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Mallards v Genetics August 10 @ Riding Mill

OK, gentlemen… I now call this Extraordinary Meeting of Mallards CC to order.  Honorary secretary: can you please remind us as to the agenda, if you would be so kind.

Yes, Chair. It is to produce a report for the 2021 Jon Robb Trophy Match against Genetics .

Well, this is one of our most important fixtures.  Can I ask why we are called upon to do this?

Indeed, Chair: one of our long-established members volunteered for the task but the event seems to have slipped past what he calls his ‘memory window’ and when he did find himself putting pen to paper, he apparently produced  minutely detailed recall of a match on the Heaton medicals ground, against the same opponents (with some of the same players) that took place in June 1987.  About the 2021 match, however, he had no recall whatsoever, rather like certain politicians and their Christmas parties, in fact.

Well, let us see what we can recall – or glean from the scratchings and scratchings out in the official scorebook.  Mr Secretary: can you please make a note that we need to send some of our members to do a training course in How to Score?

Well, Chair, we do try to raise our skills…  Sending one of our members on the ‘How to Umpire’ course several years ago had a great effect on the team – though not so much in the correctness of his decisions.  Apart from there being fewer on-field altercations with T. Cleaver, the main effect on our performance was through the course recipient choosing to umpire rather than actually play.   The course labelled ‘How to Score’ prompted early interest among active members, but that interest quickly faded when it became known that this was to do with scorebooks.  Hence, in our scorebook, the ‘scoring rate’ column, ‘fall of wicket ‘data and bowler’s boxes should always be regarded as having an accuracy of +/- 47%.

Thank you, Mr Secretary. Perhaps we have to see this as another cricketing tradition of Mallards with which we should not interfere…

Now then, recalls, gentlemen…

Genetics opted to bat, and set a competitive total.   Mallards skipper, Dave Cox, in keeping with the sporting nature of the occasion, adopted a two-overs-each format.  Without any intervention from the captain, Tony Cleaver, was soon steaming in from his choice end to get the contest underway.  He was met with an aggressive response, before bowling D. Taylor in his second over. Hamid somehow contrived to drop a straightforward catch in the field, but then produced a brilliant piece of fielding to atone, running out the free-hitting Richardson before he had caused too much damage.   J. Bennett was in no mood to hang about, either.  He hit six 4s off 17 balls to reach 30 and return to the pavilion, his job done. Against the keen hitters, the six overs from Cleaver, Potts and Hamid had gone for nearly 50 runs.

The match was clearly favouring Genetics at that point but their progress was then pegged back somewhat, as different players, on both sides, strode onto the arena.  The Genetic pool was suddenly becalmed.   Stone (1-10), Steele (1-7) and Cox (0-7), ably backed up by the Wilsons and – at the death – by the lively Ankush (2-4) applied the brakes.  In fact, the dismissal of Bullock by Ankush was another key moment in the game: the quick-scoring number 8 was threatening to give a late boost to the opponent’s total.

Wilson Jnr contrived to produce a remarkable spell of two overs: one containing five wides/no-balls, the other, a maiden.  As a blurred streak around the pitch, he retrieved many lost causes, as well as athletically catching Tarbuck.  Potts similarly plucked from the air a hit from Mitcheson.

The sporting opponents were, despite benefiting from 17 extras, restricted to 118-6 off their 18 overs.  The home team required 119 to claim the much-coveted trophy.

When Mallards batted, Ankush rushed out of the traps.  He hit the first ball from Tarbuck for a high four, and the third one was similarly dispatched.  His sparkling knock of 32 was achieved in 16 deliveries – with only five recorded dot balls.  He hit four 4s and two 6s, the second which signalled his retirement.   Opening bowlers, Tarbuck and Sid Mitcheson, were glad to see him make his way back to the pavilion.

In the overall context of the game, the early scoring rate gave the Mallards a decisive advantage.

Glen Steele will be pleased to see that this report is at last being revealed to the many cricket enthusiasts who keenly follow the Mallards.  After a steady start – officially, four off the first 15 balls he faced – when Ankush departed, he put began clipping the ball around in his Gower-esque fashion, and contributed 25 before J. Bennett got through his defences.

Dave Cox, batting no. 3, left us with the memory of a classic six hit, but soon fell to a wicketkeeper’s grasp off Brian Taylor’s bowling – the tall right-hander finishing with figures of  3-11 off 3.  Hamid piled the pressure on Genetics.  He also showed an accelerating scoring rate to reach 34 not out with a heavily clubbed 6.

Rob Wilson brought some stability to the run chase.  His measured, circumspect style allowing the overworked scorers back in the pavilion to catch up with their quality assurance processes.  [Who bowled the over before last, then? … No, no, I have 4 byes…].  He possibly had in mind the need to provide a role model for Ali Wilson, his son, batting at number six, who fell to the second spell bowling of veteran, Mitcheson, with only dots to his scorebook entry.

Potts came in to partner the impregnable Wilson Sen. for the final overs.  The two made an unhurried 6 and 7 respectively to make it a nervous ending for watching teammates, easing the score (allowing for the 7 extras) to a winning 119-3 in the final over.

The trophy had been brought home – and without needing to call upon the batting prowess of Messrs Latif, Stone and Cleaver.

Speeches and the presentation of the trophy followed, as the orange sunset glow faded from the encircled (socially-distanced) teams on the splendid Riding Mill ground.

A match to savour, Jon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ali Wilson

Age: Imagine a baby-faced assassin. That’s how old he is

Specialism: The boy can catch flies. Hands like buckets. He loves catching things so much he even caught his head once (see above).

