Mallards v Davipart @ Broadway West May 30

The French are not known for their interest or prowess at Cricket (except Ritchie Benaud whose ancestry is French). However, Napoleon once said Victory is not winning the battle…but raising every time you fall which is axiomatic if you are a Mallard.

On a cloudy and muggy evening both teams assembled at Gosforth (more or less) and after some brief wrangling about who had the most players MCC went into bat. Davipart were briefly loaned Beacock who for the record made no attempts at the Friendly Fire award, fortunately skipper McCaffrey (pictured) had distracted Dunhill somehow [the editorial team have been trying to decipher this line, after some significant delving, allegedly it involved a copy of Crag Hoppers Monthly and a bottle of Clinique Moisturiser for Men – ed.]. Meanwhile at the crease Captain McCaffrey and Hamid opened the batting facing Thompson and Ship. It was a solid start from the MCC opening pair against some accurate bowling and tight fielding including McCaffrey being dropped on 6.

However, Hamid had begun getting his eye in early lacing a couple of fours from Ship’s first over. Things were slower against the veteran Thompson, and eventually the pressure told with McCaffrey run out for 9 from a fine bit of fielding. In came Lucas champing at the bit for runs but despite some fine looking shots he found it hard get beyond the ring of fielders supporting the Davipart bowlers. Hamid continued to make progress particularly against Ship who was withdrawn from the attack after conceding 10 from his third over. By this time Dillon joined the attack and the tight bowling continued with Hamid bowled after a late innings flurry for 29. With Liam [one of Peter Nitsch’s two black-book ringers sorry potential new recruits for the evening – ed.] caught and bowled Dillon for 2 in the following over MCC were looking wobbly at 53-3 from 11 overs and Wilson joining Lucas at the crease. Soon things were going to look even darker, as Lucas and Wilson managed to get into the mother of all running tangles (or farce as it transpired) with Wilson wandering off seemingly run out for 1 only to be recalled after a long discussion between Umpire Mexter and the Davipart team resulting in a final outcome of Lucas being adjudged to have been run out first for 8.

Davipart had clearly seen Wilson bat before and knew that they were now into the tail. Wilson having been reprieved was joined at the crease by James [also a captive of the little black book– ed.]. Napoleon tells us here – “Never ascribe to malice which is adequately explained by incompetence”. So now for the second incident of the evening featuring umpire Mexter and the Davipart team – James was clean bowled (or was he? – apparently he was according to Wiki-Taylor when consulted by phone later). Mexter had confidently called a no ball. Bowler asked for detail of the transgression. A discussion ensued and although it was agreed that it had not been a no ball the Davipart team in true sporting fashion allowed James to remain. Boney says about this “I would rather have a general who was lucky than one who was good

And so the game was on a knife edge with two batsmen feeling invincible and they began to rack up a series of quick singles punctuated by a lovely boundary from James and a streaky edged four from Wilson to move the scoring rate along rapidly before Wilson rode his luck too far and was caught by the wicketkeeper for 11 with James bowled next for a swift 13. Beacock made a brief 2, bowled trying to move the score along, Browne (5) and Dunhill [heavily moisturised – ed.] (1) saw the Mallards innings close at 91-7, but would it be enough?

Someone once said “a Leader is a dealer in hope”… certainly acting Skipper McCaffrey believed that a Mallards win was possible.

The bowling was opened by Browne who kept it very tight including a maiden in his second over with James also restricting the flow of runs from the other end – Browne finishing with 0-6 with the ring of fielding steel keeping the flow of scoring to a minimum. Here McCaffrey led by example, with Hamid, Lucas and Beacock contributing some great stops also.

However, the Davipart openers were resolute with the first change coming after 5 overs for 25 runs. It looked like it was going to be close with Watson and Mexter warming up to join the fray. McCaffrey, channelling the French Emperor did what his opponent wished him to do least, unleashing Watson who promptly took a wicket with his first ball and then went for two fours in the same over. Mexter at the other end looked steady as he weaved his magic, finishing his spell with final figures of 0-14. It was the final over from Watson that was to signal the beginning of the end of the Davipart resistance, clean bowling two batsman in a whirlwind over which led to one bail ending up halfway to the boundary!

Next change was Dunhill and Liam who continued the strangle with Liam miserly taking 2 wickets and Dunhill taking 3 one bowled and with one caught and bowled and the other a stunning catch from McCaffrey. The fight was at an end with the home team almost at a standstill finishing their innings with 83-9. At least that’s what the scorebook implies although the scorers, including 12th man and Mallard-in-waiting Dr Jonnie Kimmitt, were prematurely working on the principle that “history is a version of the past that people have decided to agree on”.

Napoleon said: “Glory is fleeting and Obscurity is forever”. This was an evening of glory. The obscurity will come later (as it has done on many occasions in the past).