Category Archives: Match Reports 2021

Mallards v Belmont Knights  June 1 @ Riding Mill

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

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

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

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

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

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



Mallards v Kings School Old Boys August 18 @ Riding Mill

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Mallards v Belmont Knights August 5 @ Belmont

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mallards v Wearmouth July 20 @ Wearmouth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mallards v Davipart July 14 @ Riding Mill

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mallards v Riding Mill June 30 @Riding Mill

Dearest cousin Eglantine,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yours bemusedly,

Florence Leglance (Ms)


Mallards v Corbridge June 15 @ Riding Mill

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mallards v Excelsior Batters June 17 @ Riding Mill

All the best things come in fives: The Famous Five; The Jackson Five; Chanel No.5; The Fifth Element (actually scratch that, terrible movie). Anyway, you get the point. Rumour had it that the Mallards had never won five games in a row and with four already in the bag the anticipation of going down in history hung heavy in the air. Though that may have been the cloud cover.

Excelsior Batters were, hopefully, to be the latest victims of this unlikely surge in results though previous form between the two pointed to a close-run thing.

An experimental new partnership of in-form Wilson (the Older) and the always-reliable Malik were despatched to lead the way to a glorious victory by a buoyant stand-in skipper Butcher. But would the weight of expectation prove too heavy? That would be a firm ‘yes.’ Wilson was clean bowled by Glenwright first ball. 0-1.

A few dot balls were needed to steady the Mallards ship so an expert was called for. Wood took centre stage and reeled off 13 of them in his first 15 balls. Malik took the hint and did likewise as the score crept along.  An acceleration was needed and it duly came as 17-1 from 5 overs quickly became34-1 from 7, both batsmen beginning to find form and picking up a lot of quick singles. The fifty partnership came and went (To barely a murmur from the clubhouse so regularly has this happened this season. In the past standing ovations would have resulted.) The score had reached a neatly symmetrical 72 in the 12th over when it was finally broken, Malik unlucky to depart to a fine catch by the keeper off Atkinson, three runs short of retirement on 27. Cox joined Wood and they kept the run-a-ball momentum up until Wood retired on 30 with the score on 88-2 in the 14th.

A pair of glorious fours from Cox saw the 100 up, before he was bowled by a terrific yorker from Roshan for 16. Nitsch came and went quickly for 4, another Glenwright victim, but skipper Butcher and Holland (the Younger) kept their foot on the pedal, both hitting fine boundaries as the total reached a very decent 127-4 after 20 overs. That fifth victory was still a possibility.

As Mallards took to the field, Butcher introduced his cunning plan. Holland (the Younger) and Wilson (the Younger) were despatched to opposite boundaries to patrol the outfield in a way that regular Mallards can only remember seeing through very dusty rose-coloured spectacles.

Excelsior, however, had their own cunning plan and openers Omar and Ifty set off as if in a hurry to get home to catch the tail-end of the Wales game on the telly,  taking 17 off the first two overs. Boyce had other ideas though, and taking umbrage at conceding 11 from his first over he removed both batsmen in his second, clean bowling Omar for a rapid 15 and having Ifty well caught by Wilson (the Younger) for 4 (Skipper Butcher smiled modestly but we all knew he was patting himself on the back on the inside).

Annoyingly, Excelsior had more good batsmen than is normally allowed on a weekday evening and Spencer and Donaghy kept up the earlier momentum , taking the score up to a well-over-par 50 in the sixth over before the latter was clean bowled by the excellent Holland (the Younger) for 9.

Krishnan joined Spencer at the crease and confirmed the away team were in a hurry, hitting three fours in his first four scoring shots as the score raced to 64-3 from just 8 overs. Mallards needed dot balls and wickets from somewhere. That somewhere was called Malik. His first over saw just four runs coming from it and the removal of the excellent Krishnan for 18, another splendid catch under pressure by Wilson (the Younger, obviously, Wilson the Older appeared to be composing rhyming couplets under a distant tree by this stage). Skipper Butcher’s grin got a little broader. As cunning plans go this was right up there with Baldrick’s engraved bullet.

Unfortunately that brought Roshan to the wicket, the latest in Excelsior’s seemingly endless procession of classy batsmen. However, Mallards had their own class act to call on too as Holland (the Older) began his spell at the pavillion end and he and Malik tightened the screw,  just 18 runs coming from the next six overs. Excelsior were suddenly behind the run rate at 83-4 from 14 overs. Was history actually about to be made?

Cox replaced Malik, who finished with 1-10 from his three overs, and, bowling from a short run up, found great bounce. Unfortunately that meant that edges were flying high and the slightly fortunate Roshan eked two boundaries from his fourth over.  As the pressure mounted catches started to go down too, skipper Butcher shelling a couple of tricky skiers and Nitsch marginally failing to catch the ball on the back of his neck. The skipper frowned – it was no time for such party tricks.

Holland (the Older) finished his spell with a magnificent 0-14 from four overs including a vital maiden and the score on 105-4 from 17 overs, 23 needed from three for an Excelsior win. Mallards were now in the box seat, though, worryingly, both batsmen, the hard-hitting Roshan and Spencer, who had anchored the innings, were well-set.