Profile:  Ali is living proof of the triumph of Nurture over Nature as anyone who has seen his dad play will testify. Ali is a brilliant fielder, a promising batsman and we are eagerly awaiting him getting a chance to turn his arm over next season. None of these things apply to his old man.

Favourite colour: Green (Due to his novice status in the team. At his current rate of progress up the team’s form ratings we may soon have to change this to Gold)

Nickname: Butterfingers (Those who believe that irony is dead have never read the Mallards website)

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Mallards v Belmont Knights  June 1 @ Riding Mill

Way back in the mists of time (well June) the Mallards were in what can only be described as a ‘hot streak’ of form. A passer-by walking their dog asked for an account for such unprecedented success cited the activities of local Riding Mill witches. Through a barely decipherable Northumbrian accent allied to local historical research (painstakingly put together over months by your intrepid match reporter) the tale that emerged was that this was a result of various ungulate crossroad-based deals being made with half-naked Mallards Captains (on this occasion Buckley) at the eponymous Witches Wood. Twisted Willow, representative of the coven, speaking from her cavemouth entrance claimed “Rumours that we are in any way related to Gareth Taylor are scurrilous and we refute any allegations that we have any relationship to any of the strange behavioural rituals at the so-called cricket field. Anyone making such slanderous accusations will be hearing from our lawyers Low, Bounce and Stumped”. Well, that’s that cleared up then (or is it?). Let us examine the evidence and dear reader (if you are still with us) you can make up your own mind.

So it was on a Sunny evening the gentlemen of Belmont Knights CC arrived to play Mallards. Captain Buckley winning the toss elected to bat and the home team entered the field to the enchanting late afternoon sounds of the Northumbrian countryside – a few birds, sheep and the roar of a motorbike past the ground. Kent, who it was said was in the middle of a good run of form, and Steel opened the batting and faced some tight overs from the Knights. Kent swiftly departing muttering incantations for a duck caught off the bowling of Gimpic bringing in Stone who quickly returned to the pavilion after a flashing four (bowled Madley) followed by Wilson who made 2 (bowled May).

First blows to the Knights. Steel who had found the ball initially difficult to get away was joined at the crease by Avtar and after a short period of settling in mayhem broke loose with a truly extraordinary passage of play the ball flying to and over the boundary at all angles. Avtar leading the way retiring with a fiery 31 from 19 balls. Steel who had got his eye in began to get in on the act having` been joined by Cox.  A veritable tonking of the first and second change Knights attack continued with bowlers Green, Power, Hall and James all on the end of an unheralded sequence of Mallard scoring – Steel retiring for 31 from 21 balls and Cox leathering 32 from 16 (including two sixes from his last two balls). And although wickets fell the pace continued with Hall making a quick 4 (bowled) Buckley 9 (run out), with McCaffrey contributing a corking 17 not out joined at the death by Potts who made 5 not out from 3 balls. Along with a fine contribution from extras of 27 Mallards total was a spellbinding 156.

Was there any way even Mallards could lose with such a titanic total? Knights took up the gauntlet and bravely took to the field to face a bowling attack led by Cox and Potts. Cox, who was in fine all-rounder form, taking the wicket of Gimpic, caught by Latif from his third ball and finishing with 1-8 from 4 overs. Potts was equally miserly with 0-11 from 3 overs. First change brought in Stone and Latif who maintained the pressure with Timblin for the Knights struggling to get the ball away and eventually also caught by Latif for 4 off Stone’s bowlign. Bradley, who did move the score along then departed for 29, also bowled by Stone. The loss of his wicket signalled the last meaningful resistance from the Knights whose batsmen faced a thicket of fielding wizardry from the Mallards, notably Buckley stumping from the bowling of the tricky Latif who also conjured a third catch from the bowling of Hall. Knights finished on a total of 90 which on a different occasion might have been relatively competitive but were lanced by a combination of a bowling and batting performance not seen in many a long weekday evening (or perhaps ever in the Mallards history) indeed possibly enough to win two matches.

This is one contibution to the cauldron of a successful season which some passers-by have attributed to witchcraft, statisticians have politely described as an outlier or a ‘dipstick’ outcome, or what Nitsch might argue as careful shepherding of the fixture list. The reality is that this sort of ‘form’ has contributed to wider questions about the governance of the gaming industry by HM Government particularly around spot betting.

Is the explanation our Captain’s cavorting in the local Woods or Mallards players on their mobile phones to darkened speakeasies across the globe leaking improbable match events to incredulous gamblers (Retirements and Catches rather than Run Outs and Ducks) during games? Whichever it is we need to be mindful of the price to be paid when winning in such a fashion at that magical game of the leather, cork and willow… we may need to change our club name!

 

 

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Hamid Malik

Age: With that much hair he can’t be any older than 30

Specialism: We haven’t yet found anything he can’t do well. He’s like the Denis Waterman of Mallards. If we ever need a theme tune he’d probably write it and sing it.

Profile: Used to be the quiet man of the team but since the recruitment of his partner-in-crime Ankush we’ve discovered that he’s actually quite a chatterbox. So much so that he recently became the umpteenth captain of Mallards this season. Rain saved us that day so if he never does it again Hamid can claim to be the only unbeaten captain in the club’s history.

