Category Archives: Match Reports 2018

Mallards v Kings School Old Boys @ Riding Mill August 22

Fake news they cried. Who, about what? Well as usual it started with POTUS (President of the Unorthodox Sledgers). POTUS Butcher looked at the carefully clipped mown outfield, blades merely reaching ankle height, the soft dust bowl not damp at all wicket, together with the aptly named Kings School Old Boys (neither comprising of not much old or all boys) and upon winning the toss decided to bat. 18 overs a side both opposing presidents agreed on the basis of fading light protectionism.

Opening with Porteus and Steel the speed of the pitch soon became apparent with the first over by Ingram going for just a single by Porteus ensuring he retained strike. He was to regret this as in the next over it all turned a lot more lively. Abselon took the ball at the Mexican sight screen wall end and with her first ball accounted for Porteus. Next man in Kent then took a direct hit to his toned torso before smiting 7 off the over including the first boundary. “See, Mallards take our enemies best shot and send back TEN TIMES MORE” tweeted POTUS while simultaneously filling in the scorebook.

The batters responded to the Twitter feed by racking up a total of 30 off the first four overs with both Steel and Kent going nicely. POTUS couldn’t keep his Twitter finger still. ‘Great men, GREAT MEN’ the text screamed before the inevitable happened and like a Grand National horse Kent fell at the fifth, bowled Jackson, caught Clarke for 10. This was the first of three catches that rendered the mitts of onlooking soap hands Lucas into a sweaty performance-anxiety-induced lather. ‘Mallards PATRIOT’ saluted POTUS upon Kent’s return to the M Force One clubhouse.

Next man in McCaffrey began to rotate the strike with Steel before the latter also fell to a catch by Absolon off the bowling of Black for a nicely played 14. McCaffrey himself then fell to some catching action by Ingram off the last ball of Willet’s second over for 10. Some nice interplay and strokes by this pair had moved the score onto 47 off the first 9 overs including 4 fours.

Their fall began a period of more restricted scoring as gaps seemed harder to find and the verdant outfield began exerting its own energy-sapping gravity (think Theresa May cornfield – or perhaps better not). With Thacker and POTUS Butcher occupying the crease the score moved onto 63 before POTUS fell, run out for 3 in the 13th over, as he attempted an ambitious single to fulfil his ‘Make Mallards Great Again!’ dream. The scoring slowed further as next man in Lucas faced the pacy Simpson before connecting mightily with the single sweet spot of his wand of wonder (sponsored by MasterCard and Fosters) off Abselon in the next over for the only other 4 in the innings. Emboldened by this he played an edge, pad, wicket trick shot a couple of balls later. ‘Do or DIE’ tweeted POTUS.

With a total now of 82 and just two overs to go the team seemed to be facing a below par score. Unperturbed POTUS tweeted ‘Great Score, GREAT SCORE!’ as next man Beacock strode out. Beacock rotated with a single bringing Thacker back on strike. With time running out and some nice shots in the bank he decided to try and press on but in so doing fell honorably to the bowling of Ingram with the highest Mallards score of 21. Up next was batsman Green who decided to throw out the rule book with a cheeky T20’esque paddle come ramp shot before being removed from office for 4 by the keeper while undertaking an unscheduled diplomatic sortie into no-mans land. This brought in debutant Watson, loaned to POTUS by his friends in the NRA (Northumberland Ringers Association), for the last ball. With an itchy trigger finger he saw it, he hit it and Mallards concluded their budgetary allocation finishing on 90 for 7 from 18 with both Beacock and NRA Watson on 1 not out apiece.

POTUS was quick to tweet ‘I am thrilled to announce that by the 18th over our run rate had reached the amazing rate of FIVE! Never in cricket history has one team achieved such a SCORE!’. Even amongst the faithful there were doubts as to whether this was either true or enough to secure victory but Mallards like being establishment outsiders and took to the field with the fervour of all who dare to dream and watch too much Jeremy Kyle. This included the reported fake news attempt to use a white ball given the darkening light. After an unconfirmed getting together with the opposition President, use of a red cherry was resumed. When questioned POTUS was keen to stress ‘Collusion is not a crime, but that doesn’t matter because there was no collusion. Where’s the collusion?’

Cleaver opened the bowling from the Mexican wall sight screen end while POTUS turned to his new friend NRA Watson who came in from the homeland prairie end. Both bowled superbly, Cleaver with line and length and Watson like heavy munition unleashed. By the end of the fifth over the opposition had been restricted to just 8 runs. Things got even better in the sixth with Watson removing Craddock, caught and bowled for 5. POTUS then decided to show some uncharacteristic mercy on his enemies by making Watson bowl out his fourth and final over given his pacy rockets versus the dimming shooting conditions. Watson finished with 1 for 11 from 4. But that was not the end of our new friends’ contribution.

This period of the match did though see a change in fortunes. Peffer had come in to partner opener Clark who having now got his eye in started to open the throttle against a new bowling pair of Thacker and ‘Patriot’ Kent. Thacker bowled well and was unlucky not to claim a scalp while Clark took a liking to Kent, spanking him for the only six of the game and taking the KSOB total to 64 at the start of the 14th over. However, that six brought up Clark’s enforced retirement on 34 and quicker than you can say Hilary Clinton’s emails fate swung again. Next ball Peffer was run out for 15.

Sensing a chance to close out another deal POTUS began to force his narrative by going on a bowler firing and hiring spree, throwing Steel into the fray and bringing back Thacker. Initially things did not look great with KSOB having reached 79 without further loss by the end of the 16th. Steel finished on 0 for 11 from 2 while Thacker ended on 0 for 4 from 16 – both good figures but this was a low scoring game that was becoming tighter than Melania’s face (allegedly).

Mallards were giving each other anxious looks of sphincter-tightening proportions. Everyone was thinking the same thing but dared not utter the collective thought – should it all end breasts upward pointing….Impeachment.

However, POTUS remained strong and resolute bringing back Cleaver for his last over. Within six balls this looked inspired as he removed both Simpson LBW for 11 and Ingram for 4 via a catch from NRA Watson. Cleaver finished with medal-of-honour figures of 2 for 6 from 4. ‘Mallards STATESMAN’ screamed POTUS’ Twitter finger. Not only were his figures excellent but the score had only moved on to 80 with an over to go.

To which of his lieutenants would POTUS trust the final over and thus the match too. The executive order came down, Patriot Kent. Inspired by the endorsement and the threat that he had to either win or die, Patriot Kent’s bowling tightened. The dot balls and the need to score built the pressure on KSOB who cracked, Jackson being run out for 2. Still not finished Kent then took the wicket of Willie for a duck caught again by Watson – his third of the match and surely a contender for the sticky fingers end of season award. Kent finished with figures of 1 for 29 off 4. More importantly KSOB had finished on a mere 81 for 6.

Cue a Twitter explosion by POTUS. ‘The FAKE NEWS HATERS said we couldn’t win. Well we did. WE WON. It was a GREAT victory’ he Tweeted as he boarded Car Force One for a trip to the Welly. There his team sat proudly around him, all basking in the righteous glow of those who never doubted (much). All thoughts of impeachment were forgotten and spirits were high as non NRA Watto Watson also joined the gang for a swift one having crossed the sporting divide from his earlier big ball shouty men game duties.

The score book was proudly shown to all. ‘PROOF’ tweeted POTUS followed by ‘God BLESS Mallards. I said I would make Mallard’s great again. I DID!!!’. He then produced from nowhere a crayon and proceeded to draw an odd looking duck in the book which he coloured in an unusual shade of Russian red.

I will leave it to you dear reader to determine what of the above is actually true or fake news. Remember history is usually a surviving account written by the winners. Facts can become malleable during this process. Mallards of course are different – it depends what survives the Editor and Webmaster! (Webmaster Note: Posted unedited due to the unvarnished truth of the report and idleness of the Editor)


Mallards v Umpires @ Bill Quay August 30th

One evening in mid-February 1976, in a terraced house in Ryton (8 Crookhill Terrace to be exact), Mr & Mrs Buckley got a bit bored. There was nothing to listen to on the radio; their record collection had been played to death; they couldn’t be bothered watching the Black and White Minstrels Show on television (probably because they weren’t racists) and there was no-one to chat to on Facebook or Twitter (mainly down to the fact that they hadn’t been invented yet). So, they decided to do what all young, married couples do. But when they got to the pub they found it was closed for refurbishment. So, naturally, their next idea was to make a baby and, sure as ova meets sperm, 9 months later Mark Daniel Buckley was born. Surely, nothing in any of their young (or very, very young in the case of Mark) could match this experience of sheer joy, delight and memorable moments. They were wrong.