Enter the mighty Nitsch, returning to the fold after a long absence, half the man he was the last time he played. (His lockdown weight-loss plan will soon be available from all good bookshops, I’m sure). Four balls into his first over and both batsmen were un-set. The steadfast Spencer finally out, clean bowled for 21 and the hard-hitting Roshan, magnificently caught by Boyes on the long-off boundary for 18. With only two runs coming from the over the champagne was put on ice. Excelsior now needed 21 from two.

Cox, still grumbling about the missed catches, was in no mood to let them off the hook, conceding just four from his final over to leave Nitsch to finish the job. And finish it he did, bowling Lever for a duck with his second ball to end Excelsior’s resistance. A couple of late, desperate boundaries brought their score up to 109-7 by the end but the game was done.

In a season full of tight finishes and games played in great spirit, Mallards had yet again found a way to win.  When historians come to debate the most famous ‘fives’ of all time this sequence of victories is bound to figure in the conversation. (Following confirmation from the Mallards’ stats man, of course. If it’s only four we’ll move most of this to the next report.)

Mallards v Benwell and Walbottle June 7 @ Riding Mill

After a chastening defeat by the same opposition just a couple of weeks ago Mallards were keen to make amends and put on a  much better show this time round. There will have been a few worries that the chance may be denied when the heavens opened  in the Newcastle area mid-afternoon but our friends in “the Mill” assured us it was fine out there and so it was, turning in to a  beautiful summer’s evening, perfect for cricket. I should say from the outset that anyone hoping for a sequel to the last match report between these 2 teams will be sadly disappointed by the lack of German poetry and should also probably seek professional help.

With skipper Buxom still barely able to move due a bad back and refusing all offers to invest some club funds in to various dubious methods to help put it right (I’ll let you use your own imagination) Butcher was once again press-ganged into taking up the mantle and was instantly called to make a decision by winning the toss. Having carefully considered  the overhead conditions, prevailing winds, state of the wicket etc he realised he hadn’t got a clue what it all meant so chose to bat first, based purely on the fact that we had won the last 2 games batting first (sorry for the spoiler if you haven’t read the previous reports) so why not see if it can work again? Regular readers will know that’s  a big if.

Rather than concentrate on a precise sequence of events and loads of numbers I want to highlight the collective effort of the Mallards because as much as it’s cringeworthy and vomit-inducing this really was a night where cricket was the winner and everyone played their part, some obviously more than others but every single player contributed at least 1 run or a wicket with several doing both. Ankush excelled once again with both bat and ball, as did relative newcomer to both Mallards and playing cricket itself, Pottsy who made crucial late order runs with some lovely strokes (so much so the Skipper was lampooned for batting him at 10) and then recovered from a slightly dodgy first over to bowl 3 tight death overs. It was great to see Rob Wilson back in the runs including a thumping pull for 4. Likewise it was nice to see  Trevor Wood in the runs, indeed it was nice to see him play at all considering his ever increasing commitments as the inventor of “Geordie Noir” as author of the hard hitting Jimmy Mullen crime novels. Incidentally “One Way Street” has just hit the shelves of all good book stores(and probably a few craps ones), according to our own resident critic Chris Lucas “ another cracking read, highly recommended” That should be worth a pint next time I see you Trev? (Webmaster note: Cheque’s in the post. You can vote for The Man on the Street for Crime Novel of the year here: (other books are available)

Liaquat got  a few runs in the middle order and also took a couple of middle-order wickets. Opening bowlers,  evergreen Tony Cleaver and old Genetics friend but newbie Mallard Jason Boyce accounted for B&W’s very handy opening bats, clean bowling one each and the noticeable improvement in fielding over the last few games continued with commitment all round and catches from Kent, van Doorn and a first of the season for Beakers behind the stumps.

That is not to say everything was perfect, there is always time for some typical Mallardian half-arsery, this time from the Skipper who having just told some poor bystanders how he had matured from the player who used to get so excited just to hit the ball he would invariably run himself out, stood to admire the shot off his first ball before realising it might not got all the way. However, he was so confident there was 2 in it that he neglected to watch the fielder as he turned for the second. If he had bothered to, he would have seen a young man at least half his age comfortably collect the ball and unleash his trebuchet arm to fire the ball hard and low straight to the keeper who ran him out by yards! Another first baller for Butcher but unusually not a duck!

A great all round team effort, combined with a beautiful summer’s evening, wonderful setting, the game being played in a fantastic spirit by both sides, and the obligatory cold beers afterwards really did make for a perfect night’s cricket regardless of the outcome.

Oh, the result?  Mallards won of course – never in doubt!

(Mallards 122 for 7, B&W 118 for8 for those that like the numbers)

Mallards v Corbridge May 25 @ Corbridge


Another miserable day – would this be more frustration for the Mallards after the Durham fiasco? No cancellation message appeared, despite heavy rain in Newcastle, and then to everyone’s surprise Gareth sent the confirmation out that the groundsman had cleared the ground as fit for play. The players converged on Corbridge, then circulated the area in search of the elusive pitch – please someone, give us a sign (preferably at the entrance to whichever minor road leads to the ground). Eventually, with some mutual misdirection and near misses, the gallant 10 assembled under dark clouds to find a soft but playable pitch. One short of a full set, but so it turned out was the Corbridge team.

