Mallards v Durham Staff @ Riding Mill July 18

On a pleasant evening at Riding Mill Mallards and Durham Staff met for the second instalment of their annual battle with Mallards keen to get revenge for the earlier defeat at Maiden Castle.

Captain Stig won the toss and elected to bat, a decision that despite a slowish start, 4 for none off 2, was soon vindicated as the score sped to 50 off 7 overs mainly thanks to some crisp striking by Mussett who retired (as usual) on 31, ably supported by Kent. McCaffrey was next in but despite his  best efforts to keep the momentum going, fell for 1 somehow contriving to be bowled behind his legs by Nathan, something he was unable to explain to the incoming Butcher!

Kent fell next trying to accelerate the run rate,  caught off the bowling of Root (not that one!) for a fine 24, and Butcher played his usual mix of misses, blocks, very very late cuts(not edges!) and occasional half decent shots before becoming becalmed against some tight bowling from Boothroyd and lost his patience and his off stump trying to knock the ball in to Stocksfield, falling for 19 with the score on 91 for 3 at the start of the 14th over.

This soon became 95 for 5 as both Holland and Beacock fell (very) cheaply,  Beacock being particularly unlucky, playing on having got the full face of the bat on ball to give Root (no, not that one) his 2nd wicket. Latif joined Nitsch at the crease who had been previously happy to knock the ball around for 1s and 2s before reverting back to type and launching a huge 6 in to the adjacent footy pitch. Latif looked like another shrewd acquisition by former Skipper Wood as he showed some good technique and a straight bat to hit a series of singles and a nice 4 before being a casualty of the late push for runs, run out for 11. Bateman fell swinging, bowled by Boothroyd, leaving Browne to fend off the last ball leaving Nitsch unbeaten at the other end on 17, with Mallards finishing on a respectable  120 for 7 off their allotted 20 overs.

The evergreen Tony Cleaver opened the bowling for Mallards having done the same for Durham against Mallards in the first game and was clearly keen to banish any thoughts of a nomination for the friendly fire award for that performance by bowling even better than he had done at Maiden Castle, going for just 1 in his first and completing a wicket maiden in his second by bowling Hopkins.

Browne struggled to find his form from the One Tree End and was soon replaced by Bateman who together with TC bowled nicely to keep the runs down, so by the time TC had bowled Gillespie in his last over to finish with an excellent 2 for 12 off 4, Durham had crawled to 32 for 2 off 8 (keen readers will remember Mallards were 50 for 0 off 7).  Mussett took up where Cleaver had left off and went for just 2 in his first over.  Bateman’s figures took a bit of a dent in his last but he still finished with a respectable 0 for 20 off 4.  Mussett then took some stick in his second (not helped by 4 overthrows!) to leave Durham 62 for 2 off 11.

Having impressed with the bat Latif then took over from Bateman and bowled tidily going for 10 off his 2 overs. Mussett responded well to his 2nd over by bowling Wreak in his 3rd with a rapid yorker and finished with 1 for 25 off 4. After 15 overs Durham had reached 86 for 3 in comparison to Mallards 95 for 5 at the same stage so advantage Mallards, however the (much) younger legs of Powell and Root (him again!) who were now at the crease proved decisive as they stole quick singles, turned ones into twos and also found the boundary on occasion, so despite Nitsch’s and the returning Browne’s best efforts the scores were level after 18.4 overs, Root  having (finally!) retired on 30. Browne managed to take the game in to the last over by getting Whitfield ‘strangled’ down the legside off his 2nd ball, much to the batsman’s disgust as he claimed he was nowhere near it despite both umpires(from Durham) hearing a nick! Nitsch was left with the unenviable task of having to bowl a maiden in the last over for a tie but Powell managed to pierce the fielding ring to win the game and  rubbed salt in to the wounds by running an unnecessary 3 to reach his 30!

A 6-wicket win for Durham sounds comfortable but in truth it was a close game and a commendable effort by an aging or should I say maturing Mallards side who by my reckoning were on average at least 15 years older than our Durham counterparts. As always the game was played in a great spirit and a healthy contingent from both sides rounded off the evening in traditional style down the Welly where news of the impending start of a new barmaid soon replaced any talk of the evenings cricket!