On Thursday 30th August 2018 something surpassed even that moment in the lives of the Buckleys. With Mark now not so young (41 years of age), Mrs Buckley retired and collecting her pensions, and Mr Buckley long since gone from this mortal coil, the Buckley memorable moment was toppled from the top of the chart. On a small area of greenery in South Tyneside, amongst houses, trees and randomly-placed shipping containers painted white, the new chart-topping moment occurred. A group of middle-aged men played another group of men (and one female) at a game of cricket. What were we going to see? Would it be something to rival Sir Garfield Sobers’ 6 sixes in one over? Brian Lara’s world record test scores? Bob Willis bowling out the Aussies at Headingly? The Ashes test at Edgbaston in 2005? Laker’s 10 wickets in one innings? Well, if you want to read on, you’ll find out.

It was a beautiful late-summer’s evening in Bill Quay. Clear blue sky, temperature in the mid-teens, little wind (with the exception of the flatulence occasionally emanating from the visitor’s changing room) and a nice convivial atmosphere amongst the assembled throng of participant cricketers. A lot of the conversation referred back to last year’s game between the two teams that finished in a last-ball tie and whether tonight’s game could get close to that at all. The two skippers went out to do the toss at 6pm and Captain Butcher unfortunately lost the toss and the home side elected to bat. 16 overs per side, retire at 30 and maximum 4 overs per bowler. Despite Buxom limbering up and turning his arm over, he was heinously overlooked by the captain who turned, somewhat sensibly, to messrs Cleaver and Watson to open the bowling.

The opening batsmen for Umpires were Little & Cockburn, which we’ve all had at some point in our lives if we’re honest, and they set about their task against Mallards’ valiant opening bowlers. Cleaver took the first over and was hit for a couple of 2s by Little before enticing the batsman into a shot down to deep mid-off, where the catch was held by the safe hands of McCaffery. One over and Umpires for 4-1. Watson took the 2nd over and was slightly more expensive than Cleaver, despite bowling a nice line and length. He went for 9 with a couple of fours coming from the willow of the new batsman, Sweeney. The batsmen and bowlers had a good contest for the first 6 overs, with a drop by Beaks after an edge off the bowling of Cleaver (Webmaster’s note: I have received a tweet from @therealpeterbeacock which reads ‘FAKE NEWS. It dropped short. I am the bestest wicket catcher of all of them. No one catches catches as good as me) as well as a bottom edge by Cockburn that landed just short of the keeper in the final over of his spell. Cleaver finished with 3-0-11-1, which is rather good. Watson was not so fortunate as Sweeney took rather a liking to him in his final over, hitting him for 16, including 2 fours and 1 six. Luck certainly wasn’t with Watson as in this over the batsman got it completely wrong and the ball came off his pads and trickled an inch past the off stump. Watson finished with 3-0-31-0 which was certainly not an indication of his bowling. The opening bowlers were replaced by Thacker and Latif, who continued building on the good foundations that the Cleaver/Watson combo had set. Thacker’s first over went for only 6 runs, including one boundary and Latif’s first over saw a broad variety of events! Firstly, he let Sweeney tonk him for four which brought about the batsman’s retirement on 33 – a great effort by the batsman. As well as a wide, another boundary and a couple of singles, Latif also took the wicket of Jago, the new batsman, who was deftly stumped by Beacock. It was a fair decision by the home umpire, as we’ve definitely seen the vast majority of those not given when they’ve been that close!! In the next over, Thacker claimed the wicket of Cockburn who holed out to the still safe hands of McCaffery in the deep. Latif finished off his 2nd over conceding only 8 runs and, after 10 overs, Umpires were 76-3. Certainly not a score that inflicted fear or despair in the thought of trying to catch it at the same stage of the Mallards’ innings!

Taking over from Thacker/Latif was the slightly more part-time bowling of Wood and Kent. Wood’s first over went for only 9 whilst Kent’s first over, despite a vicious beamer aimed at the batsman’s head, went for only 5, including the wicket of Anwar. A rather reluctant Wood returned for a 2nd over and decided that, as it was the end of the cricket season, the team didn’t need the cricket balls in the team’s bag so let the batsman thwack 2 balls for sixes that were irretrievable!! (To be fair, we’d already replaced the ball that Sweeney had hit for 6 off Watson earlier in the game). Wood’s 2nd (and final) over went for 18 runs. Despite Kent having decent figures of 1-0-5-1, he was replaced by McCaffery who went for only 6 runs himself, including one boundary. Wood was replaced by Thacker, who went for 10 runs off his 3rd over, giving him figures of 3-0-24-1. Steel, who turns his arm over with the same regularity that Donald Trump tells the truth, came on to bowl the last over and he ended up with 1-0-6-1, getting the wicket of Howard for 15 with Beaks taking another stumping! Their last batsmen was Miss R Dyer, who certainly played a stroke that wasn’t instantly recognisable to most Mallardians – the textbook forward defensive shot. After 3 dot balls, she scored a single from the last ball of the over/innings meaning Umpires finished on a score of 130 for 5.

So, not too unrealistic a target to get. Only just over 8 runs an over required to get the 131 runs needed for the win. There was certainly no desire to get another tie like last year!

Opening with Kent and Steel to start the run chase, the Umpires opened their bowling with Hamblett and Hamblett – in no way confusing at all! After seeing off the first 3 deliveries of Hamblett’s first over rather safely, Kent hit the next ball for a nice four before finishing off the over with a couple of singles for him and Steel. The second over, but Hamblett’s first, saw a few more runs where, after a wide and a single for Steel, Kent opened his shoulders somewhat and hit 3 consecutive fours!! 2 overs gone, Mallards are 20 without loss – well ahead of the required run-rate. The 3rd over started rather unfortunately with Steel being bowled by Hamblett(P). As the batsman himself said “right shot, wrong batsman”!! Steel’s wicket brought McCaffery to the crease and a further 8 runs were taken from the over – a couple of wides, a two and some singles. Hamblett(P) finished with 2-0-14-1. T’other Hamblett (I knew him, Horatio), didn’t fare so well in his 2nd over and conceded 16 runs, the majority of them to Kent who retired on 31! Buckley came to the crease and hit his first ball for 3. At the end of 4 overs, Mallards were 45-1 with one batsman back in the hutch and massively ahead of the run-rate. The next couple of overs went for a combined total of 7 runs with Anwar conceding 4 and Dyer conceding 3. It also brought about an injury for McCaffery who did a leg muscle in; enough to require a runner. However, these overs also brought the run out of McCaffery/Thacker (his runner) for 7 and this subsequently brought Thacker to the middle officially (with no runner) and he saw out the rest of the over from Dyer without scoring (or losing his wicket). Buckley was a bit bored already so decided to go after Anwar and, after missing the first delivery with a swish that nearly took his shoulder out of its socket, hit the second delivery for a nice 6 over long on that went over the fence (but not the netting). Some more singles followed and a 3 and Anwar finished with 2-0-16-0. Thacker then took the attack to Dyer who, despite bowling a decent line and length, went for 9 runs off her 2nd over. Howard took over from Anwar and Thacker took him for 7 runs off his first over and a further 8 runs came off Cockburn’s (replacing Dyer) first over so, after 10 overs, Mallards were 88-2 compared to Umpires being 76-3! Thacker decided to get in on the maximum act by hitting Howard for 6 off the 1st ball of his second over. Then an exchange of singles, a 2 and a four between Thacker and Buckley brought Mallards to 107 off 12 overs as well as the retirement of Thacker for 31! Little took over from Howard and his first ball went for four from the bat of Buckley, subsequently bringing around his retirement, also for 31! So, after 12.1 overs, Mallards have 3 retirees and well ahead of the run rate. Cleaver now joined Wood at the wicket and quickly returned to the pavilion after a 3-ball duck where he was caught behind off the bowling of Little. 13 overs gone, Mallards are now 112 and require 19 runs off the remaining 3 overs. Sweeney came on to bowl and conceded 8 runs off his first over, 6 to Wood and 1 to Latif (plus a wide). 120 now with 2 overs remaining. 11 runs required. Little’s 2nd over didn’t start too well for Mallards, 3 dot balls to Wood despite his best efforts to hit it to the boundary. Well, just to hit it really! A wide then another wicket when Wood was out LBW. Captain Butcher came to the crease and managed to score 6 runs off the last 2 balls. Mallards were now 127 with only one over remaining with only 4 runs required to win. Surely it was going to happen. A bye off the first delivery – score’s now 128. Then 2 dot balls before Butcher swings the bat and gets an inside edge onto his stumps. 2 balls left and Beacock joins Latif at the wicket. First ball for Beacock and a single is scored. Mallards are now on 129, 1 run to tie (again) and 2 to win – whatever happened, the batsmen had to run on the last ball. Sweeney gets the ball back, starts his run up and lobs it up in to the air. The amassed Mallards on the boundary are watching the ball (through the by now deepest darkest gloom) fly through the air towards Latif. The bat is raised, Latif’s front foot is planted and he brings the bat down to connect with the ball. Beacock sets off from the non-striker’s end, Latif runs on his call. The ball has gone about 3 foot from the stumps and the keeper is making his way towards it. Beacock’s closing in fast and the keeper picks up the ball and stretches out towards the stumps. There’s a mixture of diving wicketkeeper, splintering stumps and sliding bat – everyone looks towards the square leg umpire. Did he make it? Is it another tie – the second in consecutive years? Have Mallards rescued the situation? After what seems like an eternity, the umpire raises his finger and Beacock is given run out on the last ball of the game! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!! Mallards have lost by one run. After 32 overs between the 2 sides, 259 runs shared and Mallards lose by one run.

