Category Archives: Match Reports 2020

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.





















Mallards v KSOB August 19 @ Riding Mill


On a very overcast muggy August evening, KSOB were the visitors to Riding Mill for their game against the mighty Mallards. As skipper Buxom was still en route, the opposition captain was keen to get things underway so vice-captain McCaffery went out to the middle and, as is his wont, lost the toss and we were put into bat.

Skipper Buxom arrived at 5.55pm and was advised of this fact so, 15 minutes later (everyone making efficient use of the time there!), the game started with Kent and Hall opening the batting for Mallards and Ferris opening the bowling for KSOB. After the first ball, Kent was walking (storming?) back to the clubhouse given out LBW by umpire Taylor. Needless to say there was a conflict of opinion as to the decision but, to be fair to the umpire, there was a lot of thought given before raising the out finger. Thacker replaced Kent at the wicket, somewhat earlier than expected, and scored a single off his second ball preventing Ferris from opening the bowling with a wicket maiden, as Hall played it safe with the 3 deliveries he faced.

From the tree end, Beth Absolom bowled the 2nd over and went for 9 which consisted of a 4 for Hall and multiple extras. Ferris kept it tight for his 2nd over and Absolom started her 2nd over with 3 dot balls before being hit for another 4 by Hall. She got her revenge the next ball though by having Hall caught by Willett for 9. After 4 overs, Mallards were 22 for 2 – a slow and steady start. McCaffery replaced Hall and both he and Thacker set about bowling, particularly Thacker who hit several fours off the bowling of Anderson and Willett, the change bowlers. After hitting one of these boundaries, Thacker retired on 31 not out, which apparently brought some questions from the opposition captain regarding retirement total. McCaffery was slightly perturbed by this but the incoming skipper said that it’s retire at 30 and that’s what it will be. Strange reason to grumble though.

Buckley and McCaffery continued where Thacker had left off by scoring regularly with Buckley scoring a four early in his innings. Despite KSOB having taken the catch of Hall, there was a theme of dropped catches running through the Mallards innings as there’d been a few drops by the fielding side. After Willet’s second over, Absolom came back on and, at the start of her 4th over, nabbed the wicket of McCaffery who was caught by Bedford, the rascal. Latif replaced McCaffery at the crease.

By now, Buckley was batting practically one-handed as he’d knackered his arm hitting a boundary on the off-side. Not able to hold the bat properly or put any strength/power into any shot he played, Buckley embodied the spirit of Cowdrey and played on until he retired on 30 not out. Leading by example. Replaced by Potts, Latif and Potts kept the scoreboard ticking over and, despite Latif being run out for 8 and Potts bowled by Moir for 4, Mallards ended up on 124 for 5 after their allotted 16 overs. It felt much longer though as it had taken 75mins to get through the 16 overs for some reason.

After a quick turnaround between innings, Mallards were in the field and ready to go but kept waiting by KSOB (who’d been keen to get underway but had spent most of the evening taking their time on most things). KSOB opened with A Moir and Sailesh whilst Mallards opened with Cleaver from the field end, who’d over-ruled his skipper who’d wanted him to open from the tree end. It became immediately obvious that KSOB weren’t overly worried about time as they hit Cleaver for 15 off his first over. Despite the fading light, the reply might not take that long it seemed. Browne took the 2nd over from the tree end and also went for 15 meaning that KSOB were 30 without loss after just 2 overs. Buckley persevered with his opening choice of bowlers and adapted the field accordingly to reflect Sailesh’s shot selection and he was subsequently caught on the boundary by Thacker off Cleaver’s last ball of his 2nd over. In the meantime, Moir retired after a quickfire 33 not out and Bedford and Menton were now in the middle. After 6 overs, KSOB were 54 for 1 which was only 4 runs ahead of where Mallards had been at the same stage. Both Browne and Cleaver had gone for 27 runs each off their first 3 overs. Mallards had dropped a couple of chances by this point too, which was something that would continue with fabulous consistency for the remainder of the game. Cleaver’s final over only went for 2 runs and Browne’s last over went for 9, though it did deserve a wicket.

