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Mallards v Davipart July 14 @ Riding Mill

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GENETICS NEW

Mallards v Riding Mill July 24 @ Riding Mill

At some point over the course of the season, someone decided that our regular fixtures with Riding Mill should take the form of a trophy. There’s been no actual evidence of said trophy materialising, but it has been suggested that it should be called the Wellington Cup, or Plate, or Shield, accounts differ. Only slightly more unanimous was the decision that when it actually appears, it will take the form of a bowl of chips, or maybe onion rings.

Putting such details to one side, the most important thing was that the teams were locked at one-all heading into the decider. Thus there was just a hint of tension in the air in the lead up to the fixture. Matches with Riding Mill are also a rich vein for Friendly Fire trophy candidates, though frankly if this year’s award goes to anyone other than Ben Stokes the awards committee needs to take a long hard look at itself.

Playing as the away team, and with the opposition warming up in a thorough and dedicated manner, Mallards started the mind games by turning up without a captain. Rarely in this day and age are arguments fought with such passion as a group of Mallards trying to avoid the captaincy. Eventually, and mainly because he’s a member of the club’s committee, Leon was pushed out of the changing room to go and have a toss. He promptly lost the toss, then used his captain’s powers to delegate the skippership to Cox, who was momentarily distracted and unable to defend himself.

Mallards were bowling first on a pitch that had been on the wrong end of a few thunderstorms in its recent past. Browne took the new cherry and opened proceedings on a glorious sunlit evening. With Stone operating at the other end, the game began in a balanced fashion. The breakthrough came when Browne bowled Zuraliew for 9 in the third over. That was the only wicket for the opening bowlers, batsmen A Watson and James built the score steadily but without ever really breaking free. Stone in particular was very effective at applying pressure, his four overs going for just 11.

Someone called M. Maxter is recorded as coming on at first change, and he bowled quite well for someone who doesn’t really exist. Mexter and Hamid continued to contain the batsmen but were unable to break the partnership. Looking for wickets, Cox turned to the experienced hand of Haylock, with himself at the other end. At some point in here, both Watson and James retired to bring in two new batsmen. Haylock took advantage and found a breakthrough, courtesy of an excellent reflex catch by Latif at point off the first ball of the 16th over to make it 87/2.

That was the start of a flurry as Cox struck twice in the 17th over (his second), first bowling Bowman for two then Mussett caught Frazier for 0. This is about where I get confused and the scorebook stops being much help. Either Nitsch or Mayfield was run out in the next over by I’m afraid I can’t remember who. Coming to the final over, with the score at probably 104/5, Cox trusted Haylock to close things out, and close things out he did. Three wickets fell, one to a well judged catch by Wilson under a steepler, and two to runouts. Once again, I’ve failed to recall the circumstances of one of these, but Mexter’s (which may have been the first or the second) sticks in the mind for being one of the more suave and casual direct hits you’re ever likely to see.

So that was the first innings done, or not as it turned out that among all the carnage the final over only contained five balls. However nobody seemed particularly bothered and it was decided that the Mallards would also only face 19.5 overs. The final score was 110/8 which, on a low and slow pitch wasn’t going to be a walk in the park.

Mussett and Wilson started things off with a great deal of positivity, 16 runs coming from the second over. However, Wilson fell at the end of the third over with the score at 22. Hamid was in at three and continued the momentum, and for a brief while there was some glorious stroke-making as the ball went to and over the boundary repeatedly.

Mussett inevitably retired and that was pretty much the end of the fun. Cox, at 4, was unable to find much timing and ended up chipping one to mid-wicket when trying to force the pace. In the next over, Hamid did well to get bat on one that shot along the ground only to see a superb return catch snaffled by bowler A Watson.

Holland and Latif looked to reset things, the run-rate still under control; timing had been a problem for most batsmen and so it continued. The resistance didn’t really last as a trickle of wickets became a torrent. Holland was caught off the bowling of Mayfield and Latif was bowled by B Watson. Mexter was bowled behind his legs, also by B Watson. 45/3 had become 64/6 and things were about to get worse.

Despite timing the ball well, Beacock struggled to pierce the field before becoming B Watson’s third victim. Browne tried to hit us out of trouble but was stumped without scoring and Haylock decided he’d contributed enough in the first innings. 64/6 very quickly had become 68/9 and the Mallards were in familiar and unpleasant territory with 6 overs still to go.

