Mallards v Genetics @Riding Mill August 3

The Old Firm, El Classico, The Ashes,  Ali/Frazier, Connors/McEnroe, Prost/Senna….all classic examples of sporting rivalries, and all, without question, infinitely more skilful than the talents on show in the bi-annual Mallards/Genetics cricket contest.

Under gloomy skies, and with a decidedly poor weather forecast, these two giants of North East friendly cricket gathered to do battle for the first time this year for the coveted Jon Robinson trophy.

A quick head count saw both skippers agreeing to 12 a side, and Genetics captain Gardner won the toss and elected to bat, just as the drizzle began to fall.

Gardner and Ashwini were the Genetics openers, with Cox starting from the end that normally has the sun behind it, not tonight.  Cox with excellent lines and finding an edge from Gardner that ran down to the third man boundary. Watson started from the field end and grabbed a breakthrough with the last ball of the over, Gardner caught by McCaffrey, 11-1 after 2 overs.

Tarbuck strode to the crease and Cox found another edge – this time wicketkeeper Kent deflected the ball away from the always reliable Scott at 1st slip.  Scott’s chance would come again though, as Tarbuck got a thick edge from Watson’s bowling in the very next over. Down it went again however.  Ashwini was into his stride now, launching Cox for an impressive straight six, and continuing to score quickly off new bowlers Bateman and Dunhill.  Dunhill did take the wicket of Tarbuck for 13, going through his shot too early and seeing the ball smack into the top of off – textbook.

Ashwini had his feet up in the pavilion by now having retired, the rain was starting to get heavier, as were the bowlers, with Scott now coming on to bowl.  Bennett and Van Doorn were the two new batsmen, Gibbons kept it tight at the other end, Scott offered up a juicy full toss to Bennett which was despatched with ease.  After 8 overs Genetics were accelerating on 58/2.  Scott, however, picked up his first wicket this season, bowling van Doorn for a well-made 13, before Bennett hit a six to earn his retirement.

Taylor sent down a very tidy over indeed, how it went for 20 runs I’ll never know!  Wood then bowled a load of dross that only went for 1 run.  I’m writing this a few days after the game and can’t be entirely sure I’ve got the descriptions right for the two bowlers here…. (was so tempted to correct this – Ed.)

McCaffrey removed Jordon for a duck, clean-bowled and Deon perished to skipper Butcher LBW for 18.

Lucas joined in with the wicket of Hamid, bowled for 0.  After 17 overs Genetics had got to an impressive 129/6 – now with Goulding and Wisbach at the crease, McCaffrey putting down an identical chance to the one he caught earlier. Goulding began finding boundaries with ease and was supported well by Wisbach – who eventually fell to a fine delivery from Bateman, full and swinging in, not much he could have done about that.  That was to prove the final wicket as Mitcheson smashed a quality 4 in the final over to bring the innings to a close on 150/7.  An intimidating target.

The target looked to be even more unlikely as the rain began to get heavier and heavier, travelling Dave Heslop announcing “it doesn’t look very good over there”.

Still, as the Senior Groundsman was on holiday and nobody wanted to be the one to text him and ask if we could keep playing, we carried on.  Kent and Taylor to the crease.  With such a large target ahead boundaries and quick singles were crucial, Taylor however did seem intent on running the quickest singles ever to be taken in the history of quick singles.  Kent was having none of it, sending him back with metronomic regularity.  It was Goulding that was to strike first, bowling Taylor for 1.  (The scorebook said 0 but Taylor, suspiciously changed it to 1 post-match – ed.)

McCaffrey came in next, timed a gorgeous cut shot for 2 off Goulding, and then tried the same shot the next ball only to clip it straight to an unnamed fielder – who was doing the scorebook??!!! The rain continued to fall, it must have been bad as B. Taylor sent down a slower ball.  Lots of umming and ahh-ing on the boundary, should we call it off?  We were 12/3 after 4 overs, with Wood departing for 0, also to Gouding. The verdict was unanimous (amongst the Mallards) we’d best call this off lads.

Cox smashed a 4 then a 6 off Wisbach’s first two balls of the 5th over – that rain really wasn’t that bad you know and there were definitely gaps in the clouds.  The wicket now looked like something a “tough mudder” would enjoy, but that was frankly irrelevant.  Sensing defeat, Gardner called it when offered by umpire Taylor and sadly that was the last play of the evening as the covers went on [in a spree of coordination that the Chuckle bros would have been proud of – ed.].

With no hope of further play it was off to the pub, where the fun continued.  Could Genetics statisticians please record a drop from Gardner, as his packet of crisps went tumbling behind the bar and into the slops bucket.

Good craic & average cricket, the hallmark of these two fine teams.  Match fees were collected for fundraising in memory of Jon Rob.  Fingers crossed for better weather for the second fixture in a few weeks (and firing up the BBQ!).