Replacing Browne and Cleaver were Thacker from the field end and Crombie from the tree end. Their first overs were quite tight going for just 2 and 4 respectively. The light was now fading ridiculously fast and Buckley called for the pink ball after consulting with the batsmen and umpires. For some reason, the opposition captain had taken umbrage at this, despite talking about it during the Mallards innings! Keeping it tight with the pink ball, just a further 10 runs in total came off Thacker and Crombie’s second overs. Thacker and Crombie are also thinking of opening a cider brand to match their names combo. Slowly but surely, the batsmen were starting to open their shoulders somewhat and the fielding side were helping them a fair bit by either dropping catches or letting the ball go under their feet instead of using their hands (no names mentioned here Buckley!!). With 2 overs remaining, KSOB were 101 for 1. 24 needed off the final 12 balls. After Thacker’s first 2 balls of his final over going for a 2 and a 4, the field was pushed out to save the boundaries and Thacker took the wicket of Menton with is next delivery for a nice knock of 25. The incoming batsman was Ferris and he saw out 3 dot balls due to some good bowling and nice fielding. One over to go and KSOB were on 107, so 18 still required. Doable but difficult.

After some consultation, Crombie reverted back to spin bowling instead of his medium pace and went for singles and twos, meaning that KSOB finished on 115 and Mallards had won by 9 runs just as the rain started to fall a bit heavier and more consistently, so great timing there. Yes, that’s right. Mallards had won a game which came as some relief after a few defeats (albeit close ones) and a tie! Just a pity that the season finishes in just over a week’s time.

Great batting, fielding and bowling all round from Mallards. A great team effort.



Mallards v Genetics August 11th @ Riding Mill

There have been many great rivalries and competitions over the years – Tottenham vs Arsenal, Henry VIII against the Catholics, Barcelona vs Real Madrid, Man vs Food, England vs Australia in the Ashes, Phil Mitchell vs Ian Beale and, of course Donald Trump vs reality. However, none can wave a piece of wood encrusted with dog excrement at the “rivalry” between those 2 titans of friendly cricket in the North-East of England – Mallards CC and Genetics CC.

Twas a glorious evening in Northumberland on 11th August (that line would’ve worked even better if we’d played on the 12th!) and the ground at Riding Mill was bathed in sunshine as 22 men, illustrious and true, prepared to pitch battle against each other to get their hands on the coveted Jon Rob Cup.

Skipper for the evening was Colin “the Cat” McCaffery as usual incumbent Mark “Buxom” Buckley had traitorously decided to turn out for Genetics. Funnily enough, he was captain for them tonight and, as McCaffery and Buxom walked out to the middle, they stared at one another through eyes of steel and determination, neither wanting to end up on the losing side. Straight up, Colin lost the toss and was put in to bat by the treacherous Buckley.

Before any game started however, the now-traditional picture of both teams next to the Jon Rob benches at the field end was taken (everyone was suitably socially-distanced) before a fitting minutes applause by everyone there (players, umpires and spectators) took place in the middle to the memory of Jon Rob but, also, Leon Mexter and Paul Benneworth who both sadly passed away far too young since this fixture was last played. Respect shown by everyone.

As is the wont in this fixture, things are usually mixed up a bit. 20 overs per innings, retire at 30 and everyone has to bowl. Genetics opened with Tarbuck and Gardner and they kept things fairly tidy whilst Mallards’ opening batters – Ankush and A Hall – carefully defended their wickets whilst getting their eye in and inching up the scores. After 4 overs the score was a relatively decent 22-0. Next up to bowl were J Bennett and S Mitcheson. Again, both bowlers kept it fairly tidy and, after 8 overs, Mallards had progressed to a slightly conservative 41 without loss. Of the 2 batsmen, A Hall was definitely playing a supporting role at this stage. However, Ankush had definitely had a slice or two of luck after being dropped off consecutive Mitcheson deliveries by first Heslop (great to see him back on the cricket field after an enforced break from the game) and then Tarbuck – both spilling very similar chances.