Looking back at last year’s game, which was the tie, we can state that these 2 sides are practically inseparable! 72 overs (36 per side), 531 runs from the 2 teams and only 1 run between them over the 2 games – marvellous stuff. This game is always a joy to play.

Everyone stayed back to enjoy a drink, have a drink and share the chips & curry sauce that had been so kindly bought by Mr McCaffery. I can state, without fear of contradiction, this was a fantastic way to end the season, even if it was a defeat. Here’s to the Captain’s Curry Night and the Mallards’ End of Season Dinner!! Have a great winter one and all.

Mallards v Genetics @ Riding Mill August 14


The previous fixture, two weeks ago, was washed out just prior to the start time. The overhead conditions for this game being very similar – dark cloud, moist (lovely word) atmosphere, drizzle-soaked outfield, perfect for slow bowling (see “Club Despot”), below.

Markus Buxus was nominated captain, and Mallards opened the 20 over game by bowling first. Two overs from everybody was the cunning plan.

Hamid up first, pacy, full of fire. Only 14 off his two. Watson at the other end, cruelly hit for a few boundaries in his first over, only conceded two in his next. The definition of spirit.

Latif, always steady, always playing with a smile and a quip, just 15 conceded. Genetics opener Dan Taylor retiring at 32. Hard- hitting Richardson came in and Holland bore the brunt of some big shots. Two overs for 31. Ouch.

Time for the “Club Despot” to come onto the scene and steady the ship. Two overs of guile, flight, to me-to you bowling saw his figures come out at 2/0/2/2. Having had Mitcheson cleanly stumped by Beacock in his first over, the same partnership had Dhillon Snr caught behind in the second. Just reward for all The Despot’s efforts in getting 22 players here, selecting both teams, buying all the burgers and drink, umpiring, pedalling the generator, and generally being Despotish. Stunning!

Genetics 83/2 off 8 overs. Ominous. Bateman and Steele, taking a lead from The Despot, kept the next four overs tight in the face of more boundaries from Bennett and Dinesh. Both batsmen retiring soon after. Green, Scutt and Buckley finished off the innings. More ouch [and wides – ed.].

Genetics 178 after 20 overs (Mr Extras 23).

Time to set one of the benches outside the clubhouse alight and get the burgers going. A Californian forest fire was soon raging, with Cumulus smoke billowing, as Mallards started the reply. Steele out first ball, caught at slip off Goulding. Good impression of Muttley on the way back to the pavilion. Bateman caught in the next over on the deepest of deep square leg boundaries by Dhillon Jnr. 3 for 2. Oh.

Hamid to the rescue. Clean hitting, four boundaries, retired on 33. Super to watch. Club Despot tried to keep the momentum going, but caught by Bennett soon after. Enter Scutt. Really dark now. Played with aplomb, luck, resilience. Commendable 12.

Holland played on to a ball from Mitcheson for 9. Beacock bowled in the gathering gloom for 3. The Captain, with two cracking fours, being run out after being called for a suicidal second run. Trashed the changing room.

Green and Watson didn’t trouble the scorers. Mallards 115 all out as the moon came up (Mr Extras 28).

Cue beer, drinks, juicy burgers (no condiments sadly), commiserations and tales of what might have been. A rousing speech from the Club Despot, and about £170 raised for Cancer Research. As everyone drifted off to try and find their cars in the pitch darkness, the helicopter with water bag was descending to put out the BBQ.

[editors note – in order to preserve the innocence of several Mallards players, one of the opposition members (and very occasional Mallard) kindly stepped in to volunteer to do the match report in order to provide a balanced commentary. Who says we’re not all-inclusive?!]

Mallards v Durham Staff @ Riding Mill July 17

Tony C makes the report's picture space two weeks in a row - a rare honour
Tony C makes the report’s picture space two weeks in a row – a rare honour

After a narrow last over defeat at Durham back in May, Mallards turned up at a warm but overcast Broomhaugh ground optimistic(ish) of a home victory to level the series.

Both teams were buoyed by the appearance of Tony Cleaver and not just because he turned up with a case of beer! Having lost the toss and been invited to bat, Mallards buoyancy (and optimism) dropped slightly at the sight of Trigger Finger Cleaver taking to the field as umpire. Fortunately TC was given no opportunity to wag his notorious digit as Kent and Steel made a steady (some crueler than I may say slow) start playing out a maiden to the ever improving S Boothroyd and taking just 2 off I Boothroyd (the younger?).

2 off 2 became 15 off 4 as scoring picked up but for the loss of Steel bowled by I Boothroyd for 7 in the 4th. Kiel strode in purposely at 3 to keep the scoring ticking over with both he and Kent hitting a couple of nice 4s among the singles and dot balls until Kiel fell in the 8th caught behind of Ramen who had replaced I Boothroyd leaving the score at 37 for 2 off 8.

Buckley joined Kent intent on upping the scoring rate but kept in check by tidy bowling. Kent finally fell to Gillepsie in the 13th over for a well-made 25 with the score on 59. Butcher joined the fray swinging but failing to connect (as usual) but ran hard to help Buckley,  who was batting nicely,  keep the score going. The 18th over proved costly as both Butcher (8) and Nitsch (4 from 2 balls) were bowled swinging hard at the returning I Boothroyd leaving the score on 95 for 5 off 18.

Holland was then the only LBW victim of the innings but not courtesy of TFC (and he was plumb!) before Buckley had to retire on 25 following a back spasm leaving Latif and Wisbach to play out the last few balls to finish not out on 6 and 3 respectively to complete Mallards innings on 106 for 6. Was it enough? Most hardened readers would probably say no but Mallards were within 2 balls of defending 87 at Durham and TC was umpiring so still all to play for!

In contrast to Durham Staff, Mallards opted to take the pace off the ball, opening with the leg spin of Wisbach who started nicely going for just 3 singles. Mexter opened from the other end and went 2 better, just 1 of his first over. Both continued to bowl well, especially Mexter who beat the bat on several occasions. Despite this, English and Robertson opening for Durham batted steadily to reach 38 without loss by the end of the 8th (Mallards were 37 for 2 at the same stage), Wisbach finishing with 0 for 24 off his 4 and Mexter with a highly creditable 0 – 10 off 4.

Latif and newbie Ismail took over the bowling duties and despite bowling steadily the score rate began to rise. Kiel was bought on to inject some pace and try to slow the run rate but Durham kept accumulating with Robertson reaching his retirement on 32. Nathan came in and continued the scoring before English also reached retirement bringing Powell to the crease. At 91 off 16 there was still a glimmer of hope but unfortunately newcomer Powell took a liking to the returning Ismail leaving just 2 to be knocked off the 18th over to seal victory once more for the academics.

Sadly no grandstand finish or tale of heroics but as always a committed performance from Mallards in a game played (by both teams) in an exemplary spirit and finished off by the traditional visit to the Welly, where good beer, good food and good craic was enjoyed by all, despite TC’s somewhat gruesome tales of a defunct bottom. Welcome back TC!

