Mallards v Ovingham @ Riding Mill June 11

Blue skies, a bright sun and practically no wind. All in all a beautiful summers’ evening. With skipper Wood resting (groin), vice-captain Butcher not available (under orders from Mrs B) and occasional emergency stand-in captain Nitsch controversially dropped (well controversial according to Mr Nitsch, just the whims of the selectorial process according to the committee), it was left to despot Taylor to take the mantle. The rust of not doing it for a long time soon fell away as he promptly lost the toss and Mallards were invited to field.

McGuinness, opening the bowling from the One Tree End, started tidily and was unlucky not to bag a wicket in his first over when Greenwood spilled a chance from Chamberlain at cover. Meanwhile Wisbach got straight into the groove from the pavilion end beating the bat with his first 5 balls only to see the last dispatched for 4.  McGuinness’s second over, however, saw the first breakthrough, a spectacular over-the-shoulder catch taken by Scutt at fly slip to remove the dangerous looking Maplesden for 10.

With a fast outfield and short boundary, runs started to accumulate for the opposition as a solid partnership developed between opener Chamberlain and Tate. At the end of the 8th over the score was 58 for 1 with McGuinness finishing his 4 overs with 1 for 21 and Wisbach 0 for 33 after being given late punishment with two 4’s off his last two deliveries. Cue first change and Taylor elected to put himself on with Boyes asked to ply his left arm round from the pavilion end. Taylor’s 3 over spell proved to be something of an eclectic curate’s egg, starting with a succession of wides as he finally found some sort of radar, he then had 3 dropped catches first by Lucas at mid on, then McGuinness at deep mid wicket and finally himself – albeit that the ball was otherwise going for 4 and required a couple of minutes of wringing before he could move his hand properly again. Added to two missed stumping chances and another that might have been given out by a more impartial umpire, it could have all been so different. Nevertheless,  the final analysis of 0 for 33 off 3 overs does not make pretty reading.

Meanwhile Boyes, bowled exceptionally tidily, bamboozling the batsmen, so much so that Taylor elected to give him a third over, which ensured that what would have been exceptionally tidy figures were ruined by three fours conceded in his last over to finish with 0 for 24 off his 3 overs. Sometime within this mayhem both Chamberlain and Tate retired on 30 not out, bringing in Derrick and Hall Jr., both of whom looked determined to continue piling on the runs. Ringing his final bowling changes, Heslop and Goulding were brought into the attack, the former securing a wicket in his first over with one that beat Derricks’ bat, the stumps and the wicket keeper only to see it ricochet off Beakers pads back onto the stumps. The record will only show it as a stumping to remove the aforementioned batsman for 27. Hall Sr. was next in and after compiling a useful 17 was run out by a direct hit throw from dead eye Aly Hall aiming at just about a stump and a half. This was his second direct hit of the night and, again, the first might have secured a run out from a more impartial umpire.

Heslop finished with a highly respectable 1 for 15 off his 3, while Goulding ended the innings with a decent 0 for 21 off 3. There was more controversy as read 195-3, having leapt from 138. After a long consultation the scorers declared a miscount and the actual final inning score was 154 for 3 off the allotted 20 overs.

So with a tall, but gettable target, Hall and Greenwood strode out to the middle full of confidence.  Ovingham elected to open the bowling with Hall Jr. (batsman no. 5) and Hall Sr (No.6).  Hall Jr bowling to Hall saw the opener hit his second ball for a lovely 4, but then perished to the same Hall Jr, who cleaned bowled him in his second over for 6 (work that one out!!!).

Lucas, in at a lofty 3 and (apparently) muttering something about preferring to be a bowler, marched to the crease and quickly got off the mark with a well-run 3 thanks to the marshalling on Greenwood. A decent partnership started to develop, with Greenwood content to pinch quick singles (and leg byes or byes) and Lucas bludgeoning his way along with a succession of thick edges and well- timed drives. However, with the partnership on 33, Greenwood inexplicably missed a straight ball from Hall Sr in his final over and was clean-bowled for 9.

At the end of the 8th over the score was 45 for 2, behind the run-rate, but still plenty of time to catch up. The loss of partner Greenwood was too much for Lucas, as was the decidedly quick bowling of first change bowler Maplesden (No. 1 batsman) who clean bowled him for a very respectable 22. With Boyes and Scutt now at the crease another partnership started to develop, thanks to Boyes making good use of the pace of the ball and judging some quick singles – aided and abetted by some spirited calling from the scorers. The highlight of the partnership was undoubtedly a top edge from Scutt that teased the fielder and landed just over his head and, more importantly, the boundary for 6. There was also a joint effort to register an early claim to the Asti Spumante moment (or possibly a new Comedy Gold award) as a poke from Boyes just beating the fielder resulted in a run, not-run, run, not-run routine that the Chuckle brothers would have been proud of. However all good things must come to end as Scutt was adjudged lbw to the bowling of Chamberlain (batsman No. 2 – seeing a pattern here?) to end a partnership of 33 and Scutt’s innings for a respectable 15.

Again the loss of one wicket, quickly became two as Boyes was cleaned bowled by Maplesden for 11 the following over. With the score at 81 for 5 at the end of the 14th over, a big innings was needed. Goulding in at 6, provided something of that as he quickly compiled 32 and retired, while Heslop watched from the other end.  With 2 overs left the score was 116 for 5. With Taylor now in, batsmen had to try for big hits. Heslop succeeded with a 4 and then a 6 on consecutive balls to his favourite cow corner, the accurate bowling of Marley (No. 11) and Barron (No. 8 – hallelujah others in the Ovingham squad finally getting a look in) it was a case of swishes and singles as the innings closed on 130 for 5, with Heslop 13 not out and Taylor 3 not out.

So another loss (eight in a row – Ed), but a fine performance, played in good spirit with everyone making good contributions, against a team that again favoured heavy use of their league players. With the Welly closed, Nitsch once more delivered with his ice box full of beer and crisps (he drew the line at knocking up some chips and onion rings at home to bring down – apparently the deep fat frier is banned in the Nitsch household – can’t imagine why).  A final highlight of the night was the squad getting an opportunity to try out the new covers – manipulated into place with a set of manoeuvres that Reginald Molehusband would have been proud of.