Favourite colour: Green

Nickname: Those movie star looks mean it has to be Bollywood

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Mallards v Kings School Old Boys August 18 @ Riding Mill

This has been something of a watershed year for the Mighty Mallards – dragged kicking and screaming into a new dawn of youthful promise and modern technology. We have left behind outdated preconceptions – like losing the majority of our fixtures – and stepped into the ‘big data’ age where Dave Cox (aka statto) has furnished us with career statistics. We are almost privy to state of the art facilities at our home ground – lights in the changing room and showering facilities with beer in the fridge – whatever next?

So why the improved performances? The motivation of knowing that another 10 runs will take someone to the dizzy heights of 200 career runs or that another wicket would edge closer to the GOAT that is Andy Dunhill? Is the ongoing development the result of a sound youth policy (someone has to fetch the ball from the farmers field) or a widening of the Mallardian net far and wide to bring in competent players as ringers?

A case in point is the regular fixture with our old adversaries the KSOB. No longer in this new age the fear of a jolly good ‘tousing’ from our friends from Tynemouth. Stories are told by Mallards stalwarts down the years of heavy defeats – of old stagers chasing around outfields and facing ‘kings of spin’ leading to embarrassment. No more was the cry…..

Mallards fielded first – no longer to hide embarrassment of a potential low score to make a game of it. Quite simply, confidence is high and what followed was (perhaps) one of the best all round displays in the field (we all agreed as much!) of all time. The bowling was exceptional and the fielding equally so, both ground fielding AND catching (yes! I repeat, catching).

KSOB openers were Moir and Menton (H), the latter having something of a charmed existence. He tried a range of modern batting theories (ramps, charging pace, pre-meditated sweeping), some of which came off, but others were distinctly lucky in their outcome. However, the old adage of ‘have a look in the scorebook, mate’ applies and he retired having made 32 not out – somewhat astonishing. At the other end there was a steady flow of wickets as a result of an excellent bowling performance – so much so that no other batter scored double figures. The opening bowlers maintained tight discipline with the ageless Cleaver recording 1-16 from his 4, and Cox (he of complex macro fame) 1-18 off 4 (including a maiden).

However, the real ‘coup de grace’ was provided by the middle overs attack of Latif (4 overs 3 for 11) and Malik (4 overs 3 for 18) who wrecked the KSOB middle order. This was achieved through great bowling, but also the support of the fielders. The catch that dismissed Weston (7 ) off the bowling of Latif was a candidate for the Swoop Fielding Award. Weston hammered the ball to square leg and Cox diving down and forward took a brilliant one-handed catch. A worldy (a much overused phrase, but entirely apt in this case)!! There was another catch for Wilson The Younger who seems to be something of ball magnet. He has a growing reputation for reliability in catching and he can run as well – a significant addition from the Mallards youth development plan. (Webmaster note: The report author Steel modestly left out his fine slip catch early on and, more outrageously, a great take by the Webmaster himself low-down at mid-on)

The bowling was effectively completed by single overs from Holland (0-2) and Butcher (0-9) resulting in an eminently gettable score of 81-8 from 18 overs.

Steel and Wood set out at a leisurely pace given the required run rate. They did however resist Gowar, a very pacy opening bowler (2 overs 0-4), and Black (3 overs 0-13), a previous nemesis of the Mallard’s batting line up in an opening partnership of 33. Just as they stepped up the rate Steel (18 runs from 28 balls) decided to ‘take on’ mid-on to increase the run rate but succumbed to a direct hit due to the fielder’s crown green bowling skills. Steel was replaced by Wilson The Elder (7 runs) who struck a fine boundary, but perished caught and bowled to Menton (K).

Unfortunately, Wood, after helping take the score into the 60s, needed to retire hurt (20 runs from 32 balls) due to the aggravation of a long-standing Achilles injury, leaving the youthful Wilson The Younger and Malik to take up the run chase. For a short time, it seemed that Mallards would succumb to the old failings, but not this  team! With consummate ease Wilson (7 runs from 7 balls) and Malik (15 runs from 9 balls) strode to victory meeting out severe punishment to the KSOB bowling attack, giving Mallards a comfortable win with 4 overs to spare and only two wickets down. An excellent win for the resurgent Mallards, supported well by superb bowling and fielding and a batter called E.X. Tras who contributed 16 runs to the winning chase.

In these days of new technology, many retired to the clubhouse for a visitation to the fridge for a well-earned beverage – bought by contactless card no doubt. Just wait ‘til they wire up the showers!!

 

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Mallards v Belmont Knights August 5 @ Belmont

2021 has been Mallards busiest season in recent memory with nigh on 30 fixtures on the list, something that has sent the club’s scouts far and wide in search of new talent. With Durham’s match in Gosforth proving too much of a draw for a number of regulars, the scouts’ abilities were put to the test. Despite bleak reports coming from the selection committee throughout the day, we somehow scraped an XI together, with the 40th, 41st and 42nd players to don the duck this year stepping up for the occasion.

Team preparations were further disrupted by a forecast that was bleaker than the selection committee’s reports, as well as what the tabloids would call “TRAFFIC HELL” on the A1 delaying a significant chunk of the team. That part however made the Cox’s job as Skipper a bit easier; it’s not hard to nominate your top four batsmen when you have only four players…

With dark clouds on the horizon, the match got underway with Cox and Wood starting things off for the ‘Lards. The pitch, which was described by Cleaver in a manner that can’t be repeated here, proved to be somewhat variable but with some width on offer from the bowlers, the openers settled into their task. Wood may have settled a little too much, but the runs started to flow from the other end as Cox found the boundary repeatedly; the latter hitting seven fours to retire on 32. New Mallard, Cartledge slotted in nicely at three and was able to keep the runs flowing.