Mallards v Ovipart @ Clara Vale July 26

Clara Vale. A thunderous night anticipated. Portentous clouds made a canopy over the bucolic splendour of a rural cricket pitch. The gathering skies forming an amphitheatre for the Gods, to watch the game touched by their hand.  And then our team arrived, a gaggle of decrepitude, sweating, swearing and issuing profundities such as ‘Ooh, it’s hot’ or ‘Looks like rain’.

The mood was not improved when Ovingham turned up with half of the Davipart team, the young guns for hire that had put us to the sword twice in the past 7 days. Buckley, skipper for the day, limped manfully to the crease and managed to lose the toss. The casting of the runes had not gone well. Odin smiled down with an air of resignation.

Mallards took to the field like a phalanx of already defeated foot soldiers, bereft of hope.  The sight of the Ovipart openers did little to dispel the gloom. Two Young Bloods keen to put us to the sword. Browne opened with vim and a dash of vigour, to be met by powerful stroke play and an aggressive appetite for boundaries. At the other end, Malik hit his mark early but the openers found their range in later overs. A sprinkling of fours and quick run singles, near misses and the occasional dropped catch (dear me skipper!) bruised the bowlers’ figures. By the eighth over, Ovipart had stretched out to 67-0. Browne trudged off to the boundary, a disconsolate figure. Little were we to know what primal force was fermenting within that shattered frame.

First change bowlers Mexter and Thacker entered the fray. Mexter hit some semblance of line and length, and bowled tidily (What, no wides? Surely not?). Thacker bowled with pace, movement and a degree of guile that left the batsmen searching for answers. Not enough to stop the two openers retiring, Dhruv with an expansive six. The new batsman quickly fell to Thacker – a beautiful ball which nipped back and took off stump. On a roll, Thacker then had Walbrook trapped LBW. Mexter joined the fray by getting the Big lad from Ovipart pouched, with consummate confidence, by Malik on the long-on boundary.

With the scoring pegged back, and wickets on the board, the Mallards’ collective dander was now well and truly up. Fielders began to move with balletic grace, Taylor and Wood threw themselves around like giddy schoolboys. Beakers commanded the wicket. Throws fizzed over the stumps. Batsmen quaked or, at least, shuffled a bit. Two herons flew over the ground – augurs of a more potent present.

Haylock and Latif came on to mop up the opposition. Unfortunately, Ovipart batted deep. Dinesh punished anything on the leg side, until Latif bamboozled him with the ‘slower one’ and Beakers, like a man an eighth of his age, whipped off the bails. Haylock, battered slightly by slight batters, fought back to get two late wickets, one a Laurel and Hardyesque juggle between Beakers and the Skip.

A notable moment from the final over – Hilton strikes a nice cover drive and Browne, moving with the agility that didn’t belie a recent 50 year old, picks up on the run and rifles the ball in, heading directly for the stumps. Breaths are held, fingers crossed. The moment of impact coming. And then Haylock, inadvertently, steps back and knocks over the stumps. NOT OUT [it should be added that the batsman immediately started walking and Colin called him back with an apology – ed.].  If there was ever a metaphor for Mallardian cricket, it was that moment.

Perseverance, a dogged determination to be respectable, inspiring moments and wholehearted collective support and encouragement kept Ovipart’s final total down to an almost attainable 146.

So to the batting. Taylor and Malik strode to the wicket as though they had assumed the mantle of men on a mission. Not for a win, but a good showing, a tip to the Mallardian spirit. The Ovipart bowling attack looked quite similar to their batting line up, but hey ho. Taylor, determined to put down an early marker of intent, made some lusty swipes without profit. Unfortunately, the chance of a quick single was too tempting, and Taylor careered towards the bowler’s end. With an athleticism that a Mallard can only dream of, the bowler was able to roll forward, pick up the ball and, from a prone position, fell the stumps. No herons could be seen.

Malik, slowly chipping away at the total, was joined by Wood, back in the country for a cricketing pit stop during his world tour. In the spirit of the moment, Wood decided to throw caution to the wind and open his shoulders. A brace of crisp twos, then the fateful moment. A beautiful onside drive with enough loft to clear the diminutive fielder. But what, the tiny boy leaps like a Canadian Sockeye and plucks the ball from the skies. Lesson learnt. Back to blocking next time, Trev.

Buckley fared better.  Recovering from a dodgy lower back injury, the like of which usually gets you a month off at the council, Buckley plundered a couple of regal fours and limped singles, and the game was afoot. Right up to the point where a ‘looked high to me from over here’ type delivery did for Buckley, picked off at square leg. Latif, keen to make a mark, collected a couple of quick singles until done by their opening batsman/bowler Dhruv, who was turning the ball for fun. When Mexter faced his first ball, he was heard to exclaim, ‘Now, that’s tricky’. Mexter, anxious to try his new Jonny Bairstow batting technique, hit a quick four and then, demonstrating no technique whatsoever, skied one to Dhillon for a caught and bowled.

Thacker then attended the wicket, with due regard to getting a lick on. Malik, with an elegance normally expected of a player from a rival team, made steady progress towards his 30 (or was it 37?) and retirement. Ronnie, our contribution from Ovipart in the absence of Mr Kent, scored a quick four, and then had a slow walk back to the pavilion after being caught down leg.

And then, from the hutch, emerged our own Son of the Gods – Thomas, ‘ The Thor’, Browne. Famed for his ‘Hit out or get out, but mainly get out’ philosophy, Browne moved to the wicket, mighty weapon in his hand.  First ball, a customary swish but, miraculously, the stumps remained intact. Was something happening? The herons returned, wings like ruffled sails, arching over the battle below. A six, a four, a quick pair, another six. Thacker joined in with a line of elegant singles and a four. Browne, like a cyclist on EPO, was producing the sort of performance that normally gets referred to WADA.  A six cleared the long-on boundary, some quarter of a mile away (to the relief of the nearby substitute fielder Wood) and then, to take him to his 30, Browne clipped another six over mid-wicket. 30 off 11 balls. A colossus had entered the arena.  The augurs were bright, and the blood was up, along with the humidity. Could this be real? Could we be in with a shout? The crowd leaned forward in their beach loungers, expectant, wondering – deluded.

Uncooperatively, in now rapidly fading light, Ovipart deployed their main bowlers again, and Beaks struggled to get it off the square [actually more like off the bat – ed.]. Thacker ran brightly but to no avail as the strike kept evading him, and when Beaks gave a catch, and Haylock failed to create the necessary miracle, even the herons could not keep the flame of hope alive. 122 – two dozen short, but it felt much closer.

The clouds closed in around the ground. Distant thunder expressed the plaintive cry of despondent gods. On this occasion, lightning didn’t even bother to strike once, and the Mallards – those mortal warriors – did what they do best and buggered off to the pub. As Wilde would have said if he were a Mallard, it is better to have played and lost, than never to have played at all.





Mallards v Davipart @ Riding Mill 18 July


Lies, damn lies, statistics and the Duckworth Lewis Method.

Two overs into a reply to Davipart’s challenging 152 the Mallards, at 26 for 0, were way ahead on DL.

For those who know and love it, the sky was heavy with Flash Gordon cloud cover (just lacking the tinge of deep purple). The near darkness which had blighted Mallards fielding (but surprisingly not the Davipart batting) had grown more intense. The potential rain which had threatened from the start became even more potentially threatening — and even began to spot.

Given the slight prospect of our gallant boys chasing down such a daunting target were we about to be rescued by at worst a “no result” – or even find ourselves going 2-1 up on DL and take the trophyless annual Davipart Challenge which stood at 1-1 going into this “decider”?

Sadly for those more concerned with results and stats than the sheer playing of as much cricket as possible, the wonderous weather haven that is Riding Mill came to the rescue of virtuous cricket. Even more sadly a last but one wicket stand of 24 between the 70 year old Beacock and the even older Haylock failed to get the boys over the line.

With the Mallards a mere 45 runs short at the end of 20 overs our fixtures secretary is now faced with the challenge of slotting in two more games against Davipart with gamblers in the team saying “surely we will win if it is a best of five” — or at least looking to a huge win in a fourth match aided by some magical statistical work on net run rate.

But how did it come to this sorry state on this dark night ?

