Category Archives: Match reports 2014

Cricket Festival and BBQ

And now the end is near and so we face the final over…

The first Saturday in September saw the final curtain on the Mallards season – the annual (weather dependent) end-of-season cricket festival.

This year the weather gods were benevolent and despite overnight rain the pitch, outfield and barbecue grills were good to go for a lunchtime start. An excellent turn-out saw a magnificent 23 players make an eventual appearance with further contributions from non-playing combatants, McCaffery, Page, and rather belatedly Brown.

Captains Wood and Taylor chose their respective teams, the Drakes and the Ducks, with the latter quite clearly Genetically modified. A two-innings 20-over match was agreed with a maximum of two overs per bowler and the batting line-up being reversed in the second innings, though Taylor latterly came up with his own version which seemed designed purely to keep Hunt away from a bat.

may the best team win 2

Wood won the toss and chose to bat, a risky choice as it gave his team first crack at the very fulsome beer chest. In an eventful first innings there were several highlights, not least of which was the rarely-spotted Scutt golden ball, which brought an immediate end to Haylock’s first appearance as an opening bat, an early blow compensated for by opening partner Scott’s unbeaten 27, though he may have been helped by the co-opting of spectator Butcher into the bowling attack – I bet Shane Warne never had to bowl in a pair of brogues on a slippery pitch!

The long-awaited return of the Mexter with an impressive 16 kept things ticking over nicely with only McChlery’s duck halting a solid middle-order showing with both Cox and Buckley also retiring on 25 and 26 respectively. Taylor then struck the first blow in the battle of the captain, a series of leg-side wides cleverly bamboozling his opposite number into a desperate slash as the first innings closed on a very reasonable 141-5.

The Drakes first innings began in frantic fashion, with an early six from Scutt and a flurry of 4s from Kent before Ducks opening bowler Mitcheson struck back by removing both batsmen as the score reached 38-2 in just four overs.

Further progress was a little more serene as Hall and Tenniswood both retired on 27 and 25 respectively, an advance only interrupted by Burt’ s early demise, Mexter’s fine throw from the deep running him out by a distance,  and after 12 overs the Drakes were nicely poised on 97-3.

Miserly two-over spells by Wood (0-5) Cox (0-6) and, in particular, Nitsch (2-6) brought Ducks back strongly into the game but just as it looked as if they might secure a first innings lead they were hit by Hurricane Heslop, whose very rapid 26 included two sixes and a four to take the Drakes to a very useful 148-6,  a first-innings lead of 7 runs.

An exhausting pre-match warm-up!
An exhausting pre-match warm-up!

A short beer break was then taken before Ducks were setting off again, Ramshaw and Mitcheson getting them off to a flyer as 32 were added from the first four overs before Mitcheson was finally removed by Kent, a surprisingly fine catch from Hunt, for a rapid 17.

Boyes joined Ramshaw and the excellent run rate continued to mount with the pair taking the score to 60 in just the 7th over before the latter retired for a splendid 25.  Wood joined Boyes at the crease, keeping up the momentum with some frantic running as the score raced on to 82 from 9 before Scutt’s golden first ball struck again, removing Wood for 12.

Drakes now seemed to have settled into a nine-an-over rhythm as both Buckley and Cox joined in the fun before perishing for 20 and 18 respectively, a momentum continued by Nitsch and Mexter, though the latter may have been fortunate to survive an early lbw shout from Heslop before crashing three fours and a six to cement his impressive return to the fray.

With Heslop finally removing Nitsch for 12, his second wicket putting him right in the frame for the man-of-the-match award, the Drakes innings finally came to a halt on a mighty 176-6, leaving Ducks requiring 170 for victory at precisely 8.5 runs per over

After yet another beer break the final innings commenced with Captain Taylor leading from the front, ably assisted by Gardner, the pair continuing their unbeaten stand from the end of the first innings.

They started brightly, with both batsmen finding the boundary, and despite some tight bowling from Mexter, just about kept up with the required run rate, reaching 46 without loss after just six over.

However, the retirement of both openers for 25 saw the runs start to dry up a little with Scutt failing to trouble the scorers, and with Scott, Nitsch and Wood all bowling tightly only 25 runs came from the next five overs to leave the Ducks on 71-1 from 11, the required run rate having gone up to a tricky 11 an over.

With Kent and Hall at the crease such a target wasn’t out of the question and the pair began to pick up the pace hitting 28 from the next three overs before Kent perished, Cox’s stumping given McChlery his first wicket in Mallards’ colours.

This brought the dangerous Tenniswood to the crease but after being hit for an enormous six, bowler Boyes struck back immediately, a second stumping for Cox removing the batsman for 8.

Burt had joined Hall at the crease as the match reached its denouement with the Ducks needing 47 to win from the final four overs from Mitcheson and Ramshaw.

Mitcheson struck first, removing the dangerous Hall for 23 and this success was followed up by his partner-in-crime, Ramshaw conceding just three runs from his first over to leave Taylor’s men forlornly looking at a target of 40 from the final two overs.

The end was nigh and with Mitcheson bowling another tight over it was left to Ramshaw to seal the victory in style, removing both Beacock and Jordan in the final over to leave Ducks adrift on 138-6, a 31-run victory for Drakes.

The victors celebrated gracefully with their equally gracious opponents after a match which had seen some surprisingly good cricket (given the alcohol intake), the perfect precursor to the main event: the food! A splendid barbecue completed the evening (special mention to Mr Cox’s rather wonderful home-made sausages) and the season’s celebrations were completed by the man-of-the-match award. This was a fiercely competitive field due to eight different batsmen reaching retirement figures and 12 bowlers taking wickets but ultimately Ramshaw’s second innings efforts of 25 not out and 2-7 at the death won him the much sought-after bottle of Prosecco.

Thanks to the many people who contributed to the day’s success, far too many to mention but you know who you are. Roll on next year!





MCC V Ovingham @ Riding Mill September 3

Mallard completed their season with a late addition to the fixture list against Ovingham at Riding Mill, their 21st game of the least weather-affected season in living memory.

Despite the best intentions to start early and beat the fading light, the late arrival of several things, kit, players, vice-captains etc. meant that the game didn’t get underway until nearly six, hastening an early plea for night-vision goggles to be added to the kitbag. It was thus agreed to play a reduced 18-over game, with a maximum of three overs per bowler.

Ovingham won the toss and chose to bat and Mallards began with the extremely mature attack of Dunhill and Haylock. The former has had a strange season, despite bowling his usual economical spells, wickets have been few and far between and coming into the game he hadn’t taken a wicket for Mallards since 26/6 – going wicketless for 7 matches, 27 overs and 164 balls. For those of you who like happy endings, don’t hold your breath.

As usual Dunhill began tightly with only two runs coming from his first over but the young Ovingham opener Chamberlain took an immediately liking to Haylock’s bowling, crashing a four and a huge six (the first of many lost balls of the evening) from his first over, so disconcerting the bowler that he unusually added a sprinkling of wides to the over and saw 15 runs come from it.

With Chamberlain looking ominous and the visitors skipper Marley playing a nice supporting role the score mounted swiftly, 37 coming from the first four overs before Mallards made their first breakthrough, a poorly-judged attempt at a quick single saw Wood’s pick up and throw and Beacock’s solid take and swift removal of the bails run out the unfortunate Chamberlain by a distance.

Another Ovingham veteran, Burt, joined Marley at the wicket and after the two opening spells the visitors had reached 50-1 with Haylock taking 0-32 and Dunhill 0-12 from their three overs – bringing Dunhill’s dry spell to 8 matches, 30 overs and 182 balls.

