Mallards v Architects @ Burnmoor June 6

Mallards marked the anniversary of D-day by invading Burnmoor to face Architects.

The home team, somewhat ironically, rolled out their big guns but Mallards retaliated in kind by opening the bowling with Cleaver, an appropriate nod of acknowledgement to the only man on the pitch old enough to have personally stormed the beaches at Normandy.

Fittingly, the Architects openers treated the bowling with respect as our very own veteran began with a maiden, a feat that was soon matched by his Kiwi ally Cox at the other end, though he went one better, with a wicket maiden in his second over to reduce the home team to a mere 10-1 from four overs, McCaffrey taking a fine catch in the deep despite Latif’s valiant attempts to distract him. This was to be a high point in the first innings.

While Cleaver maintained excellent control at one end, Gibbons replaced Cox and proceeded to trade blows with the opposition. In his first two overs there were seven dot balls, sadly these were joined by four 4s and a six. At the end of eight overs Architects had reached 46-1 approximately. (Unfortunately the home scorer neglected to fill in the scorebook fully, a surprising oversight given that home team policy dictates he was unlikely to be batting or bowling and would have little else to do on a lovely sunny evening). Despite the carnage elsewhere Cleaver finished with an excellent 0-13 from his four overs.

Malik took over at the pavilion end and very considerately made Gibbons feel better by conceding 17 from his first over. Gibbons felt better still when he took a wicket in his last over, Beacock, making up for a missed opportunity from the previous ball, stumping McBain for 29 with a fine piece of glovework.  Gibbons finished his spell with a very respectable 1-30, not helped by McCaffrey practically throwing the ball over the boundary at one point. Those figures would look even more respectable by the end of the innings.

Unfortunately this wicket brought Brigham S to the crease. He seemed to have played before as 23 balls later he retired on 51, not long after the opening batsman, Wayman had been bowled by the resolute Malik for 49. Wayman was the tortoise to Brigham’s hare, taking a desperately slow 47 balls to reach approximately the same end.

Latif, brought on to enable Malik to change ends, bore the brunt of Brigham’s assault, a semi-reasonable three overs for 26 turning into four overs for 48 as four 4s and a six came off his last over. Cox’s return for the final overs almost saw a further breakthrough but Beacock dropped a difficult chance. Malik’s resultant throw at the stumps in the ensuing chaos missed by a fraction, leading to overthrows, which the bowler obviously found most amusing. Oh, how he laughed.

Architects finished on 164-3, which in comparison to some previous scores on this ground (205-0 in 2015 being a particular nadir) was considered a minor triumph.

Mallards were rallied by a Churchillian speech by skipper Butcher in the changing room where he rejected out of hand an adoption of the not-retiring rule so beloved by the home side. ‘We will never surrender… to such underhand tactics,’ he said, or words to that effect.  This was followed by a rumbling sound which we feared was thunder but fortunately turned out to be Mr Churchill turning in his grave.

Suitably inspired, opening batsman Ankush and McCaffrey started in a blaze of glory, racing to 23 from the first four overs, which was more than double the home team’s score at the same stage. This was to be a high point in the second innings. Sadly Ankush perished to the first ball of the fifth, miscuing a pull shot back to the bowler who, unfortunately  – it was later revealed – was also one of the few fielders in the opposition who could catch.

Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Skipper Butcher strode to the wicket like a slimmed-down Colossus, showing the same urgency with which he had evaded a fiercely-struck drive in the first innings. Ten heroically defended balls later he got off the mark with a quick single before being dropped by one of the home team’s un-named players (didn’t bat, didn’t bowl). McCaffrey, meanwhile, was smashing it all ower and after ten overs the pair had raced to 51-1, a solid platform for the remaining 114 needed off the last ten.

McCaffrey’s was then also dropped in similar fashion but his live-by-the-sword policy ended when he, somewhat inevitably, died by the sword and was caught for 22. This was clearly a key part of the vice-captain’s cunning plan to bring Cox to the crease at the perfect moment to join the skipper for the winning onslaught. Sadly, those plans had been buried under the thousands of diet sheets in the skipper’s in-tray and he hadn’t seen them. Which explains him being bowled for 17 in the next over.

Wood joined Cox at the crease, happy to rest on his bat at the non-strikers end while the Kiwi hit the winning runs. True to form Cox threw his bat at everything. Sadly, the only thing he hit was his own stumps, departing hit-wicket for 9. A more obvious attempt to win one of the Mallards’ sought after end-of-season trophies you will never see.

With that wicket the game was over. Wood and Malik bravely saw off the remaining deliveries as the innings finished on 92-4, which compared to last season’s 40 all out was the second minor triumph of the night. In contrast to the home team, whose opening six batsmen included four of their six bowlers, every single Mallard either bowled, batted or kept wicket, with the exception of Taylor, who, for obvious reasons, was kept away from all of those things.

Afterwards the Mallards gathered outside with a beer for the long awaited award of last year’s Friendly Fire and Golden Duck trophies to Messrs Beacock and McCaffrey  and to celebrate the win – our 412th moral victory in a row according to club historians.