Next up to bowl for Genetics were Ash and D Taylor. Again both bowlers kept it neat and tidy but, during Ash’s second over, Ankush passed the landmark score of 30 and has to retire with Mallards on 59 – a great innings. In comes Hamid and decides to continue where Ankush had left off and his innings can be best described as one which scored fairly quickly and definitely had the bat swinging throughout! It was needed – after 12 overs Mallards were on 72 without loss. Following Ash and D Taylor were B Taylor (no relation, as D Taylor has stressed quite vociferously) and newcomer to the Genetics friendly squad, P Spratt. Again, both bowlers keep it fairly neat and tidy and, in B Taylor’s second over, he had A Hall stumped for an impressive 26 by the Genetics’ keeper, McAulay. Hall was replaced by Latif who only lasted a few deliveries before being caught by D Taylor at square leg for a duck. It was unfortunate for Latif as Genetics had dropped a few chances by this stage of the game so it was surprising that one was actually held!

Replacing Latif at the crease was the experienced T Cleaver who attacked all deliveries with great energy and vigour. A cameo innings was ended when he was run out for just 5 – surely his entertaining innings deserved more runs than that!?

With Heslop unable to bowl, the final 4 overs were split between B Taylor & M Gardner at the tree end and Buckley at the field end (after Buxom had had a consultation with his opposite number McCaffery to check that he was okay with 2 bowlers having to bowl a 3rd over each). It’s rare that Buckley bowls these days and tonight showed exactly why that is. Hamid retired in the 19thover after an impressive knock of 31 not out whilst Lucas quickly came and went, given out LBW by the merciless umpire (a certain G Taylor – again, no relation) for a duck whilst A Goldsborough came in to the middle to keep S Holland company for the final, protracted, agonisingly painful over of the Mallards innings off Buckley. Of the 9 wides in the entire Mallards innings, 6 of them came off Buckley’s 2 overs. Maybe this was retribution for his turncoat captaincy? However, after 20 overs, Mallards finished on 120 for 4. Genetics needed a smidgen above a run a ball off their 20 overs to win so Mallards know what they needed to do.

Genetics opened their batting with McAulay and Tarbuck whilst Mallards’ bowling was entrusted to the metronomic bowling of Cleaver and the slightly speedier bowling of Goldsborough. An early breakthrough for Mallards came in the 2nd over when Goldsborough clean bowled McAulay for just 3. A tight start for the Mallards bowlers meant that, after 4 overs, Genetics were only 13 for 1 after what seemed an inspired decision (well, for Mallards anyway) by the Genetics captain Buxom to put B Taylor in at number 3.

McCaffery brought on himself and S Holland as the first change bowlers which was a successful decision as, in his second over, Holland clean bowled Taylor for just 9. This came as a blessed relief all round, but mainly to the Genetics team who, at one point, appealed for LBW against Taylor all the way from the football pitch boundary! It looked close from their vantage point but the umpire was having none of it. Again, Holland and the captain were keeping things tight and at the end of the eighth over, Genetics were on 28 for 2, which was considerably behind the run rate. Looking promising for Mallards.

Replacing B Taylor was the grandee of Genetics, S Mitcheson, who eant out like a man possessed, looking to run everything with his willing batting partner Tarbuck. Unfortunately, this cameo was all too brief as he was bowled by new bowler C Lucas in his first over, who looked as surprised as the rest of us! Latif was also into the attack now and his first over brought about yet another wicket, that of D Heslop for just 1 when he was well caught by A Goldsborough at deepish square. This was the first catch that had been taken as Mallards had seemingly caught the dropping disease from Genetics up to this point. Either that, or they’d not rubbed the sanitiser into their hands properly! At the halfway point, Genetics were 43-4, well behind in both runs and wickets. Looking even more promising for Mallards!!