Heslop and Scott took over the bowling and after some narrow escapes, with edges regularly flying into gaps, Scott struck by bowling Marley for a solid 26, the first of may indications that the bounce was getting a little tricky.

Unfortunately this brought Beedle to the crease and he flexed his muscles with two fours and a six from Heslop’s second over, the start of a run blitz as Scott then saw 19 come from his second over as Burt also joined the party with a pair of boundaries.  With Heslop’s next over also taking a battering from Beedle (who retired on a rapid 30) and the incoming batsmen Pratik, who had the biggest bat seen in many a long day, 47 runs were added in three overs before Scott responded well, having Burt comfortably caught by Steele for 20 in his final over.

Despite the wicket, with 12 overs gone Mallards were really under the cosh as the visitors reached a massive 124-3, Heslop finishing with 0-37 and Scott 2-33.

Cox and Wood were next into the firing line and the former immediately tightened things up. Well not immediately, his first ball was glided through gully for four, but almost immediately, only two singles coming from the other five.  Wood, however, disappeared for 13 from his first as the total mounted to 143 from 14 and Pratik thankfully retired on 31.

Fortunately, the bowlers then managed to exercise some form of control with just ten runs coming from the next two overs and another wicket falling, the Wood/Beacock partnership again bearing fruit as the latter took a fine catch from a thin edge to see the back of Tate for 6.

With the runs drying up (comparatively!) Ovingham completed their innings on 168-4 with Cox finishing with 0-19 and Wood 1-24.

Mallards began their reply with in-form batsmen Steele and Scott leading the chase, requiring around 9.3 runs an over for victory.  The latter began in imperious fashion with a splendid clip off the legs from Hall (Jnr)  for four immediately followed with a slightly finer leg glance for another four and after one over the chase was on – 9-0.

Sadly, the second over saw the openers dreams of a classic run chase slightly dented as Steele was clean-bowled by Chamberlain for 1 (yes, that was the same Chamberlain who opened the bowling – sadly the Mallards formula isn’t always followed by our rivals) and the third over saw those dreams crushed as Scott mistimed a pull to loop a catch to mid-wicket for 9 and Cox, after being dropped at slip, hit a crisp drive straight to cover for 1.  Three overs down and Mallards were in trouble at 15-3 with the required run-rate now over 10 an over.

Fortunately, the newly-minted middle-order partnership of Scutt and Wood managed to stop the rot – and most of the scoring  – the former’s crisp straight drive breaking a long run of dot balls to bring the Mallards score to a meagre 23-3 at the end of the opening bowlers spell of six overs.

Sadly, hope of a respite from the second-string bowlers wasn’t forthcoming as the spinner Pratik and the wily Hall (Senior) took over the bowling and tightened things up further in the rapidly fading light.

Still Scutt and Wood refused to be tempted into a stroke as three runs were thrashed from the next two overs before Scutt’s patience snapped and he sneaked a four from Pratik. Unfortunately, such reckless abandonment proved his undoing as he attempted to repeat the feat and was caught and bowled for 11 to bring Butcher to the crease with the score on 30-4 from 9, only 139 required from the last 9 overs at 15.44 an over!

Despite this daunting target the batsmen still refused to take the bait with both Wood and Butcher continuing to block resolutely, a policy that was clearly shown to be sound when Wood’s first attempt at a scoring shot was comfortably pouched at mid-wicket and he disappeared for a lengthy 3 with the score now on 40-5 from 12 and victory looking a tad unlikely.

Remarkably, Wood’s demise saw the scoring rate slow even further as new bowler Tate mesmerised Mallards’ late-order batsmen, removing first Jordan, caught behind for 1 and, in his next over, Beacock, caught at point from his first attacking shot for 1.

Butcher, who had manfully  followed his captain’s example with some masterful non-stroke play, finally perished in the following over for 4 before Tate completed his spell with a wicket maiden, bowling Heslop for four to end with 3-2  from his three overs. Special mention should however be made of Heslop’s four runs, a crisp cover drive that seemed out of place in such an innings – it was like seeing the Mona Lisa in a Byker Working Man’s Club.

With Heslop’s demise Mallards slim hopes of a memorable win had finally disappeared and Haylock joined Dunhill determined to keep their wickets in tact to claim a moral if pyrrhic (look it up phillistines) victory and they succeeded admirably, Dunhill yet again unveiling his classic forward defensive shot to block out another maiden – the sixth of 18 – as Mallards completed their innings on 50-9, the narrowest of defeats, a mere 118 runs. To add to his strange statistical season, Dunhill has now gone two seasons without losing his wicket, adding 7 not outs and a mighty 3 runs to last season’s unbeaten tally.

Another splendid finish to the evening was enjoyed at the Wellington where the familiar sight of the organiser of the domino card winning the money (Stig) was topped by said winnings being added to the generator fund – let there be light!




MCC v KSOB @ Riding Mill 27 August

The last of the season’s official fixtures for 2014 saw Mallards take on new (but long established) opposition on a cool but bright late summer (or early autumn?) evening. With the light set to go early, winning the toss would be vital, and, for once, vice-captain Butcher correctly called the spinning 10p coin and elected to bat. This may have been because KSOB still only had 8 of their team at the club-house on time and he could loan a couple of Mallards players to help out with the fielding.

With both Steel and Kent injured, it was a new-look opening pair of Nitsch and Buckley that took to the middle. Both players opened their account in identical fashion by blocking 3 then smacking the 4th ball for 4.  After a slow couple of overs the openers however started to find some momentum with a succession of 4s and quick singles. By the 9th over it was time for Buckley to retire on a very credible and greater than run-a-ball 32 bringing McCaffery to the crease, who immediately got off to his usual bustling start.

However it was clear that left-arm bowlerBridge was getting a few balls to bounce off a length and hitting the bat high on the splice. With the score on 72 The Cat received one of them causing him to jar his shoulder and retire hurt on a quickfire 11 with his first injury of the evening. Scutt, in at 4, perished, in what is becoming his speciality of being run-out, for a one-ball 1 due to a combination of slow back-up and losing the will to make ground about 2/3 of the way down the wicket. The first genuine Mallards wicket falling at 72 in the 11th over.

Next in was the big-hitting Cox who provided a perfect foil to Nitsch, reduced by this point to hitting singles, with some lusty hits. A couple of big overs, partly thanks to several no-ball fours hit off young Willet, saw the Mallards score romp along to 106 off 15 overs. The 9th and 10th overs being particularly notable for yielding 28 runs between them and the batsmen benefitting from several lapses in the field that saw singles converted to 4s.

At one point it looked like Nitsch would bat through the innings, however his vigil finally came to an end in the 16th over after at last finding the middle of his bat to get to retirement with a big 6 and a score of 32 not out to help his average. Vice captain Butcher strode out to the crease happy to play second fiddle to Cox, a plan that seemed to be working until it went off the rails in the final over with Cox caught at the deep mid-wicket boundary. With 3 balls to go, Jordan (who would normally have expected to be batting far earlier in the innings) struggled to get the big hit in, finally extracting a single off the last ball of the innings in over 18 to set a highly credible 130 for 2 as the target to beat.

Confident that the total set was eminently defendable – especially with the light set to fade quickly as the sun disappeared behind Broomhaugh House, a buoyant Mallards took to the field. This optimism was quickly deflated as openers Lattimer and Coyne, also obviously sharing similar reservations about the deteriorating quality of the light, set about the run chase with un-seeming haste. Openers Browne and Scott both proceeded to take a pounding through a combination of wayward, and not-so-wayward, deliveries taking a clattering. This was aided and abetted by some fielding that was at times almost as bad as KSOB’s, although to be fair the ball tended to be travelling at a more rapid pace.

