Mallards v Kings School Old Boys @ Riding Mill August 22

Fake news they cried. Who, about what? Well as usual it started with POTUS (President of the Unorthodox Sledgers). POTUS Butcher looked at the carefully clipped mown outfield, blades merely reaching ankle height, the soft dust bowl not damp at all wicket, together with the aptly named Kings School Old Boys (neither comprising of not much old or all boys) and upon winning the toss decided to bat. 18 overs a side both opposing presidents agreed on the basis of fading light protectionism.

Opening with Porteus and Steel the speed of the pitch soon became apparent with the first over by Ingram going for just a single by Porteus ensuring he retained strike. He was to regret this as in the next over it all turned a lot more lively. Abselon took the ball at the Mexican sight screen wall end and with her first ball accounted for Porteus. Next man in Kent then took a direct hit to his toned torso before smiting 7 off the over including the first boundary. “See, Mallards take our enemies best shot and send back TEN TIMES MORE” tweeted POTUS while simultaneously filling in the scorebook.

The batters responded to the Twitter feed by racking up a total of 30 off the first four overs with both Steel and Kent going nicely. POTUS couldn’t keep his Twitter finger still. ‘Great men, GREAT MEN’ the text screamed before the inevitable happened and like a Grand National horse Kent fell at the fifth, bowled Jackson, caught Clarke for 10. This was the first of three catches that rendered the mitts of onlooking soap hands Lucas into a sweaty performance-anxiety-induced lather. ‘Mallards PATRIOT’ saluted POTUS upon Kent’s return to the M Force One clubhouse.

Next man in McCaffrey began to rotate the strike with Steel before the latter also fell to a catch by Absolon off the bowling of Black for a nicely played 14. McCaffrey himself then fell to some catching action by Ingram off the last ball of Willet’s second over for 10. Some nice interplay and strokes by this pair had moved the score onto 47 off the first 9 overs including 4 fours.

Their fall began a period of more restricted scoring as gaps seemed harder to find and the verdant outfield began exerting its own energy-sapping gravity (think Theresa May cornfield – or perhaps better not). With Thacker and POTUS Butcher occupying the crease the score moved onto 63 before POTUS fell, run out for 3 in the 13th over, as he attempted an ambitious single to fulfil his ‘Make Mallards Great Again!’ dream. The scoring slowed further as next man in Lucas faced the pacy Simpson before connecting mightily with the single sweet spot of his wand of wonder (sponsored by MasterCard and Fosters) off Abselon in the next over for the only other 4 in the innings. Emboldened by this he played an edge, pad, wicket trick shot a couple of balls later. ‘Do or DIE’ tweeted POTUS.

With a total now of 82 and just two overs to go the team seemed to be facing a below par score. Unperturbed POTUS tweeted ‘Great Score, GREAT SCORE!’ as next man Beacock strode out. Beacock rotated with a single bringing Thacker back on strike. With time running out and some nice shots in the bank he decided to try and press on but in so doing fell honorably to the bowling of Ingram with the highest Mallards score of 21. Up next was batsman Green who decided to throw out the rule book with a cheeky T20’esque paddle come ramp shot before being removed from office for 4 by the keeper while undertaking an unscheduled diplomatic sortie into no-mans land. This brought in debutant Watson, loaned to POTUS by his friends in the NRA (Northumberland Ringers Association), for the last ball. With an itchy trigger finger he saw it, he hit it and Mallards concluded their budgetary allocation finishing on 90 for 7 from 18 with both Beacock and NRA Watson on 1 not out apiece.

POTUS was quick to tweet ‘I am thrilled to announce that by the 18th over our run rate had reached the amazing rate of FIVE! Never in cricket history has one team achieved such a SCORE!’. Even amongst the faithful there were doubts as to whether this was either true or enough to secure victory but Mallards like being establishment outsiders and took to the field with the fervour of all who dare to dream and watch too much Jeremy Kyle. This included the reported fake news attempt to use a white ball given the darkening light. After an unconfirmed getting together with the opposition President, use of a red cherry was resumed. When questioned POTUS was keen to stress ‘Collusion is not a crime, but that doesn’t matter because there was no collusion. Where’s the collusion?’