Davipart, having won the toss chose to bat in what half-light there was.  Samed and the diminutive, but oh so talented Shree, set off at a cracking pace against the bowling of Browne and Bennett.  Browne opening tightly, suffered in his middle overs and closed tightly with just 3 off his final over to finish with figures of 0 for 23 off 4 overs.  Bennett recovered well from a first over which was hit for 14 to close on 0 for 33 off 4.

43 for 0 after 5 overs became 67 for 0 at the end of the ninth bowled by Hamid. Samed retired on 31 bringing G Dhillon to the crease to be bowled by Bateman for 0 with just his second ball followed by Hilton bowled by Hamid for 1 in the following over. Somewhere around here Shree retired for 32.

The departures brought Dinesh Rawley and A Dhillon to the crease.  Dhillon 2 resumed the plundering of not unreasonable Mallards bowling, while Rawley pushed a few singles while waiting for his nemesis, the veteran Haylock, to be brought into the fray.

Bateman completed his 3 overs – closing on 1 for 17, bringing Kent into play to open with a tight over which went for  just 3 runs as the Mallards belatedly slowed the Davipart run fest which had reached 111 in the 15th.  Hamid closed with 1 for 25 off his 4 overs to be followed by Haylock.

Dinesh had been waiting in fear for this – with Haylock having taken his wicket in each of the past four seasons. The first ball he hit for 2 – the second he hit hard but straight to Wood at mid-off! The catch was safely pouched and Dinesh’s curse continues into a fifth year !

The remainder of the innings was all about Dhillon 2 knocking the bowling about to retire on 33 and Kent knocking the Davipart line-up about. His 3 overs brought Muggeridge caught by McCaffrey for 6, C Burt bowled for 0 and a fine direct hit run out of J Burt by Hamid for 8. (Presumably that is Kent off the Burt family Xmas card list!) Only some late hitting by the returning opener Samed denied him some super figures as he closed on 2 for 21, with Haylock’s 2 overs yielding 1 for 19

Aided by 15 wides and 11 other extras the innings closed on 152

So now to turn to the story of a great chasing start and a whimpering limping close of a Mallard chase.

Kent opened with a single, a single by Hamid followed next ball, a dot and then three consecutive 4s from Kent and Thompson had gone for 14 in his first over.  From the other end we had Shree – turning the ball prodigiously but, nonetheless leaking 4s. 26 for 0 after two overs became 28 for 1 with Thompson having Hamid caught behind. This then moved on to 28 for 3 with the first ball of Shree’s second over having Kent bowled for 20 and the third Taylor bowled for 0. As the rain started Duckworth/Lewis was fast becoming our enemy.

Bennett came in to steady the ship and move the score along – eventually retiring on 31. Wood partnered briefly before being caught off Hilton for 0 – and Green was trapped very comprehensively in front of his stumps by Shree for 2. This was at the end of a 4 over spell which had brought 3 for 19.

Bateman at last provided Bennett with some decent company before being caught and bowled by one of the Dhillons for 16. The retirement of Bennett with the score on 80 and Bateman’s demise on 83 brought first Browne (who perished caught and bowled again- but this time by Muggeridge – for the team’s third duck) and then Beacock and Haylock to the middle.

The shout went up at one stage – “we only need 53 off the last 5 overs!”

With 5 overs left, McCaffrey to follow and Bennett waiting to resume his innings Haylock was yet again in the hit out or get out role. The trouble was that he was singularly unable to do either – and, after an early four, neither was Beacock.

Bennett at last got out to the middle with only two balls of the innings left – but only as a runner for Haylock who had pulled a muscle in a leg unaccustomed to so much short sprinting.

Haylock was bowled off the last ball for 9 leaving Beacock not out on 10 and the score, aided by a mere 11 extras, on 107 for 8 – just those 45 runs short.

A fine turnout from both teams at the Wellington failed to raise the challenge of a fourth or fourth and fifth game to really resolve the rivalry between the teams!

Over to you fixture sec – and the team statistician on where we are on net run-rates across the Davipart series.


Mallards v Excelsior Batters @ Riding Mill 14 June

The forecast overnight rain had failed to materialise, and despite the unseasonable high winds the game was on. Most of the team assembled at Riding Mill in good time, to improving weather conditions, the earlier wind having moderated, and the sun showing belated signs of appearing.  Some were still smarting from their ignominious defeat at Burnmoor, and wondering what lay ahead – had the promising start to the season crumbled away? Captain for the night Buckley won the toss and elected to field despite being short of two players, the veteran Haylock, and the debutant Jha, travelling together and delayed by traffic.  Excelsior captain Krishnan volunteered to field for the Mallards, a decision that he was to regret.

Browne opened the bowling for Mallards at the lone tree end, and beat both batsman and wicketkeeper with a couple that failed to bounce, straying from his excellent line of the last few games. A rapid start for Excelsior, halted by an excellent first over by Dunhill. Beacock, standing up, missed a sharp chance, but then opener Stephenson fell to an excellent catch at mid-off by his captain (is this an early contender for the Friendly Fire award, or are the opposition barred from contention?). Excelsior were 14 for 1 after 2 overs. Browne found better line and bounce off a length in his second over which kept the runs down, although Buckley failed to hang onto a difficult chance edged to the slips. At the end of the over, a relieved Krishnan made way for Haylock and Jha, who immediately took a good catch at mid-on off Dunhill to remove Walker for 5. A more expensive over from Browne was followed by a tight one from Dunhill, and the opening pair finished with Browne on 0 for 26, and Dunhill a very commendable 2 for 12 off four. Excelsior were approximately 43 for two after 8 overs (note to ed: due to the incomplete record in the scorebook, it is impossible to determine the exact number of extras at any particular stage so the score would seem to be 39+?), with Bodley and Richardson looking ominously settled.

Haylock replaced Browne, and Dunhill by Mexter, both bowlers troubling the batsmen with some bounce, though an occasional four helped the score along. Mexter, in his second over conceded only one run, but this gave Bodley his 25 and he retired not out. Excelsior captain Krishnan faced the first ball of Haylock’s next over, and deceived by the bounce, top edged high in the air and Buckley, running back from slip caught a fine catch. Richardson then departed for 25 not out, and Haylock’s final over was a wicket maiden, giving him figures of 2 for 16 off four. Mexter completed his spell with a tight final over (0 for 17 off four). Excelsior batters’ score had looked ominous at around 80 (?) from 14 overs while Bodley and Richardson were batting, but after their departure runs were hard to come by. The last four overs were delivered by Benson and Jha. Benson, with his slow looping leg breaks, ending with remarkable 2 for 3 off 2, whilst at the other end our latest recruit Jha produced two excellent overs of medium pace, ending with 1 for 4, conceding only one scoring shot. The visitors ended their innings on 97 for 7.

This was an excellent effort by Mallards bowlers, supported by good fielding, but the bowlers’ figures would have been even more impressive had all the catches been taken.

Kent and McCaffrey marched out to start the Mallards innings. Kent drove Glenwright’s first ball for four, but then boundaries proved elusive. An increasingly frustrated McCaffrey was bowled for 5 in Bodley’s second over, to be replaced by Benson. Glenwright (9 for 0 off 2) was replaced by Richardson who bowled Benson for 2 with his third ball. At the end of the fifth over, Mallards were 22 for 2. Krishnan replaced Bodley (1 for 9 off 2), and Kent and new batsman Greenwood continued to find scoring difficult, with the opener accumulating steadily, and Greenwood, looking busy as usual, only able to score in quickly taken singles. Greenwood departed for 9, bowled by Krishnan in the 12th over, with the score on 46, leaving Mallards still needing 52 for victory. Kent retired on 25, having scored the only two fours of the Mallards innings. Richardson (1 for 10), and Krishnan (1 for 19) completed their spells. Buckley and Jha were now at the crease, and with new bowler Stephenson loose and frequently wide, the score accelerated. 49 from 12 became 67 from 13. A tight over from Walker was followed by a looser one from Jobling. Despite Bodley returning for another over, the score moved on rapidly to  a winning 98 for 3 in the 17th over, Buckley scoring a quickfire 23 not out from 16 balls and Jha a very impressive maiden 10 from 11.

The Mallards had won another victory! This makes 5 wins from 9 games – can anyone remember such a start to the season? The teams adjourned to the Wellington, with Mallards delighted by the return to winning ways.