By the end of the 6th over the KSOB score was 80 (EIGHTY) for no wicket and Wisbach had replaced a highly self-disgruntled Scott (0 for 28) . McCaffery then sustained his second injury of the evening, pulling his left calf muscle while attempting to compensate for his already dodgy right shoulder. Not wishing to be the subject of even greater opprobrium from Skipper and Webmaster Wood [as long as he doesn’t umpire again he’s fineWebmaster], he manfully insisted on remaining on the field – albeit with the same effectiveness that a tree planted at mid-wicket might have. (Sadly, as seen above, he did actually take root there but at least he’s in position for the next game.)

Desperate to stem the tide of runs and conscious that the light was not great, Butcher replaced the errant Browne (0 for 37 off 3) with Cox from the far lighter one tree end.  While this had some effect, with the score rate dropping to just over 7 an over it was clear that the King’s School lads had clear ideas about getting to the pub while there was still some light left. Cox, while regularly beating the bat, and seeing some fine keeping from Buckley (whose 16 byes belied what was actually a good performance behind the stumps) was unlucky to finish with figures of 0 for 22 off his 4 overs. Wisbach, getting some good turn from the Broomhaugh end was finally rewarded with a wicket – after Taylor took an agonising amount of time to decide that a decent leg-break that pitched and hit batsman Bridge on his leg-stump would have indeed hit off stump.

A consolation wicket, but at the end of the 13th over the scores were level. Needing a change of bowler Butcher suddenly realised that Haylock had not had much of a game. With a hearty “come on lads 6 maidens is all we need” Haylock ambled in and duly saw his first ball hit straight back for 4 and the game over with 29 balls to spare.

The final reckoning, 31 overs bowled, 264 runs scored and just 3 wickets to fall. Simple fact was that King’s School had some very good batsmen and used them to great advantage. A few questions from Kings about how to turn the lights on ensured some welcome participation in the domino card at the Wellington, where Yorkshire puddings and chips were washed down with a pint of beer or 2.

With a definite feel of autumn about it’s almost the end of another season for Mallards. The final reckoning? Well that’ll be a reason for attending the annual dinner in January …



MCC v Genetics August 20 @ Riding Mill

The true spirit of the game – and the return of the Beacock!

25 devotees turned out keen to celebrate the near end of the season and the knife-edge final contest for the John Robinson trophy

All sorts turned up – because they “were passing” – “deleted before they had pressed send” or just because it wasn’t raining.

Thank goodness Alan Boyes had stood Higgs and Boson down for the night,  as it was it we agreed a 12 a side game – with Browne as the 25th sulking at what he called “the study corner”.

Jon would have been deeply impressed by the occasion, which was even marked by a beautiful rainbow (see above)

Beacock was back off his hols (again) prompting much discussion of his poor batting over the season and his performance behind the stumps relative to one M S Dohni. Hands up those who didn’t see Simon Hughes riveting analysis of the implications of Dhoni’s immobility and unwillingess to dive upon the placing and spacing of the Indian slip cordon – of which more anon.

With every chance of the light going Wood lost the toss and the Mallards unsurprisingly found themselves invited to field. In true Mallardian spirit the response was to spread the bowling around and make sure everyone got a good game – and spread around the bowling was – 10 of the 11 outfielders got to turn their arms for at least one over – with no-one bowling more than 3 overs – and with, frankly surprisingly good overall results.

Ok – so Genetics lost their first wicket with the score at 85 and with Bennett long since back in the pavilion retired not out – but this was in the 16th over !

The Mallards opened with McGuiness and Wisbach against Bennett and Scott. After a tight first over McGuinness ‘s line was picked up by Bennett in the second and a  4 and 6 followed as did the retirement of the bowler. At the other end Wisbach bowled tightly and wonderfully economically finishing his 3 overs for just 9 runs.

Dunhill and Haylock followed both bowling tightly and containing without seriously threatening the now well-set batsmen – Dunhill’s 3 overs going for 12 and Haylock’s 2 for 8.

Bennett’s retirement had brought Tarbuck to the crease and the scoring picked up again.

With Cox tying down one end (3 overs for 6) Taylor came on at the other and over two overs took a bit of a battering  (29) – not daunted by this Taylor responded by taking the first wicket – not with his bowling at 3 stumps but with a stunning piece of fielding at mid-off to hit one stump and run out Scott for 25.

Partnered by Heslop, Tarbuck plundered the Mallards bowling to reach a retirement 32 off 14 balls finishing with a six “just because he felt like it!” Two overs from Nitsch for 16 and one from Butcher for 12 providing the raw material.

With two overs to go the score stood at 112 for 1-  the sky was about to fall in – and it did – but on the Genetics side. A snorting over from McCaffery brought 2 wickets for 3  – one bowled – the other caught by Cox – and the final over from Captain Wood brought another bowled wicket for only two runs and the bonus of a comical run out of Buckley for 2.

A distinctly chaseable closing total of 117 for 5

Kent and Nitsch opened the reply spectacularly against Taylor (Brian – no relation to our own despot) and Airey – two singles were the precursor to a 6 and two fours from Nitsch for Mallards to finish the first over on 16. Sadly that was as good as it got – apart from an 11 run flourish with Beacock and Taylor in the 16th the runs slowed or even stopped with a maiden in the 10th and one run overs in the3rd, 5th, 8th and 14th – our boys certainly know how to keep the pressure on and chase the game.

All might have been different had Nitsch, after his cracking start not felt an on-rush of generosity to bowler Taylor (Brian again) and fielder Jordan – who celebrated his 69th birthday by hanging on to a ball driven straight at him at mid-on. (Suddenly “Old Col” feels like a young buck again)

McCaffery followed next ball – run out without scoring.

20 for 2 at the end of the third over progressed to 37 for 2 at the end of the 7th then again a pair of wickets lost in an over to Mitcheson’s bowling with Kent holing for 11 out to the ever reliable Tarbuck and Butcher slicing over his head to loop up to wicketkeeper Greenwood first ball.

Genetics followed the Mallards example in mixing up and spreading around their bowling – again using 10 of their 11 outfielders

The fifth wicket down came down in the 10th over with the score on 45 with Wood falling for 12 to a looped up catch behind the stumps by Greenwood off Mitcheson who finished a 3 over spell with a wicket maiden and figures of 3 overs 1 maiden 3wickets for 5 runs.

The sixth down sealed the Mallards fate – Cox had just got going, had reached a rapid 9 and was beginning to lift the rate when McCaffery (having just replaced Dunhill as umpire at the one tree end) gave the assembled crowd a wonderful reminder of the much missed Tony “the trigger” Cleaver by raising his finger to an LBW shout on a full ball from van Doorn which, in the muttered words of the departing batsman was “going way down the leg side!” [perhaps now slightly mollified by the 52-20 hammering theKiwis just gave the Aussies in the rugby – Ed.]

This generosity of spirit was continued with McGuinness being given out LBW by Nitsch only for Greenwood in the spirit of the wicketkeepers’ union to say “you hit that didn’t you?” – “yes” — Not out. All of this perhaps a sign of how difficult it was to see anything in the by now near total darkness!

McGuinness’s wicket wasn’t long spared though – bowled by van Doorn for 4 – leaving it to (G) Taylor and Beacock to begin to rescue some pride. Taylor eventually went for 11 stumped by Greenwood off Bennett. Beacock perished on 18 bowled by Tarbuck in his only over.

