Mallards v Benwell and Walbottle June 7 @ Riding Mill

After a chastening defeat by the same opposition just a couple of weeks ago Mallards were keen to make amends and put on a  much better show this time round. There will have been a few worries that the chance may be denied when the heavens opened  in the Newcastle area mid-afternoon but our friends in “the Mill” assured us it was fine out there and so it was, turning in to a  beautiful summer’s evening, perfect for cricket. I should say from the outset that anyone hoping for a sequel to the last match report between these 2 teams will be sadly disappointed by the lack of German poetry and should also probably seek professional help.

With skipper Buxom still barely able to move due a bad back and refusing all offers to invest some club funds in to various dubious methods to help put it right (I’ll let you use your own imagination) Butcher was once again press-ganged into taking up the mantle and was instantly called to make a decision by winning the toss. Having carefully considered  the overhead conditions, prevailing winds, state of the wicket etc he realised he hadn’t got a clue what it all meant so chose to bat first, based purely on the fact that we had won the last 2 games batting first (sorry for the spoiler if you haven’t read the previous reports) so why not see if it can work again? Regular readers will know that’s  a big if.

Rather than concentrate on a precise sequence of events and loads of numbers I want to highlight the collective effort of the Mallards because as much as it’s cringeworthy and vomit-inducing this really was a night where cricket was the winner and everyone played their part, some obviously more than others but every single player contributed at least 1 run or a wicket with several doing both. Ankush excelled once again with both bat and ball, as did relative newcomer to both Mallards and playing cricket itself, Pottsy who made crucial late order runs with some lovely strokes (so much so the Skipper was lampooned for batting him at 10) and then recovered from a slightly dodgy first over to bowl 3 tight death overs. It was great to see Rob Wilson back in the runs including a thumping pull for 4. Likewise it was nice to see  Trevor Wood in the runs, indeed it was nice to see him play at all considering his ever increasing commitments as the inventor of “Geordie Noir” as author of the hard hitting Jimmy Mullen crime novels. Incidentally “One Way Street” has just hit the shelves of all good book stores(and probably a few craps ones), according to our own resident critic Chris Lucas “ another cracking read, highly recommended” That should be worth a pint next time I see you Trev? (Webmaster note: Cheque’s in the post. You can vote for The Man on the Street for Crime Novel of the year here: (other books are available)

Liaquat got  a few runs in the middle order and also took a couple of middle-order wickets. Opening bowlers,  evergreen Tony Cleaver and old Genetics friend but newbie Mallard Jason Boyce accounted for B&W’s very handy opening bats, clean bowling one each and the noticeable improvement in fielding over the last few games continued with commitment all round and catches from Kent, van Doorn and a first of the season for Beakers behind the stumps.

That is not to say everything was perfect, there is always time for some typical Mallardian half-arsery, this time from the Skipper who having just told some poor bystanders how he had matured from the player who used to get so excited just to hit the ball he would invariably run himself out, stood to admire the shot off his first ball before realising it might not got all the way. However, he was so confident there was 2 in it that he neglected to watch the fielder as he turned for the second. If he had bothered to, he would have seen a young man at least half his age comfortably collect the ball and unleash his trebuchet arm to fire the ball hard and low straight to the keeper who ran him out by yards! Another first baller for Butcher but unusually not a duck!

A great all round team effort, combined with a beautiful summer’s evening, wonderful setting, the game being played in a fantastic spirit by both sides, and the obligatory cold beers afterwards really did make for a perfect night’s cricket regardless of the outcome.

Oh, the result?  Mallards won of course – never in doubt!

(Mallards 122 for 7, B&W 118 for8 for those that like the numbers)