Mallards v Riding Mill @ Riding Mill July 4

“Never on the fields of Mallardian cricket has so many runs been scored by so few” – Winston Churchill, 1940

“Don’t believe everything you read on the internet” – Abraham Lincoln, 1864

“How much bollocks can I put into this match report?” – Mark Buckley, 2018

On what was a gorgeous sunny evening in early July, the teams of Mallards CC and Riding Mill (looking suspiciously like a Corbridge Millers side) met to play a game of cricket. What was to follow was runs galore, surprising catches and a good atmosphere which made for an extremely enjoyable evening indeed!!

After having arrived at the ground relatively early as the traffic from my office was surprisingly light (a big thank you to Mr Wood for the lift to the game this evening – good conversation in the car between ourselves and Mr Wilson!), there was a bit of hanging around until both captains (Buxom for Mallards, Aly Hall for Riding Mill) went out to the middle for the toss. Buxom won the toss and elected to field, which was fortuitous as Hall would’ve batted if he’d won it!

Riding Mill opened their batting with Zurawlev and S Taylor whilst Buxom opened with Browne from the Sheep Field End and Latif from the Extremely Tall Trees End – which surprised Latif, but he stepped into the breach manfully whilst we waited for Hamid to arrive. Browne opened his spell with a couple of wides and was also tonked for a couple of boundaries (a 4 and 6) by Zurawlev. Latif’s opening over also went for a couple of boundaries (2x 4) and a wide so, after only 2 overs, Riding Mill were 21 without loss. It was during Latif’s first over that Hamid arrived at the ground so Captain Buxom’s planning was going into overdrive (to be fair, it was still in neutral and overdrive is only as high as 2nd gear – not enough grey matter to get any higher!!) about what to do next. He stuck with Browne and Latif and the next two overs went for a combined 21 runs meaning that, after only 4 overs, Riding Mill were 42 without loss – Zurawlev was on 26 not out and S Taylor 11 not out, with extras not too far behind!! Browne’s next over went for a further 14 runs, bringing Taylor up to 24 not out, catching Zurawlev very quickly. Hamid came on for the 6th over from the ETT end and went for only 3 in his opening over. Browne’s first ball of his final over went for 4 by Zurawlev meaning that he retired on 31 not out in only the 7th over. Hope that this would bring some respite to the bowlers was soon quashed as Horner came to the wicket. Sure enough, a couple of 4s off the over meant that Browne finished with figures of 4-0-49-0. Definitely not Browne’s best night with the ball but he was up against some very accomplished batsmen. At the end of the 7th over, Riding Mill were 80 without loss! EIGHTY!!!! Captain Buxom was looking everywhere for inspiration – the skies; his boots; a sole ladybird flitting between the blades of grass. Would it work?

Apparently so! In Hamid’s 2nd over, joy belatedly arrived for Mallards (must have been travelling on Southern Rail). Opener S.Taylor holed out on 27 to G.Taylor at point, who held on at the 2nd attempt and definitely made up for his drop of S. Taylor earlier in the innings, when his hands magically became covered in Vaseline when the ball was hit straight into them. Any other references to G Taylor’s hands being covered in Vaseline legally have to contain the word “allegedly”!

Were things coming back to Mallards? Well, quite possibly – only a couple of deliveries later, batsman J Marks was clean bowled for a duck. From 80-0 after 7 overs to 87-2 after 8 overs, the comeback was on and Mallards were up for it. (Those tips from that lonely ladybird were certainly useful!).

Replacing Browne from the Sheep Field End was Wood, who’d decided to visit the North East of England on holiday for a short period of time and volunteered to play for Mallards whilst here. Conceding a single apiece to batsmen Nitsch and Horner off his first 3 balls, Wood then struck with a lovely delivery, trapping Nitsch LBW for just 1! At this rate, Mallards would end up chasing around 130 for victory. However, the incoming batsman (L. Thacker) had a slightly different mindset and hit Wood for a nice little boundary. There was also a delivery giving away 3 wides, which was somewhat of an achievement! Malik and Wood continued valiantly but with Horner and Thacker opening their shoulders somewhat, the run rate increased again. The next 3 overs went for 34 runs (bringing about the subsequent retirement of Horner) in total meaning that, after only 12 overs, Riding Mill were 130 for 3. Malik finished with figures of 4-0-32-2. Replacing Malik from the ETT end, Latif returned for another shot and claimed the wicket of Watson, caught by G Taylor on the leg side, for a duck. People were now seriously concerned for the health of Despot Taylor as he’d held on to two catches in the same game – this was showing signs of competence, something that none of us had ever seen from Taylor.

As a reward, Captain Buxom brought Despot Taylor on to bowl and the world returned to normality as he went for 16 off his first over. The rest of the team breathed a sigh of relief (or we all just simultaneously farted – the sounds are very similar) as we genuinely didn’t know what to do if Gareth continued playing the game at a high standard (for Mallards anyway). Latif’s last over went for 12 runs meaning that he finished with figures of 4-0-37-1. Taylor continued from the Sheep Field End for a 2nd over (Captain Buxom is kind that way) his endeavours brought about the dismissal of Riding Mill’s captain, A Hall, clean bowling him behind his legs, for 16. G Taylor was rewarded for this further success by being replaced by the returning Wood and, between him and Holland, bowled the last 3 overs of the innings. Wood claimed another wicket in his final over, clean bowling S Horner for 4, meaning his final figures were 4-0-31-3! Not bad for someone on holiday! However, this brought Zurawlev back to the crease. Hearts sank. But, joy was just around the corner (well, the next over) when he was stumped by Kent off the bowling of Holland for 34. Replacing the outgoing batsman was the returning A Horner who quickly hit the last 3 deliveries for a 2, a 4 and a 6. His 4 actually hit Ellie on the shin (a fact that I am constantly reminded of) which, if I’m honest, thought had hit Mr Nitsch’s dog and not her. I think I will go and get my eyesight tested. Although the scorebook states that Riding Mill finished on 190, the bowling figures give it as 198! Whichever one it is, a tall order lay in store for the batting efforts of Mallards.

Opening with Malik and Steel, hopes were high that we wouldn’t embarrass ourselves and give it a great go at chasing down the Riding Mill score. Those hopes quickly disappeared as Riding Mill’s opening bowler started out with a maiden over! The second over went for 8 runs, including a lovely 4 from Steel along with a single and a few extras! We were on it!! However, Steel was to fall in the 3rd over when he was caught behind off the bowling of Watson for only 5. Watson finished his 2nd over with dot balls and finished with figures of 2-2-0-1. Ruecroft’s second over went for 10 runs with Malik finally getting loose, scoring all 10! Replacing Watson was Thacker who started with a couple of dot balls until Dinesh, batting for Mallards at number 3, hit a four and single; Malik finishing off the over with a 6. 11 runs off the over!! At the end of the 5th over, Mallards were 29-1, only 28 runs behind where they needed to be. S Horner replaced Ruecroft and another boundary from Dinesh kept us in the game when, in the next over from Thacker, things went a little bit bonkers with 14 runs being conceded by the bowler – including a 6 off the first ball for Malik and a 4 for Dinesh. 7 overs and Mallards were 48-1! Horner’s 2nd over also went for several runs, 11 to be exact, however it also brought the wicket of Dinesh, clean bowled for a valiant 18. Captain Buxom comes to the wicket and hits his first delivery to the pavilion for a 4 – no standing on ceremony for the Skip! 8 overs down, Mallards are 59 for 2.