The upside was that Mussett was now able to return and immediately looked to take the long-handle to anything on offer. Stone did a good job of holding things up and even chipped in with a boundary of his own. A few foolhardy types began to believe as the score had progressed to 91/9 with one over remaining. The 5-ball over had been dealt with earlier so we had a full six balls to get 20 runs. Unlikely but possible, and just a little bit more tantalising after a wide off the first ball. However, it wasn’t to be as Mussett was bowled off the third ball for a brutish 46 and a final score of 92. Better than it had looked a few overs earlier but disappointing nonetheless.

As always, chips, beer and in-depth analysis followed in the Welly, on a beautiful Northumbrian evening. Still no sign of a trophy though.

Mallards pic Cox

Mallards v Durham Staff July 16 @ Riding Mill

On 16th July 1969, Apollo 11 took off from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, bound for the moon and history. Fifty years later, Mallards CC looked to the heavens too to create their own little piece of history. For NASA, it took 400,000 people to put Armstrong and Aldrin onto the moon; on Tuesday evening, 11 brave souls walked out at Riding Mill to achieve the seemingly impossible – a Mallards victory.

To battle, and the opposition – Durham Staff.  In the eternal battle between Town and Gown, too often the Gown has triumphed. The dolts from the Town, knuckles dragging across their PhD certificates, have been no match for the imperious academics. A comprehensive victory earlier in the season gave Durham the scent of easy prey and an early trip to the pub. How disappointed they were.

Buckley, leader of our urchin mob, struck early and won the toss. Into bat for the great unwashed of the city; a bowl for the boys from the Ivory Tower. Openers Usama (a welcome newcomer) and Kent strode to the wicket, with the swagger of those not used to concession or defeat. Kent looked fluent, and in the moment – right up to the moment he was caught behind, from a lifting ball off Boothroyd. The umpire heard nothing and wouldn’t have given it, but Kent, the honest gladiator that he is, walked, acknowledging the edge. This noble temperament was to be sorely tested later on. Cox arrived at the crease, a Kiwi smarting from his nation’s latest engagement with the Injustice Fairy.  His stroke play was fluent, some might say, at times, even elegant. Usama and Cox assiduously accumulated runs, both taking a liking to a Mr T. Cleaver, who was fighting hard for his annual ‘Friendly Fire’ Award.

Durham’s opening pair saw out their overs, and the score had eased its way to 46-1 after 8. Unfortunately, Durham’s first change bowler was actually capable of spinning a ball, and Rahman got Usama with his first delivery, which pitched in another county, turned about 18 feet and pinged the off stump. Usama gone for a hard earned 13. Wood was next out of the hutch, holding his position in the upper order due to a recent flurry of runs and avoiding the drugs testing outside Glastonbury. Wood, as a writer of some fame, knows the power of punctuation and deployed the dot with great affect, frustrating the bowlers and leaving Cox to demonstrate his prowess at the other end. Right up to the point when Wood ran him out. A mix up, a farcical bounce off the wicketkeeper’s shins, a far-too-honest umpire, and Cox was back in the clubhouse, three short of his retirement.

A change of umpires was needed, and Kent made himself available. Unfortunately, a Durham player took exception to Kent’s lack of umpiring attire – apparently having a problem identifying someone standing behind the stumps as an official and not some errant fielder, trying to get a better look at a colleague’s batting technique – and sent him back to the hut. This clear infraction of the sartorial code of friendly cricket somewhat riled said Kent, and words were shared. It all added nicely to the mix.

Malik made headway with a series of fine singles and twos. Unfortunately, Wood was sunk by a low ball from the other Boothroyd twin. Six overs left, and 70-4. Could our brave boys get somewhere near a presentable total? Step forth the Skip, determined to show those academic sticky beaks that talent is classless. A steady accumulation of runs by Buckley and Malik moved things on nicely. Buckley, now impatient for glory, opened his shoulders and cut loose on the Durham bowlers, taking a particular liking to Costello, who went for 18 in his first over.  Our pair of lusty larrikins moved the scoreboard on with vigour, and by the last over we had topped the ton.

