Sunny with the chance of an apocalypse. A standard Dulwich wicket, reasonable, but not for the price.
This was a match of firsts and repeats. A first appearance for Village founding father and all round club legend AEMcC Richardson since about 1985; a first ball wicket for debutant Paige; a first trip back past that alleyway
since TdM and Loose Aussie got intimate; and certainly the first time I've ever walked into car mechanic hard at work in his overalls in search of a railway arch homed Ramen Bar. On the flip side it's very much not the first time South Bank regular opener Thornton has tonned up against us; nor the first time Cress has spanked one to a fielder when he looked like he was going to take the game away from an opponent; nor the first time Giles has hit six and out; not the first (and certaintly not the last) time The Village have celebrated a great performance in an ultimately losing cause with a few jugs in the pavillion, a few local jars of craft and a few decidedly sketchy journeys home from deepest South London.
In hindsight it's a small miracle this match went ahead at all. At one point on Friday we had 7. Andy, having agreed to spend 16 hours of his 36 hour "family" trip to London playing cricket and drinking set off from Sheffied at dawn in order to make the start (it remains unclear how Andy pulled this off, or indeed if Mrs Andy was aware we were playing in Dulwich, not Hackney); Anna raised her hand late doors; Bilal poached Sahil from his work team; Troja pulled out even later doors and finally Anna roped in Village newcome Paige; taking us to a highly improbable 11 scheduled to start the match. Bilal then had a "problem with a fuse" at this house and turned up an hour late. Presumably flicking that switch on the wall is harder in the salubrious parts of West London; maybe the switches are made of gold.
Having turned up late Bilal did at least have the good graces to take a wicket in his first over, dismissing often cantankerous opener Dollin for 10 after he and Thornton had battled through a testing opening spell from Giles and a frankly extraordinary New Ball effort from Andy who told me on Friday he hadn't played since 2016 and had "bowled a few rocks into a river" as a net.
Bilal's 8 overs for 15 were as tight a spell as I've seen him bowl; regularly beating the bat and proving tough to score off through a packed off side field. Sahil at the other end bowed a mixture of unplayable balls that missed everything and loose ones that allowed Thornton in particular to pick off runs as he does.
Enter Cress and Anna to the fray. Cress, presumably having spun the bowling-style-tombola again in the off season was bowling his leg spinners, Anna a more orthodox seam up proposition. Abbot and "Angry Dad" Hayes were both out stumped to Cress (props to stand-in keeper Pitcher for some great glove work) one off a leg side wide and one off a ball the got up a bit. Got up enough in fact that the batsman took issue with the umpire arguing, presumably, it should have been a no ball. Whether this represents a lack knowledge of the rules or of geometry remains unclear.
Anna bowled tidily and was unlucky to face the bulk of a now on-the-charge Thornton; her figures of 0-32 from 3 were actually a decent return given the oppo were shooting from the hip with batters in the hutch.
On to Paige. First ball, first wicket, chipped to Toby at mid-on off what might be best descibed as a 1.95 bounce yorker. Tight lines, a bit of wobble and a low tradjectory (being about 5' 3' helps here) proved more than a match for even the set Thornton. Figures of 1-23 off 4 death overs were marred only by the final; over having bowled the first three for tuppence.
216 the total; 217 the ask. "Gettable" they said.
To tea. No Duwich match report in recent memory would be complete without a write up of the oft maligned teas. Inch think blocks of cheese? No more. Several day old baps? Be gone. Cheeky paper ramikin of coleslaw? No chance. 2022 Dulwich teas seem to have entered a new era of bought-in generic triangular sandwich trays and Mr Kipling treats. Either that or it was special for the #plattyjubes; guess we'll find out in a few weeks.
To Batting and another run out for thr re-established opening partnership of Bosh and your author. The affore mentioned Angry Dad opened up from one end, bowling with decent pace and accuracy; though as Villagers will be all too familiar, bowlers who easily get angry tend bowl a few loose balls and so it proved in this instance; allowing the openers to make at least some progress, albeit slow. Slow, because at the other end Ramakrishnan was bowling about as quick as we'll face this season and with unerring accuracy. We discovered during our post match chatter with the oppo that he lives in India and was in the UK for a couple of months to get experience of English conditions. 'nuff said, he was decent. Decent enough to pick up one opener off an inside edge (Pontin, 9) while Bosh took one liberty too many against Angry Dad and was cleaned up in inimitable Bosh style trying to prove Elon Musk isn't the only person who can launch things into orbit, also for 9.
Begin the TdM and Cress show. Cress looked totally unbothered by the (now first change) bowling and cantered to 20 off 21 balls before slapping a pie straight to a fielder. 67 for 3. Trouble.
TdM did what he does, scoring fluently from one end and was ably supported for a time by Pitcher (13) before a mini collapse saw Pitcher, Andy and Sahil depart in quick succession leaving The Village in the mire at 109 for 6.
With TdM still in and the pinch hitting of Bilal and Giles to come, all was not lost. Bilal plundered 25 from 22 before he was caught behind off Dawson, leaving Tupper to come in, spank an imperious Six and then get out caught on the fence. In his defence the second strike would have been Six on most grounds but not to be this time.
TdM was finally dismissed with the score on 179 leaving Anna and Paige a veritable mountain to climb. And climb it they did not, Paige somewhat comically run out in a yes, no, wait, yes and ultimately no scenario. Also not a first.
Jugs were had, chat was made. Serial ton maker Thornton continues to be a frustratingly pleasant man to talk to - it would be so much easier if we could hate the peolpe who score runs against us. Paige showed off her rather terrifying "shark bite" scar, Andy held court on all matters great and small and Pitcher put his hair in a top knot. I don't know why either.
To the railway arches for Craft, Gyoza-and-Ramen-served-next-door-to-a-mechanic's-workshop and much merriment. Then home in Ubers. Oh wait, no, there was a festival emptying out in the park so instead of sleeping in an Uber all the way back to Hackney we rode a wave of unicorn and rainbow bedecked revelers across busses, tubes and trains all the way back to the relative calm and normality of Lower Clapton.
A truely quintesential Village day.