara. Woods eventually dismissed Sahib Karan after he had scored a brisk 43 but Roshanara passed the required total in the 15th over.

And so Dulwich continue their illusive search through the sub continent for victory. They have now played 5, lost 5, however, your correspondent has it on the best authority that Gibson returns to the side for the final game (if only in a job sharing role) but has no doubt that his return will signal an up turn in their fortunes. The Roshanara CC are to be congratulated on their win, but they should be reminded that it is only their third win in this fixture in 24 years.

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