With Wisbach caught by Bennett off Reay for 7 in the last over a single from Haylock allowed Dunhill to face his first and the last ball of the game. Umpire Nitsch offered him the light to allow him to protect his average – or perhaps because he was concerned that we might not be able to find the pavilion in the dark.

Dunhill survived the one ball at the Mallards closed on 99 for 10 (note: not 99 all out as 12 players)

A grand evening played in great spirit with all the match fees and the proceeds of a domino card in the post match Wellington (with generous chips and Yorkshire puds all round) going to the generator fund – a total contribution approaching £150 on a night which amply demonstrated the need for the generator – and questions about the floodlights it might power too !

Jon Rob was amply toasted – and the trophy left to reside with Genetics for the winter

We want it back ! We will be back sharper and stronger – and older next year !!!

Oh and the “is Beakers better than Dohni?” question.

Just consider the figures. He top scored – Mallards collectively bowled 7 wides – Beakers conceded 1 bye – and his mobility allowed us to spread the slip cordon much wider than India – to third man, deep square leg,  deep extra cover etc.

I rest my case.



MCC v Wallace Arms @ Riding Mill August 12

A combination of the Riding Mill weather dome and the sterling work of groundsman/catering manager Pete Nitsch meant that Mallards game against the Wallace Arms somehow survived the aftermath of Hurricane Bertha.

As is their normal m.o. the Wallace Arms turned up in dribs and drabs, eventually culminating in nine or ten players depending on who was counting.  With 13 Mallards in attendance Messrs Lucas and McChlery stepped forward to play for the opposition, perhaps having seen them looking impressive in the warm-ups!

After a short sharp shower delayed the start Skipper Wood again won the toss and with the opposition only boasting seven men generously put them into bat.

Regular openers Browne and Dunhill led the attack again and began well against a strong opening pair, the former proving frugal and the latter again desperately unlucky as a series of leading edges either dropped short of fielders or were just plain dropped. Kent spilled an early chance in the covers despite his confident call and Browne also put down a chance after making up a lot of ground and seeming to take the catch in the gully region before it somehow popped out again.

Despite the missed chances Mallards were managing to keep a tight-ish rein on the young openers and after eight overs the opposition were 39-0. McGuinness and Haylock took over those reins and started well but after their opening overs the visitors began to cut loose, 13 runs coming from the former’s second over and 18 from the latter’s, including two consecutive big sixes from retiring opener Wallace, who had somewhat fortunately survived most of the missed chances. The sudden surge of runs meant that the score had accelerated to a hefty-looking 83-0 from 12 overs.

Unfortunately things were to get worse before they got better as the retirement of the two openers had brought Bell to the crease and the batsman, remembered for clearing the A69 with one shot in the game at Haltwhistle, started with a huge straight six and despite the introduction of Cox and Nitsch continued in that vein in his short and sweet innings. Three more huge straight sixes swiftly followed before Mallards finally struck, Nitsch finding the edge of the big-hitters bat, stand-in keeper Wood taking the catch to leave the scoreboard showing 127-1 after 16 overs.

The removal of Bell allowed Cox to join the party and after having a huge lbw shout turned down he removed Hampshire and one of the many Swallows in quick succession, both comprehensively bowled.

McGuinness returned at the pavilion end but the procession of talented batsmen continued as Charteries and yet another Swallow kept the 10-an-over run rate flowing until the bitter end – though the former was fortunate to survive a direct-hit run-out from Kent, the umpire perhaps distracted by the desperate batsman wiping out wicket-keeper Wood with a flying helmet-led dive. After 20 overs Mallards were left facing a challenging 164-3 target.

Kent and Steele led the charge for the home side and got things off to a flyer with 21 coming from the first three overs, Steele in particular again looking in fine form, despite a mean hangover.

The first breakthrough came in the sixth over, Kent well caught at mid-on for 8 bringing the ever-enthusiastic McCaffery to the fray (pictured searching in vain for a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow). His loud approach and  frantic running induced a brief sense of panic in the young outfielders and some useful overthrows kept the home team in the hunt as they raced to 50-1 from 8 overs before a sharp stumping saw umpire Dunhill send him off to the pavilion for 8, chuntering all the way despite his protests receiving little support from the equally-dismissive pavilion umpires.

Scutt joined Steele at the crease and almost immediately crashed a fine straight drive for four. Steele then added another two fours to the total to retire on 32 and bring the in-form Cox to the crease at the halfway stage with Mallards sitting on a decent 63-2, amazingly 11 runs ahead of the Wallace Arms score at the same stage, though to refresh your memories the visitors then added 112 runs in their final 10 overs.

Cox began well with an early boundary but the young visitors were now hitting their stride and a succession of wickets fell at the other end. With remarkable consistency Scutt, Nitsch and then McGuinness all hit one boundary and a single before perishing for 5 and at the end of the 14th over the score had reached 91-5 (suddenly 18 runs behind the opposition’s position!)

Wood now joined Cox and with the latter hitting two big sixes the score climbed to 107-5 after 16 overs before his second six took him over the retirement score of 30 for the third time in four innings.

Haylock joined Wood at the crease but with the opposition’s opening bowlers returning to the fray he found it hard to get the ball away and the scoring slowed with a couple of freak injuries slowing things further. Firstly Wood was hit on the ankle by a leg-stump yorker (umpire Nitsch desperate to raise his lbw finger but thwarted by the lack of an appeal) and then two balls later a full-length ball took off and caught Haylock on the jaw.

In an eventful final over, an un-nerved Haylock was caught at mid-off for 3 and a heavily-limping Wood retired hurt for 10 as Browne and Dunhill came in belatedly and the innings ended on 124-6.

The Wellington saw an excellent turn out of 12 Mallards (the exempted McGuinness heading off to Cumbria) and a sprinkling of Wallace Arms lads (most of them wouldn’t get served!) as the teams feasted on the ususal roast potatoes and the unusual deep-fried Broccoli (or Broccoli Tempura as the more-middle class lads know it).



MCC v Genetics CC @ Riding Mill August 7

Tuesday 5th August was a momentous day in the history of these two great cricketing fraternities.  For the first time, we had a game abandoned due to heavy rain, the day before it started raining.  Such a bold decision to make, get it right and those responsible are rightly applauded, get it wrong and it’s Nasser Hussain at the Gabba in 2002 all over again.

The heavens opened on Wednesday, clearing the way for brilliant sunshine on Thursday, the new date for the first Old Firm clash of the season, with the prestigious Jon Robinson trophy up for grabs.

All (most) were at the ground on time to ensure a 6pm start, and captains Greenwood and Taylor strode out to the middle for the all important toss.  Taylor called it correctly for Mallards, and decided to bat first.  After the Lord’s pitch against India, it seems groundsmen up and down the country are now following in Mick Hunt’s (Lords head groundsman, and it’s definitely not Mike Hunt, definitely not) footsteps and preparing green pitches.  This one not quite as green as pure green, more of a mint green I’d say.  But still green.  Green.