Then the fateful, almost fatal, moment. The last ball – a quick single and a Durham fielder with mischief in his mind. The ball, thrown in, missed the Skip by millimetres. More words were shared. The umpire, a Mr S. Kent, contributed his tenpenneth. It all made for a great atmosphere, and the spectators were enjoying the frisk enormously. So a total of 110 on the board. Defendable? Defeatable? Let’s find out.

The Mallards attended the pitch with a heightened sense of purpose, and blood pumping in their ears. The Skip, now invested with the soul of Douglas Jardine, strode with purpose, marshalling his troops for battle. Watson and Malik opened the bowling, and kept it tight. Particularly impressive, given that Durham’s opening pair could actually hold a bat. Runs were gathered, but the scoreboard did not run away out of sight. Malik completed three for just 11 runs, and the Skip held him back for a final over, if needed. Watson, tight of line, completed his 4 overs for 21. Robertson, Durham’s opening bat, retired on 30. Would he return to haunt our heroes?

Cox marked out his run, adding an extra couple of steps, so that he could more effectively channel his inner pain. Deliveries were lively; some might say virtually Bodyline, with ribs being rattled.  A neat ball and the other opener, Gillespie, picked out Usama at long on. Not having read the Mallards Coaching Manual, Usama actually managed to pouch the ball. First one down. Stone held up a strong end, and Cox continued to bowl with vigour. Natham and Hillborn move the score on, but never out of sight. Natham edged one to the excellent Beakers, behind the stumps. Or did he? Not given; no walk. No matter, next ball Cox castled him. Two down, and a climbing run rate. Oh, the excitement. Stone finished his spell with 3 overs for 21. Cox, possessed of antipodean angst, finished with 2 for 16 off 4 overs. Very pretty.

Then the Skip’s master stroke – he left. Wood, a man for all seasons, stepped forward to take the reins. Understanding the need for raw pace and intimidating bowling, Wood deployed his big guns – Latif and Mexter. Latif was economical and accurate, keeping the batters guessing. Mexter, bowling like someone else, was tidy and even a bit bouncy. His second over produced one that shot along the ground and clean bowled Whitefield, and then the moment of glory. Hillborn, the man of earlier altercations came down the wicket to Mexter, who, seeing the danger, lifted one into the body. Defending his ribs, Hillborn skied it to Kent at cover. Moving like Jonty Rhodes on Ephedrine, Kent swooped, diving full length and getting his hands under the ball, mere fractions of an inch above the ground. A lusty shout and a look to the batsman made the moment.

Excitement was mounting. Durham were still behind the rate, and the bowlers had their foot firmly on their throats. Latif finished his spell with a veritably parsimonious 15 off his 3 overs. Mexter managed 2 for 6 off his 2 overs. Modesty behoves the author not to comment on these figures, but simply let the numbers speak for themselves. So to the final over, and Durham needing 10 to win. Anything less, a humiliation at the hands of the urban oicks.

Malik, having been held back, now unleashed the final barrage. A wicket with his first ball, Boothroyd ( the tall one, not the chucker), hitting his own stumps. A couple of dots; a couple of singles, then the last ball. A peach of a delivery, clean bowling Costello and raising the roof of the clubhouse. A scarcely believable victory for Town over Gown, made all the more sweet by the level of needle introduced by the more chippy members of both teams. 8 runs the difference. But who cares about the margin of victory? It was the manner and magnificence that shone through – every Mallard at the top of their game; every Mallard a brother-in-arms. On this occasion, Durham knew that they had been defeated by fine margins but finer opposition. We may only have twenty or so PhDs and a handful of Professors amongst us, but we showed those academic types. Brick by brick, we dismantled their Ivory Tower and build our own ochre-coloured gazebo in its place.

A fine night, capped off perfectly by big bowls of chips and onion rings at the Wellie. Lovely.

2017 Batting Stats

The 2017 season astonishingly saw eight, yes that’s EIGHT Mallards batsmen score a century (obviously that’s total runs, over the whole season, not in one innings, let’s not get carried away.)

