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Saffa’s in Choke Shocker

Old Wimbledonians were the visitors to Dulwich this week in a return to the declaration cricket format. Ilbers went against the grain and won the toss on a humid day.

Ellis and Stephens started well, putting the bad ball to the boundary. Stephens was particularly strong hitting over the top and struck 3 sixes off the medium pacers. OW’s changed to spin early on to regain some control with both Louw and Nick Driessens bowling well. Scoring became more difficult and Louw found the leading edge of Stephens bat to pouch a simple caught and bowled chance. Ellis fell soon after, also caught and bowled as he drove low back to the Louw who gratefully accepted the chance. 73-0 was soon to become 117-5 as the first 4 batsmen all gave their wickets away, before Seneviratne found the edge of DeRuyter’s bat. Fernando and Little began to rebuild and neither looked in any trouble until Whelan returned and snuck through Fernando’s defences, with the ball rebounding off Fernando’s body before trickling back on to the stumps. Ilbery was bowled soon after by Whelan to leave SMCC struggling at 163-7 on a flat pitch. Davenport was forced to retire not out due to illness, despite Louw’s insistence that the batsmen should be retired out. In the end, it didn’t make a difference as Little and Corns took the scoring opportunities available and pushed the score over the 200 mark. Little finished 50 not out and SMCC ended their innings on 211-7 off the full 55 overs.

In reply, Louw and Storm looked to start positively, taking advantage of the flat pitch and short straight boundaries. Storm was dropped in the second over off Corns but continued (curiously) to play exclusively off the back foot. His method, not for the purists…, was effective as OW’s reached 96 for 0 at 20 overs / the third drinks break for the batsmen / the first official drinks break. Having quenched his insatiable thirst, Louw decided he needed more, picked out Fernando in the deep off Ilbery and headed straight back to the bar. Storm continued his back foot hitting and moved to 50 before picking out Davenport on the boundary off Corns. King followed soon, Fernando taking a good running catch coming in off the boundary. Dunsmore came in and also had a peculiar technique, clearing the front leg for every shot. He struck some big hits in his 30 off 14 balls before picking out Corns from a long hop. Simon Driessens and Dawson looked to have things under control and took the equation down to 27 required with 6 wickets in hand and 8 overs left. At his point, Driessens drilled the ball back to Ilbery who took a stunning catch over his head. Gibson joined Dawson and they took the score past the 200 mark. At this point, the OW’s captain had stationed players at 20 metre intervals in order to retrieve the ball in the hope of getting more overs in. Unfortunately, his team were also losing wickets. Gibson went on the charge, missed and Little completed the stumping. Dawson, who had the game in his hands, tried to go big and picked out Davenport who took a good catch on the boundary. The next ball, Nick Driessens was bowled by Ilbery to give him his sixth wicket and the panic had well and truly set in. Fernando bowled the penultimate over and took the wicket of Whelan first ball, leaving a straight one. So, 200-6 with 3 overs to go, had become 203-9 with less than two overs to go. Mirtschin and Seneviratne seemed to be confused whether to go for the win or the draw and the shots played seemed at odds from the message coming from the sideline. And so it came down to the final ball with 2 required to win. The ball was squeezed down to third man and the scores were level. Another instruction from the sideline (which didn’t make it on to the field) was to go for the second run regardless as a run out would’ve meant a tied game rather than a draw and so more points for both sides. Alas, the batsmen did not get the message and the game was drawn with OW’s taking the majority of the points.

A fantastic fightback from SMCC with the skipper Ilbery leading the way with 6 for 63. SMCC were 40 runs short with the bat and early wickets would’ve made a big difference in this game, but with two frontline bowlers out, SMCC were happy to have gotten something out of the game.

Dan Ellis

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