Mallards v Sparta @ Heaton Medicals June 19

“A game of one half” or “Rain Stopped Play”

Once upon a time, a long long time ago, there was a game of cricket between Mallards and Sparta. This is only being reported now due to the match reporter going away on holiday and completely forgetting about the fact that he needed to write it!

As the game was approaching, it started to drizzle. Would this have an effect on the match itself? Well, the more astute of you have probably already worked out that it would, taking into account the 2 titles given to this report!!

After arriving at around 5.55pm, Captain Buxom was a little bit fraught after having had an argument at the car hire office ahead of his work trip the following day. Due to the enjoyment one tends to get playing at Heaton Medicals Ground, this preparation wasn’t exactly what was needed so, hopefully, this game would bring that enjoyment back and the car hire situation would be quickly forgotten! Things became a little bit better for the Skip when he won the toss and elected to field. The drizzle was still a little bit of a worry though.

With Beakers taking the gloves behind the stumps, the opening bowlers were Browne and Watson. Browne opened from the top end and only conceded 4 runs from his first over. Watson’s first over conceded only 7 runs, including the first boundary of the game. The edge of the bat frustratingly missed the ball on a couple of occasions but a wicket didn’t seem too far away. However, the opening batsmen (Smith and Roe – sounds like a firm of solicitors!!) worked away at Browne and Watson for their respective spells with Roe being the most dominant of the two – hitting fours compared to Smith’s singles. After 8 overs Sparta were 51 without loss.

Replacing Browne (who finished with figures of 4-0-20-0) was Malik who opened by bowling rather tightly and then, on his 3rd delivery, took the wicket of Smith, clean bowling him for only 10. He was most certainly the supporting batsmen in that opening partnership. This brought Gibb to the wicket and he quickly got himself in by scoring a 4 off the penultimate ball of the over.

Replacing Watson (who finished with figures of 4-0-27-0) was Benson and he went for a bit of pasting off his opening over. However, this did bring about the retirement of Roe for 30 and brought Nelson to the wicket. Unfortunately, not the former Admiral of the Fleet but a batsmen who decided to go after our bowlers – mainly the unfortunate Benson. With Malik keeping it fairly tight from the top end (finishing with figures of 4-0-11-1), Benson eventually responded by claiming the wicket of Nelson bowled for 22. There’s one in the eye for Sparta! Benson’s closing figures were 4-0-34-1 and at the end of 16 overs, Sparta were 107 for 2.

The last bowling changes saw Latif replace Malik and Holland (reluctantly) replacing Benson. Both of them went about their task with fervour and commitment. So much so that they both combined to run out Gibb for 27, Holland hitting the stumps during Latif’s over. Holland continued his good work by bowling a nice line and length conceding only 7 runs off his first over. By now, the drizzle had turned a fair bit heavier – not quite rain but worrying enough. Great efforts were made to keep the ball dry (McCaffery had been doggedly working on the ball the entire game to keep the shine, keep it dry and give us a chance!) and the final couple of overs yielded a bit more success. Browne took a nice catch at deep midwicket from Latif’s final over with his final figures reading 2-0-18-1 and Holland’s last over brought great drama – McCaffery knackering his calf on the slippy outfield, Latif taking a tumble chasing down the ball on the edge of the square but then, on the last ball of the innings, Latif taking a marvellous catch on the run, in the deep, in the now-pouring rain to give Holland final figures of 2-0-17-1.

As both teams walked off the pitch, the rain became very heavy indeed and any chance of Mallards getting to chase down Sparta’s final score of 142 were practically ended. Whilst we waited it out for 10-15mins, the majority of the Sparta team got changed and started heading home! I will never get over their laissez-faire attitude to the game – it’s very amusing! At the end of the game, people tried to make sense of the scorebook (still none-the-wiser) and then spent about 20 mins debating over which was the best pub to go to – the Corner House certainly didn’t win.

To conclude, a great effort all round in very poor conditions, some injuries and a good choice of pub destination for people to go to afterwards (the Hussars). If only we’d had the chance to play the return fixture!!