Kent and Boyes opened for Mallards, with 1/3 of the three Taylors opening the bowling, Dan Taylor.  Kent was into his stride straight away, with two powerful boundaries and a couple of singles as well bringing 10 runs of the first over.  Scott reduced the damage a bit by bowling a maiden, and Taylor’s second over only went for a few singles and a no-ball. Scott’s second over not quite as good as the first, with Kent again finding the boundaries to take 10 off this over.  Captain Greenwood had decided to use 10 bowlers, with two overs each, so next up came Andy Jeffrey and Mike Gardner.  Andy only going for a single from his first over of ‘spin’ and Mike slightly unlucky to go for 7 runs from some good length bowling.  After 6 overs this brought the score to 38, with Kent now retired having made his 30 in double quick time.  Jeffrey managed to pick up the game’s first wicket, bowling Alan Boyes for 8, finishing with figures of 2-0-6-1, and Gardner bowled an excellent 2nd over, only going for a single.

Jordan and Scutt were the new men in, and sadly for Scutt, he was on his way back to the pavilion, run out without facing a ball.  After Gardner and Jeffrey finished their spells, Mallards had got to 44-2 after 8 overs.  Newcomer Andy McChlery was brought on to to bowl next, and the age old rule of taking pace off the ball worked a treat, Tony Jordan playing one behind square on the leg side, only to pick out Mitcheson who took a good catch, and a first Genetics wicket for McChlery.  We also welcomed back Gary Van Dorn into the team, and he hit a great line and length right from the start, bowling now to the dangerous Dickinson, who had been joined at the crease by Nitsch.  Gary managed to strike in his second over, removing Nitsch LBW for 3.

This brought in Dave Cox,  Mallards now had in their most lethal partnership, so Greenwood turned to an established bowler, and a part time bowler, with Mitcheson and Bennett stepping up for their spells.  Bennett’s first over of ‘pace’ was decent, only 4 off it, and Mitcheson bowled well in his first, but Dickinson and Cox still managed to put on 9 from the over.  Bennett’s second was to be his ‘spin’, going for 11, and a single boundary from Mitchesons second meant that Mallards had now gone to 90-4 after 16 overs.

The last two bowlers of the innings were to be Andy Goulding and Brian Taylor (rapidly running out of WD40 to put onto his knees after a long stint in the field).  Goulding found his first over tough, going for 7, but started to get back his control as the over ended.  Taylor struck with the 4th ball of his over, Cox playing an attacking stroke but getting a thick edge to Dan Taylor who took the catch.

The wicket of Cox brought Andy Dunhill to the crease, wearing a pair of pads that I can only assume he borrowed from Peter Crouch, these gargantuan pads reaching up to his hips, it was quite a sight. Goulding then pinned the Mallards down with a double wicket maiden, bowling both McGuiness and Perera, and with only a couple of wides from Taylor in the last, this meant that the Mallards innings closed on 104-7.

Before detailing the Genetics innings, I would like you all to read the following:

“Sledging is a term used in cricket to describe the practice whereby some players seek to gain an advantage by insulting or verbally intimidating the opposing player. The purpose is to try to weaken the opponent’s concentration, thereby causing him to make mistakes or underperform. It can be effective because the batsman stands within hearing range of the bowler and certain close fielders; and vice-versa. The insults may be direct or feature in conversations among fielders designed to be overheard.

There is debate in the cricketing world as to whether this constitutes poor sportsmanship or good-humoured banter.[1] Sledging is often mistaken for abuse, and whilst comments aimed as sledges do sometimes cross the line into personal abuse, this is not usually the case. Sledging is usually simply an often humorous, sometimes insulting attempt at distraction. Former Australian captain Steve Waugh referred to the practice as ‘mental disintegration’.”

All will become clear….

Genetics openers were to be Goulding and Brian Taylor, a lofty promotion for Brian, who wasted no time in getting his pads on….actually he wasted quite a lot of time, and the prospect of moonlit cricket became a real possibility.  Mallards were to open with Dunhill and Perera, who kept the first few overs really tight, Taylor displaying some beautiful forward defensive strokes and some swings of the bat without scoring, out of the blue, some sledging began, certainly not what was expected in a friendly game.

Goulding managed to strike the first boundary of the innings, and with Taylor’s 11th ball faced, he managed to quieten the sledgers for a short while with his first boundary.  Dunhill bowled with his usual control, and Perera was unlucky to have a massive LBW appeal against Taylor turned down.  The fact that Taylor hit the ball with the face of the bat mattered not to his sledgers, who were up with hands raised, with a ferocious appeal, not out said umpire Jeffrey.  Perera finished his spell, going for 14 runs, as Taylor and Goulding continued to stick in.  Cox and McGuiness were the new bowling partnership, with Cox starting with a maiden, and McGuiness striking with his first ball, removing Goulding for 8, caught by Scutt.

With the big-hitting Goulding gone, Taylor was joined at the crease by McChlery, still finding his feet in this game, he would have been sat waiting to be bat wondering what an earth was going on, would he receive the same treatment as Taylor?  Taylor, now (always has been really) the senior batsman, it was up to him to start to build some pressure on Mallards, and start to put some runs on the board, the boundary I mentioned a while back was to be his only one, as his runs arrived in singles and two’s.  McChlery stuck in well, but perished when Cox bowled him for 2, Greenwood now coming out to reassure his fellow batsman that the sledging would soon end, and to help his team build some runs.

The sledging ended, and Riding Mill fell quiet again, as Cox bowled Taylor for 14, 14 off 38 balls, a strike rate of 36.  The sledging now needs to be clarified, it was purely from his Genetics teammates sat on the boundary.  Mallards didn’t need to say anything, as they heckled, jeered, and ironically applauded every delivery he faced.  We were also the ones who appealed so vehemently for his LBW dismissal, all good natured banter as the earlier definition of sledging says it is, and Brian took it well, Jon Rob would have been laughing his head off.

Greenwood and new batsman Van Dorn did manage to start accelerating the run rate, as we got up to the 5 an over needed, and managed to stay there, Greenwood in particular playing his usual array of cuts and drives to race to his 30 and retirement.  Mitcheson joined Van Dorn, and the scoreboard continued to tick over, with neither Nitsch or Taylor able to stop the singles, despite bowling some good stuff.   The singles were fine, but boundaries had dried up, meaning that although Genetics were up with the run rate, as we entered the last two overs, it was 12 runs from 12 balls needed.

Dunhill returned to complete his spell with his 4th over, and only went for 4 runs, but a couple of byes meant that 6 runs from the last were needed for victory.  Dave Cox it was to bowl it, a two from Van Dorn, a bye, and then two from Mitcheson meant that with 3 balls left, only 1 run was now needed, which Van Dorn dabbed into the off-side and the game was over.

It’s always great when a game goes down to the last over, and even better when it’s played in such a great spirit, with every player on both teams involved in the game.

No game at Riding Mill is complete without a trip to the Wellington, with a full crowd gathering around the roast potatoes, Yorkshire puds and gravy.

Of course, this fixture will never be just another fixture for as long as these two teams play each other.  Jon Rob would have loved every minute of this game, and we raised our glasses to our much missed eccentric, and enjoyed a great laugh after the game.

All of the match subs were used to help the fundraising for Riding Mill’s quest to install a generator, we’re sure JR would have approved [in fact we raised a total of £123 on the night, thanks to the obligatory domino card. Jon would definitely have approved of this method of fund raising – Ed.]

The anticipation is already building for the next fixture, thanks to all for a great game of cricket.

Man of the Match: Brian Taylor


MCC V Ovingham @ Clara Vale 30 July

We’ve reached the halfway point in the summer, and must now be approaching a new record for the least amount of games called off due to rain, long may it continue.

