Mallards v KSOB @ Prior’s Park, Tynemouth May 8th

It was a foreboding evening. The clouds had slowly been gathering over the North East and had been inching ever closer towards the coast. Then, with timing as perfect as a Stewart Lee punchline, the rain started to fall before the game started. Would this be the nail in the coffin for the game? Would the fact that a decent percentage of the Mallards team were stuck in the various traffic jams apparently springing up around Newcastle and North Tyneside mean that we’d be happy for the game not to go ahead? Would Brexit turn out to be just a dream instead of the total nightmare it’s so blatantly becoming? Just so many questions and the answers, like catching opportunities during Mallards’ fielding throughout the years, are either just out of grasp or dropped before things are all confirmed!

However, our inspiring captain, Stig, was undeterred and, having left the dressing room (big enough to fit only 4 Mallardian expanding waistlines at a time) to conduct the coin toss with the opposition captain (Fred) came back and informed us that we were batting. The joy was missing from everyone’s faces and, begrudgingly, we started padding up.

As a King’s School Old Boy myself, these games have a little bit more meaning to me than some others. Playing at Prior’s Park takes me back to my school days of running round the grass track, stumbling down the steep slopes to retrieve cricket balls and standing around in the pouring rain on a cold December afternoon. The only thing different this evening was that it wasn’t December!

We opened with Captain Stig and McCaffrey and it seemed like Colin was going to be playing hit and run – no matter where the ball went. Or to whom it went!! After some singles, a boundary from McCaffrey and a few extras the first wicket fell at 15 when Stig played on to his stumps from the bowling of G Moir. When crossing on their respective ways to and from the wicket, Buckley took Stig’s bat and Stig stated that it doesn’t have a middle. After a few dot balls to get his eye in, Buckley decided to show Stig that it did indeed have a middle and tonked the last ball of the over for 4. McCaffrey and Buckley exchanged singles (and a couple of extras) and Buckley even asked the bowler to apologise for the beamer that caused him to take evasive action off one delivery. Unfortunately, it was during this over that McCaffrey lost his wicket when a delivery stayed very low and went under his shot, ending up with a clean bowled for Imran, the bowler. This brought Latif to the wicket, successfully seeing out the over.

By now, Buckley was a tad bored with singles and hit the next 3 balls for 2 fours and a six. Admittedly, he was dropped off the 2nd four when it went straight through the fielders hands. To be fair, the fielder did stop it going for a six. Lesson learned, Buckley twatted [a technical shot term that apparently Geoffrey Boycott was once heard to use, allegedly – ed.] the next delivery higher and further to ensure it got nowhere near the fielder and land well over the boundary rope. There were a couple of singles of the rest of the over and that was the end of Moir from the bowling.

The first change of bowler brought Absolom on, a young female bowler with a straight, accurate line that proved awkward to get away. So it proved as she opened with a wicket maiden, clean-bowling Latif for 1. This brought Moran to the wicket and she saw out the over safely. Ferris took over from Moir at the Collingwood end and gave Buckley a bouncer that whistled just past his nose. Taking umbrage at this, Buckley thwacked the next delivery right back at the bowler who fended it away with his hands and Buckley/Moran ran 2. Well, at least we thought he’d used his hands. The fact he lay on the ground for some considerable time indicated that the bowler had used his head to deflect the ball away. On the plus side, he saved a certain 4. A rather delicate end to the over by Ferris saw another 2 runs added. Absolom returned for her 2nd over at the other end and ended up with another wicket maiden – clean bowling Moran for a duck with her first delivery. During her bowling to Ellie, the umpire (I won’t name you Mr Dunhill so your reputation can remain intact) mentioned that this was the first time he’d seen girl on girl action. After Buckley offered to lend him some videos/dvds [surely just bookmarked URL’s nowadays? – ed.], the umpire clarified his remarks in that he’d not seen a female bowler bowling at a female batter during a Mallards game. Different times this, Mr Dunhill. The #MeToo/#TimesUp movements have moved into the realms of midweek friendly cricket! Anyhow, the loss of Moran brought Bateman to the wicket who saw it out with 5 dot balls.

