Mallards v Riding Mill @ Riding Mill July 4

“Never on the fields of Mallardian cricket has so many runs been scored by so few” – Winston Churchill, 1940

“Don’t believe everything you read on the internet” – Abraham Lincoln, 1864

“How much bollocks can I put into this match report?” – Mark Buckley, 2018

On what was a gorgeous sunny evening in early July, the teams of Mallards CC and Riding Mill (looking suspiciously like a Corbridge Millers side) met to play a game of cricket. What was to follow was runs galore, surprising catches and a good atmosphere which made for an extremely enjoyable evening indeed!!

After having arrived at the ground relatively early as the traffic from my office was surprisingly light (a big thank you to Mr Wood for the lift to the game this evening – good conversation in the car between ourselves and Mr Wilson!), there was a bit of hanging around until both captains (Buxom for Mallards, Aly Hall for Riding Mill) went out to the middle for the toss. Buxom won the toss and elected to field, which was fortuitous as Hall would’ve batted if he’d won it!

Riding Mill opened their batting with Zurawlev and S Taylor whilst Buxom opened with Browne from the Sheep Field End and Latif from the Extremely Tall Trees End – which surprised Latif, but he stepped into the breach manfully whilst we waited for Hamid to arrive. Browne opened his spell with a couple of wides and was also tonked for a couple of boundaries (a 4 and 6) by Zurawlev. Latif’s opening over also went for a couple of boundaries (2x 4) and a wide so, after only 2 overs, Riding Mill were 21 without loss. It was during Latif’s first over that Hamid arrived at the ground so Captain Buxom’s planning was going into overdrive (to be fair, it was still in neutral and overdrive is only as high as 2nd gear – not enough grey matter to get any higher!!) about what to do next. He stuck with Browne and Latif and the next two overs went for a combined 21 runs meaning that, after only 4 overs, Riding Mill were 42 without loss – Zurawlev was on 26 not out and S Taylor 11 not out, with extras not too far behind!! Browne’s next over went for a further 14 runs, bringing Taylor up to 24 not out, catching Zurawlev very quickly. Hamid came on for the 6th over from the ETT end and went for only 3 in his opening over. Browne’s first ball of his final over went for 4 by Zurawlev meaning that he retired on 31 not out in only the 7th over. Hope that this would bring some respite to the bowlers was soon quashed as Horner came to the wicket. Sure enough, a couple of 4s off the over meant that Browne finished with figures of 4-0-49-0. Definitely not Browne’s best night with the ball but he was up against some very accomplished batsmen. At the end of the 7th over, Riding Mill were 80 without loss! EIGHTY!!!! Captain Buxom was looking everywhere for inspiration – the skies; his boots; a sole ladybird flitting between the blades of grass. Would it work?

Apparently so! In Hamid’s 2nd over, joy belatedly arrived for Mallards (must have been travelling on Southern Rail). Opener S.Taylor holed out on 27 to G.Taylor at point, who held on at the 2nd attempt and definitely made up for his drop of S. Taylor earlier in the innings, when his hands magically became covered in Vaseline when the ball was hit straight into them. Any other references to G Taylor’s hands being covered in Vaseline legally have to contain the word “allegedly”!

Were things coming back to Mallards? Well, quite possibly – only a couple of deliveries later, batsman J Marks was clean bowled for a duck. From 80-0 after 7 overs to 87-2 after 8 overs, the comeback was on and Mallards were up for it. (Those tips from that lonely ladybird were certainly useful!).

Replacing Browne from the Sheep Field End was Wood, who’d decided to visit the North East of England on holiday for a short period of time and volunteered to play for Mallards whilst here. Conceding a single apiece to batsmen Nitsch and Horner off his first 3 balls, Wood then struck with a lovely delivery, trapping Nitsch LBW for just 1! At this rate, Mallards would end up chasing around 130 for victory. However, the incoming batsman (L. Thacker) had a slightly different mindset and hit Wood for a nice little boundary. There was also a delivery giving away 3 wides, which was somewhat of an achievement! Malik and Wood continued valiantly but with Horner and Thacker opening their shoulders somewhat, the run rate increased again. The next 3 overs went for 34 runs (bringing about the subsequent retirement of Horner) in total meaning that, after only 12 overs, Riding Mill were 130 for 3. Malik finished with figures of 4-0-32-2. Replacing Malik from the ETT end, Latif returned for another shot and claimed the wicket of Watson, caught by G Taylor on the leg side, for a duck. People were now seriously concerned for the health of Despot Taylor as he’d held on to two catches in the same game – this was showing signs of competence, something that none of us had ever seen from Taylor.

