MCC v St Georges Rovers June 18 @ Riding Mill

Match Reporter: Gareth Taylor

With just 3 days to the solstice, and a lovely warm summer evening the auspices were good for a competitive game of cricket against new opposition St Georges Rovers.

With Captain Wood suffering from a fractured little finger and Vice-Captain Butcher enjoying a day at Lords it was the opportunity for club despot Taylor to take on the role of acting captain. Winning the toss, Taylor chose to bat and asked the latest opening pair of Porteous and Steel to open the Mallards innings, and a highly effective choice it was. Against some good bowling from Cuthbertson and Littlefair that saw both batsmen dropped early on (credit to the opposition fielder who immediately put his hand up after taking a very low one at gully admitting that he’d grounded the ball), and several scoring shots off the inside edge, both batsmen got going and kept the scoreboard ticking over. Cuthbertson who had bowled tidily say his last over starting with a flicked 6 to deep mid-wicket off Steel and a further 9 runs added thanks to another 4 and a no-ball 5 before finally securing the wicket of Steel, out for 25, with his last ball to see Mallards finishing off the 7th over the score of 53 for 1.

Octogenarian bowler Stevens who had replaced Littlefair in the 5th over had taken an over to find his length, but struck in his second over as a frustated Porteous took a charge down the wicket and was duly stumped for 21. Nitsch helped to keep the runs moving while Scutt appeared to be suffering from a dizzy spell having been promoted to the number 4. Both however perished, the former from a direct hit from deep fine leg while taking a second run and the latter caught plumb lbw from a straight one from Stevens – despite protests that he’d hit it first falling on the highly deaf ears of umpire Dunhill.

The innings was shored up by the second decent partnership of the innings between Dickinson (finally finding some form) and McCaffery. Dickinson declared intent from the outset with a huge driven 6 over long on that cleared the trees, while McCaffery has happy to happy to keep the strike rotated. The Cat finally perished for 12 after skying one in the 16th over with the score on 103. His replacement, Scott was bowled for 2 – possibly as a result of Matt pushing for quick singles, which then saw Mussett come to crease and an interesting tussle as both batsmen vied to keep the strike. The competition got all too much Mussett who was caught for 7 with 2 balls of the innings remaining. Taylor at number 8 hit his first ball for 4 and duly missed the second completely, seeing the Mallards innings close on 125 and Dickinson seeing a vast improvement to his average finishing on 31 not out.

Mallards defense opened with Browne and Mussett. Browne now firmly established as the logical opener for Mallards bowled tidily, while Mussett exhibiting the testosterone of youth opened his end with a snorter that went past the batsman’s grill and mutterings of “I thought this was a friendly”. However the batsmen kept scampering singles and the scoreboard was kept ticking along at 5 runs per over.

Taylor replacing Mussett in the 6th over secured a wicket with his first ball thanks to a well taken catch at cover by Mussett, however things went downhill from there with his second ball going for 6 off Munro. With Browne finishing his spell with a respectable 1 for 17 off 4, Nitsch continued to keep things tight from the “singular tree” end. However the story was not as rosy at the other end as Taylor hemorrhaged runs, in part thanks to 2 misfields going for 4 and 4 overthrows from the normally reliable Dickinson and a 4 let through by Browne who for some reason has decided to move in 20 yards from the boundary. 4 overs, 2 for 45 do make pretty reading.

Most of the damage was being done by Munro, who eventually retired with the score on 90 – at which point the St Georges skipper Phil stepped onto the field to confess that Munro has actually been called off after scoring 44 not the 35 agreed retirement. In a sporting gesture he then proposed that Mallards be awarded 9 penalty runs to set a revised target of 135 to win with 6 overs to go – an offer Taylor gratefully accepted.

With the scoreboard continuing to tick along at 5 runs an over despite some tidy bowling from Scott (replacing Nitsch 3 overs 1 for 10), Mussett (bowling a tidy penultimate over with spin for just 1 run) and Dunhill, 10 runs were still needed off the last over. With most of the Mallards squad out on the boundary, and other form batsman Hall on 26 it looked set for a tight finish. A dot ball suggested this before Hall took a big step down the wicket and wrapped things up with a 6 (over Dickinson’s head) and a 4 to the backward square leg boundary to see St Georges home with 3 balls to spare.

A couple of bits of tidier fielding [ahem and bowling from a certain person, sorry guys – Ed.] and it could all have been different. Nevertheless a really competitive game, good opposition and good spirit made it an enjoyable evening’s cricket and hopefully a new team we will have the fixtures list next season and maybe a return match in a couple of weeks time.