Dobbers: Heroes (& Villains) Of Club Cricket

Dobbers: Heroes (& Villains) Of Club Cricket

Celebrating club cricket’s dedicated deliverers of dob.

David Lloyd once described the New Zealand attack of the Nineties as Messrs Dibbly, Dobbly, Wibbly and Wobbly. While military medium has less of a place in international cricket these days, it’s always been at the very heart of the recreational game.

With no great pace, but control over line and length and doing a bit sideways on helpful pitches, dibbly dobblies remain (arguably) the least inspiring but most effective form of bowling in club cricket. Here we celebrate a few classics of the genre.

ROBO-DOB

He’s been hitting the same spot from the same end for over 30 years and barely raises a bushy grey eyebrow whether it’s blocked for none, smashed for six (admittedly a rarity) or knicked behind. Don’t bother trying to interact. Expression and emotion offer only distraction. ROBODOB is here to bowl, just there, over and over and over again.

DELUDED DOB

Aggression of Mitchell Johnson, pace of Boris Johnson. Whether it’s down to a glamorous but faded past or too much bowling at under 7s in the garden, some dobsters labour under the misapprehension that they’re quick. The run-up is fearsome, but the arm barely creaks over. All the snarl and lip of a fast-and-nasty while sending down the gentlest of cloud-skimming moon balls.

Not quite Mitchell Johnson...
Not quite Mitchell Johnson…

OUTSWING DOB

As elsewhere, but with prodigious hoop away from the right-hander. Rarely threatening the stumps but with a heavily packed 7-2/8-1 off-side field, creamed cover-drive after nailed square-cut finds its way harmlessly to the fielders. No bowler can ever have been so taken apart by the batsmen without conceding a run.

Try facing Captain Nibble on a cabbage patch, Joe Root! You couldn’t hit it with a dining table

INSWING DOB

In-duckers. Inners. Innies. In she comes, and out you go. Targeting the stumps with weary persistence, the straight-from-the-hand in-swinger might, if you’re lucky, offer you the odd leg-side wide or clip off the pads. But one thing that’s perfectly consistent is the run-up: the feet make such a well-pronounced path of prints in the turf they have to be filled back in at the end of the day. Chance of a change-up, mate?

Mark Ealham: the dobber's champion?
Mark Ealham: the dobber’s champion?

NIBBLING DOB

The trickiest customer of all. It’s just never quite there. That length, spitting and popping around the top of off, seemingly never gets old (unlike the bowler himself) and he homes in on that appalling spot with grim precision. The movement is late – just enough either way off the seam on a greenish pitch – and however innocuous it looks from the boundary edge it’s actually, indisputably, world-beatingly good. How easy do these pros have it, facing 85mph stuff every day? Try facing Captain Nibble on a cabbage patch, Joe Root! You couldn’t hit it with a dining table.

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