Sat 19th May – 2nd XI vs Guildford

On a beautiful day for playing and spectating, the 2nd XI turned up to Guildford’s new £1.6m pavilion hoping to maintain their 100% record under the regime of skipper Oliver “Vlad” Steward. These days £1.6m won’t even buy you the services of the skipper for a year’s fantasy cricket, so a new pavilion seems like good value. Indeed, new research into the Steward effect suggests that playing cricket for the premier club in South London is associated with mood swings, hair loss, and increased exposure to the shitriggus cantgetitoffthesquare pathogen.

Avoiding his first Gabba moment of the season, the skipper won the toss and asked Guildford to field. Warming up like a team on top of their game, no catches were dropped or throws mis-directed, and the standard of football was simply exceptional (footage available here).

Guy Skinner and very good looking man Ed Towner strode to the wicket to begin Dulwich’s innings. It was a particularly monumental day for Towner as Dad, a professional cricket coach no less, was due to arrive to watch, accompanied by Mrs. Tower and Mrs. Towner to be. But as the Towners approached the ground, Dad gave perhaps his most eloquent, most insightful, most accurate comment on Towner’s technique and approach to the game.

As the Towner Lambo rolled past, Dad passed his beer to his wife, leant out the window, and at the top of his voice shrieked “BORING”. Poor Ed promptly agreed, snicking off for 5.

As is the norm, finding strength in others’ misfortune, Guy Skinner flayed his way to 50ish (41) before politely guiding a catch to gully. Skinner’s innings oozed mediocrity, and his career continues to decline, a man who’s self-confessed cricketing peak was once being paid expenses to snick off against Essex under 25s. Enter Virat Hopkins who, paving the way for his subcontinental superstar cousin later in the summer, treated the four Guildford fans (one topless) (male) to a symphony of counterattacking striking before missing a straight one immediately after drinks.

At the other end, channelling his inner Steward and not hitting one off the square for the first hour of his innings, George Pearson finally leapt out of housemate Nick Gunnell’s shadow and began to sneak the ball through the inner field. Sir George to his friends, Pearson’s brain finally succumbed to low blood pressure from wearing his spray on under-13 Gloucestershire Young Cricketers kit, snicking off for 80 odd (77 off 101).

To the crease came the dear leader Olly Stewart, evidently nervous but purposeful in stride and strike rate, to kick on the Dulwich innings. A masterclass in modern cricket followed – clean striking, quick running, a performance of a true athlete in body and mind. An innings which Ed Towner described as the best 13 he’d ever seen, Steward scored 12 off 29 balls.

Gunning, Ayyavooraju, Quaife, and Khan did their best to jeopardise the setting of a competitive total on more of a road than the parallel A23, with Dulwich losing four wickets for 12 runs from 205/4 to 212/9. Specialist bowler Matt “the cat” Wright made use of all nine lives in his innings, but in partnership with genuine all-rounder Graeme Hough who finished with the second best strike rate of the innings, dragged Dulwich up to 251 all out with one ball left in the innings.

Matt “medium pacer” Wright and Matt Quaife opened up. Quaife, thinking his valuation in fantasy cricket was too high, put in a performance to achieve the maximum possible negative points score (-40 since you asked), and will feature no further in this report. Wright, however, settled into his usual military medium style – continually asking Hopkins not to stand up – and made the first breakthrough at 46/1. Taking a break from chain smoking and avidly watching the royal wedding, all-rounder Hough bowled with usual control and guile, and the Dulwich field sensed an opportunity to squeeze the Guildford batsmen harder than Steward’s anxious, anxious hands hold the bat. Despite partnerships of 50- and 80-odd, Guildford stuttered their way through the innings and a combination of tight bowling and energetic fielding kept the score 15-20 runs behind the rate throughout the innings.

Nick Gunning (born 29 July 1966) is a British former track and field athlete who won the 1992 Olympic gold medal in the 400 m hurdles. She is the only female British athlete to have won Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth titles. Born of the same bat-a-bit-and-bowl-slow-medium pace stock of Wright, Quaife, and Patankar, Gunning bowled with control and success, finishing with figures of 3/34 off 7.

At the other end, Ahmed Khan lived up to his reputation as the most promising 13-year old leg spinner since Gunning’s drift into middle-aged mediocrity. For ten critical mid-innings overs, Khan tied the Guildford middle order in knots, varying pace and length (intentionally, for a change), taking 2/34 off 10 overs. Khan’s first wicket – a googly which flummoxed Guildford’s dangerman and bowled him through the gate – saw him take off on a sprinting celebration, covering more ground than Guy Skinner’s intense cardiovascular regime does in a week. Enjoying his cricket, and contributing to the team on and off the field, Khan has already achieved more than Steward many of his colleagues.

With ten overs left, Dulwich turned the screw. Momentum continued to shift as Skinner took a regulation catch on the boundary at deep cover, and Towner achieved the cricketing pinnacle – taking a screamer at long off, pulling out the Shearer celebration, and getting a reciprocal wave from Dad on the boundary. Gunning, Wright, and Quaife bowled the final overs and nudged Dulwich over the line, winning by ten runs. A very good team performance means the 2s sit top of the table as we go into round 3.

Note from the Editor: As a result of publication, the author has received notification that “The Grade Cricketer” wish to pursue litigation as a result of alleged plagiarism. To compound matters, the Dulwich Fantasy Cricket Anti-Corruption Unit are seeking to have said author removed from this week’s matches as a result of irregular market activity prior to his performance this week. The anti-corruption unit, headed up by fantasy honcho Guy Woodgate, note that the author was dropped by several managers prior to him obtaining the worst possible score in fantasy cricket. He was also hit for six last ball of the game.

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