Mallards v Genetics @ Riding Mill August 8

Chris hears that its his turn to write the match report
Chris hears that it’s his turn to write the match report

In the words of Dinah Washington “What a difference a day makes – 24 little hours”. The rout of the Aussies within 18.3 overs of their first innings at Trent Bridge the day after the evening before should provide much by way of consolation to those of a Mallards persuasion.

Like the Ashes, Mallards v Genetics is another of the greats in the pantheon of sporting rivalry. Indeed so established is the fixture that special rules apply – it was 12 players a side, a maximum of two overs per bowler and Genetics only referred to players by their Christian names in the score book! As is customary several Mallard regulars also took to the field in the opposition ranks – with the now predictable results!

And so, on a pitch with some green and overcast conditions perfect for the exponent of swing bowling Captain Wood won the toss and put Genetics into bat. (His thoughts may also have been influenced by trying to keep his team away from the available source of booze in the pavilion for as long as possible).  This saw the opening strike partnership of Cox and McGuiness paired against the blades of ‘Jonty’ and ‘Sid’. A cagey opening period ensued between the two teams with the first four overs going for 18 without loss. The two over rule then brought Taylor and Haylock into the breach with the latter striking first blood in the eighth over with the dismissal of ‘Sid’ for 15 to a smart catch by Wisbach.

At 38 for 1 things were looking good as the bowling carousel changed again to bring in Wisbach and Boyes. ‘Jonty’ and new batsman ‘Danny’ continued to build a slow but steady platform until Boyes’ first ball. Continuing his recent hot form (yes we still remember that hatrick) his first ball clean bowled ‘Jonty’ for 20. At the end of their overs things stood at an interesting 68 for 2 off 12.

It was at this stage that the game kicked into a higher gear for both teams. Wood and Nitcsh were next up. It was Wood who struck first – removing ‘Phil’ for 22 through a regulation catch by his strike partner Nitsch  (oh alright – he pounced gazelle-like to take an excellent one-handed catch inches off the lush outfield. Spumanti moment we wondered!). There was now no stopping Nitsch. With the first ball of his second over he removed ‘our Craig’ who was unlucky to be given LBW. Despite the suspected noise of bat on ball, the lack of investment in hot spot and snicko meant his return to the pavilion for 1. (Revenge would not be long coming). He was replaced by new batsman ‘Davy’ who lasted two balls before hearing the Nitsch death rattle. Wood meanwhile kept up the pressure from the other end with new batsman ‘Mike’ removed by a sharp stumping from keeper Kent.

As the carousel turned again Mallards were in a promising position, with Genetics on 86-6 off 16. With Stig anchoring one end an apprehensive Buckley stepped up at the other. However, he needn’t have worried. His third ball removed new boy ‘our Tony’ for 0 (another who was also later to get his revenge) after he skied a lollipop to Lucas who could do nothing but catch it. Then he smartly ran out ‘Danny’ for 22 off the swift fieldwork of McGuinness. Unfortunately the dismissal brought in ‘Rob’ who only had attack in mind and, with new partner ‘Graham’, proceeded to score several boundaries off Stig including a mahoosive 6. This left a clearly nervous Lucas to finish off the match. With memories fresh from his previous 10-ball over (which started with 4 wides and a no ball) he surprised everyone including himself by bowling 6 accurate deliveries. With the 20 overs spent the score had accelerated to 121 for 8. However, this was still very doable and the Mallards had faith.

The changeover saw traditional opener Kent accompanied by the promoted Lucas. Genetics decided to open the bowling with ‘our Craig’ and after a swift single by Kent, things took a turn for the worse. After 2 dot balls the nosebleed induced by being promoted to opening batsman caused Lucas to flash at a ball sending it looping into the clutches of ‘Danny’. It was his first Mallard duck, but unfortunately not the last of the night. New batsman Buckley, fresh from his bowling success settled in quickly and scored 8, including a lovely boundary, before ‘our Craig’ struck again clean bowling him.

His dismissal brought in the steadying presence of Nitsch who set about building a resolute partnership with Kent. They proceeded to move the score onto 56 off 10 overs and were looking very solid. Boundaries however, were hard to find with the scorebook recording a solid row of 1s punctuated by the occasional 4 and a splendid Nitsch 6. Just as Mallards nerves steadied things were to turn with the introduction of ‘our Tony’ into the attack. This clearly confused Nitsch who, on 22, had his eye in and was clearly expecting a Mitchel-Johnson-like-something to the left or right. Instead Jordan launched an inch perfect Yorker to dislodge Nitsch’s bails first ball. He was replaced by Wood who much to Nitsch’s annoyance then proceeded to benefit from several wides.

Boundaries were still hard to find but Wood and Kent continued to tick over the scoreboard until the second umpiring incident of the evening. This saw Wood ‘stumped’ after missing a shot off the bowling of Davy. Let down by the lack of investment in DRS he was forced to reluctantly to return to the Pavillion. This brought in Cox whose fine recent form came to an unexpected end as he was clean bowled by ‘Jonty’ for his first ever Mallard duck. Like an antipodean moth he chose to seek solace by nurturing the newly kindled flames of the post-match barbie.

With the score at 75 for 4 off 14 things were still finely balanced. Unfortunately Kent had been forced to retire and ‘Jonty’ was only getting started, clean-bowling both Stig and Boyes for 4 and 5 respectively in his next over. By now Wisbach had come to the crease and he was to prove the last vestiges of continuity as successive partners came and went. Taylor got the third duck of the evening when caught and bowled by ‘Rob’. He was swiftly followed by another duck for McGuiness off Davey. At 92 off 18 overs things were looking grim. Trying to up the pace Haylock scored a sweetly timed and rare boundary before being run out for 5. This brought Kent out of retirement. Quickly downing his beer he strode purposely back out to the wicket. Sacrificing his average for the cause he was stumped striving for an elusive boundary. Mallards were all out for 98 off 19 overs with last man standing Wisbach all alone on 8.

And so with hostilities ceased it was time to partake in convivial post-rivalry banter aided by additional liquid refreshment and some excellent man food. It was also a time to celebrate Jon Rob and remember that cricket is not just a game but a glue that binds the initiated together. Although we had lost this latest match in the sporting rivalry, at least we outperformed the Australians. We scored more runs by a considerable margin, both Kent and Nisch scored more than their top batsman (Mr Extras), we lasted an over longer and they had 3 ducks themselves. Bring them on!