However, Genetics were now starting to chase down the score. D Taylor had damaged C Lucas’s bowling figures by hitting 12 off his second over and, although Latif took another wicket when Hamid took a rather fabulous over-the-head catch from a Tarbuck shot, a further 8 runs came off that over. Only 2 overs later and Genetics had gone from 43-4 to 63-4. D Taylor and new batsmen Spratt had decided to open their shoulders and both went after the new bowlers – A Hall and I Stone. Unfortunately, Stone was on the receiving end of some brutal attacking including a monstrous 6 from Spratt, who did the same to Hall! After 16 overs, Genetics had motored onto 106-5, including the retirement of D Taylor for a neat 30. Genetics had taken their first 10 overs to get to 43 and had scored the same amount between overs 12 and 16! This didn’t look quite as promising now for Mallards. Replacing D Taylor at the crease was J Bennett and he was soon joined there by Ash, who replaced P Spratt who’d been bowled by new bowler Ankush for an impressive 24. In the now-failing light, final bowlers Ankush and Hamid were keeping it tight but Genetics were inching ever closer to the required amount. After 18 overs, Genetics were 117-6 with D Taylor back in the hutch and M Gardner and Buxom still to come. Surely this would be too much for Mallards? Unfortunately, it was. The promise of a what looked like a victory for Mallards after 12 overs of the Genetics innings came crashing to the ground in the 19th when Bennett hit Ankush for 4 to take them to 124-6 and Mallards succumbed with one over and a ball remaining.

Elbow bumps all round as the teams left the pitch with congratulations and pleasantries exchanged in what was a fitting game to the memories of Jon Rob, Leon and Paul. I am sure that they would have relished and enjoyed playing in a game such as the one tonight. Played in a true friendly spirit, everyone getting a game, a close-run finish and everyone staying at the end for food, pizza and conversation. As close to perfection as you’re likely to get.

A Mallardian defeat maybe, but a Churchillian performance and a final doff of the cap to our 3 late comrades

Mallards v Knights CC August 6 @ East Rainton

It’s pretty hard to find a village in County Durham that didn’t have a pit at one time, East Rainton being no exception home to no less than eight pits between 1815 and 21st July 1978 when the last one closed. Generally owned by various members of the aristocracy, one of the few benevolences often granted by those masters was to facilitate the building of a cricket ground for the miners. Consequently, Durham is riddled with village cricket grounds – often safe from re-development due to being built on otherwise unsafe for construction land.

And so, Knights CC (pictured above) turfed out from their usual ground due to council apathy to do the risk assessments that we need in these strange times, duly sent a screen shot of a location just off the A690 with the advice “it’s easy to find”. And actually, it was. A picturesque, if albeit, undulating outfield, cricket ground up a single-track lane complete with a brand-spanking-new (and very nice looking) club-house that was out-of-bounds due to the C-19 restrictions.

Losing the toss, ex-vice-captain McCaffery was invited to bat and after a quick consultation with the Despot, a batting order was agreed with Cleaver promoted to the heady heights of 10. Opening the batting though were Holland senior junior (Ed) and new(ish) recruit Goldsborough. Andy is epitome of what we aspire to in Mallards and did not disappoint by duly clipping the first ball of the innings straight into the waiting hands of mid-wicket, this ensuring that he is firmly in the running for at least one trophy in this truncated season (message to Mr Cox, who is compiling live statistics for the season, think a diamond duck counts as double in the stats!).

In at 3, Holland junior junior (Tom) came in and immediately started with a confidence level that no other Mallard managed on what was a difficult wicket that made timing of shots difficult, Tom’s partnership with his brother was short lived and a procession of Mallards came and went with no-one getting out of single figures and Knights making sure that every catching opportunity was taken. Special mention must go to Stu Green – resplendent with his lock-down haircut – for some particularly good sledging of the opposition while batting! Tom was finally out in the 15th over for a very creditable 20, leaving the old lags of Cleaver and the Despot attempting to at least see out the innings. Sadly, it was not to be with the Despot getting himself out thanks to a suicidal run attempt that saw Blenkiron uncharitably throwing and hitting the stumps with only one to aim at. The final outcome 57 all out, an over short of the allotted 18.

Knights must have been thinking that an early finish was in the offing, but it was to prove not to be. Cleaver who had already marked his run up at the end of the Mallards innings, took the first over and bowled with his usual miserliness and was rewarded with 2 wickets from his allotted three overs, removing both openers – first Clark for 1 and a second thanks to a stunning one-handed catch at mid-wicket by Goldsborough that would have probably otherwise gone over the head of most other Mallards.