Ferris continued and Buckley/Bateman exchanged a few singles before Bateman finished off the over with a 4. The score increased relatively rapidly (despite Black bowling a maiden over after replacing Absolom following her 2 overs – she’ll be back though) as Bateman opened his shoulders and hit a few boundaries whilst Buckley supported with the occasional single. In Black’s 2nd over, Buckley cut him away for 4 which brought up his retirement after scoring 31 with Mallards’ score at 75-4. Kent managed a couple of singles and a 2 before holing out to a fielder in the covers off the bowling of Black for only 4, bringing Browne to the wicket. Replacing Ferris, Banzil seemed a tidy enough bowler and, sure enough, took the wicket of Bateman, clean bowling him for a score of 21. Browne and Watson did their utmost to play scoring shots but, frustratingly for all concerned, played and missed when connecting would have brought certain runs. Browne was out for only 2 as he was caught & bowled by Banzil before Watson was eventually put out of his misery, clean bowled by Banzil for 4. The last over was to be bowled by Absolom who, with her first ball, clean bowled Haylock for a duck. This brought Buckley back to the crease who, having played for Mallards before, had kept his pads on to face her bowling. After 15 unblemished deliveries from Absolom, Mallards finally managed to score off her bowling when Buckley got her away for a single before Dunhill followed that up with another single with a shot that deserved a higher return. Another quick 2 from Buckley and Mallards ended up on 93-9, with Buckley not out on 35. Not magnificent but certainly a score that could be defended with accurate bowling, tidy fielding and keeping extras to a minimum! If only we knew some players who could achieve that.

By now, the rain had stopped and the clouds were dispersing over the North Sea bringing some lovely low sunshine to contend with at certain ends of the ground. Mainly the Collingwood end and the Allotment Side.

KSOB opened with Coyne and A Moir. Moir played and missed a lot. So much so, he had Kenty sledging in his ear quite regularly about an edge coming sooner rather than later. However, the scorebook states something different as apparently he would only score in boundaries – with a couple of singles hidden in there. In all honesty, the bowling of both Browne and Watson deserved better than what their figures indicate. A nice, tight opening over from Browne conceded only 4 runs with Kenty (who was donning the gloves in this match for Mallards) constantly interested with the ball not missing either the bat or stumps by much. Watson unluckily had a couple of boundaries off his first over but Moir had played and missed the rest! Both Watson and Browne continued with Watson getting all four overs in and finished with figures of 4-0-32-0. Browne was a bit more economical and finished with figures of 3-0-14-0. Both deserved at least a wicket each as their bowling was rather competitive.

Bateman replaced Browne but, unfortunately, couldn’t seem to find his rhythm or line [parenthood may have something to with this, interpret the earlier half of this sentence as you will – ed.]. With several extras and boundaries in his first over, the score jumped from 41-0 after 6 overs to 57-0 after 7 overs. This coincided with the retirement of A Moir for a score of 32 – consisting of 7 fours! With Watson finishing off his 4 overs Dunhill replaced him and was very economical in his first over with only 3 runs conceded. Haylock came on to replace Bateman who’d been slightly expensive with 2-0-22-0 (a sort of numerically dyslexic binary system) and went for 8 off his first over. Dunhill continued at the Collingwood end and got our first wicket of the evening with the 3rd delivery of his second over when he clean bowled Peffer for 12. I have to admit that this is the first time that I’ve seen a bowler celebrate loudly BEFORE the ball has hit the stumps! This brought Imran to the crease and he subsequently tonked his first delivery to the boundary for 4 before Dunhill restricted him beautifully for the final 2 balls of the over, not conceding any further runs. However, the damage had been done and after 12 overs, KSOB were on 91-1 with 1 opener retired and the other one about to hit the winning runs from Haylock’s bowling. Which he did with a 2 and a 4 though Haylock did make them work for it as there were 3 dot balls in the over.

So, at the end of the day, a valiant effort but KSOB won out by nine wickets on the evening with better overall batting and better bowling. However, Mallards know where their priorities lie as there was a fabulous turn-out at the Tynemouth Lodge for a post-match beverage (see above).  KSOB had a big fat 0 – their only duck of the night. (For clarity it should be emphasised that the words ‘big’ and ‘fat’ in that last sentence are not meant to be a caption for the above photo)