The full gory details of the batting triumphs and disasters can be seen here 

davi craig 2

Mallards v Davipart @ Riding Mill July 20

On a rather hot and sweaty evening at Riding Mill, Mallards turned up as prepared as their fellow professionals playing in the test match at Lords days earlier. However, unlike England, there was no kit bag as Gareth was running late. So the tried and tested saying of ‘whoever has kit, can open the batting’ was echoed around the pavilion end by captain Stig.  As Kent, Cox and Wisbach chuckled off to the pavilion to get padded up, the batting line-up was pencilled in. Kent and Cox to open, Wisbach at the prestigious number 3 position.

They all clambered out of the home dressing room, sweating like they had been on a treadmill in a sauna, but to Wisbach’s surprise, McGuiness had cobbled together some old batting pads from the bin, women’s gloves and a dodgy looking bat that looked like it had been plucked from a charity shop.

Nevertheless, Wisbach [suffering from vertigo? – ed.] was happy to let McGuiness jump into the number 3 spot.

Kent and Cox marched on to open and started well. They swiftly moved onto 47-0, when Cox had to retire (30) after smashing 2 sixes and 3 fours. Jeff Thomson being hit to all parts by the aggressive Cox. In came McGuiness. Kent fell next for 15 after looking well set for another retirement (probably confused by what he was seeing at the other end) caught and bowled Umar. Luckily for Mallards the skillful Wisbach strode up to the crease to join the hapless McGuinness.

McGuiness and Wisbach put on a few runs, including a lovely swashbuckling four from McGuiness. The next ball he repeated the exact same shot, and as the crowd looked to the boundary, the bowler, Hakim, celebrated as the stumps lay on the floor. Captain Butcher next in to steady the ship.

Wisbach then fell (2) to a classy delivery from Umar, pitching the ball half way down, it stopping in the pitch to then dipped under the pull shot and hit the top of the wicket. Joe Root would have struggled to fend of such a deceiving delivery! (no prizes for guessing who wrote this report!) 59-3. Taylor in next.

Taylor was struggling to get the ball away due to some nifty bowling from Umar (finishing with amazing figures 3-2-2-2) and Dhillon, while Butcher had better luck hitting a beautiful four to the bench boundary and scampering singles on a regular basis. Alas, it did not last. A full ball from Dhillon and a mighty swish took care of Butcher (7) who came back to the pavilion thinking he had to try and ‘hit out’ as there were so few overs left. Once the scorers had pointed out there were over 7 overs left, he realised he had misread the scoreboard and slumped onto the bench in disappointment. But he shouldn’t have been too upset, as Beacock was in at 72-4

Taylor managed to negotiate some singles but he also succumbed to the ever impressive Dhillon, bowled (3). 77-5. Mexter in.

Mexter dealt with the dangerous Dhillon for two balls and then smashed him high and far in the air. Unfortunately he had picked out a young, galloping Saif, who ran 5 meters in 3 seconds and pouched the ball, which was drifting over his head. Dhillon finished (3-1-7-3)  Mexter gone (0) 77-6.

Benson and Beacock (sounds like a comedy duo) were left to try and somehow make some progress against some accurate bowling.

Beacock started well with two 2s, while Benson contributed with some well-ran singles. Beacock continued the singles theme and then the party started! Jeff Thompson returned for his final over.

An array of boundaries followed, Beacock playing like Steve Waugh hitting 3 fours in 6 balls and Benson chipping in with a boundary of his own, both batsmen hitting Thompson (4-0-38-0) and then Anderson in the final over. Benson was run out (10) and the final delivery saw Beacock bowled Anderson (1-0-8-1)for an inspirational 23. 108-7 after 20 overs.

Davipart started well, hitting Browne and Van Doorn for 22 off the first 3 overs. But then Van Doorn struck.  Sandhu (16) caught behind magnificently by the youthful Beacock, who dived low to the right and took a great catch, 26-1. Two balls later the dangerous D Rawley (3) was caught well by Kent off van Doorn. 29-2, Mallards back in the game! The remainder of the report does not last long however.

Anderson and Y Rawley must have left the oven on at home, as both seemed to be in a bit of a rush. A flurry of boundaries from the slugger ‘One Shot’ Anderson and some giant hitting from the talented Y Rawley, which included 3 sixes and 2 fours propelled the score on. Y Rawley retiring on 33, leaving bowling figures in tatters behind him. Browne (4-0-31-0) and Van Doorn (3-0-33-2) were the unlucky ones who faced the brunt of the ovens being left on. 83-2 by the time Y Rawley had retired.