 On a bright and slightly breezy evening, the Mallards XI, with seven (S E V E N) victories to their name this season already, made the journey along the A69 to Clara Vale, always a popular destination, which may or may not have something to do with the selection of beer on offer at The Boat House post game.  Perhaps this year’s fixture was even more highly anticipated due to new benches being installed at said pub…’s the small things in life…

Ovingham won the toss, and on the greenest of all green pitches, and probably the greenest thing ever seen since Percy created ‘pure green’ on a classic Blackadder episode, they decided to bat first.  Had the decision been the other way, captain Stig was erring on the side of bowling first, so no complaints.

After a lengthy discussion about which end to start from, opener Browne eventually settled for bowling ‘down-the-hill’, and it was game on, with Ovingham opener Derrick taking strike.

A tidy dot ball to start, then Derrick decided to have a go early on, playing across the line and whilst hitting the ball hard, it went high  with Dave Cox in chase and he took an excellent catch.  A wicket with the second ball, perhaps another new record?

Scott (pictured) opened the bowling at the other end, and found a nice line and length from the start, only going for two singles from his first over.  Browne was bowling well, but without reward, a nick down to 3rd man found the boundary, and a very rare “3” is noted in the scorebook. I actually can’t remember the last time I saw anyone run a 3 in our midweek games, the records just keep tumbling.

The new batsman Bowey took a bit of a shine to Browne, hitting 3 boundaries in an over, before Tom regained control and bowled the last two overs of his spell for just 5 runs.  Of course, with this being Mallards, if one bowler regains control, the bowler at the other end will inevitably lose his, and true to form, Scott could no longer land a single delivery on the pitch, some wides, but mainly either full tosses or too full, resulting in his figures going from 2-0-5-0 to 4-0-26-1.  He did however pick up the wicket of Chamberlain, thanks to some sharp wicket keeping from the returning Porteous to have the batsman stumped.  After the two opening bowlers had finished their spell, this left the score on 50-2.

Frasier Haylock was first change bowler, with Bowey nearing retirement and new batsman Pratik both in good touch, a tidy first few overs though, with only 10 coming off them, he was supported at the other end by Cox, who went for 7 in his first over.  This resulted in the retirement of Bowey, and Cox then picked up the wicket of Colin Burt in his second over, bowled for 11.  Haylock’s third over didn’t quite go to plan, with Pratik swinging the bat to launch 15 runs of the over, 87-3 after 13 overs.

Taylor replaced Haylock, and batsmen Marley and Drake kept the scoreboard ticking over with singles, as Mallards fielded well to restrict the boundaries, Browne and Scutt in particular with some diving saves to save some runs.  Cox finished his excellent spell with figures of 4-0-17-1.

With Gareth bowling well, and only going for singles down to fine leg, Perera took the role of death bowler, and bowled two superb overs, getting the ball to turn and bounce of the pitch, only going for four runs from his two overs.  The innings came to a close with Mallards having restricted Ovingham to 114-3.  This was respectable and they left the field confidently, some Mallards were overheard saying “we should knock this off, no problem” – You guys really should know better.

Andy Porteous and Steve Kent were to open for Mallards, with the low evening sun poking through the clouds, and the Ovingham openers were Chamberlain and Derrick, yes, that’s the same Chamberlain and Derrick that opened the batting, but more on that later.  As you would expect from opening bowlers, they were pretty good, both spinners, and kept our openers stuck in the crease, with boundaries almost impossible to find.  Derrick struck with the first ball of his over, bowling Porteous for 1, and started with a wicket maiden.  New batsman Nitsch joined Kent at the crease, and batted with intent, but was unlucky to find fielders with some well-timed shots.  Nitsch perished however in Derricks 2nd over, looking to attack but the ball nipped back off the surface and struck the off stump.  After 6 overs, the score was 12-2, oh dear.

Kent began to find the boundary with some lusty and powerful blows, and Scutt got off the mark with a two, and later launched a 4 back down the ground, all the while though the required run rate was creeping up and up, 10 an over needed.

After the two opening batsmen & bowlers finished their spells, the 3rd bowler was Bowey, who coincidently also batted at 3.  He again started with a wicket maiden, bowling Scutt for 7, and the 4th bowler was Pratik, do I need to tell you where he was in the batting order? I’ll give you a clue, lower down the order than 3, but higher than 5.  Both bowlers continued to keep the pressure on, with very few deliveries that either batsman could have a go at.   Bowey eventually collected the wicket of Kent for a hard earned 17, who had been going for every ball at this point, he had no choice really.  Cox was by now managing to get into his groove, hitting a 6 and a 4 in consecutive deliveries, as the new bowlers came on….

Marley and Drake were next, Marley, being the number 6 batsman and Drake 7.  The only reason why the number 5 batsman didn’t bowl was because that was Colin Burt, the Ovingham wicket keeper.  Cox was able to keep his scoring up, and just about kept Mallards in the game, we could have done without the 30 and retire rule here, as he brought up his 30 with a single and a 2.  Browne was the new batsman, capable of big hits, as anyone who at RGS last summer will testify.  He didn’t disappoint, 6 and 4 from his first two balls, with another 4 the next over.  17 overs gone and the score was 80-4.

Perera, who had come to crease after Scutt was bowled for 7, was stumped off the bowling of Marley, trying desperately to be as attacking as possible, and from there it was sadly a lost cause.  Gareth being caught by Chamberlain for 0.  Scott and Haylock were last men standing, with 23 needed of the final over.  The innings closed with Mallards 92-4.

A decent effort by all concerned though, we certainly never gave up and it was a good game of cricket.  Slightly spoiled though in the opinion of your match reporter by Ovingham’s decision to have their batting line up also match their bowling line up, this resulted in a few of their players not getting to bat or bowl.  I guess that shows why playing for Mallards is so much fun, sure we might not win every week, and are famous for our batting collapses, but no game I have played in has ended with a Mallards player not playing some part in the match, either with bat or ball.  We like to win of course, but more importantly we like to play cricket, as I’m sure some the young Ovingham lads would have liked to have done also.

Naturally, our spirits were raised with a trip to The Boast House.  We also managed to raise the team cholesterol levels to what Stuart Broad would call the “Red-Zone” by washing down a selection of crisps and various flavours of pork scratchings with some real ale, the perfect diet at 9:00pm.

MCC v Davipart @ Riding Mill July 23

Mallards faced their second game in a week with an almost completely changed side with only Skipper Wood and McGuinness keeping their places against an undermanned Davipart side who having won the toss and chosen to field then changed their mind as they only had five players at the ground!

Late replacement Mitcheson and club despot Taylor opened the bowling for the home side with the latter getting off to a very dodgy start with a succession of wides and boundaries seeing 16 come from his first over.

Fortunately Mitcheson was bowling beautifully from his end so the damage was slightly limited and Taylor eventually found a measure of control and almost a wicket, his opening bowling partner spilling a catch at short third man.

After eight overs, however, the visitors had raced on to a very healthy 59-0 with Mitcheson finishing with 0-11 from four overs and Taylor 0-39.

McGuinness and Perera took over the bowling reins with the latter hitting his rhythm quickly to unsettle the well-established openers, Haygarth and Sandhu, before they both retired with Davipart on 88-0 from 12 overs.

Mallards were slowly pulling themselves back into the game however, with Perera pinning the new batsmen down and the home side finally grabbed their first wicket when he bowled Harwood for 4 in his third over and completed his four overs with fine figures of 1-20, McGuinness ending his spell with 0-26.

The visitors had now reached 114-1 from 16 overs and with Rawley looking in ominous form it was clearly time for the home side to bring out the big guns so Butcher and Nitsch came into the attack.

Butcher immediately mesmerised the batsmen with his pace (lack of), seeing keeper Buckley narrowly miss a stumping chance before taking a catch behind off the very next ball.