S Taylor comes on for over 9 and it’s carnage from the off, going for 14 runs including a 6, 4 and a 3. This over also brought about the retirement of Malik, bringing Kent to the wicket. He hit his first delivery for 4 too. 73-2 off 9 overs. Let’s keep it going! However, Mayfield, brough on from S Horner, had other ideas by only going for 3 runs off his first over. S Taylor got it back on track a bit with his 2nd over, only going for 7 runs, including another boundary for Kent. Captain Buxom was doing his usual supporting act, rotating the strike to Kent by scoring singles. This was working as Kent was hitting boundaries as Mayfield’s 2nd over went for 11 runs, Kent scoring 10 of them. The start of the 13th over saw Mallards at 94-2. Marx was to bowl the 13th over and it seemed that Mallards were in the (duck) soup. However, it was the bowler left feeling a bit Groucho as he went for 12 off his first over, including a 6 for Captain Buxom who had, by now, even bored himself with the number of singles he was scoring. Nitsch replaced Mayfield and quickly set about his task by removing Kent, letting him hit a boundary to retire and return to the pavilion. A couple of singles from Latif and Buckley finished off the over. Another couple of singles from Buckley and Latif at the start of Marx’s 2nd over brought tedium to Captain Buxom’s mindset once again and Buckley decided he wanted to also be back in hutch. So, Buckley decided that the run-rate should have a bit more Zippo about it and hit 2, 2, 4 and finished off his retirement push with a 6 to end on 33 not out. The nearby animals went a bit crackers. Buckley’s retirement brought Wilson to the wicket and, after a slight rush of blood to the head by Latif, Wilson was run out without even getting to face a delivery. Wood came to the wicket and scored a quick 2. Whilst having a chat with Buckley (who was out in the middle umpiring), Wood heard the Skip mentioning that we needed to score as many runs as possible. With that, on the very next ball, Wood subsequently ran himself out going for (what turned out to be) an impossible single! The Mallard’s innings was rather quickly folding in on itself as Holland was bowled for one, Latif was caught for only 2 and Hall found himself on a hat-trick after consecutive deliveries brought about the dismissals of G Taylor for 1 (caught behind) and then clean bowling the returning Malik by hitting the middle stump. Kent came back to the wicket and brought about some respectability by surviving the hat-trick delivery and then hitting Hall for 4.

The last over came from A Horner and Browne, who’d yet faced a delivery, followed the instructions of his Skip and went about with a few swishes, scoring a 2 and a 4 in the process.

Needless to say, with only 4 batsmen in double figures (3 of whom retired), Mallards didn’t make the required score but did finish with a total of 154. So, in only 40 overs of cricket, a grand total of 352 runs were shared between the 2 teams.

Both sides then retired to the Wellington pub for well-earned beverages and food, good banter and tolerable temperatures due to the lateness of the evening.

Despite the result, a great effort all-round from Mallards tonight in every area – fielding, bowling and batting. Even though we fell short, there was a very proud captain of his men after the game’s exertions.

Mallards v Benwell & Walbottle @ Walbottle Campus July 9

Monday 9th July saw the 3rd instalment of the B&W/Mallards epic of the long, hot summer of 2018. It was 1 match apiece so this game was the decider. Who would win? Mallards? B&W? The game of cricket? The next few hours would give us the answer.

Arriving ridiculously early at the ground (thanks to Jonny Bennett for the lift) a lot of time was killed thinking about the batting order, wondering if we’d win the toss, contemplating the trials & tribulations of life and hoping Peter Nitsch would remember to bring his stumps as B&W had theirs locked away in a container with no means of getting access to them!

Sure enough, Mr Nitsch arrived proudly displaying his stumps (not a euphemism) and the toss could proceed. Being slightly bamboozled by the fact a 5p coin was used for the toss, Captain Buckley may as well have called “Big Ears” such was his chances of getting the call right! Needless to say, the toss was lost and B&W decided to bat first.

Taking to the field with only 10 players whilst waiting for Ankush to arrive from Leeds (which the Skip only found out as we took to the field!), the time on the pitch with one player short was substantially reduced as there was a good 5mins or so taken to get 2 of the stumps into the ground. This was done by using some copper piping and a hammer from Mr Bennett’s van – the technique used gave us a valuable insight into how Mr B goes about his day job! My plumbing’s fine thankfully! The stumps used were actually those of B&W’s as the groundsman had arrived just before the match started to open the container and Mr Nitsch, rather disgruntled, put his equipment away (again, not a euphemism).

Opening with Stone from the top of the slope end and Hamid from the bottom of the slope (or changing rooms) end, things got off to a relatively decent start. Hamid bowled the first over for the loss of only 6 runs, a boundary coming off the last delivery to follow the couple of singles conceded previously. Stone fared slightly worse going for 8 as he struggled to find his line, conceding a few wides & byes down leg-side, despite the valiant efforts of Kent to get to them in his role as wicketkeeper. Hamid then bowled a rather decent 2nd over, going for zero runs and bowling the first maiden of the match. It was during this over that Ankush arrived and only a short while later, Mallards were up to the full cohort of 11 players on the field. For Stone’s 2nd over, Captain Buxom moved himself from slip to the leg-side and missed the peach of the 2nd delivery which swung loads and clean-bowled B&W’s opener, Robson, for just 5 runs! With only 3 runs off his 2nd over, B&W were 17-1 off the first 4 overs.

At this point, Kenty took off the gloves and handed them to Ankush for the rest of B&W’s innings. A slightly butterfingers start for the new wicketkeeper as the first 3 deliveries weren’t cleanly taken and byes & a wide were conceded. A couple of singles also from the over and Mallards were keeping the score tight and control of the destiny of this game. Stone’s 3rd over took a slight pasting with 3 fours hit from it – a couple for batsman number 3, Horbury, and 1 for the opener, Aitkinson. Captain Buxom thanked Stone for his efforts and he finished with figures of 3-0-23-1. It has to be said that he was swinging the ball beautifully but the line was just slightly out – fine margins make all the difference in cricket. Hamid finished off his spell of 4 overs by taking the wicket of Aitkinson, falling for 15, caught at mid-on by the safe hands of Bennett. He finished with figures of 4-1-15-1! Great effort from both opening bowlers.

The removal of the other opener brought Mowbray to the wicket to join Horbury. Bennett replaced Stone from the “top of the slope” end and started off quite decently, conceding only 7 runs from his first over, including one four. Latif had replaced Hamid at the changing rooms end and went for 10 off his first over, Mowbray hitting him for a couple of 4s in the over. Bennett continued and went for a few runs off his 2nd over – 10 to be exact, including a further couple of boundaries for Horbury. This was enough for Bennett to call it a day and he disappeared off to deep backward square leg to distance himself from things for a bit. This was to be short-lived as, off the very first ball of Latif’s next over, Mowbray skied a shot straight to him and, again, the safe hands of Bennett pouched the catch – the batsman gone for only 11 runs. Bennett didn’t need to move for the catch so ignoring the captain’s instructions to stand about 5 yards to his right proved correct. Still think he’d have caught it “on the run” though! However, the batsmen had crossed during that shot and Horbury tonked Latif for 6, which brought about his retirement for 31.

There were 2 new batsmen at the crease – Davy and Jenkinson. Jenkinson scored a 4 and a single off the over when, off the final ball of his over and the first ball of Davy’s innings, another wicket was claimed. Captain Buxom had dropped both Mussett and Kent deep to combat Davy’s style of play (observed and noted during the previous game) and, as sure as Brexit is a complete mash of scrambled eggs, the batsman whacked the ball straight down the throat of Mussett who comfortably claimed the catch at deep mid-off. At the end of the 11th over, B&W were 78-4, despite the scorebook reading 78-3! Nitsch came on to replace Bennett at the top end and conceded only 4 from his first over, a boundary scored by Jenkinson. Latif concended 5 off his next over, 80% of it being a 4 to the new batsman, Draper. However, our bowler got his revenge the next delivery by clean-bowling him for only 4. Another one back in the home side’s hutch. It must have been at this point that Jenkinson decided to play for his average and, no offence to Nitsch’s bowling, refrained from scoring from it – another maiden. Latif finished off his spell bowling his 4th and final over and finished with a maiden. A WICKET maiden in fact, as he clean-bowled the new batsman, Bateman, for a duck. Latif finished with 4-1-26-4! A great effort and surely one that will be considered for a trophy at the end of season dinner!

During Jenkinson’s obstinate over to Nitsch, Musset had asked for the chance to have a go at him so, Captain Buxom being the fair chap that he is, gave him an over to see how it went. 12 runs later (3x 4s) that was the end of Musset’s spell and Nitsch would return for the next over from the top end. Replacing Latif at the changing rooms end was Holland, who conceded only 8 runs from his first over in the form of 2x 4s to the new batsman, Marrow. Nitsch returned to bowl to Jenkinson who, now that the pace of Musset was no longer there, retreated back in to his shell and looked to bat things out. However, in the 2nd delivery of the over, Jenkinson was trapped LBW for 21. There were mutterings from the batsmen that he’d hit it before it hit has pads but, in all honesty, his bat was closer to another red round thing, the planet Mars, than it was to the ball. Still, it’s not like Jenkinson to grumble at a dismissal (*cough) so we all thought he must have had a bad day (*another cough). A four came off the remainder of Nitsch’s over and, at the end of 18 overs, B&W were 111-7. The final 2 overs went for a further 10 runs in total (7 off Holland and 3 off Nitsch), with some impressive batting from Marrow and the number 10, S Robbie. Nitsch finished with figures of 4-1-11-1 and Holland with 2-0-15-0. A great bowling and fielding effort from everyone in the team.