Conscious of defending a low score the combined leadership of McCaffery behind the stumps, and who was having a blinder of a time throwing himself about, and the Despot at fly-slip/ gully – the bowling was quickly rotated to give everyone a chance at doing so. Browne, deprived of a glass of muscle relaxant before the match by his chauffeur (aka McCaffery) and clearly suffering from his second game in as many days bowled stiffly but somehow snaffled an lbw by surprising the Knights number 3 with a delivery that was on target. Meanwhile at the other end, replacing the very tidy Goldsborough, Stone rolled back the years with a masterclass in bowling guile that saw just 2 runs conceded from his 3 overs. Stone was unlucky not to bag a couple of wickets as well thanks to the other feature of the innings that saw every other catching chance either dropped or falling just out of the reach of the fielder.

Coming on in the last trimester of the innings, Ed Holland bowled with some zip conceding just 7 runs from 3 overs and helped seal a run-out even with a ball juggling take that gave the stretching batsmen that faint glimmer of a chance of a reprieve only to dash those hopes. With wickets in hand, but the overs ticking down Knights stepped up their pace, taking a shine to Latif and on the last ball of the 16th over finally overhauled Mallards total to win by 6 wickets.

With no club-house bar and no obvious public house nearby it was a case of pack up bags and head home (possibly via McDonalds drive-through for the very excellent junior Hollands courtesy of Holland senior). However, another close game, but another one we ended up being on the wrong side of the finish line – a Mallardian performance through and through.


Mallards v Benwell and Walbottle August 5 @ Riding Mill

I’m writing this with my feet up, the wireless on and a glass of halfway decent Pinot Gris helping to focus my thoughts. This is a situation in which I have found myself with some regularity in this, our summer of discontent, the difference being that this time I have a match report to write to help pass the time.

Our latest trip down t’ Mill saw us take on regular foes Benwell and Walbottle, in a fixture sandwiched into the calendar at short notice. The day was a warm but dull affair with heavy grey clouds constantly threatening to intervene. A shortened match of just 16 overs per innings was agreed with concerns over the light at this late stage in the season. The visitors won the toss and elected to bat first. Captaincy for the day fell to Dave Cox, with regular skipper Mark “Buxom” Buckley and deputy, Mark “Bleeding Gums” Butcher, both missing in action.

Despite something of a scramble to assemble a team, it was a strong Mallards XI that took to the sward, bang on about 5 past 6 in the evening. Hamid Malik took the new ball with Cox operating at the other end. A well balanced battle commenced with Walbottle openers Smith and Harrington looking to score quickly, but being restricted by some tight bowling.

The score progressed to 24/0 after four overs before Hamid struck in the 5th, as Latif settled under a top-edged pull at square leg to remove Smith for 24 off just 15 balls. Misfortune struck in the following over with Cox pulling up lame in the last ball of the over and being forced off the field with a hamstring strain.

Johnny Bennett took over the reins for the remainder of the innings, as Andy Watson came on to bowl the seventh over. The scoring continued at a steady, but not unmanageable rate, before Watson bowled Harrington for 16 in the ninth over with the score on 53.

Bennett continued to change up the bowlers, with Tom Browne and Ankush each taking a turn. Opposition number three, Dickinson reached the retirement score of 25, making way for Ridley, who was also keen to push the rate. Ankush found the third wicket in his second over, the 13th of the innings, bowling Ridley for 21.

The innings came to a close with more bowling changes, Liaquat Latif and Bennett both taking a turn, the final score was 117/3. A good score from 16 overs, but with some power in the Mallards line-up, this was within reach.

Robbie Burns and Ankush were sent out to open, and Burns wasted no time, taking 22 off the first over, which incidentally only contained five balls. A single off the first ball of the second over brought Burns back on strike who, after an uncharacteristic dot ball, duly nailed his fourth six of his innings. Reaching the retirement score in just seven balls is possibly a Mallards record and certainly put the match there for the taking…

Salesh was in at three and out first ball, trying to continue the momentum but failing to connect with a straight one. One half of the Norwich Mafia, Chris Lucas was promoted to four, largely on the back of his success in the dice-based format of the game during lockdown. It was an aggressive move which didn’t pay off as Lucas was shortly on his way for one.

Bennett at five and Ankush looked to calm things down with a smattering of boundaries pushing the score along. The Great Lockdown of 2020 has robbed us of the comforting sight of a Mallards collapse; fortunately we were about to be treated to a classic of the genre. Bennett was first to go, unable to clear the ring off the penultimate ball of the fifth over, before Si Holland was beaten by a good one next ball.

