Mallards v Benwell & Walbottle July 8

Webmaster Wood has obviously become a little frustrated with the number of outstanding match reports (outstanding as in late obviously, I’m not commenting on the quality, that’s up to the awards committee), and he issued a decree that this report would be on the sub-editor’s desk by 10 am the morning after the match. Such power plays are seldom looked upon favourably, so whilst my competitive instinct naturally saw me pick up the gauntlet, I made no commitments to being kind to his batting or fielding in said report… Typically, I like to take my time over my reports, developing a theme, character arcs and several drafts, but tonight’s all about speed. Short and sweet. Any typos may be genuine or they may be included for comedic purposes, so good luck editing this, Trev. (See picture above for Wood’s latest swoop fielding attempt. What? Oh, not that Wood. Sorry, Dave.)

A gloomy evening at Walbottle awaited the teams, and skipper McCaffery dutifully won the toss and elected to bat. Whether this was because we did that last week and won after it was too dark for the opposition to see the ball in the second innings, or whether he was trying to replicate the pattern emerging in the World Cup of bat first and win, it is unclear. Regardless, the pitch looked flat, if not exactly horizontal, and with a short boundary on the downhill side, runs were sure to follow as openers Ankush and Wood strode out to bat.

After four overs we were 8/1, and it turned out the pitch wasn’t a belter after all; with very little bounce on offer runs were difficult to come by. Wood discovered the lack of bounce to his cost, under-edging one onto his leg bail for a three-ball duck. Ankush struggled to find timing as he and Kent, batting at three, tried to move the score along. Kent who had a stab at the Friendly Fire trophy last week with a very rapid 25, saw out dot after dot, falling for just two off 13 balls, caught off the bowling of Pratt. Nine for two in the fifth.

Ankush tried to get things moving with a glorious six just wide of the sightscreen but was out in the next over for 14, bowled by Hayes who recorded two wicket maidens in his first three overs. The two new batsmen, Malik and McCaffery, tried to get some momentum into the innings and started to find a bit of success, each managing to rotate the strike and finding the odd boundary and taking the score through to 37 before McCaffery played around a straight one and was bowled by someone whose name may have been Jacobson – we couldn’t quite be sure what they were shouting.

Cox joined Malik, who looked easily the most comfortable batsman out there, and the two continued trying to build something for the bowlers to defend. With a few well-run ones and twos and a six to each batsman, the had some success although were starting to run out of overs. Cox was bowled by Thomson for 12 with the score at 71 and Malik retired soon after bringing a halt to any momentum that had developed.

Nitsch, Hall and Latif saw out the remaining couple of overs bringing the score to 89/6 with Nitsch out for 2, Hall not out on 7 and Latif not out on 1. A disappointing score but with a slow pitch and darkness descending there was some belief that it could be defended with a bit of hard work and good luck.

Cox dug out the darkest, muddiest, least round ball he could find in the kit bag just to give that extra edge and opened the bowling. The plan didn’t work as he was hit back over his head for four in the first over. Goldsborough had a rough start at the other end and was unable to find any rhythm running up the hill. He was replaced by Malik who continued his strong performance by immediately putting the brakes on two batsmen who looked in the mood. After five overs the score was 34/0 and defending 88 seemed a tall order.

Despite good spells from Cox and Malik, wickets continued to be elusive and opener Bell retired on 27 in the seventh over. New batsman Davey looked to keep up with the rate before Malik finally struck, trapping opener Atkinson LBW for 22 in the tenth over, with the score at 63.

Nitsch, who had replaced Cox at the Uphill End, got shown the long handle as the batsmen looked to free their arms and started to pierce the gaps. Skipper McCaffery tried to ring the changes, replacing Malik with Ankush and Nitsch with Kent (yes, Kent), the unused Haylock apparently still paying a penance for his last over against KSOB. Both new bowlers conceded little, but with just a few runs to win and the score at 82/1 after 11, it was just a matter of time. In the end the final blow came in the 14th over as Benwell and Walbottle sealed a convincing win by nine wickets.

So that was that, except that in my quest for speed and in trying to gloss over too much of the ugly detail from the second innings, I realise I’ve completely forgotten to take the mick out of Trev like I promised. To be fair I was fielding on the other side of the field a lot of the time and could barely see him by the end, so he may have gotten away with a few things I missed. Except when, standing at short cover, he tried to kick the hardest hit shot of the night into next week, possibly earning him the Mutilated Mallard award, maybe even the Swoop Fielding gong, but definitely losing himself a toenail in the process. Use your hands next time, Trev.