Dodgers v Superstars

Dodgers (196/5, Dollin 70, Qureshi 69*) beat Superstars (195/7) by five wickets at Chiswick. Full match report by Peter Lee follows:

Dodgers' 2007 season curtain-raiser took place at an unseasonably sunny Civil Service Sports Ground and was a grudge match against the traditional rivals, Superstars. Dodgers were looking to end a long losing streak against the confident Superstars team and the start was delayed by half an hour due to the skipper's unscheduled meeting in a Barnes hostelry with several pints of bitter.

Thoroughly refreshed and with advice from the team's brains trust (Neil) to bowl first ringing in his ears, he strode to the middle and promptly lost the toss. This proved to be a tactical masterstroke as Superstars opted to have first use of a firm strip that looked likely to provide some uneven bounce but plenty of runs.

Superstars began slowly against some accurate bowling from Cousins and Cooper but once they settled, the first few overs saw innings of contrasting types from the openers, lusty blows from Conway and a string of edges, mis-strokes and generally lucky escapes for the genial Gaught. It was a surprise therefore when first blood to Dodgers came in the form of Conway, who aimed an agricultural heave at a good length Cooper delivery and was bowled. Next ball, a blatant lbw shout was ignored by the umpire who's thoughts must have been elsewhere at the time. Fox turned up late and promptly dropped a tricky chance that last season he would have snaffled like Vanessa Feltz being thrown a jam doughnut.

Cooper and Cousins continued to bowl accurately but without further luck until the latter was replaced by bowling all-rounder Priest. His first over of left arm tweak was a bag of allsorts (well, it was a bag of something) but his second over brought his first wicket since decimalisation when he clean bowled the other opener. Meanwhile, at the other end Hilary replaced Cousins and proceeded to beat the bat approximately 297 times without success, somehow conceding 51 runs in the process. Dollin dropped a tough chance off Priest and spirits began to droop.

With the runs starting to flow, Carr turned to the all-rounder partnership of Lee and Fox to try and stem the tide. Lee made his usual immediate impact when Barry sliced the second of his two opening long-hops up in the air to short fine leg where Hilary pulled off a confident catch. Lee's varied bowling entertained the spectators with a mixture of short balls, more short balls, beamers and occasionally a length ball that beat the bat. Richard Abigail completed a well-deserved half century and looked set for a big score. At the other end, the No.5 batsman was struggling to get bat on leather and was eventually sent on his way by a rancid umpiring decision that saw Lee claim his 2nd wicket.

Things were now delicately poised as Gundry strode to the crease, full of intent. However, cometh the hour, cometh the man as Fox made amends for his earlier drop with some tight bowling and three quick wickets. Cousins came back for his last two overs and between them restricted Superstars to 195-7, a total that their captain regarded as "enough".

His prediction looked sadly prescient as Priest slapped the first ball of the innings straight to Gundry and trooped off without troubling the scorers. Dollin strolled out to join Qureshi as Jacobs began his routine of padding up and "getting in the zone". In the zone was where he was to remain for over an hour as Dollin, ably supported by his partner, set about the Superstars bowling with gusto, playing shots all round the wicket including a hoicked six over a long midwicket boundary. Gundry bowled a fiery five overs that almost equalled Hilary's spell for playing and missing but he was eventually withdrawn from the attack, wicketless.

After adding 115 in just over an hour, Dollin perished lbw to Conway for a fine 70 and was almost immediately joined back in the hutch by Jacobs, caught at gully for a duck. With a further 80 runs needed, 115-3 was a good position but one in which both teams were still in the game. Lee and Qureshi put on twenty-odd runs before Lee was bowled by Weyman for 10. This was the cue for Gundry to return and he finally managed to bowl a fast, straight, full ball to bowl Carr for 5. He bowled another fast, straight, full ball to Hilary who distainfully drove it down the ground for 4, later admitting he was trying to play a forward defensive and accidentally timed it.

There were further alarms for the nervous Dodgers as Hilary chanced his arm, being dropped at midwicket by Richard. However, two imperious boundaries from Qureshi sealed a five wicket victory (or two wickets in JC2's version of cricket) with four and a bit overs to spare, made all the sweeter by Liverpool's post-match victory in the Champions League and the sight of all the Pringle-clad Chelsea "fans" in the pub in Barnes crying into their pints of champagne.

So a cracking victory to start the season off, man of the match was jointly shared between Dollin and Qureshi but this was a good all-round team performance.


Weather: Dry and sunny, brisk easterly breeze

Innings of Superstars

Gaught b Priest 49
Conway b Cooper 7
Abigail b Fox 61
Gigg c Hilary b Lee 23
Mulchandani lbw b Lee 15
Whitrod lbw b Fox 6
Gundry not out 9
Weyman b Fox 0
Taylor not out 8
Sub-total 179
Extras 16
Total 195
for 7
35 overs

Fall of wicket: 1-15(2), 2-85(1), 3-121(4)
4-168(5), 5-175(6), 6-176(3), 7-184(8)

Did not bat: Block, Kamellard

Dodgers bowling

Cooper 7-0-29-1
Cousins 7-0-29-0
Hilary 7-0-50-0
Priest 7-0-31-1
Lee 4-0-31-2
Fox 3-0-18-3

Innings of Dodgers

Priest c Gundry b Kamellard 0
Qureshi not out 69
Dollin lbw b Conway 70
Jacobs c Taylor b Conway 0
Lee b Weyman 10
Carr b Gundry 5
Hilary not out 17
Sub-total 171
Extras 25
Total 196

FoW: 1-0(1), 2-119(3), 3-119(4), 4-140(5)

Qureshi/Dollin 100 partnership in 65 minutes

did not bat: Cousins, Fox, Matthews, Cooper

Bowling of Superstars

Kamellard 4-0-36-1
Taylor 6-0-37-0
Gundry 7-3-18-1
Block 4-0-42-0
Conway 3-0-15-2
Weyman 6.5-0-42-1

Man of the Match: Dollin (5), Qureshi (5)