Mallards v Excelsior Batters June 27 @ Riding Mill

‘I F****** HATE CRICKET!’ is not the most auspicious start to a match report or what you want to hear from your skipper but at approximately 6.15pm on a balmy summer’s eve at Riding Mill on the 27th June 2019, that is exactly what your reporter and stand-in skipper felt and expressed to the unfortunate Mallards within earshot.

It was a shame that such language coincided with the spectacular launch (see what I did there) of Mallards end-of-season-tour transport to Gibraltar (pictured above) which should have been a cause for joyful celebration but having exhausted the media training budget on 17 bags of plain crisps what can you expect from our elected representatives?

Rewinding slightly, stand-in skip arrived as the game was due to start having battled through traffic to find stand-in-for-stand-in skipper Mexter had executed his request over the phone to win the toss and elect to bat first, perfectly. Unfortunately one of the openers in an a bowler-heavy Mallards line up had also fallen foul to the traffic and was nowhere to be seen so stand-in skip reluctantly padded up in a hurry and nominated himself as stand-in opener as well. Fortunately proper opener Hall saw out the first over comfortably and nicked the strike off the last ball allowing enough time for the other proper opener Malik to arrive, again, fortunately, already changed. One scampered bye later, stand-in skip got his chance to shine and erase the memory of a bad day at work and missing out on selection the week before. As you may have already guessed, he failed to grasp that chance and was comprehensively bowled first ball by Mills – not quite as fast as namesake Tymal but still far too quick for the hapless stand-in opener/skipper!

While yours truly turned the air blue and then slowly put his toys back in the pram, Malik rubbed further salt into his wounds by hitting two 4s and a 6 in his first 5 deliveries and together with Hall made batting look easy while taking the score to a very respectable 41 off 7 overs. Regular readers will know things rarely go smoothly for long for Mallards and so it proved again as first Hall (13) and then Hamid (19) fell to catches off Sharif in the 8th over.  Latif and Holland then steadied the ship and steered the innings to 62 off 11 overs before Latif fell to Spencer for 6 in the 12th. The 13th over then accounted for debutant Goldsborough and also Holland runout valiantly trying to keep the run rate going, for a (personal) record-equalling 14 including a couple of 4s. 62 for 3 off 11 had quickly become 74 for 7 off 16 when Mexter fell for the third duck of the innings. Veteran Stone accumulated 11 not out while guiding the tail to finish on a total 98 all out off 20 overs as Cleaver was run out off the last ball yet again taking one for the team as he tried to eke out one more (potentially game winning?) run.

A youthful-looking Excelsior opening pair strode to the crease looking intent on knocking off the runs in double-quick time but were forced to treat Cleaver’s first over with the respect it and he deserved with just a single coming from it. A Watson’s first over went for just 2, lifting Mallards hopes of defending what felt like an under-par total. Sadly the young openers respect for Cleaver didn’t extend to a second over and Gray helped himself to 3 4s and a 6 prompting TC himself to declare ‘maybe its time for some one else’ That some one else was I Watson who despite going for 13 off his first over did dispatch Gray – retired for 28 and then Walker well caught by Mexter. A Watson then bowled Jobling for a duck in his 3rd and final over to finish with excellent figures of 1 for 8. Goldsborough replaced A Watson and was duly dispatched for 4 off his first ball for Mallards but restricted any further runs off the over – except 4 byes which were obviously the keeper’s fault (sorry Ally!) I Watson kept plugging away at the other end and bowled Sharif for 6 and Spencer for 0 to finish with fine figures of 3 for 25 off 4 spoilt slightly by 9 of his last over. Goldsborough took an excellent catch off his own bowling in his last over to finish with a highly creditable 1 for 9 off 3 in his first outing for the Mallards.

If anyone is wondering at this point why I haven’t reported the running total after so many overs it is because sadly the score book is incomplete (yet another error by the skip for failing to ensure the opposition filled it in correctly!) but it was roughly 70 for 5 after 12 overs. Wickets had to keep falling for Mallards to stand a chance of victory but despite the best efforts of Mexter and Hamid, only 1 more fell – Mills bowled Mexter for 17. Bodley and Donaghy then saw Excelsior over the line with 2.1 overs to spare to gain revenge for Mallards victory over them a couple of weeks earlier.

Clearly the tactic of batting first used so well by World Cup captains over the last few weeks doesn’t work all the time but it was a good game played in the sunshine and in the right spirit in a lovely part of the world and unsurprisingly after a pint or two in the Welly even the S-I-S had to admit it wasn’t all bad and even helped arrange an extra game for next week – so much for F****** hating cricket!