Mallards v Sparta @ Cochrane Park June 18

glen and steveThe change of scenery disorientated the Mallards who, unusually, hit their stride from the off on a cold and miserable evening. Tom Browne’s unpredictable pace and Stu Wisbach’s flighty spin had Sparta on the back foot.  Opener McGuinness found it all too much and retired temporarily hurt. Pearson, Homer and Nelson quickly fell to the opening attack, leaving Sparta on 19 for 3 after five overs.

Enter a man wearing black shoes with the laces undone and a big bloke leaning casually against his bat: Two quick wickets? Experience tells us that two such batsmen spell trouble. Cook immediately went about spoiling the figures of Tom and Stu. Tom still finished with 1 for 18 and Stu left the attack after 3 overs, 2 for 19.

The assault on the Mallards attack continued until Cook retired on 31 with the score on 64 from under 11 overs. Dave Cox quickly took a wicket but the assault continued as Spratt with the help of North set about the two Dave’s bowling. Spratt’s two brutal straight drives off Dave Cox were memorable and applauded by the Mallards before Dave finally bowled Spratt. He quickly took a third, bowling Langley and finishing on 4 overs, 3 for 23.

At this point the score book and my memory lapse: Gareth tried to bamboozle the batsmen North and the returning McGuinness with his unique variety designed put the batsmen out of their comfort zone. His final figures were only hampered by his a few lapses in the field but he managed to take a couple of wickets as did Craig Scott who’s tidy two overs only went for 10. Stu Wisbach returned for one last over and took the returning Cook’s wicket off the last ball for 31: His final figures, a respectable 4 overs, 3 for 22. So Sparta were dismissed for 128. There had been catches along the way for Steve Kent behind the stumps and for Dave Cox, though some rather casual out-fielding probably cost 10 of those runs.

The Mallards replied in improving light and dying winds. The first over was dealt with comfortably but then Glen was trapped LBW by Cook for 2. All the while Steve Kent was going well at the other end. Glen’s dismissal brought the hopelessly out of form Boyes to the wicket who, when presented with a medium based full toss froze and let the ball hit his ample gut. He’s pleased to report that he felt that and has a bruise to prove it but he supsequently lunged at an unplayably, gentle straight ball and missed. So it was back to the pavilion with some theatrical bat throwing and chuntering. For all the noise he made quite sure that his bat didn’t get broken: not that it would have mattered.

Jez joined Steve and they quickly progressed the score to 58 before Jez was caught off Langley in the eighth over. Steve had to retire soon afterwards bringing Rob and Craig in as a new partnership. It was their misfortune that their lack of mobility coincided with Langley’s magnificent spell that yielded 4 overs 2 for 2. The Mallards went from 58 in the eighth over to just 65 after 15. Along the way Craig sacrificed himself to a run out and even the new batsman, Dave Cox couldn’t attack Langley’s bowling. He fell to Nelson for just two and with that virtually all hope of a win disappeared. Gareth tried to attack and perished bravely for the cause and Tom hit a pugnacious 12 off 8 balls.

Change bowler Nelson cashed in as the Mallards sacrificed themselves to the run chase, taking a hat-trick that included Rob for a slow but decent 16, Tom and Dave McGuinness. That left Steve with the honour of returning to the crease and giving his wicket away off the last ball for a fine 32 with the team score on 100.

The 28-run defeat, snatched from the jaws of victory was a ninth-consecutive loss.  Will next week’s away game at Davipart take the run into double figures?  Probably.