Unfortunately Rawley took a shine to Nitsch’s first over, hitting three boundaries to retire on 32 but Butcher managed to tie down the new batsman Thomson before inducing him to hit a lofted chip to Perera who took a good catch – much to the chagrin of the other Mallards fielders as this brought back the previously retired and very dangerous Haygarth for the last over.

With Butcher finishing with 2-5 from his two overs Nitsch had to raise his game, which he did, restricting Haygarth to singles and twos before his final ball was hit straight down the ground towards Taylor, who couldn’t decide whether to try and take the catch or stop the boundary, sadly he did neither, his second  misfield of the night resulting in a final four and a daunting total of 141-3 for the visitors.

With Davipart still undermanned Mallards loaned them a couple of fielders, prospective Mallards debutant Chris Lucas and A N Other (Mitcheson, then Wood, then Dickinson) supplementing the visitors.

The in-form opening partnership of Steel and Wood got things underway but after the former had clubbed 7 runs from four balls the latter inexplicably walked across his stumps and was bowled round his legs by Thompson for 0 to bring Dickinson into bat rather earlier than hoped for.

Steel seemed to take the loss of his opening partner as a personal affront and continued his one-man attack on the bowlers, taking 11 from Hamza’s first over and then clubbing Thomson for two fours and a six to retire on 32 in just 15 balls in the third over. At this point the only other contribution was a no ball as Mallards(!) raced to 33-1.

New batsman Buckley joined Dickinson at the crease and, with Mallards well ahead of the required run rate, tried to settle things down at a more sedate pace, though even this proved difficult as some sloppy wicket-keeping saw the ball race through for four byes three times in one over and the scoreboard raced on to 63-1 from just seven overs.

Dickinson’s patience finally ran out in the next over as he drove straight to mid-on to depart for 8, Hall joining Buckley at the crease. The latter, however, was beginning to pick up the tempo and unleashed a succession of leg-side boundaries, one of which nearly demolished the scoreboard and at the half-way stage Mallards were sitting pretty on a mighty 85-2.

Buckley completed a splendid 30 and retired shortly after, with Butcher joining Hall who after getting off the mark with a boundary had been steadily accumulating singles to keep things ticking over nicely.

Butcher immediately clubbed a four straight down the ground but, with the scoring slowing down a little was bowled by Rawley as he tried to pick up the pace to leave the home side on 106-3 from 14 overs with 36 required for victory at a run a ball.

Nitsch joined Hall at the crease and the pair steadily accumulated runs to move on to 117 from 16 with 25 needed from the last four overs.

To stem the tide, opening bowler Thompson returned to the fray and immediately bowled Hall for a solid 17 to bring Taylor to the wicket, hoping to steer the team to victory to compensate for his less than glorious fielding display.

By this time Nitsch had settled in and, after Taylor got off the mark with a single, he swiped two successive boundaries to the leg-side boundary to take Mallards within 13 runs of victory with three overs remaining.

The return of the visitors other opening bowler was then greeted with a huge six as Nitsch all-but sealed the win, with the two batsmen cleverly picking up five more runs from the remainder of the over, the only scare coming when Lucas narrowly failed to hold on to the one chance offered as Nitsch’s thick-edge looped towards him at third man.

With two overs left the home side now only needed two to win from 12 balls and with Nitsch taking a single from the first ball of the next over it was left to villain-turned-hero Taylor to steer the ship home, which he calmly did, via his pad, a leg-bye sealing a seventh win of the season by six wickets with ten balls to spare, Nitsch finishing on an excellent 24 not out.

With the away side failing to make the pub a happy Mallards team enjoyed more than their fair share of roasties and gravy as they toasted victory in the traditional fashion in the beautifully sunny Wellington beer garden.




MCC v Wallace Arms @ Haltwhistle 22 July

Mallards took the long trip out to Haltwhistle to face new opponents, the Wallace Arms, on another lovely sunny evening.

The home team’s youthfulness and consequently casual approach to time-keeping meant that they only had six or seven players at the ground by 6 o’clock so Mallards agreed to field first to give the youngsters time to get a few more numbers.

Regular opening bowlers Browne and Dunhill began brightly with only five runs coming from the first three overs, the former unlucky to see an outside edge slip from the grasp of the diving Beacock. Slowly, however, the home openers, the appropriately named Wallace and Grommit, sorry, Graham, began to hit their stride and after five overs had reached 26-0. Mallards fielding had been impressive up to this point with Haylock very nearly running-out Wallace with a direct hit. The only blot came when Cox dropped a steepling catch in the covers but in his defence the sun was making life difficult for fielders and he may have been distracted by the use of a bright pink ball.

Despite the batsmen’s growing prowess Browne and Dunhill finished their spells with the very respectable figures of 0-21 and 0-20 respectively as Hunt and Haylock took over the attack with Mallards still looking for their first wicket. Haylock’s first over disappeared for a couple of boundaries but Hunt, after conceding six from his initial over finally struck for the visitors, bowling Wallace in his second over, a wicket-maiden. With Haylock finding his range and Hunt bowling very tightly indeed the visitors were still keeping a lid on the scoring and after 14 overs the home side were in a decent but far from overwhelming position on 84-1 with Graham retiring on 33.

Hunt finished off an excellent spell of 1-10 from his four overs but Haylock’s last over took a bit of a battering with new batsman Parker hitting two fours and a six as the bowler finished with 0-36 from his four overs.

New bowlers McGuinness and Hayward were brought on to stem the tide but the former’s first over saw the faster scoring continue as the batsmen went for their shots, two more boundaries bringing the score up to 114-1 from 17 overs. Hayward’s introduction however, proved inspired as, with Parker retiring, he clean-bowled new batsman Nicholson for 0.

McGuinness joined in the fun in his second over, clean-bowling Swallow for 13 to finish with 1-15 from his two overs to set the scene for a dramatic final over.

Firstly Hayward struck again, bowling Thompson for 3.  He then removed the incoming batsman Charteris, belying his age by swooping to collect the ball and run the batsman out with a direct hit. Incoming batsman Bell, however seemed to take umbrage at this late fall of wickets and crashed his first ball for four before ending the game by hitting Hayward’s final delivery for a giant six which cleared not only the very high fence but the A69 to complete the innings with the home side on 134-5.

Kent and Wood led the Mallards reply but they began in stuttering fashion as Kent was bowled in the second over and the Wallace Arms bowlers found a very tight line to make scoring difficult, just seven runs coming from the first four overs.

New batsman Cox finally released the shackles with a huge six in the fifth over and then both batsmen found the boundary in the next over to get the scoreboard moving as they accelerated to 27-1 from six overs.

A switch in bowlers, however, tightened things up even further as spinners Charteris and Bell came on, with only 11 runs coming from the next four overs, just one boundary from Cox breaking up a succession of dot balls and a smattering of singles to leave Mallards well behind the scoring rate on 38-1 at the half-way stage.

The scoring rate then began to improve as Cox started to find the boundary and a four and a two in the 13th over brought up the pair’s 50 partnership and Cox’s retirement on 32.

Bowling hero Hayward joined Wood at the crease as eight further runs were added before Wood, forgetting his partner’s age, called Hayward through for a quick single, a direct hit sending the latter back to the pavilion for 3. Still clearly shaken with remorse Wood was then clean-bowled next ball for a sluggish 14 to leave Mallards in trouble at 63-3 from 15 overs.

Victory now looked highly unlikely but new batsmen McGuinness and Beacock remained positive, with the former hitting some very nice straight drives and the latter rediscovering some form to keep the score moving along to 80 from 19 overs before another dramatic last over.