The fifty came up after just six overs (Wood: 2*) and things continued in this spirit with Cartledge clearing the boundary on a couple of occasions. Brimming with confidence, he was then bowled, and deservedly so, while attempting a scoop shot. That sort of thing is typically grounds for exclusion from Mallards, but we’ll let him off with a warning. Score 75/1 after 10 overs. Wood: 10*.

Green at four, aware that he’d have to be the one to score the runs in the partnership, swung and missed a straight one, but that brought Dhillon to the crease. Thirteen balls, four fours and three sixes later Dhillon retired on 34. Browne was next in and signalled his intent by smiting his first ball for four, all in after the 15th over we were sitting pretty on 124/2. A couple of short showers threatened to disrupt things but failed to turn into anything serious.

Wood started to pick up the pace with a few boundaries, including a glorious lofted straight drive that he insisted I mention, and reached 30 to retire leaving only a handful of balls for New Mallard, Goodger to face. Goodger looked to keep the runs coming but was unable to connect, making  the second duck of the innings. Not-New Mallard, Stone was unable to get the last couple of balls away, but we had amassed a very handy 158/3 from our 20 overs, Browne finishing on 23*.

After a quick turnaround, Cleaver was soon storming in for the start of the second innings, and was on the money from the start. Partnered with Goldsborough at the other end they were asking all sorts of questions of the openers. Goldsborough struck first, removing Monaghan with a beauty before Cleaver picked up the other opener Dobson in the third over. This was the start of a remarkable four consecutive maiden overs by the opening pair.

Dhillon was introduced as first change in the 7th over and struck with his first ball which skidded through the defenses of Dimple. Score at 13/3. Cleaver finished his spell with the impressive figures of 4-2-3-1. Dhillon struck again in his second over to keep the pressure on. Latif at the other end was showing off his new “long run” and seam-up style but took a while to find his line. Keeper Wood was kept busy all evening with the variable bounce really putting him through his paces, only conceding two byes was an excellent effort. Good thing he didn’t tire himself out too much with the bat.

The rain finally arrived and forced a brief halt, but fortunately the shower blew through and play soon resumed. After 10 overs the score was 32/4 and Cox started to rotate the bowling. Cartledge and Goodger each had a couple of overs, with Goodger bowling Pennels in his first over. However the Knights’ middle order was starting to fire with Mason in particular finding the boundary regularly. However it was too late at this point and the asking rate was climbing.

Stone and Cox closed out the innings with Stone bowling Mason for 26, with the innings closing on 111/6 for a 47 run win. In the end there was just enough time to squeeze the 20 overs in before the light really disappeared. Credit to the Knights for getting a game in at all but fortunately the rain wasn’t as bad as it could have been and we were able to get the match completed. Thanks also to Mrs Cartledge for taking on the scoring and keeping an immaculate book.

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Mallards v Wearmouth July 20 @ Wearmouth

The trip south to play Wearmouth, new opponents for the Mallards, took place on a gorgeous July evening . Wearmouth batted first . Opening the bowling for the Mallards were the hardened cricket Academics Messrs Cleaver and Stone . Cleaver taking a little time to adjust his sights was soon in full swing taking the wicket of Whitaker lbw for 1 in the 3rd over.

New batsmen Aslam was run out brilliantly by Dhillon snr for 4 in the 5th over, the score 31 for 2 . Cleaver was in his stride, rolling back the years and striking again in his last over, having Wayman caught for 2 by Dhillon snr. Stone, who had started well, but had leaked a few runs fought back in his final over taking the wicket of the Wearmouth skipper who was looking dangerous for 14, caught by Dhillon snr with a juggled effort.  Stone finished with 4 overs 1-37 and the evergreen Cleaver a fantastic 2-22 off his 4 overs . After 8 overs Wearmouth were 62-4.

Wearmouth opening bat M Ahmed retired on 31 . New batsmen Brigham and Houghton steadied the Wearmouth innings with Latif and Malik the change bowlers for the Mallards . Latif took a little heat in his last over and finished with 0-31 off his 4 overs Malik with good lines finished with a very credible 0-20 off his 4 overs including a maiden . Wearmouth after 16 overs were 114-4 . During this time a very weird but typical Malllardian conversation took place between Skip Buxom and Vice Skip Stig, being the cricketing parents of the writer, and fighting over who was mummy and daddy . The writer was freaked out recounting this especially as it is now 11.27 pm. I need a pick me up to keep going (whisky or a joint ok, settle for warm milk )

Dhillon snr and Stig finished the bowling for the Mallards . Both Brigham and Houghton retiring with well made scores. Dhillon snr bowled S Donkin for 1 . Dhillon snr finished his 2 overs 1-9. Stig taking thewicket of Kay with his first ball, took a bit of stick in his last over and finished with 2 overs 1-16. Wearmouth finished with 139 -6. (It’s now 11.36pm )

Mallards, packed with a strong batting line up, opened with Ankush and Malik and set off with a flurry of runs . After 2 overs they were 24-0 . Malik was first out, caught for 9 off the bowling of Thompson in the  3rd over . A familiar Mallards collapse had begun. Saif was out for 1 in the 5th over off the bowling of Donkin . Dhillon snr was out for 6 off the bowling of Brigham . After 8 overs Mallards were 40-3, needing 100 off 12 overs .