How were we still only at five overs? This was a strange innings.

Ankush fell off the first ball of the sixth over for a patient 11, and a relatively comfortable 55/2 had become 55/5 in the blink of an eye. Latif and Hamid began the rebuilding, absorbing some good bowling while keeping on top of the run rate.

Hamid was the next to go, unlucky to top edge one to fine leg. Watson, in at nine (remember, we’re still only in the ninth over at this stage), was straight down to business with a couple of well struck fours. Together with Latif the partnership took us to the verge of victory before Latif ran out of runs and reached the retirement score before Watson miscued one to mid on.

With a bit over two overs left and still 11 runs remaining it was still there to be taken but Browne at 10 (graciously allowed to bat in Cox’s absence by the opposition) and Beacock at 11 couldn’t pierce the field to find the required runs, and we finished on 110/8 after our 16.

A hard-fought match that went right to the wire but we were just unable to finish it off. However, no time for self-pity as the team make it two games in two days against Belmont Knights. Get it done, lads.

Finally, thanks to Mallardus Emeritus, Andy Dunhill for turning up and offering to umpire, such gestures are always welcome.

Mallards v Riding Mill July 22 @ Riding Mill

We were all happy and surprised to be playing a match after rain had threatened earlier for most of the day. Having fully Covid-19 adapted with chairs for players outside and the mandatory sanitary break every 6 overs the match proceeded with Riding Mill batting first. Unfortunately the scorecard does not have the runs at the end of each over or which bowler bowled the over. So here it goes with some dramatic licence !!

The Mill opened with Kenty and A Hall. The opening bowling attack was Tony Cleaver and Tom Browne . There was a moment of shock when the first wicket fell at 17 Kenty given lbw to Browne for 11. The umpires finger going up like the proverbial rat up a drainpipe. The new batsman was Joel Marks. Browne was on fire and in his next over bowled A Hall for 9. The score at that stage 28 for 2. The next batsman was A Watson.  Trigger Cleaver having adjusted his line finished his spell well with figures 0-31 off 4 overs and Browne finishing his spell with figures of 2-33 off 4 overs.

Marks and A Watson consolidated the position for the Mill with some good batting. In the bowling attack Cox replaced Cleaver and Latif replaced Browne. There was a great fiery spell from Cox. Marks retired on 30 not out with A Watson retiring on 31 not out. The new batsman was G Bowman who scored some good boundaries before being eventually bowled by Cox for 19. The new batsman was Thacker who was caught on the boundary for 4 by an excellent running catch by Browne who, like most of us, has benefitted from some good pre-season training run by Robbie at the Mill.  Cox finished a great spell with figures of 1-14 off 4 overs. Latif finishing with figures of 1-30 off 4 overs which could have been better if safe hands Buxom had caught a regulation catch for him. The safety of his hands not in doubt but the getting there maybe ?

A note on the fielding of Cleaver who threw himself about like a man possessed literally putting his body on the line. This included saving a certain boundary on one occasion using his shoulder.

The new batsmen were Steve ‘Chuck’ Norris and Mallinson who played some nice shots to close the Mill’s innings . Norris finishing on 17 not out and Malinson on 15 not out. The last bowling pair of Stig and Holland finished on 0-25 off 2 overs (Stig) and 0-7 off 1 over (Holland). The Mallards had been set a pretty daunting 145 to win.