Cox and Mexter were now on, trying valiantly to stem the flow and both bowled well in the circumstances against Anderson who was continuing to do his best impression of Babe Ruth and swinging wildly at everything. More boundaries and a six followed and the run chase was down to single figures. Cox finished with a quite impressive tally (3-0-16-0) and Mexter was left to bowl the last over to Anderson, who felt it right to turn down a long single as he wanted to hit the winning runs. But he did not get the chance and had to take a single to then [rather grumpily – ed.] retire (30). Hakim hit the winning boundary off Mexter (2.4-0-19) and the players made their way back to the sauna pavilion.

A big defeat with Davipart chasing the runs down in 13 overs, but overall Davipart were far better on the night. Mallards can take positives against a good team however. Especially man of the match Beacock, who showed more than half the team how to bat properly!

MCC v Davipart Jun 6 2013 @ Harton

Match Reporter: Trevor Wood

A very pleasant June evening saw a re-jigged Mallards team face a strong Davipart XI in our first game at Harton for a couple of seasons.

Late drop-outs had meant a recall for Butcher and the long-awaited return of Stone for his first game in a couple of seasons.

Winning the toss, Wood chose to field, hoping that a relatively strong batting line-up could chase down a total.

Browne once again led the attack and despite conceding a boundary from the first ball started well again with only a wide added in the first over. Davipart’s openers, however, had a touch of class about them and Dunhill’s first over took some heavy punishment, with three ferocious drives peppering the boundary from perfectly decent deliveries as the home team raced to 19-0 from two overs.

To their credit Browne and Dunhill refused to be cowed and continued to bowl tightly, backed up by some terrific fielding from Dickinson, Butcher and Browne, as Mallards just about kept a lid on the scoring and after eight overs the pair had reached 56-0 with Northumberland batsman Ravi retiring on 30.

Veterans Haylock and the slightly reluctant Stone took over the attack and began brightly and tightly both conceding 5 runs from their first overs.

With Mallards refusing to wilt entirely the pressure began to mount on the Davipart batsmen and the visitors claimed their first wicket, Haylock turning the ball sharply to clean bowl the impressive Rawley for 20.

Two overs later the visitors struck again, this time the hugely determined Dickinson was rewarded for his fielding efforts, seeing the languid Vedhara ambling back for a second run, he took aim from some thirty yards and his direct hit found the surprised batsman a yard short.

Mallards purple patch continued in the next over when Stone got a reward for his excellent spell as Steele pouched a fine catch at mid-off to reduce the home side to 97-3 from 15, Stone finishing with 1-21 from his four overs. Haylock finished his equally fine spell with 1-25 from four which could have been even better if Dickinson’s fine catch at point hadn’t been generally considered to have not quite carried.

Part-time bowlers Wood and Butcher took over and the wickets continued to fall as Browne took a very sharp catch from a fierce off-drive in Wood’s first over and the same fielder helped to run out Walters in combination with Butcher in the next to restrict the home side to 118-5 from 18 overs. Unfortunately, this was a 20-over game and throughout this spell Sandhu had continued to bat beautifully and he and Harwood  decided to unveil a selection of impressive cover drives as Wood’s next over went for 13 and Butcher’s for 12 with the only saving grace coming with Sandhu retiring for a splendid 30 and Butcher clean-bowling his replacement Gilfillan with the final ball of the innings as Davipart finished on 143-6 from 20 overs, Wood and Butcher both finishing with 1-19 from their two overs.

Despite the late withdrawals of Mussett and Nitsch, Mallards still had a good-looking batting line-up (only in the cricketing sense obviously, their Kelsey Grammer double Mr Haylock excepted) and Steele and Scott took to the field with optimism unchecked until it was, um, checked by the wily Thompson’s first over – a wicket maiden which saw Steele caught low down at slip for 0.