As a reward, Captain Buxom brought Despot Taylor on to bowl and the world returned to normality as he went for 16 off his first over. The rest of the team breathed a sigh of relief (or we all just simultaneously farted – the sounds are very similar) as we genuinely didn’t know what to do if Gareth continued playing the game at a high standard (for Mallards anyway). Latif’s last over went for 12 runs meaning that he finished with figures of 4-0-37-1. Taylor continued from the Sheep Field End for a 2nd over (Captain Buxom is kind that way) his endeavours brought about the dismissal of Riding Mill’s captain, A Hall, clean bowling him behind his legs, for 16. G Taylor was rewarded for this further success by being replaced by the returning Wood and, between him and Holland, bowled the last 3 overs of the innings. Wood claimed another wicket in his final over, clean bowling S Horner for 4, meaning his final figures were 4-0-31-3! Not bad for someone on holiday! However, this brought Zurawlev back to the crease. Hearts sank. But, joy was just around the corner (well, the next over) when he was stumped by Kent off the bowling of Holland for 34. Replacing the outgoing batsman was the returning A Horner who quickly hit the last 3 deliveries for a 2, a 4 and a 6. His 4 actually hit Ellie on the shin (a fact that I am constantly reminded of) which, if I’m honest, thought had hit Mr Nitsch’s dog and not her. I think I will go and get my eyesight tested. Although the scorebook states that Riding Mill finished on 190, the bowling figures give it as 198! Whichever one it is, a tall order lay in store for the batting efforts of Mallards.

Opening with Malik and Steel, hopes were high that we wouldn’t embarrass ourselves and give it a great go at chasing down the Riding Mill score. Those hopes quickly disappeared as Riding Mill’s opening bowler started out with a maiden over! The second over went for 8 runs, including a lovely 4 from Steel along with a single and a few extras! We were on it!! However, Steel was to fall in the 3rd over when he was caught behind off the bowling of Watson for only 5. Watson finished his 2nd over with dot balls and finished with figures of 2-2-0-1. Ruecroft’s second over went for 10 runs with Malik finally getting loose, scoring all 10! Replacing Watson was Thacker who started with a couple of dot balls until Dinesh, batting for Mallards at number 3, hit a four and single; Malik finishing off the over with a 6. 11 runs off the over!! At the end of the 5th over, Mallards were 29-1, only 28 runs behind where they needed to be. S Horner replaced Ruecroft and another boundary from Dinesh kept us in the game when, in the next over from Thacker, things went a little bit bonkers with 14 runs being conceded by the bowler – including a 6 off the first ball for Malik and a 4 for Dinesh. 7 overs and Mallards were 48-1! Horner’s 2nd over also went for several runs, 11 to be exact, however it also brought the wicket of Dinesh, clean bowled for a valiant 18. Captain Buxom comes to the wicket and hits his first delivery to the pavilion for a 4 – no standing on ceremony for the Skip! 8 overs down, Mallards are 59 for 2.

S Taylor comes on for over 9 and it’s carnage from the off, going for 14 runs including a 6, 4 and a 3. This over also brought about the retirement of Malik, bringing Kent to the wicket. He hit his first delivery for 4 too. 73-2 off 9 overs. Let’s keep it going! However, Mayfield, brough on from S Horner, had other ideas by only going for 3 runs off his first over. S Taylor got it back on track a bit with his 2nd over, only going for 7 runs, including another boundary for Kent. Captain Buxom was doing his usual supporting act, rotating the strike to Kent by scoring singles. This was working as Kent was hitting boundaries as Mayfield’s 2nd over went for 11 runs, Kent scoring 10 of them. The start of the 13th over saw Mallards at 94-2. Marx was to bowl the 13th over and it seemed that Mallards were in the (duck) soup. However, it was the bowler left feeling a bit Groucho as he went for 12 off his first over, including a 6 for Captain Buxom who had, by now, even bored himself with the number of singles he was scoring. Nitsch replaced Mayfield and quickly set about his task by removing Kent, letting him hit a boundary to retire and return to the pavilion. A couple of singles from Latif and Buckley finished off the over. Another couple of singles from Buckley and Latif at the start of Marx’s 2nd over brought tedium to Captain Buxom’s mindset once again and Buckley decided he wanted to also be back in hutch. So, Buckley decided that the run-rate should have a bit more Zippo about it and hit 2, 2, 4 and finished off his retirement push with a 6 to end on 33 not out. The nearby animals went a bit crackers. Buckley’s retirement brought Wilson to the wicket and, after a slight rush of blood to the head by Latif, Wilson was run out without even getting to face a delivery. Wood came to the wicket and scored a quick 2. Whilst having a chat with Buckley (who was out in the middle umpiring), Wood heard the Skip mentioning that we needed to score as many runs as possible. With that, on the very next ball, Wood subsequently ran himself out going for (what turned out to be) an impossible single! The Mallard’s innings was rather quickly folding in on itself as Holland was bowled for one, Latif was caught for only 2 and Hall found himself on a hat-trick after consecutive deliveries brought about the dismissals of G Taylor for 1 (caught behind) and then clean bowling the returning Malik by hitting the middle stump. Kent came back to the wicket and brought about some respectability by surviving the hat-trick delivery and then hitting Hall for 4.

The last over came from A Horner and Browne, who’d yet faced a delivery, followed the instructions of his Skip and went about with a few swishes, scoring a 2 and a 4 in the process.

Needless to say, with only 4 batsmen in double figures (3 of whom retired), Mallards didn’t make the required score but did finish with a total of 154. So, in only 40 overs of cricket, a grand total of 352 runs were shared between the 2 teams.

Both sides then retired to the Wellington pub for well-earned beverages and food, good banter and tolerable temperatures due to the lateness of the evening.

Despite the result, a great effort all-round from Mallards tonight in every area – fielding, bowling and batting. Even though we fell short, there was a very proud captain of his men after the game’s exertions.