Weather: Fine with rain showers later
Format: Timed game
Dodgers won the toss and elected to field
Buckhurst Hill 128 all out (Cousins 20-2-57-7 - new Dodgers bowling record) beat Dodgers 86 all out (Smith 31*)
Man of the Match: Cousins - 8, Smith - 1, De Bono Br - 1
Match report by Matt Taylor
Art imitated life yesterday as a small and unfancied Dodgers team made like the Liberal Democrats and punched above their weight in an exciting contest.
Although headed by a young leader, backed by one or two world class performers, Dodgers nevertheless entered their season opener at Buckhurst Hill as rank outsiders. Tested captains Neil 'Ashdown' Priest and John 'Kennedy' Carr were stranded by a volcano and on holiday respectively. Many Dodgers were running the marathon or at least watching it on the sofa with a pint of ale. The numbers did not look good.
On winning the toss, Taylor opted to bowl and took to the field with ten men, including a fielder from the opposition, an Albanian who learned the rules in the car on the way over, and a nine year old boy. Cooper (J) was struggling with injury. Buckhurst Hill's strong batting order must have fancied a landslide victory. But they didn't account for Simon Cousins. Dodgers' very own Russian-speaking opening bowler started from the far end in blazing sunshine at a quarter past two and walked off the field to wholehearted applause almost three hours later, having bowled twenty overs unchanged with figures of 7-57. The best return in the 20-year history of the Dodgers was just reward for an outstanding mixture of hard work and skill - and they helped to dismiss the opposition for 128 and give the Dodgers a clear win in the opening debate.
Defying a back injury to bowl a short spell, John Cooper hit the top of off stump early on to keep up the momentum gained by Cousins, and by debutant Ben de Bono. Handed the new ball, volcano-stranded Australian Ben quickly settled in despite little experience of competitive cricket. He bowled a tight line and got the ball to swing so much that the Buckhurst Hill batsmen almost lost their deposit. He was rewarded with two wickets for his troubles and presented with a broken stump by the opposition captain. Good fielding from all the Dodgers helped to keep the runs down - with credit particularly due to young Brandon - but the was no hiding the fact that the pitch was slower than a bus-replacement service for the Northern Line.
Openers Taylor and McBarron knew that they would have to bat for as long as possible and eke out every run from this barren track and they started well. A series of full tosses were dispatched and in what seemed like no time the target was reduced to less than 100. But sadly this proved to be a false dawn as McBarron was unlucky to be given lbw and Taylor frustrated as he failed to put away a low full-bunger and was caught at mid-off. A war of attrition began between the battery of Buckhurst Hill fast-medium and three and four - Sean Smith and Paul Redmayne. There was something of a stand off and the run rate dried up, then with Paul bowled - Tony, Jason and Ben showed that they knew how to be English by staging a middle order collapse. The tail were exposed, but Smith stood strong and started to launch the ball around the ground.
Valiant though Smith's efforts were, left stranded on 31 not out, Dodgers eventually perished for a lowly 86 and victory was handed to Buckhurst Hill. But with severely depleted resources and little match practice there was no doubt that they had made their mark. When the ballot boxes at Buckhurst Hill open for the second round in August, this commentator backs the Dodgers to return an overall majority.
Innings of Buckhurst Hill
Dan b Cousins 1
Darrull b De Bono Be 17
Aadil b Cousins 57
Ashley lbw b Cousins 3
Barry b De Bono Be 1
John b Cooper J 10
Dominic b Cousins 0
Dave b Cousins 4
Nikesh b Cousins 5
Andy b Cousins 6
Phil not out 0
Bowling of Dodgers
De Bono Be 9-0-33-2
Cooper J 4-0-9-1
De Bono J 6-0-29-0
Innings of Dodgers
Taylor (M)*+ c ? b Aadil 19 (4m, 42b)
McBarron 12 lbw b Baker 12 (28m, 20b)
Smith S not out 31 (92m, 69b)
Redmayne c wkt b Baker 6 (35m, 24b)
Tony b Aadil 0 (4m, 3b)
De Bono J b Baker 1 (3m, 2b)
De Bono Be ??? ??? 2 (3m, 3b)
Cousins c wkt b Braden 4 (10m, 4b)
Cooper J b Aadil 2 (7b)
De Bono Br b Aadil 2 (15b)
Bowling of Buckhurst Hill
Palmer J 6-2-17-0