Mallards v Durham Staff @ Durham May 15

It is with trepidation this newbie (to the Mallards not life!) writes his first match report after perusing some of the iconic reports from the past, some written by playwrights, authors, philosophers and even Emoji fans!

As the match start loomed, with only 7 Mallards being present, Skip Stig’s batting  order had to be hastily re-arranged. Both the Mallards big batting guns of Buckley and Kent were missing being caught up in traffic congestion which could end up causing a jam for the Mallards later!

Mallards opened with McCaffrey and in a rare outing Despot Taylor. McCaffrey got off to a good start managing to hit a four which was no mean feat in a low scoring match due to the size of the boundaries and the condition of the outfield. Taylor was first out bowled by the pacy S Boothroyd for 3. McCaffrey soon followed bowled again by S Boothroyd for a quickfire 12. The Mallards were 17 for 2. Still no sign of the batting Supertwins of Buckley and Kent. The Mallards were in a panic Watto was even padded up! Latif was promoted up the order to join Skip Stig. Both began a steady  accumulation of runs, with nervous looks to see if the real batsmen had arrived (Sorry to all those Stattos but maybe thankfully no end of over score for the Mallard’s innings  can be given as it was not in the  score book).

Eventually the supertwins arrived and Stig confirmed to Latif that they now needed to up the scoring rate. So accordingly Stig in the very next over  played out a maiden, maybe the Skip’s thoughts were trying to impress the ECB for a place in the Test squad which was to be announced later in the day! Latif was eventually caught off the bowler Haman for 18 with the score on 45/3. Stig soon followed after being caught off the bowling of Boothroyd (‘the Junior’) for 12 with the score on  52 for 4 in the 15th over (approx). Buckley and Kent who are normally used to dealing in boundaries unusually upped the scoring rate in ones and twos. Buckley managing only the second boundary of the innings before being run out for 10 with score on 70 for 5. Kent tried to get as many runs in an almost McCaffrey-esque way as possible  and was eventually run out for 20 with the score being 84 for 6 leaving Wisbach 2 not out and Brown 0 not out at the end of the innings. It left the Mallards on a final  total of 87 which felt about 10 runs short of par which surely would have been more likely achieved with the supertwins opening. The stand out Durham Staff bowlers being the pacy S Boothroyd who ended up with figures of 2 for 10 off 4 overs and the spinner Haman with figures of 1 for 10 off 4 overs.

Durham Staff began their innings with Browne and Watson opening the bowling for the Mallards. Both bowled tightly. Watson got a breakthrough in his first over bowling Wriede for 1 with the score being 5 for 1. Both bowlers had great opening spells. Browne bowling 3 overs, 1 for 11, Watson 3 overs, 1 for 14. The score at the end of the 6 overs was 28 for 1. The match was on for a close finish, Skip Stig then turned to the twin attack of Dunhill and Wisbach. Both bowlers had excellent frugal and probing spells. Dunhill eventually had success bowling Gillespie for 24, in 11th over with the score on 49 for 2. The ‘Wizard’ of Wisbach was very unlucky from the other end having the opposition bamboozled with his tricky leg spin, and was particularly unlucky when Beacock – having an otherwise great day behind the stumps – dropped a sharp catch off Whitfield’s edge. Dunhill and Wisbach both completed their overs. Dunhill finishing  his 4 overs with 1 for 17 and Wisbach his  4 overs with a miserly 0 for 14. Skip Stig had no option in the last 4 overs to turn to his part time bowlers of himself and Latif. Stig with his marvellous mix of liquorice allsorts (which sometimes even keeps him guessing) managed to bowl Whitfield for a well made 29. The match came down to the wire with 12 needed from the last 12 balls. In the penultimate over bowled by Latif, Chowdhury managed to hit a boundary four which was probably the killer blow and was also only the second boundary of the Durham Staff’s  innings. Metcalfe was then run out for 15  by a great long distance direct hit by Dunhill with the score on 84 for 5. Two runs were needed off Stig’s last over but despite the Skip’s best efforts the Durham Staff won the match with two balls to spare, winning by 6 wickets [somehow the reporter, perhaps in fear of future placement in the starting XI, has neglected to point out that it was our own Despot’s misfielding that saw the final two runs conceded – ed.].

Mallards with a much-improved fielding performance (from the last match) co-ordinated well by Stig and which was epitomised by ‘Terrier’ McCaffery who ran everything down in the field (but thankfully did not want his belly tickled as a reward) and held on to 2 catches. Also a mention of Kent and particular to his ‘Terminator’ arm which was responsible for keeping the runs down on number of occasions. Mallards were ultimately left ruing the earlier traffic jam and the temporary absence of our usual openers, which left us all pondering  “Buckley Buckley where art thou Buckley (and Kent) ?”

Despite the taking part in a close and thrilling match, this newbie’s best memory of the day and what epitomises the spirit of the Mallards Cricket Club came at the end of the day with the team photograph. As the photo was being taken under the setting sun in the Durham skies, the Tribe called Mallards chanted to a man “Cleaver, Cleaver ,Cleaver”. A fitting tribute to the legend Tony Trigger-finger Cleaver. Best wishes Tony get well and hope to see you soon back on the cricket field.