Mallards v KSOB @ Tynemouth 10 May

“Spoiler alert” – this week you will NOT need to work your way through 15 pages of Boyesian prose only to be surprised that after all of this your beloved Mallards took a pasting and very undeservedly lost !

The glorious 10th May was the day of the announcement of the discovery of thousands of extra planets by NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope. Sod the planets in deep space – 10, 11 or 11and half stars were discovered in the very near space of Tynemouth as Mallards stormed to their second win of the season – with us not even half-way through May and all 3 major North East football Teams in the Premiership (if only for another day!) – and conspiring to give Team Despot his first ever win at Priors Park – even if the foundation was laid in the 6 overs before he arrived from Alpha Centauri (where he had apparently been examining the planning application for an interstellar highway in advance of the pending arrival on Earth of a Vogon constructor fleet )

Under thin grey skies Mallards opened proceedings with Kent and Boyes at the wicket with Black and Moran bowling tightly for KSOB  – and Moran’s first over against Kent being a maiden. The gentle approach had umpire Haylock “consoling” our openers with the fact that Surrey were on 3 after 6 overs against Yorkshire – and one of those was a leg-bye. Kent took the message – Boyes (aka Higgs-Boson) tried to. He hit a 3 which clearly exhausted him beyond keeping his ground against Black to be stumped and his back, groin or somewhere else tweaked for 5 in the 5th over with the score on 14. This brought Captain Cox to the wicket as the first instalment of what proved to be an antipodean dynamic and match-winning duo.

Having hit two fine fours, Kent (a pale shadow of the man who hit 3 fours in the first over against Walbottle!) fell for 14 – bowled in the 6th over by Black. Wood came to the crease and showed everyone what passing on the burden of captaincy can do for a man. Putting all memories of a crawling Surrey behind them Cox and Wood accelerated into space. Cox having reached 29 decided he was going to make the most of the situation and was almost back in the “pavilion” by the time his second and farewell and retirement 6 had re-entered orbit.

Wood, having been reprieved from a first ball LBW by umpire Jordan’s inability to get his hand out of his pocket, continued the good work. He was joined briefly by debutant antipodean Bateman, playing in whites kindly borrowed by Tony Jordon from his son who was away studying Maths at Oxford. Very fittingly for the occasion his Professor had been waxing lyrical on Radio 3 that very morning on the emergence of matter from nothingness and relating the period after the big bang to the opening of Wagner’s Das Rheingeld – Surely being  in Tynemouth with the Mallards would have helped him much better understand and illustrate the concept he had been wrestling with.

The wondrously be-whited Bateman fell unluckily to a truly stunning over the head / behind the shoulder catch for 3 with the score on 84 in the 14th over. If Bateman was stunned the bowler, Anderson, was even more so.  Having taken a while to find his line, the catch was off the 9th of the 10 balls in his first over.

At this point whoever was scoring presumably passed on to other duties and everything gets a bit lost in space. The Mallards spaceship was clearly racing through the uncharted areas of the asteroid belt. Taylor stayed a while before being bowled for 10. Wood was eventually stumped for a rousing 28, including his own inter-stellar 6. Browne very briefly fizzed to be bowled for 4. Browne’s departure early in the final over brought another notable rarity as our second debutant – duck rather than drake, Ellie Moran strode to the crease with the score on 115. She swiftly got off the mark with a single. McGuiness clearly didn’t fancy running – he had hit a 4 in the previous over for his only score and was now bowled with a ball to go. Haylock yahoo swished at and missed the last ball and the innings closed on 116 for 7.

A relatively challenging total for the Mallards to defend – and with the sky lightening maybe the planets were not aligned in their favour. Further challenges faced the team with the first innings damage to Boyes meaning that Higgs had to stay on the bench and the role of Boson be passed to the  unconventionally-clad newcomer Gibbons – the third Mallards debutant of the night.

Coyne and Hamid opened for KSOB and Browne and McGuiness for the Mallards. Following the Mallards batting example a tight opener from Browne went for only 2 but following this the KSOB openers picked up the pace and had reached 20 without loss by the end of the 3rd over. In the 4th McGuiness struck – bowling Coyne for 12 with the wicket going down at 25.

With the score on 39 at the end of the 5th Captain Cox cunningly held back overs from each of his opening bowlers for difficult times down the line and brought Bateman and Haylock into the fray. Truly inspired captaincy – Bateman’s very first ball had Moir trapped LBW for 11. With just a single coming off the rest of the over Bateman sat on 1 for 1. A tight opening over from Haylock conceded 4 singles. The anchors were on. In the following overs Bateman took his second wicket – bowling Peffer for 3 and Haylock bowled the remaining opener Hamid for 13. 25 for 0 in the 4th had become 47 for 4 at the end of the 8th.

Further tight bowling and strong fielding meant that at the end of the 13th the score had been limited to 68 with Bateman closing on 2 for 11 and Haylock 1 for 17. Gravity was clearly dramatically slowing the KSOB reply

Cox brought himself on to share the final 7 overs with Browne and McGuiness.  Cox’s tight bowling brought no wickets but his 4 overs going for just 15 runs intensified the gravitational effect on KSOB – with the exception of one ball which clearly wanted to escape orbit leaping up from an otherwise docile pitch to strike the batsman full on the side of his helmet and attract critical comment from his team mates in the “pavilion”.

Alongside this the climatic conditions were steadily improving with the sun increasingly shining on the Mallards as their stranglehold increased – culminating in a theatrical low sun-lighting of the Priory and Lord Collingwood peaking from his plinth over the woods to the south.

Nelson’s right hand man (clearly needed after he had lost his own right hand – and arm- in a doomed attempt to take a holiday on Tenerife) must have looked on in amazement as the Mallards not only exerted further gravitational impact but steadily took wickets – and showed uncharacteristic excellence in the field.

A stunning direct hit from Wood ran out Black for 19 and almost immediately after a further direct hit from new-boy Gibbons disposed of Wiles for 2.

With KSOB needing to accelerate in the final overs, Cox, McGuiness and Browne simply would not allow it. 84 for 4 at the end of the 16th became 91 for 6 at the end of the 18th. The final ball of the penultimate over saw McGuiness take a great reaction catch low down off his own bowling to remove Willett for 17 and finish on 2 for 25 and again be the only catch-taker of a Mallard match. This was his 5th in 4 matches – shame on you Wood for spoiling his record by having taken the only catch he hasn’t !

Browne had already finished his 4 overs on 24 for none.

With KSOB needing 21 to win off the final over a further tight over by Cox saw him finish with figures of 4 overs for 15 and the KSOB innings close on 102 for 7.

As the theatrical lighting on The Priory and Lord Collingwood dimmed the Mallards re-entered earth’s orbit and headed for further “Journey’s into Space” at the Tynemouth Lodge and contemplation of the rarified atmosphere of early season multiple success.