The skippers went out to inspect the wicket, Butcher, our skipper for the night (standing in for the injured Buckley) returning with the news that we were to bat first, and the opposition did not normally employ the “30 and retire” clause. Would this, we wondered, be a key factor in the game?

Openers Hall and Steele strode out to the wicket, which proved to be slow with a frequent low bounce, and the outfield soggy enough to make boundaries very difficult. After a bright start with Hall scoring a single off the first ball, and Steel two twos in succession, Watts found his line, and completed the first over without conceding further runs. 5 for 0 off the first over. The lively Burrows came on for the second over, produced 3 dot balls and then bowled Hall (1).  McCaffery strode purposefully out to the wicket, and two balls later, strode reluctantly back, bowled by Burrows. A double wicket maiden and Mallards 5 for 2 after two overs.

Cox came in to join Steele, and the pair began to build a partnership, but found timing difficult, facing two accurate bowlers. It was 24 for two after 6 overs, then Steele was trapped lbw by Watts with a ball that kept low and he departed for 17. Watts ended his four overs with 1 for 20. Bowman joined Cox at the crease. Burrows, tiring in his final over, lost his line, and went for three wides, three singles and a magnificent 6 by Cox. He ended with 2 for 18 off 4, with Mallards on 39 runs off the first 8 overs, nearly half way through their 18 over innings.

Fleming replaced Watts, and Van Doorn, an occasional Mallard, this time playing for the opposition, replaced Burrows. In Fleming’s second over, Cox, looking to push the score on, played a fine on-drive inches above the ground, only to see a diving Boaden pluck the ball out of the air for a fine catch at long on. Cox departed for 24, to be replaced by Butcher. Two balls later, Bowman was caught off Fleming for five, the bowler finishing his two overs with 2 for 15 and Mallards were 58 after 11. Latif joined Butcher. Van Doorn, from the rugby ground end bowled accurately and kept the batsmen pinned down, as did the anonymous bowler who replaced Fleming, bowling Latif for 0 in his first over. Beacock joined Butcher, and the Mallards were perilously placed at 62 for 6 after 13 overs, with no recognised batsmen left to come. Beacock showed his usual skill at finding fielders when he hit the ball, while Butcher was also having difficulty in getting the ball away. However, helped by a number of extras, a late flurry of singles and a four from Butcher, the score crept up to 80 in the final over with no further loss of wickets, until Butcher, caught in two minds with the last ball was lbw to Thompson for 9. Beacock remained on 4 not out, and the partnership made 18 runs in the last 5 overs. Even on a difficult pitch, this was not a comfortable score to defend.

A quick turn round and a continued heavy cloud cover saw Corbridge begin their innings with Boaden and Pettage, Browne opening the bowling to an attacking field with Cox at first slip and Hall at third. Browne bowled a tight first over conceding a single, Watson going for 3 in his first. After 4 overs the score was 10 for 0, with the batters struggling to time the ball, and both edging through the vacant second slip position. Despite this, thanks to the tight bowling and enthusiastic fielding the Mallards were ahead on run rate (17 off 4) However, Boaden began to find her touch, and the run rate increased. Pottage continued to have difficulty getting the ball away, eventually run out for 2 to a fine throw from Steele. He was replaced by Maude, who was quickly into the runs, and the Mallard’s score began to feel very vulnerable. Browne finished his spell 0 for 19 from four overs, and Watson 0 for 24 for 4. Corbridge were 44 for 1 from 8 overs, ahead of the Mallards run rate, when their captain had a change of mind and decided to call Boaden in to retire on 30, and Maude shortly after, retiring on 20. Boaden’s innings was commendable in the conditions, and Maude was also looking well set. However, the fielding side fought back through Latif and Stone, the new bowlers, who troubled the new batsmen, supported by continued tight fielding.   Chomsey was bowled for 0, and Scott for 5, both by Latif, who had figures of 4 overs 2 for 13, and Stone 0 for 10 from 3. After 15 overs, Corbridge were 69 for 3, needing 12 to win off 18 balls, Burrows on strike with 2 runs to his name, joined by “number seven”, the scorebook not recording the names of the remaining batsmen.

Cox came on to bowl, sportingly opting for a short run because of the poor light. The keeper advanced to the wicket, and both he and the batsman were surprised by the pace – Burrows bowled for 2 off the first ball. 69 for 4! Cox, bowling sharply and accurately completed a wicket maiden to the incoming batsman (“number eight”) – 12 needed of 12 balls. Hall went for 5 in his over and the batsmen ran a bye – 75 off 17 and six needed to win off the last over. On came Cox, accurate as before – two dot balls, a single, a dot ball, a bye. Four needed off the last ball. The batsmen managed a single, Cox finished with figures of two overs, 1 for 2 and Mallards won by two runs in a well played, friendly contest.

Despite having to defend a low score, it was an excellent team effort by the Mallards, with the bowling supported by good keen fielding, and the team continued their encouraging start to the season.