Mallards v Benwell & Walbottle @ Walbottle Campus July 9

Monday 9th July saw the 3rd instalment of the B&W/Mallards epic of the long, hot summer of 2018. It was 1 match apiece so this game was the decider. Who would win? Mallards? B&W? The game of cricket? The next few hours would give us the answer.

Arriving ridiculously early at the ground (thanks to Jonny Bennett for the lift) a lot of time was killed thinking about the batting order, wondering if we’d win the toss, contemplating the trials & tribulations of life and hoping Peter Nitsch would remember to bring his stumps as B&W had theirs locked away in a container with no means of getting access to them!

Sure enough, Mr Nitsch arrived proudly displaying his stumps (not a euphemism) and the toss could proceed. Being slightly bamboozled by the fact a 5p coin was used for the toss, Captain Buckley may as well have called “Big Ears” such was his chances of getting the call right! Needless to say, the toss was lost and B&W decided to bat first.

Taking to the field with only 10 players whilst waiting for Ankush to arrive from Leeds (which the Skip only found out as we took to the field!), the time on the pitch with one player short was substantially reduced as there was a good 5mins or so taken to get 2 of the stumps into the ground. This was done by using some copper piping and a hammer from Mr Bennett’s van – the technique used gave us a valuable insight into how Mr B goes about his day job! My plumbing’s fine thankfully! The stumps used were actually those of B&W’s as the groundsman had arrived just before the match started to open the container and Mr Nitsch, rather disgruntled, put his equipment away (again, not a euphemism).

Opening with Stone from the top of the slope end and Hamid from the bottom of the slope (or changing rooms) end, things got off to a relatively decent start. Hamid bowled the first over for the loss of only 6 runs, a boundary coming off the last delivery to follow the couple of singles conceded previously. Stone fared slightly worse going for 8 as he struggled to find his line, conceding a few wides & byes down leg-side, despite the valiant efforts of Kent to get to them in his role as wicketkeeper. Hamid then bowled a rather decent 2nd over, going for zero runs and bowling the first maiden of the match. It was during this over that Ankush arrived and only a short while later, Mallards were up to the full cohort of 11 players on the field. For Stone’s 2nd over, Captain Buxom moved himself from slip to the leg-side and missed the peach of the 2nd delivery which swung loads and clean-bowled B&W’s opener, Robson, for just 5 runs! With only 3 runs off his 2nd over, B&W were 17-1 off the first 4 overs.

At this point, Kenty took off the gloves and handed them to Ankush for the rest of B&W’s innings. A slightly butterfingers start for the new wicketkeeper as the first 3 deliveries weren’t cleanly taken and byes & a wide were conceded. A couple of singles also from the over and Mallards were keeping the score tight and control of the destiny of this game. Stone’s 3rd over took a slight pasting with 3 fours hit from it – a couple for batsman number 3, Horbury, and 1 for the opener, Aitkinson. Captain Buxom thanked Stone for his efforts and he finished with figures of 3-0-23-1. It has to be said that he was swinging the ball beautifully but the line was just slightly out – fine margins make all the difference in cricket. Hamid finished off his spell of 4 overs by taking the wicket of Aitkinson, falling for 15, caught at mid-on by the safe hands of Bennett. He finished with figures of 4-1-15-1! Great effort from both opening bowlers.

The removal of the other opener brought Mowbray to the wicket to join Horbury. Bennett replaced Stone from the “top of the slope” end and started off quite decently, conceding only 7 runs from his first over, including one four. Latif had replaced Hamid at the changing rooms end and went for 10 off his first over, Mowbray hitting him for a couple of 4s in the over. Bennett continued and went for a few runs off his 2nd over – 10 to be exact, including a further couple of boundaries for Horbury. This was enough for Bennett to call it a day and he disappeared off to deep backward square leg to distance himself from things for a bit. This was to be short-lived as, off the very first ball of Latif’s next over, Mowbray skied a shot straight to him and, again, the safe hands of Bennett pouched the catch – the batsman gone for only 11 runs. Bennett didn’t need to move for the catch so ignoring the captain’s instructions to stand about 5 yards to his right proved correct. Still think he’d have caught it “on the run” though! However, the batsmen had crossed during that shot and Horbury tonked Latif for 6, which brought about his retirement for 31.

There were 2 new batsmen at the crease – Davy and Jenkinson. Jenkinson scored a 4 and a single off the over when, off the final ball of his over and the first ball of Davy’s innings, another wicket was claimed. Captain Buxom had dropped both Mussett and Kent deep to combat Davy’s style of play (observed and noted during the previous game) and, as sure as Brexit is a complete mash of scrambled eggs, the batsman whacked the ball straight down the throat of Mussett who comfortably claimed the catch at deep mid-off. At the end of the 11th over, B&W were 78-4, despite the scorebook reading 78-3! Nitsch came on to replace Bennett at the top end and conceded only 4 from his first over, a boundary scored by Jenkinson. Latif concended 5 off his next over, 80% of it being a 4 to the new batsman, Draper. However, our bowler got his revenge the next delivery by clean-bowling him for only 4. Another one back in the home side’s hutch. It must have been at this point that Jenkinson decided to play for his average and, no offence to Nitsch’s bowling, refrained from scoring from it – another maiden. Latif finished off his spell bowling his 4th and final over and finished with a maiden. A WICKET maiden in fact, as he clean-bowled the new batsman, Bateman, for a duck. Latif finished with 4-1-26-4! A great effort and surely one that will be considered for a trophy at the end of season dinner!