Cleaver opened the bowling from the Mexican wall sight screen end while POTUS turned to his new friend NRA Watson who came in from the homeland prairie end. Both bowled superbly, Cleaver with line and length and Watson like heavy munition unleashed. By the end of the fifth over the opposition had been restricted to just 8 runs. Things got even better in the sixth with Watson removing Craddock, caught and bowled for 5. POTUS then decided to show some uncharacteristic mercy on his enemies by making Watson bowl out his fourth and final over given his pacy rockets versus the dimming shooting conditions. Watson finished with 1 for 11 from 4. But that was not the end of our new friends’ contribution.

This period of the match did though see a change in fortunes. Peffer had come in to partner opener Clark who having now got his eye in started to open the throttle against a new bowling pair of Thacker and ‘Patriot’ Kent. Thacker bowled well and was unlucky not to claim a scalp while Clark took a liking to Kent, spanking him for the only six of the game and taking the KSOB total to 64 at the start of the 14th over. However, that six brought up Clark’s enforced retirement on 34 and quicker than you can say Hilary Clinton’s emails fate swung again. Next ball Peffer was run out for 15.

Sensing a chance to close out another deal POTUS began to force his narrative by going on a bowler firing and hiring spree, throwing Steel into the fray and bringing back Thacker. Initially things did not look great with KSOB having reached 79 without further loss by the end of the 16th. Steel finished on 0 for 11 from 2 while Thacker ended on 0 for 4 from 16 – both good figures but this was a low scoring game that was becoming tighter than Melania’s face (allegedly).

Mallards were giving each other anxious looks of sphincter-tightening proportions. Everyone was thinking the same thing but dared not utter the collective thought – should it all end breasts upward pointing….Impeachment.

However, POTUS remained strong and resolute bringing back Cleaver for his last over. Within six balls this looked inspired as he removed both Simpson LBW for 11 and Ingram for 4 via a catch from NRA Watson. Cleaver finished with medal-of-honour figures of 2 for 6 from 4. ‘Mallards STATESMAN’ screamed POTUS’ Twitter finger. Not only were his figures excellent but the score had only moved on to 80 with an over to go.

To which of his lieutenants would POTUS trust the final over and thus the match too. The executive order came down, Patriot Kent. Inspired by the endorsement and the threat that he had to either win or die, Patriot Kent’s bowling tightened. The dot balls and the need to score built the pressure on KSOB who cracked, Jackson being run out for 2. Still not finished Kent then took the wicket of Willie for a duck caught again by Watson – his third of the match and surely a contender for the sticky fingers end of season award. Kent finished with figures of 1 for 29 off 4. More importantly KSOB had finished on a mere 81 for 6.

Cue a Twitter explosion by POTUS. ‘The FAKE NEWS HATERS said we couldn’t win. Well we did. WE WON. It was a GREAT victory’ he Tweeted as he boarded Car Force One for a trip to the Welly. There his team sat proudly around him, all basking in the righteous glow of those who never doubted (much). All thoughts of impeachment were forgotten and spirits were high as non NRA Watto Watson also joined the gang for a swift one having crossed the sporting divide from his earlier big ball shouty men game duties.

The score book was proudly shown to all. ‘PROOF’ tweeted POTUS followed by ‘God BLESS Mallards. I said I would make Mallard’s great again. I DID!!!’. He then produced from nowhere a crayon and proceeded to draw an odd looking duck in the book which he coloured in an unusual shade of Russian red.

I will leave it to you dear reader to determine what of the above is actually true or fake news. Remember history is usually a surviving account written by the winners. Facts can become malleable during this process. Mallards of course are different – it depends what survives the Editor and Webmaster! (Webmaster Note: Posted unedited due to the unvarnished truth of the report and idleness of the Editor)