The jolliest groundsman in the world (I find them a dour bunch on the whole) greeted early arrivals in person, and said airily "It's soft on top, hard underneath." It was certainly pretty, and the excellent pavilion was graced by a display case with the Dulwich Prep School blazer of one D. Underwood, together with his 1958 games report ("Must try harder...."). He would have liked to bowl on this strip. It ripped a mile except that Macintyre and Baker couldn't put it in the right place. It was also terribly slow, and prone to stop,so very difficult to score freely, even off the bad balls, of which, with respect to both bowling units, as we now seem to call them, there were lots and lots.
Mandarins proceeded throughout at a sedate 3 runs an over, surviving the early loss of Drew to a second snorter in as many weeks. Sam held the innings together, showing more patience than the others, and at drinks we were a modest but reasonable 70 for 3. Then the wheels came off as Eastaway, captaining the Heber XI, dismissed his opposing captain Graeme, and a youngster called Stan Parry Smith took four quick wickets. 77 for 7. Arguments about what constituted a reasonable declaration became academic, although Jonathan, making his season debut, helped the tail get past 100.
Some thought 113 defendable. An lbw for Harry Bassi with his first ball for the Mandarins (The second time this has happened this season notes the archivist - can anyone remember a previous occurrence??) gave early hope. But the rest of the Heber batting looked very solid and punished the usual clutch of half chances and misses and might have beens. It was up to the second Bassi, Charlie, to hit the stumps a couple of times to achieve respectability. Paul was hit out of the ground. I only mention this because it provided the chance for Graeme to lure two gentle womenfolk of Dulwich who were promenading in BelAir park into the stinging nettles on their side of the fence to look for the ball. The perils of a Sunday afternoon outing...
One of the Heber team summed up the day brilliantly "That was a good game, no one ended up in A&E" And the dreaded thunder never materialised either. Thanks to Rob and friends for this new fixture, hopefully to become a regular event.