During Jenkinson’s obstinate over to Nitsch, Musset had asked for the chance to have a go at him so, Captain Buxom being the fair chap that he is, gave him an over to see how it went. 12 runs later (3x 4s) that was the end of Musset’s spell and Nitsch would return for the next over from the top end. Replacing Latif at the changing rooms end was Holland, who conceded only 8 runs from his first over in the form of 2x 4s to the new batsman, Marrow. Nitsch returned to bowl to Jenkinson who, now that the pace of Musset was no longer there, retreated back in to his shell and looked to bat things out. However, in the 2nd delivery of the over, Jenkinson was trapped LBW for 21. There were mutterings from the batsmen that he’d hit it before it hit has pads but, in all honesty, his bat was closer to another red round thing, the planet Mars, than it was to the ball. Still, it’s not like Jenkinson to grumble at a dismissal (*cough) so we all thought he must have had a bad day (*another cough). A four came off the remainder of Nitsch’s over and, at the end of 18 overs, B&W were 111-7. The final 2 overs went for a further 10 runs in total (7 off Holland and 3 off Nitsch), with some impressive batting from Marrow and the number 10, S Robbie. Nitsch finished with figures of 4-1-11-1 and Holland with 2-0-15-0. A great bowling and fielding effort from everyone in the team.

So, 122 was the target for Mallards and, with the batting line-up that the side possessed that night, confidence was high.

The captain opened with Musset and Zurawley whilst B&W opened the bowling with their opening batsman, C Robson. He subsequently went for more runs off his first 2 deliveries (8) than he’d scored in his own innings (5) as Musset decisively tonked him for 2 beautiful 4s. The first one was a delight to watch as Musset took a couple of paces down the wicket and creamed the ball through the covers to the boundary. It was practically a replica for the 2nd 4, just slightly further round the boundary this time. A no ball and a couple of singles rounded off the first over and Mallards were 11-0. Taking the first over from the Changing Rooms end was Squires who conceded only 5 and a bye. Robson continued in the 3rd over and got absolutely creamed by Zurawley, getting hit for 14, including 3x 4s. Squires’ 2nd over went for 10 runs, including 3x 2s and a 4. However, more importantly, it also included the wicket of Musset, who was clean bowled for 19. At the end of 4 overs however, Mallards were 42-1, 25 runs ahead of where B&W were at the same point and 1/3rd of the way to the total after only 1/5th of the overs. Things were looking very promising indeed.

The incoming batsman was Bennett and, whilst Captain Buxom was padding up, he was the outgoing batsman, unfortunately playing on to his stumps from the bowling of Jenkinson for a 3-ball duck, after a single from Zurawley had given him the strike. Kent went in to bat at number 4 when he & Zurawley exchanged singles off the last 2 balls of the over. Squires continued and kept the runs relatively low (in comparison to what had happened previously) whilst Jenkinson also kept it relatively tight for his 2nd over – no boundaries conceded in 12 deliveries. Squires finished off his spell and kept it tight again finishing with figures of 4-0-24-1. He was replaced from the Changing Rooms end by Robbie and, after after a few singles from Jenkinson’s next over, the next boundary came from Robbie’s bowling. This brought about the retirement of Zurawley for 33. Captain Buxom came to the wicket and decided to play the role of supporting partner to Kent, who was seeing the ball far better and scoring runs. A quick single from Buckley led to a 2 and a 4 from Kent and Robbie’s first over went for 13 runs. After 10 overs, Mallards were 81-2 and well in control. Jenkinson’s final over saw another single from Buckley bringing Kenty on to strike and he subsequently hit consecutive 4s from the bowling before retaining the strike off the last delivery. The bowler finished with figures of 4-0-24-1, the same as Squires. It’s always nice to see a bit of continuity with the bowlers isn’t it?!

A single off the next over from Kent saw Buckley defend the next 3 deliveries before growing tired of not scoring runs and hit the last ball for 4. The relief (inside Captain Buxom’s head anyway) was palpable whilst the rest of the team couldn’t give a shit! 12 overs gone, Mallards were 96-2 and closing in at a decent rate on victory. Replacing Jenkinson was Bateman and, in his first over, despite it only going for 2 runs, this brought about the retirement of Kent for a fabulous 30. Ankush came to the wicket and, at the end of 13 overs, Mallards had moved on to 102-2. This was to change at the next over where B&W’s captain, Draper, brought himself on much to the disappointment of the Mallards team. His bowling always gets wickets mainly because the batsmen have either played 17 shots before the ball gets to them and they get bowled, or they get a top edge and hole out to a fielder. Which is exactly what happened to Captain Buxom, holing out at deep fine leg to a rather splendid catch taken on the dive, right next to the ground, by Horbury for only 8 runs. Ankush hit the next ball for 4, which is what Buckley had been trying to do for an entire over.

For some reason known only to B&W, Robson was brought back into the attack – despite having conceded 25 runs off his first 2 overs. His first ball went for 4 (Nitsch) and then a few byes meaning that, at the end of the 15th over, Mallards were 118-3. Not even Mallards could throw this one away although we have given it a bloody good go in the past!! Sure enough, off the first ball of Bateman’s 2nd over, a four was hit by Ankush and Mallards had won the game convincingly with still 4.5 overs of the game left. It’s certainly the most control I’ve seen Mallards have of a game during my time with the squad.

So, great fielding, great bowling, great batting and a fabulous team ethic saw a resounding Mallards victory and winning the 3-game series against B&W 2-1!! Well done everyone!