Mallards v Corbridge June 15 @ Riding Mill

There isn’t long between this match and my attention being completely diverted by the World Test Championship final, starting tomorrow, so I’d best get this written while I can still concentrate.

This was the rematch of our closely fought, low-scoring thriller against Corbridge a couple of weeks ago. Conditions couldn’t have been more different from last time with bright sunshine and warm temperatures the order of the day. The outfield looked a picture; the recent good weather ensured the pitch would be a good ‘un. The two teams gradually assembled and Corbridge would bat first.

In the absence of regular leader, Buckley, it was decided that Cox should be skipper for the day. The Mallards had obviously been paying attention to recent international cricket developments and realised that pretty much any New Zealander can skipper a team to victory over eleven Englishmen. Cox decided to adopt a mantra for the day: WWKD, What Would Kane Do? (Webmaster note: What’s Harry Kane got to do with anything?)

Dhillon opened the bowling and got things off to a steady start with just one off the first over. Things went quite severely awry in the second over however, as gloveman Beacock dived after Potts’ first ball, speared down the leg side. Slow to get up Beakers was in some trouble, and it was soon clear that his shoulder was out.

There was a break in play while treatment was arranged. Pottsy took charge of the patient, who was soon bundled off to Hexham Hospital, only to be then redirected to the RVI. This effectively left the ‘Lards two men down for the remaining 19 overs. WWKD? This inconvenience wouldn’t ruffle a certain Mr Williamson (Webmaster note 2: Ah, that Kane!), so Cox assigned the keeping duties to Hall and pleaded with the very obliging opposition for a spare fielder to get us up to 10. Close enough.

New Mallard Collins took over the bowling duties to finish Potts’ over, as the game got underway once again. Dhillon and Collins got into their work, but on a big field with a man down, the runs started to flow a bit. Latif replaced Collins for the eighth over and he struck immediately, removing van Doorn caught and bowled off his first ball.

Stone took up the challenge from the Clubroom End in the following over but neither he nor Latif could find another chink in the armour. The score climbed to 88/1 after 11 overs, when Cox, now without Potts or Hall to call on as bowling options, brought himself on. He cunningly conceded enough runs for Corbridge’s Robinson to retire after a classy and powerful innings. Cox burgled the wicket of Watts, T. for a duck as a leading edge carried to Stone.

Ringing more changes, Holland came on and attempted to stem the runs but nothing was quite working for us. Cox picked up another in his third over, bowling Chomse for 5, making it 121/6 in the 16th over. We could be chasing a big total. Stone came back for the 19th and managed to restore a bit of order but it wasn’t until Latif’s fourth over that we took any more wickets, with Rutherford caught by Steel for 10 and Burroughs caught by Collins for nought. Innings closed on 152/5; this would be tough to chase, WWKD?

Realising that our best chance of victory lay with a fast start, Cox opted to open with Steel, to (in the words of McCaffrey) “Give it some welly”. Mallards got off to a decent start, 24/0 after four overs, not quite on the rate but not too bad. This continued till the 8th over when Cox retired on 30. McCaffrey was in at three and looked to continue the good work.

The less said about the run out of Steel the better.

Collins at four, was soon joined by Stone as McCaffrey was caught off the bowling of Watts for just 1. Collins wasted no time as he peppered the boundary to retire on 31 off just 12 balls. Suddenly we were on 89/2 off 11 overs, one run ahead of where Corbridge were at this stage. The unlikely was suddenly possible.

Stone was showing why we call him The Flashing Blade, timing his shots well. Dhillon at 6 though provided the real firepower to keep the innings on track. Five overs to go, we were 128/2 and ahead of the rate. Dhillon retired on an 18-ball 33 with a couple of overs to go, to bring in Holland, who didn’t look at all nervous.

He needn’t have worried, The Flashing Blade had it under control as he guided the fifth ball of the 19th over to the boundary to see us to an excellent victory by a remarkable 8 wickets.

Thoughts immediately returned to our stricken friend, but I’m pleased to report he was back home with his shoulder in place that evening, and is already calculating how he can convince Mrs Beakers to let him return to the fold. Here’s hoping for a speedy recovery so you don’t have to carry around that Mutilated Mallard trophy in your sling.

Lastly, a tip of the hat to Pottsy, ambulance driver extraordinaire, for braving the ridiculous roadworks on the A69 to get Beaks to TWO hospitals. Kane would approve.