The Mallards opening batsmen were  Cox and making his Mallards debut Robbie Burns who had coached us well during pre-season. Robbie after coaching us realised the best way to help the Mallards batting frailties was to actually bat for them. Unusually for a Mallards innings Coach Robbie hit the first ball for 4. The opening pair approached the total with a vigour. Opening bowlers for the Mill were Mallinson and Brown. Cox and Coach Robbie batted beautifully hitting a number of boundaries. The scoring rate was very good and keeping up with the rate required. After 3 overs the Mallards were 25 for 0 And after 8 overs the Mallards had reached 59 for 0. For the Mill Mallinson finished with 0-30 from 4 overs and Brown 0-26 from 4 overs. Coach Robbie retired on 32 but had a strong inkling having coached the Mallards that he would be back as we now were into the Mallards batting proper which was more renowned for its ‘nurdling’ as opposed to quick scoring. Wood was the new batsman and true to form began ably ‘nurdling’ and was soon out for 1 bowled B Watson. Lucas the next batsman was out for a duck again to B . Watson.( Score 74 for 2)  In came Skip Buxom. Cox soon retired for a well made 30  – after looking around at the remaining Mallards he decided not to take his pads off. Next batsman Latif then bucked the ‘nurdling’ trend with 2 fours off Chuck Norris in consecutive deliveries surprising himself and equally the watching Mallards. Latif was controversially run out for 10. The score was 107 after 15 overs. B Watson for the Mill finished with figures of 2 for 20 off 4 overs . Next in for the Mallards was Stig. Facing his fourth delivery he was hit in the head (without helmet) and horribly fell to the floor. It was a sickening moment watching. Thankfully Stig with a bloodied face and his front teeth rearranged eventually recovered on the sidelines. Typically team man Stiggy wanted the game to proceed and reluctantly agreed to go to hospital after the match if we carried on.

The Mallards innings quickly faltered on resumption. McCaffrey was run out for 2 followed by Buxom run out for 16. Browne was bowled first ball and Cleaver was bowled by Thacker for 1 .Coach Robbie was back for only one ball and was out to Thacker’s bowling. Holland finished on 2 not out . The Mallards had posted a credible 121 in response. For the Mill Norris finished with 0 for 27 off his 3 overs , Thacker 2 for 5 of his 2 overs and Hall 1 for 6 off 1 over.

Win  draw or lose we are all grateful to be playing again . Much merriment was had between the players after the match enjoying the fantastic new facilities the Mill had on offer including a wide selection of drinks( ranging from the latest real ales to slim line gin and tonic) from an enormous fridge. Kenty, by now recovered from his earlier subdued self, was happily serving out chips and well proportioned sausages.




Mallards v Davipart July 15 @ Riding Mill

So much about this fixture was unorthodox. The fact the first game of the season was more than half-way through July; the virtual changing rooms of spaced out chairs on the football field; the arcane rituals of applying anti-bacterial goop all over hands and (cricket) balls, and of course the almost tangible absence of one of the Mallards who had turned out in the previous fixture at Bill Quay on 29th August 2019.

Before the game got underway, all players took to the fields in a circle and observed a minute’s silence in honour of two Mallards who had left us during the off-season (see above). Many of the Mallards were resplendent in new whites bearing the name of Leon Mexter, former treasurer, and public speaker extraordinaire, who had been cruelly taken not long after the Bill Quay game, and whose absence left a long shadow over proceedings. But the silence was also in honour of Paul Benneworth, a Mallard of seasons gone by, and known for his general unorthodoxy – very much in keeping with the general nature of the fixture.

The teams took to the field suitably gooped-up, with Mallards sending Kent and Ankush into bat. Things started sensibly with a few dots before Kent unleashed the first boundary of the game and retained the strike into the second over. A quick single brought to the crease Ankush who aimed to open in big style but didn’t get enough on a lofted drive and was duly sent back to the “changing room” caught at mid-on.

Ally Hall took over and got straight to business with a single. Over the course of the next 5 overs, Hall and Kent gradually got the measure of Thompson and Maplesden (M), upping the run rate in the 5th and 6th overs to bring the score to 39 for 1 at the first anti-bacterial break after 7 overs had been bowled. Once play resumed, Kent and Hall continued as before, seeing the ball nicely and keeping the scoreboard ticking over, with both retiring on 30 and 31 respectively.

McCaffery took over from Kent; Cox replaced Hall, and both set in for a good bat with a string of singles and some effective calling to keep the strike rotating. After a period of settling in, McCaffery moved through the gears and took Maplesden (S) to the boundary a couple of times. He apparently took exception, and got his revenge in the 16th, clean-bowling McCaffery for a total of 18, with Mallards now 107 for 2 with 4 overs to come.