Ankush played some great shots but was then bowled by Philliskirk for 20 . Green with his crab-like batting stance looked well set but got impatient and was stumped for 7 . Dhillon jnr was bowled for 0 by Philiskirk, finishing with a brilliant 2-2 off his 2 overs. Mallards were 58-6 off 13 overs with chances of victory slipping away . Skip Buxom played a few crisp shots but was out caught off the bowling of M Ahmed . Cleaver was run out for 0 . Latif was joined at the crease by Stone and they went about the last 2 bowlers to some effect . Latif retired on 30 off 19 balls with four 4s and Stone was left on 9 not out . The Mallards finished on 110-8 off their 20 overs.

The Wearmouth lads seemed a good bunch and we hope this fixture continues in years to come.

It’s 11.55 pm the Writer has done it !! Please don’t say it’s been f…ing done before !!

Last thing do I bat or bowl tomorrow mummy and daddy ?

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Mallards v Davipart July 14 @ Riding Mill

There is little doubt that when historians come to review the year 2021 it will go down as one of the strangest in history.  Most books will be filled with stories of lockdowns, vaccines, masks and social distancing. Others will talk of an England football team which unexpectedly won the hearts of most of the right-thinking (left-thinking?) nation with their actions on and off the field. Finally there will be the story of how Mallards CC somehow blossomed into a battling, never-say-die, hardened unit of elite cricketers, claiming victory after victory, often from the slavering jaws of defeat. Then there will be tale of the day they reverted to type. Sadly, this was that day.

Things began brightly. The sun shone, the Mallards golden duck ominously glinting in the light, winking out from eleven pristine white shirts as the home team took to the field, full of confidence.

The first over went well, shrugging off a four from the first ball, Ankush fired down five dots to steady the ship. Stone was a little more costly, leaking ten runs from his first over but again Ankush led the fightback, claiming the wicket of Dhillon (G) for just 4 via another splendid and almost effortless catch from Wilson the Younger.  With only five singles coming from the next two overs as both bowlers found their stride, the opposition were sitting on an unspectacular 26-1 after five overs.  Game on.

In a sign of things to come Stone’s next over saw the nearby football training dispersed as the players dived for cover from two enormous sixes and he finished with 0-26 from three.  Ankush finished his admirably tidy spell of 1-16 from four.

Browne, nursing an injured shoulder, started superbly, his first two overs going for just seven runs and though Latif took some stick in his opening over he struck back impressively in his second, triumphantly claiming the wicket of workmate Vasa – another superbly confident catch by the young Wilson.  Not to be outdone, Brown claimed another wicket in the very next over, this time Latif switching roles to take yet another fine catch in the deep as Ladhar went for 23.  Was this to be another great fightback by the newly resilient Mallards? With Davipart having been held to 83-3 from 13 overs and the middle-order exposed things were looking up.

Unfortunately that middle-order would have been better off left in the pavillion. Two more sixes from Browne’s next over (1-29 from four) and ten runs from Latif’s final offering (1-34 from four) somewhat dampened the home team’s spirit.

The next few overs saw a succession of batsmen retiring on 30-ish, opener Sandhu (S) was the first with 32, closely followed by Dhillon (A) after a rapid 30 as youngsters Holland (T) (0-33 from three) and Wilson (A) (0-22 from two) gamely tried to stem the tide.

Unfortunately, the youngster Azam was now at the crease and after a sketchy start he unveiled a series of huge shots, including four more sixes as he raced to 32 and a quickfire retirement. Davipart more than doubled their score in the last seven overs to reach a mighty 169-3 from twenty.

It’s fair to mention that Mallards fielders in this innings were pretty much exemplary, three terrific catches, some excellent ground fielding and barely a misfield, despite the barrage of big hitting going on around them. Only Browne’s dropped dolly marred the show but, you know, the man’s got an injured shoulder so he’s forgiven. (Something he subtly emphasised by massaging it continuously for the next few overs after the ball hit the deck).  On the downside the wides totalled 23, including two fives.

Ankush and Wood began Mallards reply confidently, undaunted by the distant target and after three overs the home team had raced to 24, almost bang on the required rate. Sadly they had also lost Ankush, plumb lbw to Thompson for 13.  Wilson the Elder came and went quickly, snoozing gently at the non-striker’s end when called through for a single but Lucas came in like a man on a mission and the scoreboard began to tick over again and after seven overs they were on a splendid 47, three runs ahead of Davipart at the same stage. Unfortunately they had also lost Wood in that same over, inside edging the veteran Thompson onto his stumps for a solid 16.

The game changed dramatically, however, with the introduction of two new bowlers, Singh and Marley.  Holland (T) came and went quickly, bowled by Marley for seven bringing skipper Buckley to the crease. One ball later he was back outside the pavillion, polishing his golden duck, a stunning slip catch having continued his recent unfortunate run of low scores.

Holland (S) successfully survived the hat-trick ball but then perished in Marley’s next over for 0. Mallards had dived from a high of 43-2 to 57-6 in almost forgotten traditional fashion.  Browne, however, was having none of this collapsing nonsense and strode to the crease to smash two consecutive fours from the previously deadly Marley. Unfortunately, at the other end, Singh decided to join the party,  removing the sturdy Lucas for an excellent 15 and then providing Wilson the Younger with early membership of the Golden Duck club, bowling him off his pads for 0.  At least skipper Buckley had someone to compare notes with back on the picnic tables – misery loves company.

Latif gamely survived the second hat-trick ball of the innings but 65-8 quickly became 67-9 as Browne provided Marley with his fourth wicket and the game was up when Latif ran himself out for 1, the resolute Stone remaining unbeaten on 4 and the total creeping up to 72 all out as Mallards narrowly avoided a 100-run defeat.