So, 122 was the target for Mallards and, with the batting line-up that the side possessed that night, confidence was high.

The captain opened with Musset and Zurawley whilst B&W opened the bowling with their opening batsman, C Robson. He subsequently went for more runs off his first 2 deliveries (8) than he’d scored in his own innings (5) as Musset decisively tonked him for 2 beautiful 4s. The first one was a delight to watch as Musset took a couple of paces down the wicket and creamed the ball through the covers to the boundary. It was practically a replica for the 2nd 4, just slightly further round the boundary this time. A no ball and a couple of singles rounded off the first over and Mallards were 11-0. Taking the first over from the Changing Rooms end was Squires who conceded only 5 and a bye. Robson continued in the 3rd over and got absolutely creamed by Zurawley, getting hit for 14, including 3x 4s. Squires’ 2nd over went for 10 runs, including 3x 2s and a 4. However, more importantly, it also included the wicket of Musset, who was clean bowled for 19. At the end of 4 overs however, Mallards were 42-1, 25 runs ahead of where B&W were at the same point and 1/3rd of the way to the total after only 1/5th of the overs. Things were looking very promising indeed.

The incoming batsman was Bennett and, whilst Captain Buxom was padding up, he was the outgoing batsman, unfortunately playing on to his stumps from the bowling of Jenkinson for a 3-ball duck, after a single from Zurawley had given him the strike. Kent went in to bat at number 4 when he & Zurawley exchanged singles off the last 2 balls of the over. Squires continued and kept the runs relatively low (in comparison to what had happened previously) whilst Jenkinson also kept it relatively tight for his 2nd over – no boundaries conceded in 12 deliveries. Squires finished off his spell and kept it tight again finishing with figures of 4-0-24-1. He was replaced from the Changing Rooms end by Robbie and, after after a few singles from Jenkinson’s next over, the next boundary came from Robbie’s bowling. This brought about the retirement of Zurawley for 33. Captain Buxom came to the wicket and decided to play the role of supporting partner to Kent, who was seeing the ball far better and scoring runs. A quick single from Buckley led to a 2 and a 4 from Kent and Robbie’s first over went for 13 runs. After 10 overs, Mallards were 81-2 and well in control. Jenkinson’s final over saw another single from Buckley bringing Kenty on to strike and he subsequently hit consecutive 4s from the bowling before retaining the strike off the last delivery. The bowler finished with figures of 4-0-24-1, the same as Squires. It’s always nice to see a bit of continuity with the bowlers isn’t it?!

A single off the next over from Kent saw Buckley defend the next 3 deliveries before growing tired of not scoring runs and hit the last ball for 4. The relief (inside Captain Buxom’s head anyway) was palpable whilst the rest of the team couldn’t give a shit! 12 overs gone, Mallards were 96-2 and closing in at a decent rate on victory. Replacing Jenkinson was Bateman and, in his first over, despite it only going for 2 runs, this brought about the retirement of Kent for a fabulous 30. Ankush came to the wicket and, at the end of 13 overs, Mallards had moved on to 102-2. This was to change at the next over where B&W’s captain, Draper, brought himself on much to the disappointment of the Mallards team. His bowling always gets wickets mainly because the batsmen have either played 17 shots before the ball gets to them and they get bowled, or they get a top edge and hole out to a fielder. Which is exactly what happened to Captain Buxom, holing out at deep fine leg to a rather splendid catch taken on the dive, right next to the ground, by Horbury for only 8 runs. Ankush hit the next ball for 4, which is what Buckley had been trying to do for an entire over.

For some reason known only to B&W, Robson was brought back into the attack – despite having conceded 25 runs off his first 2 overs. His first ball went for 4 (Nitsch) and then a few byes meaning that, at the end of the 15th over, Mallards were 118-3. Not even Mallards could throw this one away although we have given it a bloody good go in the past!! Sure enough, off the first ball of Bateman’s 2nd over, a four was hit by Ankush and Mallards had won the game convincingly with still 4.5 overs of the game left. It’s certainly the most control I’ve seen Mallards have of a game during my time with the squad.

So, great fielding, great bowling, great batting and a fabulous team ethic saw a resounding Mallards victory and winning the 3-game series against B&W 2-1!! Well done everyone!


Mallards v Sparta @ Heaton Medicals June 19

“A game of one half” or “Rain Stopped Play”

Once upon a time, a long long time ago, there was a game of cricket between Mallards and Sparta. This is only being reported now due to the match reporter going away on holiday and completely forgetting about the fact that he needed to write it!

As the game was approaching, it started to drizzle. Would this have an effect on the match itself? Well, the more astute of you have probably already worked out that it would, taking into account the 2 titles given to this report!!

After arriving at around 5.55pm, Captain Buxom was a little bit fraught after having had an argument at the car hire office ahead of his work trip the following day. Due to the enjoyment one tends to get playing at Heaton Medicals Ground, this preparation wasn’t exactly what was needed so, hopefully, this game would bring that enjoyment back and the car hire situation would be quickly forgotten! Things became a little bit better for the Skip when he won the toss and elected to field. The drizzle was still a little bit of a worry though.

With Beakers taking the gloves behind the stumps, the opening bowlers were Browne and Watson. Browne opened from the top end and only conceded 4 runs from his first over. Watson’s first over conceded only 7 runs, including the first boundary of the game. The edge of the bat frustratingly missed the ball on a couple of occasions but a wicket didn’t seem too far away. However, the opening batsmen (Smith and Roe – sounds like a firm of solicitors!!) worked away at Browne and Watson for their respective spells with Roe being the most dominant of the two – hitting fours compared to Smith’s singles. After 8 overs Sparta were 51 without loss.

Replacing Browne (who finished with figures of 4-0-20-0) was Malik who opened by bowling rather tightly and then, on his 3rd delivery, took the wicket of Smith, clean bowling him for only 10. He was most certainly the supporting batsmen in that opening partnership. This brought Gibb to the wicket and he quickly got himself in by scoring a 4 off the penultimate ball of the over.

Replacing Watson (who finished with figures of 4-0-27-0) was Benson and he went for a bit of pasting off his opening over. However, this did bring about the retirement of Roe for 30 and brought Nelson to the wicket. Unfortunately, not the former Admiral of the Fleet but a batsmen who decided to go after our bowlers – mainly the unfortunate Benson. With Malik keeping it fairly tight from the top end (finishing with figures of 4-0-11-1), Benson eventually responded by claiming the wicket of Nelson bowled for 22. There’s one in the eye for Sparta! Benson’s closing figures were 4-0-34-1 and at the end of 16 overs, Sparta were 107 for 2.

The last bowling changes saw Latif replace Malik and Holland (reluctantly) replacing Benson. Both of them went about their task with fervour and commitment. So much so that they both combined to run out Gibb for 27, Holland hitting the stumps during Latif’s over. Holland continued his good work by bowling a nice line and length conceding only 7 runs off his first over. By now, the drizzle had turned a fair bit heavier – not quite rain but worrying enough. Great efforts were made to keep the ball dry (McCaffery had been doggedly working on the ball the entire game to keep the shine, keep it dry and give us a chance!) and the final couple of overs yielded a bit more success. Browne took a nice catch at deep midwicket from Latif’s final over with his final figures reading 2-0-18-1 and Holland’s last over brought great drama – McCaffery knackering his calf on the slippy outfield, Latif taking a tumble chasing down the ball on the edge of the square but then, on the last ball of the innings, Latif taking a marvellous catch on the run, in the deep, in the now-pouring rain to give Holland final figures of 2-0-17-1.

As both teams walked off the pitch, the rain became very heavy indeed and any chance of Mallards getting to chase down Sparta’s final score of 142 were practically ended. Whilst we waited it out for 10-15mins, the majority of the Sparta team got changed and started heading home! I will never get over their laissez-faire attitude to the game – it’s very amusing! At the end of the game, people tried to make sense of the scorebook (still none-the-wiser) and then spent about 20 mins debating over which was the best pub to go to – the Corner House certainly didn’t win.

To conclude, a great effort all round in very poor conditions, some injuries and a good choice of pub destination for people to go to afterwards (the Hussars). If only we’d had the chance to play the return fixture!!