Firstly McGuinness was well caught for 12 attempting another big hit before Beacock was clean-bowled for 6 to bring new batsmen Jordan and Browne to the crease, the latter having to drop the scorebook and quickly pad-up to join the fray and face a hat-trick ball.

Undaunted by his sudden moment in the spotlight Browne smashed the hat-trick ball for four before a single brought Jordan to face his first ball. As the visitors realised that next man due in, Dunhill, was still umpiring, fingers were firmly crossed that the new batsman survived the penultimate ball. Not only did Jordan survive it, he clipped it beautifully off his legs for another boundary before taking a single off the last ball to bring the innings to a close on a respectable if insufficient 91-5.

Both teams then headed to the Bowes Hotel in Bardon Mill where the home team established themselves on our fixture list for years to come by providing every player (except the veggies) with a plate of sausage, chips and onion gravy. Happy Days!







MCC V Durham Staff @ Riding Mill July 16

The Riding Mill micro-climate triumphed once again as Mallards and Durham Staff enjoyed another beautiful summer evening whilst torrential downpours washed away several nearby villages.

A late change to the Mallards team saw elder statesman Hayward make his season’s debut in place of the absent Boyes, a late drop-out that brought cheers from those who like to see the score mentioned in match reports.

Skipper Wood again won the toss and chose to field as Mallards sought to claim victory in the three-match series, having won the first game on the last ball and lost the second game with a collapse only previously replicated by the Roman Empire.

The return of Browne brought some much-needed fire to the attack and he almost grabbed his regular first-ball wicket, a feathered edge just failing to carry to wicket-keeper Beacock. Nevertheless a very tight first over got things off to a good start. Dunhill also found his line and length immediately as Durham struggled to get the ball away, only reaching 14 after 4 overs.

The visitors skipper Swift, however, was beginning to find some form and managed to inject more urgency into the batting as a couple of boundaries pushed the score along to 31-0 from six overs.

Manfully standing up to the increased pressure both bowlers fought back strongly with Browne claiming the first wicket, clean bowling English for 9 to finish his four-over spell with 1-17 and the luckless Dunhill conceding only two runs from his final over to finish with 0-16. After 8 overs Durham were struggling a little on 35-1 as new bowlers Cox and Taylor took over.

The former immediately found some nice pace and bounce but Swift was now well into his stride and managed to strike three quick boundaries to retire on 31 not out. At the other end Taylor’s unique range of deliveries had more luck as the batsmen struggled to work out what was coming next and could only find three singles.

Cox, responding quickly to an unusually expensive first over, took the second wicket in his next over, bowling Wrede for 2 and Taylor completed his initial spell at the other end as the visitors scrambled to 58-2 from 12 overs.

Durham’s new batsman Bell introduced himself with a beautiful clip for 4 in Cox’s next over and a second boundary from McGuinness’s first over as Durham looked to accelerate.

Cox, who had beaten the batsmen on several occasions without finding an edge, completed another fine spell to finish with 1-25 but Bell’s ominous-looking form was confirmed in McGuinness’s next over as he hit the first six of the innings, just clearing the fielder, but not the cars, at cow corner.

Taylor returned to keep things tight at one end but the assault on McGuinness continued with two more boundaries as Durham moved through the gears to reach 105-2 from 18 overs with Bell retiring on an excellent 30.

Up to this point Mallards’ fielding had been very sharp, with little escaping the fielders, but the pressure began to tell as mis-fields and overthrows crept in, ten runs coming from Taylor’s final over as he finished with a very creditable 0-22 from his four.

In McGuinness’s final over more runs leaked away as another pair of boundaries saw Durham complete their 20 overs on a decent but far from daunting 128-2.

Steele and Wood reconvened as the opening combination for the home side hoping to continue their run of fifty partnerships, broken only by erratic team selection, and got things off to a brisk start as the erratic Costello sprayed the ball all over the place.

With some quick running and a range of byes and wides Mallards quickly amassed 19 from the first three overs. At the other end the left-armer Boothroyd was bowling very tightly but Costello’s waywardness counterbalanced this and the opener was withdrawn from the attack after his third over went for 12 runs and Mallards  advanced to 33-0 from five overs.

The introduction of Bell livened things up as he found plenty of pace and bounce but most of this benefited the home side as the batsmen nudged the ball into wide open spaces or the wicket-keeper failed to stop some fairly rapid deliveries and after seven overs the opening pair had moved things on very nicely to 49-0, well ahead of the required run rate.

The next over saw even more acceleration as two more boundaries saw Steele and Wood claim their third opening fifty partnership and the score climb rapidly to 60 from just eight overs. Sadly, it also saw the demise of Steele, bowled by Boothroyd for an excellent 23.

Butcher came to the wicket to recreate the same opening three who began the previous win against the same opponents and started in brisk fashion with a crisp boundary. Unfortunately a pair of quick singles saw the newcomer tweak a hamstring and, wisely unwilling to risk the certain carnage of carrying on with a runner, he took one for the team, retiring hurt on 6.

This brought Buckley to the crease looking to build on his recent run of high scores (for Genetics!) and he and Wood kept things ticking over as Mallards reached a formidable 70-1 from 10 overs with just 59 required from the final ten for victory. Regular readers will know that this is no guarantee of success.

Meanwhile the left-armer Boothroyd had been replaced by the left-armer Boothroyd, who claimed to be the slightly taller twin of the opening bowler. This claim was ratified when he unveiled a much-longer run-up and a much brisker pace to further unsettle the hapless wicket-keeper as the byes mounted and the score reached 81-1 from 12.

The introduction of Metcalfe, however, did have the desired effect for the visitors as he highlighted the benefits of simple line and length and finally captured the wicket of Wood, well caught at fly slip for 20.

This brought Hayward to the crease for his first knock of the season, a brief visit as a combination of Boothroyd 2 and umpire Dunhill sent him quickly back to the pavilion lbw for 0. Seasoned Mallards watchers shuddered – would this be the start of another classic batting collapse?

As Cox joined Buckley at the crease the scoring rate slowed as they settled in and with Metcalfe continuing to bowl very tightly Mallards crept towards their target, reaching just 92-3 from 15 overs, still needing 37 for victory from the final five overs.

The pressure on the fielders, however, was also mounting and four overthrows, forced by Buckley’s quick single, and a crisp boundary from Cox only increased this as both batsmen began to find their form, to take 12 runs from Boothroyd number two’s final over. Metcalfe then finished his spell, an outstanding 1-13 from four overs, and an increasingly desperate Durham brought back the quickfire Bell for another spell.

Unfortunately for the visitors the introduction of pace again misfired as Cox, in particular, tucked in, two fine boundaries easing the home side towards their target as the returning paceman’s over went for fourteen runs.

With Mallards now sitting pretty on 124-3 from 18 overs, needing just five for victory, Durham skipper Swift gamely brought himself on to try and stem the tide but it was to no avail, four runs were swiftly added to bring the scores level before Cox drove the winning boundary to give Mallards victory by seven wickets with eight balls to spare.

Cox finished on a terrific 23 not out with Buckley adding a well-judged 17 not out as a very solid all-round team effort secured a well-deserved win and clinched a 2-1 triumph in the three-match series. Astute observers noted that the only defeat in the series came during a certain Mr Cleaver’s brief sojourn to England!

A full turn-out of both teams at the Wellington saw much celebrating from the home side and much potato eating from the visitors as the surprisingly lovely summer evening continued long into the night.