Mallards v KSOB @ Riding Mill May 7

Riding Mill emerged from a cloud like the backdrop from Carry On Up The Baskervilles. A rag-tag huddle congregated in front of the club-house with the air of a group of surly teenagers preparing for a compulsory November route march, wondering why they were there after having spent all day checking the unpromising weather forecast.

In a moment of decisiveness, Stig rallied the troops into action and a shortened game of 14 overs was agreed, with McCaffery winning the toss and sending Mallards into bat. Kent and Ankush squelched on to the field of play with a reduced retirement of 20 runs, and set about their business. Both found the boundary elusive, with the ball sticking in the damp wicket. Either that or they were just running them up to keep warm. The first boundary came from Ankush in the 5th over when he used the bowler’s pace to hit a six down the ground and off the sight screens. In the 8th over an apparently impatient Kent retired on 20 by hitting two consecutive boundaries, bringing skipper McCaffery into the fray alongside Ankush with the score on 45.

This partnership inched the score onwards with Ankush getting to retirement through ones and twos, and on a total of four off nine balls, Colin found a safe place for his last delivery in the bowler Anderson’s hands to bring on Dave Cox at number four. 61 for 1 after 11 overs. Just three to go and Mallards needed to someone to kick on and build an innings to finish on a respectable total.

However, with a sense of inevitability, the middle order batsmen were unable to get a toe-hold, and despite Liam Thacker’s first ball boundary there followed a mini collapse, with Liam out for a total of seven, bowled by Willet. Watson managed one before being bowled by Latimer. On his second delivery Stig also succumbed to Latimer, at which point Peter Nitsch brought his experience to the table with a creditable 6* off 5 balls. The innings closed at 71, with Coxy having played an elusive cameo, managing to evade strike for almost his entire time on the square and finishing on 0* having faced only three deliveries in as many overs. KSOB were going to need just over 5 runs per over for victory.

There was a quick innings break with the fielding side desperate find some warmth, and the batting side eager to run around a bit to find some circulation. Skipper McCaffery sensibly opened the bowling with Liam Thacker who kept things tight for the first over, but then somewhat less sensibly opted for Holland at the other end, who by some miracle kept 6 deliveries on the track and mercifully only went for six. Thacker continued in good form with his second over a maiden, whilst Holland’s second over was somewhat more expensive at 8 runs, doubling the KSOB score to 16.

KSOB batsmen Simpson and Ivill continued to accrue runs from change bowlers Cox and Watson, with the former taking some tap, going for 15 off his two overs. At some point during this period Simpson retired on 20, although the cryptic markings in the scorebook shed little light on this moment. The next key event was the run out of N Ivill just one run shy of retiring, and during Watson’s third, final and maiden over. The score at this point was 42 for 1 with 10 overs bowled. Could we protect the remaining 29 runs for 4 overs? Read on…

Peter Nitsch had joined the bowling fray at this point, with 6 from his first over, and now continued with the first two balls going for one each. So far so good, a cushion of 27 runs remaining. However this brought Latimer to the striker’s end, and he decided to change gears scoring first a two, followed by a boundary four and a single to bring Ferris into strike. Nitsch had evidently had enough by this point, exacting a degree of revenge by clean bowling Ferris and sending him back to clubhouse to close the over. 51 for 2 after eleven overs.

It was a welcome wicket, but with 21 runs required from 18 deliveries, what the Mallards needed now was for some really tight, accurate bowling to keep the batsmen pinned back in their creases. In a brave and unorthodox move Skipper Col decided to roll the dice by throwing the ball to Haylock, presumably aiming to dazzle the opposition with a dash of mystery spin. The mind games began with a couple pitched wide to lull Latimer into a false sense of security. With the next ball he fell right into Haylock’s trap by wildly thrashing at the ball, only to find the boundary for four runs.

So often with spin bowlers, batsmen follow boundaries with hubris driven self-destruction. Not this time though, as Latimer swung with conviction to send the ball flying into the nettles for six. He followed this with yet more incautious play to find the boundary again, and before he knew it he was on the way back to clubhouse having retired on 22. New man Bedford was not tempted into such look-at-me histrionics, and dotted out the remainder of an over which had seen the score move up 68 for 2. Gulp…

Suddenly only 4 required from 12 balls, but safe-pair-of-hands Nitsch returned to the action, and despite his best efforts Peffer and Bedford managed to nudge and nurdle three more runs leaving the game tied with an over remaining. In came the field, and in came Ankush. First ball dotted and the Mallards began to believe.

Could we hold on for a glorious tie? No of course not. The next ball went for an indeterminate number of runs as everyone immediately lost interest and, fog-lights and windscreen wipers engaged, headed for hypothermia treatment down the Wellington to dream of summer’s golden evenings, and the first win of the season.