Mallards v Riding Mill @ Riding Mill June 23

“I’ve always thought of Mallards as a drinking team with a cricket problem!” Tony Cleaver.

Winning the toss (perhaps) Captain Butcher chose (or was put in) to bat, mischievously opening with Bennett and Kent. Bennett, bemoaning the lack of ‘snacky-snack’ time, strode onto the pitch purposefully smoking his fifth tab, though, thoughtfully he’d put it out in time for the start of the innings. Kent faced the first ball from opening bowler Gascoigne.  Four off his hip!  Great start. The dot balls then started to flow, with five taken from the first. Sharma now from the other end, Bennett getting his first runs with a beautifully timed shot for four. As the confidence built so did the score before Kent (11) was castled by Gascoigne in the 5th with the score on 24. In came the canny Greenwood. The onslaught began to take shape with both batsmen getting on top of the bowlers, Bennett hitting a glorious six to cow corner off the tiring Sharma. Bennett (24) finally had to go after connecting with a short ball that looked set for the boundary until the deep point fielder took a low catch. Disappointing, but there were biscuits in the pavilion!  McCaffrey was in next and the excitement was building to unprecedented proportions, the crowd was going mild! Quick singles and the occasional boundary! Oh the drama. But it was not to be McCaffrey (1) falling to the new bowler Horner after unsuccessfully trying to get himself out a few overs before by smashing his own stumps and with a denial fit for the Leave campaigners managing to convince the umpires that they had just fallen over on their own! Horner was now in the mood! Second string Zurawlew from the other end was also hitting his straps and bowled Greenwood (15) with the score at a precarious 64 – 4. No need to worry, no panic necessary, it was time for the skipper and McGuiness. Butcher (2) bowled Horner, McGuiness (1) bowled Zurawlew, 67 – 6! Okay, but we bat very low down these days and with the seasoned pro GVD and the returning Wisbach we could post a respectable score. Surprisingly some singles were scored before Wisbach, who could only see out of one eye (a honeymoon related incident, don’t ask), smacked a lovely four off new bowler Brown. Wisbach now set about the bowling with his usual calmness. At the other end Van Doorn was playing a shrewd game until being bowled by Brown for 5. In came (relatively) new boy Benson at number 9 with the score on 79 – 7. Bowlers Brown and Sargeant had kept the score down well, but Benson was in no mood to run. A quick fire 20 from just 6 balls pushed the score along, with Wisbach (10) being bowled by Hall in the 20th over. With the innings fading the welcome return of Ian Stone was short-lived as he was run out chasing runs for nought. Benson (20) perished to Hall and the innings ended on a competitive 112-9 (89 runs and 23 extras).

Tactician Butcher had a plan [unlike Roy Hodgson – ed.]. Get them out for less than 112.

Browne opened, maiden. McGuiness from the other end, 10 runs conceded but a good line and length and some lucky shots from batsmen Hamid and Zurawlew. Game on. Browne conceded just 2 from his second over, both wides. This was what we needed. We were tight in the field and were keeping the scoring down.  Four overs, 19 runs. Come on boys! The opening batsmen feeling the urgency began to hit out. Chances were bound to come our way. Zurawlew (31) retired in the 10th over with the score on 59. In came Roope. Benson replaced McGuinness (3-0-29-0) and Van Doorn came on for Browne (an excellent 4-1-14-0). Both bowlers keeping it tight went for 3 and 2 from their respective opening overs. Batsman Roope took the initiative and targeted GVD, a beautiful six followed by a back foot kick away from the stumps, LBW for 7. In came Giby. Never looking comfortable at the crease, he was bowled by Benson in the 12th for just 2. 68 – 2. Eight overs left. In came Horner to join the still unbeaten Hamid. Benson (3-0-15-1) was replaced by Wisbach, a man calmer than a marijuana-smoking sloth. Here was the bowler for this occasion, only conceding four from his first over.  Horner, on the other hand had a different plan, taking 14 from Van Doorn’s last over (4-0-25-1). 87 – 2 in the 15th. With Wisbach going for only 4 more in his second it was time for Ian Stone to bowl them out. 91 – 2   16th. First ball was judged as a wide, Umpire Hall being a git [allegedly – ed.]!. 8 runs from it. Tight, but a wicket now and we’re back in it. Stu again keeping the runs down finishing with a splendid 3-0-11-0. At this point things get a little hazy. According to their book keeping they are on 104 at the start of the 19th. By my calculations they’re on 103. Never trust a Riding Miller!! Stone took the 19th with Horner in a hurry to get to the Welly. Three balls one dot two sixes.  119 – 2 (how, I’ve no idea!!!) Stone (2-0-20-0).

A very enjoyable game.