Mallards v Architects @ Riding Mill May 26

This was wonderfully set up to be the Mallards second victory of the season.

Immaculate advance planning had delivered a classic early Tyne Valley summer evening (a day later and we would have been rained off) – and orchestrated a clash with deep off-pitch influences flowing in the favour of the Mallards

Cox was smarting from his Kiwi boys thrashing the previous day at the hands of the previously inept rabble which is the England cricket team.  (Editor’s note: He may be happier this week!) Clearly “someone had to pay !”

Meanwhile our own lovely Beacock (as a member of the Architects Registration Board) was on a mission to police the 1997 Architects Act which legally protects the use of the title of “Architect” with the strong suspicion that, despite their name, none of our opposition were in fact qualified and registered Architects.

The first of these two chunks of anger will play out across the match – the second needs dealing with now “Bang to rights” came the admission “None of us are architects” – but then it became clear that it is only the Mallards who, for reasons lost in the mists of time, had used this name for the team – in reality they were, and called themselves a Quantity Surveyors team.

Beacock read the badges on their shirts and put his thumb-screws away. It fell to our match reporter  to establish that the Quantity Surveyor title too was also a serious misrepresentation – as will become clear as we try to work our way through the otherwise delightful evening proceedings.

Back to the pitch – the, ahem, Architects headed out to bat, opening with Matterson and Clinton with Browne and Wisbach opening the bowling for the Mallards.

With the exception of a six from Clinton, cunningly dropped in revenge onto the top of Beacock’s car, the opening overs were tight, with Browne’s  first and Wisbach’s second each going for only two runs. However gradually the batsmen got their eyes in and took a little more off the controlled bowling.

At this point running through the scorebook to tell the tale of an innings becomes very difficult when batsmen’s dot balls are not noted – and even more difficult when the score at the end of each over isn’t recorded – nor is the score at the fall of each wicket and who the outgoing batsman was. With typically Mallardian extras at 1no ball, 7 wides, 5 byes and 5 leg byes it becomes impossible to faithfully track an innings !

So – at the end of the opening 8 overs we still had both the openers in, well set, with a score of around 43 and Browne and Wisbach stepping down with respective figures of 0 for 21 and 0 for 20.

The first bowling change bought the Angry Antipodean (pictured above) into play – partnered by the much less angry Haylock – and anger had its out straight away – a fine first ball took out Matterson’s middle stump for him to depart on 15. This brought Loach to the wicket to open with a 4.

Loach and Clinton settled in with the big-hitting Clinton moving on with a final couple of fours to retire at 30 to be replaced by Smith. Haylock bowling, tightly beating  the bat a few times but without luck – Cox with his pace and movement beating both the bat and the wicketkeeper on a few occasions. However, anger had its out again with Cox starting his fourth and final over by bowling  Loach for 15 to close on 2 for 28. One short ball hit for 4 and a dropped catch on his last ball by the unfortunate Porteous saw Haylock finish his 4 overs on 0 for 19.

Mexter and Taylor took on the last 4 overs with the score around 99 for 2. Mexter, facing the team who cost him 2 lost years of cricket, bowled fearlessly and with great control – his two overs going for a total of 9 at a time when the batsmen were trying to hit out to move the  score on.

Taylor, having claimed it took 3 overs to warm up his arm, never reached that delightful place. A couple of wides in the first over demonstrated this – before finding a line and length in his second which clearly suited Thornton who duly hit two 6s split by a 4 to retire and allow Harkin to come in for a quick single for Taylor to close on 0 for 28 – 19 runs coming from the final over – and the innings closing on 135 for 2.

Oh the delight and relief for your reporter to turn the page of the scorebook and find it completed by Mallards who had clearly missed their careers as quantity surveyors ! Apart from lapses over the score and batsmen out for the first two wickets down, this exercise in Mallardian precision revealed the story of the innings in the way which precise cartography reveals the landscape to experienced geographers. Oh how different the world would have been had Sykes and Picot had such skill with socio-political mapping !

The Architects started with Johson and Lawson with Porteous, charmed out of his mid-week retirement, and Nitsch opening for the Mallards.

Both openers  hit singles and dispatched the odd poorer ball for 4,   a solid but cautious approach to the chasing of a total which had a required run-rate of 6.8.

7 overs in – with both openers still in and 36 on the board – a  platform had been established for another of those great mid innings acceleration by the Mallards ! Or the alternative !

Nitsch perished on 15 caught and bowled by Lawson – quickly followed by Porteous bowled by Lawson for 19 (or was it the other way around ?  — see above in terms of the match recording). Whatever happened brought Butcher and then Wood to the crease.

8 overs down – 43  for 2 quickly became 46 for 3 as Butcher went bowled by new bowler Smith in his first over for 3. Enter again to the fray the still-angry antipodean Cox.

Moving way beyond misrepresented quantity surveying into the realms of quantum physics as mentored by our occasional sub-fielders Higgs and Boson, Wood and Cox calculated when they reached the end of the 12th over that, with the score having moved boldly (and conveniently) to 64, they needed to be scoring at 9 an over to win – and they set off like men possessed.

Over 13 went for 10 – over 14, from Harrison, went for 15 including a fine 6 from Cox.

In over 16, with the score on 92, Cox retired on 30 to be replaced by Mexter- and, as experienced readers of the cartography of disaster, our regulars know what is coming.

Controlled retribution by Mexter extended to a golden duck – bowled by Smith. His replacement Taylor was then sharply run out for a three ball 2. 92 for 3 had become 102 for 5 and then 106 for 6 as Wisbach was bowled, again by big hitting Thornton for a duck.

All this while skipper Wood was plugging away at the other end and retired with a hard-earned 30 – all run with the exception of one boundary. This despite wincing from aggravating his damaged shoulder early-on, somehow digging out a ball from Lawson that found the absolutely no-bounce spot laid by our favourite groundsman just short of a length.

Beacock had come out to replace Wisbach and was, he claimed, just  beginning to see the ball well and had hit 4 singles off 6 balls when, on Wood’s retirement he was joined, oh so briefly, by Browne with the Mallards third duck and second golden duck – bowled by who else than that man Thornton again.

Haylock came in to face the last two balls. A single off the first failed to bring Cox back to the crease, allowed Beacock to take a further single off the last ball – and the Mallards to finish 14 runs short on a creditable 121 for 7.

Both teams made a fine showing at the Wellington after.