Normal order had been well and truly restored. In future years youngsters Holland (T) and Wilson will fondly reminisce about this match – the day they learned what the Mallards were really all about and the kind of scorecard that started the whole thing off (see above).

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Mallards v Riding Mill June 30 @Riding Mill

Dearest cousin Eglantine,

Forgive me: it has been some two years since my last monograph [see Mallards v Wolsingham CC @ Beamish, 21 July 2019].  Distracted as I am by my continued difficulties in synthesising Byron’s use of Spenserian stanzas with the third Canto of Scott’s Marmion, my lack of correspondence is perhaps matched only by my failure to keep abreast of events in Her Majesty’s Empire.  The London Times reports that the overland route from China via the North West Frontier has been closed for a while, and that the steam-packet journey from Peking to London (via the Colony of Aden) must now be followed by a period of ‘quarantine’.  This might explain why my ‘contacts’ from Scotswood Road claim that ‘supplies’ from China have ‘gone dry’.  How peculiar: has something happened whilst I have been ensconced in the library of my country house and estate at Broomhaugh Towers, Riding Mill?  [Tiresome historical allegories, drug references and allusions to the pandemic aside, mention must be made of ‘Stig’ at this point: get well soon, mate]

You might recall that my last letter recounted the glorious tableau that was a fixture between Mallards CC and a Wolsingham CC XI at Beamish Village.  Acting on advice from my good friend and fellow ‘Black Drop’ enthusiast, Thomas De Quincey, I sought to counter my recent restlessness by an evening perambulation around the grounds of Broomhaugh.

Oh Eglantine! How joyous I am to attest that it was my miraculous fortune to see that the ‘gentlemen’ Mallards had emerged from what I am told is known as ‘isolation’ to do sporting battle with the ‘players’ of Riding Mill CC!  What bliss it was in that evening to be alive, but to be reacquainted with the Mallards (and with Professor Stone’s ‘flashing blade’, more of which later) was very heaven!

After summoning a man to find and erect a deck chair for my use (Stone, 2019), I settled in to observe the spectacle.  Cognisant as I am of the ease with which Mallards are distracted, not least by the beer, fish ‘n’ chips and boiled sweets that were on offer at Beamish Village, I decided to watch from a discrete distance; the bushes at the Jon Rob benches end providing suitable cover.  Nevertheless, I was close enough to hear the respective tactical discussions, the contrasts being rather stark: those representing Riding Mill CC referred to batting orders and their recent performances in competitive cricket, whilst Mallard’s strategy was seemingly typified by Dr Cleaver, Dr Green and Dr Steel, their discourse failing to extend beyond the extent to which Mr Browne’s shoulder injury might affect his onanistic abilities.  Hosts Riding Mill CC also engaged in a somewhat vigorous physical warm up.  I am thankful that Mallards, not least given Mr Browne’s alleged (self) interest, did not.

Apologies, my dear Eglantine and to those more ‘serious’ cricketers for whom this account may be of import.  One’s composure being rather shaken by such prurience, memories of the opening passages of play are a tad hazy.  Well, that and having to ration my use of ‘nerve dampener’ due to what the local villagers refer to as ‘these strange times’.  One does hope that my beloved Percy Shelley is continuing to ‘chase the dragon’ with greater regularity.  Despite being provided, post-match, with a lithograph of the scorebook by that most gentlemanly of Mallards, Mr Latif (L), my eyesight seems to offer less than perfect acuity and this report is, perforce, a touch abridged.

I do remember that Mallards batted first, the experienced Dr Steel and captain Mr Cox displaying superb courage in the face of some impressive opening bowling by Smith and Frazer.  Pressure mounted to the extent that the steady initial scoring became increasingly punctuated by ‘dot-balls’ and some near misses.  Dr Steel was the first to fall for nine, including two sublime boundaries, caught off Frazer by the ever-cheerful ‘keeper (and sometime Mallard) Kent (about whom I will expound in greater detail later).  I must remember to invite Dr Steel for tea, tiffin and a symposium on coitus interruptus at the Newcastle Lit & Phil.

The magnificent Mr Malik was next in, only to be bowled (Frazer) for an uncharacteristic one.  Master Holland (E) joined the fray with the score at 12-2.  Energy, skill and determination abounded in what was an all too brief innings.  Distracted, perhaps, by unsolicited advice on his A-Level choices from Dr Green, he left after adding five, caught and bowled by Mallinson.

Debutant Mr Maltman [welcome, Glenn], recruited by that great master of contemporary prose Mr Wood, joined the redoubtable Mr Cox with the score at 24-3.  Maplesden (M) had by now joined the attack from the Job Rob benches end.  His accurate bowling soon accounted for Mr Cox, perturbed, no doubt, by New Zealand’s continued status as an ‘across the ditch’ outpost of the Colony of New South Wales.  Mallards’ talismanic Antipodean fell for an assiduous 10 (including two fours).  ‘The heart will break, but the talented cricketer will always live on’ as Byron might have put it.

Inspired by his new-found love of Austro-Bavarian poetry (see Mallards v Benwell & Walbottle CC @ Riding Mill, 24 May 2021), the ever-honourable Mr Latif (L) joined Mr Maltman with the score at something or other for four from seven overs.  A sumptuous boundary followed that, allied with some spirited defence from Mr Maltman, helped to keep the score moving.  Delivering the valedictory lecture at the ‘Rilke and Hegel: Two absolute smackheads’ conference that I hosted at Broomhaugh Towers, Mr Latif (L) developed an intriguing synthesis of Rilkean lyricism and Prussian state militarism.  Unfortunately, the owl of Minerva took flight before the darkness had gathered and Mr Latif (L) was bowled by Maplesden (M) after scoring six.