In the meantime, Cox had quickly found some form, scoring a string of uncompromising boundaries.  The pick of these was a glorious lofted drive towards the sightscreens, with the pose held for the slow-motion replay, and yet cruelly short of a maximum; falling seemingly inches short of the rope. It was a brief but effective cameo and Cox returned to the “clubhouse” to the applause of his fellow Mallards, having scored 31 off 19 deliveries. The score at this point was 129 for 2, with 2 overs still to come.

Buckley and Thacker were left to finish up the innings with Dhillon (G) and Dhillon (A) bowling tightly through the last 2 overs, only giving away 6 more runs and setting an impressive 1st innings total of 135.

A quick break before the Mallards took to the field to resume play, and Tony Cleaver started proceedings from the tree end forcing 3 dot balls from Sandhu (S), before he got the ball off the square for 3 runs. Hamid took the second over with a few looseners, which in addition to an unfortunate boundary wide, made for a fairly punishing first over. TC took the ball for the third over and, apparently nonplussed at being hit to the boundary from his first ball, bounced back by dotting the remainder of the over. Hamid showed similar resilience with a strong comeback in his second over, which went for an economical 2.

Given the uncharacteristically high target, many would have been forgiven for thinking this recent spate of tight bowling would be all we needed to pin back the opposition. However, just as our bowlers settled into their game, so too did the Davipart batsmen, Sandhu (S) and Rawley (Y). Nevertheless, Cleaver and Malik finished their spells – although wicketless – only having succumbed to 26 and 24 runs apiece from their 4 overs, with the score 53 without loss. If this run rate was maintained for the rest of the game however, it was going to be close…

Cox and Thacker took up the action and, like their predecessors, used their first overs to shake off some off-season rust. Cox struggled with the front foot (and sportingly gave Sandhu (S) a 6 to retire on 31), whilst Thacker watched his first ball fly over the boundary. Yet undaunted by this, Thacker took the wicket of Rawley (Y) with his third – evidently stung by that first ball slog – and dotted out the rest of the over. So, at the half-way point we had our first wicket and the scoreboard read 70 for 1, but at the same point in our innings the score was 58 for 1, so lots still to do in the home stretch.

Cox gritted his teeth and suppressed the run rate with each over he bowled, going for 6, 4 and 0 in his final three – the last being a double wicket maiden. This saw the departure of Sandhu (A) and Rawley (D) to the ‘pavilion’ to join their namesakes. Cox finished his spell with figures of 4-0-21-2. Thacker bowled tightly for the remainder of his spell, and would also have finished with 2 wickets under his belt, had Holland turned up to a few more catching practice sessions in the interminable off-season. Instead he saw Maplesden (M) take a single off his last ball, instead of taking his marching orders.

Continuing the theme of difficult first overs, Holland – fresh from his Denly-esque goober – took the ball and within seconds witnessed his team-mates rescuing it from the nettles. After this rude awakening, the over settled into a handful of singles, until the last ball pitched a little too full and was despatched towards the road for 6 runs by Dhillon (A) with a swat off his legs. Ankush took over at 121 for 3 with 3 overs remaining, and 3 balls in, avenged the leg-swat by clean bowling Dhillon (A). This brought Dhillon (G) to the crease, who didn’t trouble the scorer for the rest of the over thanks to some surgical bowling accuracy from Ankush. 18 overs bowled and the score was 124 for 4. 12 runs required off 12 balls.

Holland took his mark in the 19th, acutely aware that having gone for 14 in his first, he was in an excellent position to end the game early with a few characteristically wayward deliveries. However, despite a couple of wides, managed to leak only 6 more runs. Better than the first, but maintained Davipart’s run-a-ball target run-rate. 6 needed from 6.

Ankush stepped up to bowl the last over and two dots from the first 2 balls kept spirits going in the field. A single brought Maplesden (M) to the crease, and his next ball pinned him there – another dot in the book. The pendulum swung tentatively back to the Mallards, with 5 now required from 2 balls. The next ball went for 2. The field held its’ collective breath for the final ball. Maplesden (M) managed to get it off the square but not past the field. It was fielded in but not before a second run was completed. Scores level, the game was tied on 135 runs apiece.

Perhaps this was a worthy result. A friendly in every respect – Davipart worthy opposition, despite having only 7 surnames between them – and played in the best spirit of the game. A fitting tribute to absent Mallards.