Mallards v Genetics @ Riding Mill August 19


If you see this man....
If you see this man….

One of the most anticipated events in any Mallards’ calendar is the annual dinner, where top class food and drink is consumed, the preceding season is dissected in minute detail (admittedly with accuracy that falters somewhat as the evening progresses), and the awards for the year are handed out. This year it had already been suggested that a new award be created for best match report, and after tonight’s match there were strong calls for another, the Remember-Who-Your-Friends-Are Award for best performance in opposition colours. This would take the form of a mallard with a knife embedded in its back, and frankly it could be the most hotly- contested one of the lot; Alan Boyes and Tony Jordon, I’m looking in your direction, mainly because I can’t yet bring myself to look at Steve Kent, more of which later.

Anyway, on with the show. The second of this year’s Jon Robinson Cup matches looked in some doubt as the rain started falling shortly before the scheduled start of play. The covers were rushed on and it wasn’t looking good, however before enough support had been raised for an early trip to the pub, the rain cleared and a shortened contest of 10 eight-ball overs was agreed upon. Mallards would bowl first and try out the one over per bowler limit, something that was bound to test the scorers.

Captain Browne led the troops out onto the field, and was keen to make his mark as Skip by adhering to the tactic, so popular in short-format cricket these days, of opening with a spinner. The tactic nearly paid dividends as Wisbach opened from the Pavilion End delivered an excellent over, conceding just two and beating the bat on several occasions. McGuinness at the other end was also able to keep openers Taylor and Heslop quiet, bowling accurately and with good pace.

Steele was next to try his luck, and after a couple of loose deliveries which saw the scoreboard gather some momentum, enticed Taylor out of his crease to be stumped by keeper Kent. So 21-1 after the third over and Browne kept the trend of varying the pace of the attack by bringing himself on at the Tree End. His first ball was, frankly, awful but somehow Heslop got himself into a tangle and the ball cannoned off his pads and onto the stumps, 21-2 and two new batsmen in. Wilson and Ramshaw looked to get the score moving, but Green, making his bowling debut for Mallards, had other ideas, bowling Ramshaw in the middle of an excellent over, conceding just 4 runs.

Runs continued to not be easy to come by, though new batsman Bennett was looking to change that, taking sixes in consecutive overs off Scutt and Lucas. Both bowlers bowled otherwise tidy overs, conceding 8 and 10 runs respectively. Genetics’ number three Wilson was forced to retire hurt after Scutt’s over, bringing in Cookson who suffered the ultimate insult of being run out without facing a ball in Lucas’s over, after Cox swooped to cut off a quick single. Lucas also picked up the prized wicket of Goulding, clean bowled for just 1.

Cox was bowler eight and showed excellent control with just a single coming from the over, leaving the Mallards in a strong position with the score at 57-4 with just two overs remaining. Van Doorn continued the tight bowling conceding just 6. Unfortunately the last over was something of a disaster as the Genetics batsmen realised something needed to be done to lift the scoring rate. Jordon, perhaps feeling some sympathy for the batsmen started with a few wides, well, more than a few if truth be told, before Bennett hit a four to reach the retirement score of 20. Tarbuck was next in and was in no mood to mess around, hitting 4-6-4 before being caught off the last ball by Cox at the square leg boundary. Genetics’ final tally was 90-6 after their 10 overs, an enticing score, and hopes were raised of breaking the winning drought.

After a rapid turnaround to beat the fading light, Mallards’ openers Steele and Kent strode to the middle. Kent didn’t hang around, getting a top edge off the third ball and offering a simple catch to Tarbuck off the bowling of Mitcheson. Not a great start, though things soon picked up as Steele and Van Doorn set about dismantling the bowling, after the first over the score was 13/1 and after the second 31/1. This was some of the finest batting seen this season as a succession of glorious boundaries from both batsmen tipped the balance right in the Mallards’ favour.

Regular readers will know exactly what happens when a new paragraph begins with the team in a seemingly invincible position. It is perhaps worth mentioning at this point that Genetics having started with 10, had been reduced to just 9 players after the injury to Wilson in the first innings. The Mallards, always quick to lend a hand in such situations, provided a fielder, originally in the form of Lucas, before he had come off to pad up, then Browne and finally a very reluctant Kent.

Back out in the middle, Steele had raced to retirement (22 off 10 balls) off the last ball of the 2nd over, before incoming batsman Jordon was bowled by Taylor without troubling the scorers. However Scutt and Van Doorn were able to keep the run rate from getting out of control before Van Doorn retired on 20. The boundaries had dried up but some good running had kept the scoreboard moving.

Cox was next in with 29 required off a little under three (eight-ball) overs. Some more good running and a six from Cox over backward square leg saw them on target with two to go. Having just 9 players available to bowl, Mitcheson came back to bowl a second. Seven runs came before Scutt was bowled off the last ball, leaving 10 to win of the last 8-ball over – finely poised, but with the Mallards still confident of victory.

Bennett took off his keepers’ pads to bowl the last over. The first ball was clipped for a couple, then the next ball was tossed up and was hit hard and flat back down the ground by Cox; he thought it was six, the crowd thought it was six.  Former Genetic, Kent didn’t. Standing at long off, presented with a gift-wrapped opportunity to palm the ball over the boundary to seal victory for his team, he was instead overcome by a most uncharacteristic bout of common decency and held on to what can only be described as a very good overhead catch. He has since gone into hiding but we have managed to obtain a picture of his disguise (see above).

Unfortunately, Wisbach and Lucas were unable to chase down the remaining eight runs as the innings closed an agonising 3 runs short.

So it was another loss, but Jon Rob matches are always much more about the occasion than the result and the smell of bbq did a wonderful job of distracting the players from wondering just how we let that one slip. Speeches, toasts and presentations were made, burgers were eaten and beer was drunk as the sun set on another cracking evening.