Bad went to worse in the second over as Dickinson’s run of form with the bat continued as he misjudged a drive to be comfortably caught for nought with the Mallards ship stuck firmly on the jagged rocks of 1-2 after two overs. Scott and Buckley steadied things down slightly before Scott was undone by a ball which kept very low as Thompson took his second wicket and the visitors plummeted to 15-3 from 5 overs. Wood joined Buckley at the crease and the pair gradually eased their way into the game with their hitting and blocking policy, Buckley doing the hitting and Wood the blocking. Slowly the score mounted and after 10 overs Mallards had reached 43-3 with Buckley retiring on a well-constructed 30. Butcher joined Wood at the crease and the pattern continued as the former smashed his first ball for four and the run-rate moved upwards with 27 runs coming from three overs until, misguidedly attempting his first attacking stroke, Wood was bowled by Rawley for 5 with the score on 61-4 after 12.

Beacock entered the fray and then exited quickly for 0 in similar fashion to Wood and a brief flurry from Browne produced two boundaries before he perished in the same way as the previous two as Mallards reached 75-6 after 15.

Butcher, however, was maintaining his previous good form and continued to play his shots, hitting two more fine boundaries. Stone came and went, bowled by Ravi’s only straight ball of his spell for 4, bringing Dunhill to the crease.

Despite needing an unlikely 54 to win from the final two overs Butcher gamely tried to force the pace and after reaching 25 drove straight to Rawley at mid-on who took a fine catch giving Haylock a rare moment at the crease. The innings ended with Dunhill sneaking the single needed to take Mallards to a respectable 100-8 from their 20 overs.

Another defeat but having fought back well from difficult starts with both bat and ball a much-improved performance against a very strong side.

A very pleasant pint outside the Harton clubhouse followed, enlivened by tales of Mr Haylock’s surprising double life as an Emmy-winning TV star (see Colin’s player profile for a photo of the hard-drinking, four-times married Kelsey Grammer)

 

 

 

 

MCC v Sparta July 9 @ Riding Mill

Match Reporter: Craig Scott

My first attempt at a match report, I could complete this in two sentences, but for those of you that don’t know the score, I’ll go into a little more detail. For those that do know the score, you can probably stop reading now and get back to the Ashes.

There are few things better than a beautiful sunny evening and the  prospect of a game of cricket at Riding Mill, with the outfield getting quicker by the game and the wicket getting greener, no wait, getting better.

With Sparta winning the toss, and sensibly deciding to bat first, we were quickly underway (I assume we got underway on time as I missed the first 3 overs!).  Our trusty opener Tom Browne started well, with only 3 runs conceded off his first over.  His bowling partner Steve Hunt went one better, going for only 2 runs but picking up the wicket of Hunter, caught by Rob ‘Safehands’ Scutt.  A decent start.  Tom and Steve both continued to bowl well, but with little reward, the usually dependable Gez spilling a catch, not an easy one, but we might be able to forgive seeing as he is usually wearing a pair of gloves, Tom finishing with figures of 4-0-25-0 and Steve with 4-0-21-1, and with Sparta on 46-1 after the opening 8 overs. With Sparta opener Foulds retiring hurt, digging out a Yorker from Browne and getting his feet stuck in the pitch and twisting his knee, the Riding Mill pitch now being compared to the Wimbledon debacle given the amount of injuries of late, the decision to build a cricket pitch on an old Indian burial ground now coming back to haunt us.

With Mallards a little short on bowlers, it was Scott and McCaffrey who took the next spell, Scott going for 9 from his first, and McCaffrey, bowling for the first time in over 25 years, and quickly running out of WD40 to put on his shoulder, going for 6 from his first.  In the 11th over, finally some breakthroughs, with McGuiness coming down the track to Scott, only to nick one onto his stumps playing a big ol’ heave to cow corner (does this count as 2 wickets please?), and then new batsman Pearson perishing first ball, spooning one into the air straight back to the bowler, who kindly bottled the catch, stepped aside, and allowed Gez to atone for his earlier drop, now that is teamwork!  Sadly, these wickets were the last to fall, with McCaffrey, Butcher and Greenwood (who bowled some tidy stuff at times with a couple of LBW shouts) unable to stop the flow of runs, despite numerous field changes to plug the gaps, the Sparta batsman seemed to find new gaps with ease, and finished on 160-3 (ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTY FOR THREE) Sorry I went all BBC VIdi-printer there.

