Nailbiter v Dulwich - in the Captain's own words
A great privilege to captain the Club against Dulwich C.C. my favourite tourists with a heritage dating back 125 years who play the game with the right competitive spirit, sprinkled with sportsmanship and humour.
Dulwich win the toss and after a lot of indecision during the pitch inspection they decide to go back to the changing room and think about it. Ten minutes later they decide to bat. I would have done the same. Dave Roberts told me.
Civilities over, we open the bowling with Peter Catarinella from the pavilion end and Guy Ferrand making his weekend début from the Beckford End. The bowling is tight and accurate, but not much swing in the air as the humidity dissipates in the afternoon sunshine. The pitch offers a little movement off the seam but nothing dramatic; with the batsmen watchful for low bounce, it produces good attritional cricket. At the first bowling change after 13 overs, Dulwich are 18-2 and Peter and Guy have very tidy figures:
P CATARINELLA 7-3-10-1 G FERRAND 6-1-8-1
Two youngsters come on and bowl commendably. Freddie Nicoll bowling off spin from the Beckford end with flight and guile and Alfie Power testingly straight and accurate from the other. Dulwich start to increase the run rate but slowly and warily as wickets fall with worrying regularity. The boys finish with tidy figures:
F.NICOLL 7-0-30-2 A POWER 7-1-18-1
Captain and Vice-Captain take the ball for the final overs with Dulwich now desperate to get on with it. Charlie Nicoll bowls with pace and bounce from the Beckford end - a fast toe crunching Yorker crashes into the stumps ending the futile resistance of another batsman. From the other end I get a lot of tail-end tap and wallop from a batsman the umpire informs me is known by his team mates as the mad axeman. He can certainly hit the ball, but I pick up wickets and the innings ends with a score to beat of 113.
C. NICOLL 4-1-12-2 N JENNINGS 4-0-24-3
It’s a father-and-son thing as Fonthill start their reply. Hector opening with Howard and given instructions by the skipper not to run-out his Dad (ironic advice, as it turns out). Dulwich bowl accurately and runs prove hard to come by. Hector falls early and is replaced by Archie Moore who starts to pick up runs when he gets on strike and hits some glorious boundaries including a couple of super sixes. At drinks after 18 overs we are 62 for 1 and seemingly well set to win at a canter. Archie then falls for 35 shortly after the break - he’s top scorer with a very good innings high up the order.
The Dulwich bowling then starts to tighten with a ring of close-in fielders strangling every single as our run chase falters amid a middle-order mini-collapse, Guy Farrand, Jafe Ferrand and Charlie Nicoll all losing their wickets as they try to push the pace. Howard Smith resolutely remains, holding up one end until he’s cruelly run out to a direct hit as his skipper calls him for a quick one that probably wasn’t feasible. I follow swiftly getting an inside edge onto the stumps after yet another injudicious swipe.
With 5 overs to go we need 10 runs – an easy enough target but apocalyptic uncertainty is beginning to creep in with the clatter of wickets and the death knell of dot balls . But it’s Peter Catarinella who is coolness personified as he takes us over the line in the 34th over with a couple of cracking fours to the acclaim and relief of his team mates.
A very tight finish and a great game of cricket on a beautiful day, followed by beer and bonhomie with our friends from Dulwich. Special thanks to Dave and Mark for getting the pitch and ground prepared, those who helped with tea and behind the bar and not forgetting Francis who stepped up to the scoring plate in the sad absence of Frieda.
Thos were the words of Nick Jennings...….And now the story from the opposition’s point of view, with thanks to Dulwich's Jim Gibson….
Dulwich returned to the sylvan arboreal delights of Fonthill Park still nursing the wound they received from Josh White’s savage onslaught exactly 12 months ago. Those of you who were here will remember how Josh dispatched the Dulwich bowlers to most parts of Hindon, Mere and most of the other small towns to be found on the A303 between Yeovil and Andover. Whereas last year’s game was played in primary garish colours of Red and Yellow, today’s game was an infinitely more textured game full of burnt umbers, vermillions, magentas and cobalt blues. An attritional game for the connoisseur that looked more as if it were being played between Ratcliffe and Nelson in t’Lancashire League, with runs being prised from parsimonious bowlers like gold teeth.
I will not linger over the opening 17 overs of the Dulwich innings which produced a miserable 31 runs and it was not really until Comerford arrived at the crease did Dulwich look like posting anything like a respectable total. Comerford cut carved and cleaved and the scorebook tells its own story 444161144. Even the 3 members of the canine species decided to stop doing those things that dogs do on the outfield of a Cricket match and watch the match instead. But 113 for 9 off 35 overs still seemed an uneasily attainable target for Fonthill.
However, they had reckoned without the shrewd tactics of Jeff Mascarenhas who decided not to give Gibson a bowl. In addition, he displayed a shrewd tactical awareness which was most probably, directly attributable to his experiences as vice-captain in Dulwich’s celebrated 1993 3rd XI Div. 3 championship winning team where he was something of a sorcerer’s apprentice. But I digress, the fact is Fonthill toiled and laboured to attain Dulwich’s meagre total. It must be said they were greatly helped by Nick Rochford as the square leg umpire who managed to stop as many fours as he could. All five bowlers matched the Fonthill bowlers for miserliness. They could not remove Howard Smith who doggedly stuck to the task until he was brilliantly run out by John Cross. Rob Branch hung on to a good catch and Fonthill continued to lose wickets at an alarming rate, but some lusty blows from Nicoll and Catarinella saw them home with an over to spare.