The muzzle-velocity of Sir Hiram Stevens-Maxim new-fangled gun is reported to be 744 metres per second.  The four struck by new batsman Mr Latif (K), another debutant [welcome, Khalid], reached the boundary at the picnic tables end at a similar speed.  Bowler Maplesden (S) avenged this blow, bowling Mr Latif (K) for four. 50-odd for 6 became a few more for 7 from 15 overs when Mr Maltman succumbed after scoring a resolute two, given out [correctly] by umpire Master Holland (E), resting before his appearance for the Northumberland County XI.  Suitably mounted at the gatehouse at Broomhaugh Towers, one of these marvellous new weapons should be just the thing to keep the riff-raff from Stocksfield away from the soon to be restored stash of laudanum tincture.

Mr Holland (S) and Dr Green sought to improve the run-rate.  The unfortunate Mr Holland (S) may well have done so had he not been run out for three following a dubious call [and an excellent throw by Gilroy] by Dr Green.  Further dubiety was evident when Dr Green’s referred to wicketkeeper Kent as what I think was ‘a right cad’, the otherwise innocent and bemused Kent being guilty only of missing a stumping chance.  One’s position in the bushes at the Job Rob benches end precludes being entirely sure of what was said, albeit the third word was monosyllabic and began with a hard ‘c’ sound.  Umpire Dr Steel, consulting his 1867 copy of Tom Smiths, confirmed Dr Green’s egregious error: one may refer to an opponent as a ‘bounder’, a ‘blackguard’ or, indeed, a ‘crinkum-crankum’, but only if they have never played for Mallards.

With the score at 60 something for eight after 17 overs, Mr van Doorn restored some much-needed decorum.  Solid defence and a splendid four followed before he succumbed (bowled) to Marks after scoring a useful six.  Umpire Dr Steel remarked that Marks must be the only bowler to have ever been appointed ‘by democracy’, the ‘players’ of Riding Mill CC being confident (rightly, so it was to be proved) that they could rest their usual attack.  I do hope that this ‘democracy’ thing doesn’t catch on.    The recent Parliamentary Reform Act of 1867 increased the electorate to almost 2.5 million.  Whatever next, my dear Eglantine? Universal suffrage? Votes for the inhabitants of Corbridge? One does hope not.

As Scott tells us, ‘Oh what a tangled web we weave, when we dangle the bat outside of off-stump’.  So entered Neasden’s finest, Dr Cleaver, striding to the middle for the final over.  He proceeded to accumulate a quickfire five not out, including an elegant four through midwicket, the ‘crack’ sound off the bat reminding me of the Martini-Henry rifle that dear Uncle Horatius brought back from the Sudan.  Mallards closed at 73-9 off their allotted 20 overs, Dr Green blaspheming his way to seven not out and the ever-dependable Mr Extras top-scoring with 15.

Word had by now reached me, a note being sent by runner from Dunston Staithes, that Professor Ian ‘the Flashing Blade’ Stone had returned from his latest visit to the Dominion of Canada.  You might recollect, dearest cousin, that my last encounter with Mallards featured an entertaining discussion with the dashing Professor, his impressive knowledge of late-Victorian Romantic literature being equalled only by the majesty of the ‘blade’ that he flashed towards me [note from Latif Solicitors: allegedly] after a lunch interval that featured several Pimms and a trip to The Sun Inn.  Such refreshment and, no doubt, too many years amongst the Quebecois seemed to have loosened both his morals and the gusset ties of his cricketing trousers.  My position in the bushes at the Job Robb benches end, being Professor Stone’s preferred habitat [note from Latif Solicitors: allegedly], alongside the need to maintain my reputation in Victorian high society meant that I thought it best to retire to Broomhaugh Towers for a spot of supper and a few hits on the opium pipe.

Leaving quietly via the shipping container boundary, I had time to observe the diligent Dr Cleaver opening the bowling attack from the picnic benches end and the pacy Master Holland (E) charging in from the Jon Robb benches end.  I also overheard Mr Van Doorn’s suggestion that the Mallards total, much like McGonagall’s The Tay Bridge Disaster, was ‘challenging’.  Riding Mill CC openers Kent and Hall seemed to demur, both striking the occasional boundary amongst regular singles.  Still, the admirable efforts of Dr Cleaver and Master Holland (E) produced chances and both batsmen remained watchful.

Mr Cox brought himself on from the picnic tables end and the openers found his left-arm pace almost as disagreeable as the dodgy bag of brown that I once bought whilst visiting the British Legation Quarter in Beijing.  The run-rate slowed and Mallards began to sense that maybe, just maybe, the ‘players’ as yet polished performance might be starting to fray.  The illustrious [stand-in – Ed.] skipper was also unfortunate not to take a wicket, finishing with superb figures of 2-1-4-0.

Hopes were raised by Mr Latif (L), his spinning left-arm darts creating opportunities from the Jon Robb benches end and culminating in the wicket of Kent for a well-crafted 19, Mr Latif (L) taking an astonishing caught and bowled chance.  Hopes were lowered by the potty-mouthed Dr Green, his non-spinning right-arm lobs creating fewer chances from the picnic tables end, notwithstanding a mis-hit by Hall that almost trickled onto the stumps and Mr Maltman just failing to hold a difficult catch off new batsman Gilroy at deep midwicket.

