Mallards v Belmont Knights August 5 @ Belmont

2021 has been Mallards busiest season in recent memory with nigh on 30 fixtures on the list, something that has sent the club’s scouts far and wide in search of new talent. With Durham’s match in Gosforth proving too much of a draw for a number of regulars, the scouts’ abilities were put to the test. Despite bleak reports coming from the selection committee throughout the day, we somehow scraped an XI together, with the 40th, 41st and 42nd players to don the duck this year stepping up for the occasion.

Team preparations were further disrupted by a forecast that was bleaker than the selection committee’s reports, as well as what the tabloids would call “TRAFFIC HELL” on the A1 delaying a significant chunk of the team. That part however made the Cox’s job as Skipper a bit easier; it’s not hard to nominate your top four batsmen when you have only four players…

With dark clouds on the horizon, the match got underway with Cox and Wood starting things off for the ‘Lards. The pitch, which was described by Cleaver in a manner that can’t be repeated here, proved to be somewhat variable but with some width on offer from the bowlers, the openers settled into their task. Wood may have settled a little too much, but the runs started to flow from the other end as Cox found the boundary repeatedly; the latter hitting seven fours to retire on 32. New Mallard, Cartledge slotted in nicely at three and was able to keep the runs flowing.

The fifty came up after just six overs (Wood: 2*) and things continued in this spirit with Cartledge clearing the boundary on a couple of occasions. Brimming with confidence, he was then bowled, and deservedly so, while attempting a scoop shot. That sort of thing is typically grounds for exclusion from Mallards, but we’ll let him off with a warning. Score 75/1 after 10 overs. Wood: 10*.

Green at four, aware that he’d have to be the one to score the runs in the partnership, swung and missed a straight one, but that brought Dhillon to the crease. Thirteen balls, four fours and three sixes later Dhillon retired on 34. Browne was next in and signalled his intent by smiting his first ball for four, all in after the 15th over we were sitting pretty on 124/2. A couple of short showers threatened to disrupt things but failed to turn into anything serious.

Wood started to pick up the pace with a few boundaries, including a glorious lofted straight drive that he insisted I mention, and reached 30 to retire leaving only a handful of balls for New Mallard, Goodger to face. Goodger looked to keep the runs coming but was unable to connect, making  the second duck of the innings. Not-New Mallard, Stone was unable to get the last couple of balls away, but we had amassed a very handy 158/3 from our 20 overs, Browne finishing on 23*.

After a quick turnaround, Cleaver was soon storming in for the start of the second innings, and was on the money from the start. Partnered with Goldsborough at the other end they were asking all sorts of questions of the openers. Goldsborough struck first, removing Monaghan with a beauty before Cleaver picked up the other opener Dobson in the third over. This was the start of a remarkable four consecutive maiden overs by the opening pair.

Dhillon was introduced as first change in the 7th over and struck with his first ball which skidded through the defenses of Dimple. Score at 13/3. Cleaver finished his spell with the impressive figures of 4-2-3-1. Dhillon struck again in his second over to keep the pressure on. Latif at the other end was showing off his new “long run” and seam-up style but took a while to find his line. Keeper Wood was kept busy all evening with the variable bounce really putting him through his paces, only conceding two byes was an excellent effort. Good thing he didn’t tire himself out too much with the bat.

The rain finally arrived and forced a brief halt, but fortunately the shower blew through and play soon resumed. After 10 overs the score was 32/4 and Cox started to rotate the bowling. Cartledge and Goodger each had a couple of overs, with Goodger bowling Pennels in his first over. However the Knights’ middle order was starting to fire with Mason in particular finding the boundary regularly. However it was too late at this point and the asking rate was climbing.

Stone and Cox closed out the innings with Stone bowling Mason for 26, with the innings closing on 111/6 for a 47 run win. In the end there was just enough time to squeeze the 20 overs in before the light really disappeared. Credit to the Knights for getting a game in at all but fortunately the rain wasn’t as bad as it could have been and we were able to get the match completed. Thanks also to Mrs Cartledge for taking on the scoring and keeping an immaculate book.