8 an over needed then as Greenwood and Howe set out to bat, with Gez cutting the first of some well timed cut shots for four in the first over.  Howe stuck in at the other end, and looked better than the scorebook suggests, being bowled for 1 by Bowman, but played straight and faced some decent bowling. Greenwood also got a good un, and was bowled by Bowman for a spritely 12.  To the crease came Jordan and  Scutt, who still had to face a decent Sparta bowling attack.  The two set about with the admirable mentality of keep wickets in hand, but sadly the runs dried up, with Mallards stuck on 23-2 after 10 overs.  Scutt and Jordan eventually fell, bowled for 4 and 6 respectively, bringing our leader for the day Butcher to the crease.  Hit out or get out were his calls from the boundary whilst waiting to come on, and he didn’t disappoint, retiring for a well made 31, including 5 boundaries.  McCaffrey and McGuiness didn’t have too much luck, McGuiness stumped for 5 and McCaffrey caught for 0.  The ever reliable Beacock showed good intent hitting a quick 11 with a couple of well timed boundaries, but it was never going to be enough as Mallards closed on 93-6.

Still, it was an enjoyable evening, with Yorkshire Puddings making a debut down the welly, delicious, even though we ate them all before the gravy turned up!

MCC v Riding Mill 27 June 2013 @ Riding Mill

Match Reporter: Glenn Steel

As the Mallards stalwarts arrived at the ground, somewhat depleted by injuries (very best wishes for a speedy recovery Leon and Trevor) and the discovery that a waddlingof Mallards had infiltrated the opposition ranks, it felt like a new start. A couple of ringers (thanks Dave and Colin) had made up the numbers and we mused at the notion that under our (literally) new skipper, one Thomas Colum Browne (TCB), a significant challenge was faced by us that evening, a damp pitch, an opposition containing a significant phalanx of Mallardian talent and our dubious [hit and, more often, miss ed.] record this season.

However, massed behind our inspirational skipper, serious confidence and determination grew steadily. The coin was thrown, heads was called and Mallards were presented with the divine option. We’ll have a bowl said TCB. Good decision? Inspired!! Based on Logic? You bet your boots. Inspirational motivational quotations were uttered. We need men who can dream of things that never were (John F. Kennedy). And we did.

To say that the fielding performance was the stuff of legend was an understatement. Under the wise hand of TCB, firm and logical manipulation of a prodigious bowling attack brought consistent and  regular reward using the sporting wicket to great effect. Significant movement both off the pitch and through the air resulted in miserly bowling (Dunhill 4-1-3-2, Mitcheson 4-1-11-1, Haylock 2-0-4-2) and inspired field placing resulted in a steady flow of wickets. Supported by the constant banter from the field (lead by master psychobabble consultant McCaffery) the precocious Mallardian middle  order of Riding Mill were consistent in their scoring (Dickinson, Nitsch and Bennett scoring a single each) only Heslop with a gallant, aggressive and ultimately futile 15 bucking the trend.

Only Howe with a patient 15 not out and a regular contributor for the opposition, Wide with 14, swelled the score to 77 for 9 off 20 overs (something of a recovery from 36 for 6). However, catching was unbelievably sound and secure. Four catches, NONE DROPPED. Pride of place must go to Dave Lee (more later) with a stunning catch at mid-wicket to get rid of the dangerous Bennett from a full blooded pull.

The nature of the pitch warranted a cautious approach (a run rate of less than 4 being required). However, Steel had other ideas as he ran out Gardner in the second over, thus further developing his developing reputation as a Boycott-esque run out merchant. However, the strategy adopted by Lee and Steel to defend resolutely and take toll of bad balls worked well. Tight spells by Reed and Page were repelled.

Lee, in particular, despatched the bad ball with great certainty and the partnership developed (56 for the 2nd wicket) to the extent that when Steel was dismissed leg before by Bennett, the game was all but won.

Lee retired with an excellent 36 soon afterwards and it was left to a belligerent McCaffery, supported by Haylock, to carry Mallards to victory by 8 wickets with 6 overs to spare.

Overall a splendid, all-round, performance. Good toss to win embellished by inspirational banter and leadership. The experienced lags in the Mallards ranks advised TCB to retire from captaincy while he was ahead – it’s all downhill from here!!! “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. No use being a damn fool about it.” (W.C. Fields).