Hall fell to new bowler Mr Holland (S), brought on to deliver his accurate right-arm off-breaks from the Jon Rob benches end.  The inspired Mr Latif (L) continued his fine form, taking another difficult catch at mid-on.  Sadly, the task proved too great for even Mr Holland (S), Gilroy and Marks leading Riding Mill CC to their target with some eight overs to spare.  My dear acquaintance Samuel Taylor Coleridge could not have put it better: ‘In Riding Mill did Kubla Khan a stately pleasure dome decree; where runs ran measureless to the boundary and into the sunless sea.’ 

So, beloved Eglantine, back to my literary pursuits at Broomhaugh Towers.  My yearning for a resumption of ‘trade’ with China, via the chaps from Scotswood Road, is now surpassed only by thoughts of Professor Stone.  Will his tumescent ‘blade’ grace Broomhaugh once more? Did he manage to score any decent skag [note from Latif Solicitors: conjecture] whilst bringing Pax Britannica to Montreal? Did Thomas De Quincey really eat opium? Who knows, my darling cousin.  Reply soon, dearest.

Yours bemusedly,

Florence Leglance (Ms)

 

mallards corbridge

Mallards v Corbridge June 15 @ Riding Mill

There isn’t long between this match and my attention being completely diverted by the World Test Championship final, starting tomorrow, so I’d best get this written while I can still concentrate.

This was the rematch of our closely fought, low-scoring thriller against Corbridge a couple of weeks ago. Conditions couldn’t have been more different from last time with bright sunshine and warm temperatures the order of the day. The outfield looked a picture; the recent good weather ensured the pitch would be a good ‘un. The two teams gradually assembled and Corbridge would bat first.

In the absence of regular leader, Buckley, it was decided that Cox should be skipper for the day. The Mallards had obviously been paying attention to recent international cricket developments and realised that pretty much any New Zealander can skipper a team to victory over eleven Englishmen. Cox decided to adopt a mantra for the day: WWKD, What Would Kane Do? (Webmaster note: What’s Harry Kane got to do with anything?)

Dhillon opened the bowling and got things off to a steady start with just one off the first over. Things went quite severely awry in the second over however, as gloveman Beacock dived after Potts’ first ball, speared down the leg side. Slow to get up Beakers was in some trouble, and it was soon clear that his shoulder was out.

There was a break in play while treatment was arranged. Pottsy took charge of the patient, who was soon bundled off to Hexham Hospital, only to be then redirected to the RVI. This effectively left the ‘Lards two men down for the remaining 19 overs. WWKD? This inconvenience wouldn’t ruffle a certain Mr Williamson (Webmaster note 2: Ah, that Kane!), so Cox assigned the keeping duties to Hall and pleaded with the very obliging opposition for a spare fielder to get us up to 10. Close enough.

New Mallard Collins took over the bowling duties to finish Potts’ over, as the game got underway once again. Dhillon and Collins got into their work, but on a big field with a man down, the runs started to flow a bit. Latif replaced Collins for the eighth over and he struck immediately, removing van Doorn caught and bowled off his first ball.

Stone took up the challenge from the Clubroom End in the following over but neither he nor Latif could find another chink in the armour. The score climbed to 88/1 after 11 overs, when Cox, now without Potts or Hall to call on as bowling options, brought himself on. He cunningly conceded enough runs for Corbridge’s Robinson to retire after a classy and powerful innings. Cox burgled the wicket of Watts, T. for a duck as a leading edge carried to Stone.

Ringing more changes, Holland came on and attempted to stem the runs but nothing was quite working for us. Cox picked up another in his third over, bowling Chomse for 5, making it 121/6 in the 16th over. We could be chasing a big total. Stone came back for the 19th and managed to restore a bit of order but it wasn’t until Latif’s fourth over that we took any more wickets, with Rutherford caught by Steel for 10 and Burroughs caught by Collins for nought. Innings closed on 152/5; this would be tough to chase, WWKD?

Realising that our best chance of victory lay with a fast start, Cox opted to open with Steel, to (in the words of McCaffrey) “Give it some welly”. Mallards got off to a decent start, 24/0 after four overs, not quite on the rate but not too bad. This continued till the 8th over when Cox retired on 30. McCaffrey was in at three and looked to continue the good work.

The less said about the run out of Steel the better.

Collins at four, was soon joined by Stone as McCaffrey was caught off the bowling of Watts for just 1. Collins wasted no time as he peppered the boundary to retire on 31 off just 12 balls. Suddenly we were on 89/2 off 11 overs, one run ahead of where Corbridge were at this stage. The unlikely was suddenly possible.

Stone was showing why we call him The Flashing Blade, timing his shots well. Dhillon at 6 though provided the real firepower to keep the innings on track. Five overs to go, we were 128/2 and ahead of the rate. Dhillon retired on an 18-ball 33 with a couple of overs to go, to bring in Holland, who didn’t look at all nervous.

He needn’t have worried, The Flashing Blade had it under control as he guided the fifth ball of the 19th over to the boundary to see us to an excellent victory by a remarkable 8 wickets.

Thoughts immediately returned to our stricken friend, but I’m pleased to report he was back home with his shoulder in place that evening, and is already calculating how he can convince Mrs Beakers to let him return to the fold. Here’s hoping for a speedy recovery so you don’t have to carry around that Mutilated Mallard trophy in your sling.

Lastly, a tip of the hat to Pottsy, ambulance driver extraordinaire, for braving the ridiculous roadworks on the A69 to get Beaks to TWO hospitals. Kane would approve.