Mallards v Corbridge May 25 @ Corbridge


Another miserable day – would this be more frustration for the Mallards after the Durham fiasco? No cancellation message appeared, despite heavy rain in Newcastle, and then to everyone’s surprise Gareth sent the confirmation out that the groundsman had cleared the ground as fit for play. The players converged on Corbridge, then circulated the area in search of the elusive pitch – please someone, give us a sign (preferably at the entrance to whichever minor road leads to the ground). Eventually, with some mutual misdirection and near misses, the gallant 10 assembled under dark clouds to find a soft but playable pitch. One short of a full set, but so it turned out was the Corbridge team.

The skippers went out to inspect the wicket, Butcher, our skipper for the night (standing in for the injured Buckley) returning with the news that we were to bat first, and the opposition did not normally employ the “30 and retire” clause. Would this, we wondered, be a key factor in the game?

Openers Hall and Steele strode out to the wicket, which proved to be slow with a frequent low bounce, and the outfield soggy enough to make boundaries very difficult. After a bright start with Hall scoring a single off the first ball, and Steel two twos in succession, Watts found his line, and completed the first over without conceding further runs. 5 for 0 off the first over. The lively Burrows came on for the second over, produced 3 dot balls and then bowled Hall (1).  McCaffery strode purposefully out to the wicket, and two balls later, strode reluctantly back, bowled by Burrows. A double wicket maiden and Mallards 5 for 2 after two overs.

Cox came in to join Steele, and the pair began to build a partnership, but found timing difficult, facing two accurate bowlers. It was 24 for two after 6 overs, then Steele was trapped lbw by Watts with a ball that kept low and he departed for 17. Watts ended his four overs with 1 for 20. Bowman joined Cox at the crease. Burrows, tiring in his final over, lost his line, and went for three wides, three singles and a magnificent 6 by Cox. He ended with 2 for 18 off 4, with Mallards on 39 runs off the first 8 overs, nearly half way through their 18 over innings.

Fleming replaced Watts, and Van Doorn, an occasional Mallard, this time playing for the opposition, replaced Burrows. In Fleming’s second over, Cox, looking to push the score on, played a fine on-drive inches above the ground, only to see a diving Boaden pluck the ball out of the air for a fine catch at long on. Cox departed for 24, to be replaced by Butcher. Two balls later, Bowman was caught off Fleming for five, the bowler finishing his two overs with 2 for 15 and Mallards were 58 after 11. Latif joined Butcher. Van Doorn, from the rugby ground end bowled accurately and kept the batsmen pinned down, as did the anonymous bowler who replaced Fleming, bowling Latif for 0 in his first over. Beacock joined Butcher, and the Mallards were perilously placed at 62 for 6 after 13 overs, with no recognised batsmen left to come. Beacock showed his usual skill at finding fielders when he hit the ball, while Butcher was also having difficulty in getting the ball away. However, helped by a number of extras, a late flurry of singles and a four from Butcher, the score crept up to 80 in the final over with no further loss of wickets, until Butcher, caught in two minds with the last ball was lbw to Thompson for 9. Beacock remained on 4 not out, and the partnership made 18 runs in the last 5 overs. Even on a difficult pitch, this was not a comfortable score to defend.

A quick turn round and a continued heavy cloud cover saw Corbridge begin their innings with Boaden and Pettage, Browne opening the bowling to an attacking field with Cox at first slip and Hall at third. Browne bowled a tight first over conceding a single, Watson going for 3 in his first. After 4 overs the score was 10 for 0, with the batters struggling to time the ball, and both edging through the vacant second slip position. Despite this, thanks to the tight bowling and enthusiastic fielding the Mallards were ahead on run rate (17 off 4) However, Boaden began to find her touch, and the run rate increased. Pottage continued to have difficulty getting the ball away, eventually run out for 2 to a fine throw from Steele. He was replaced by Maude, who was quickly into the runs, and the Mallard’s score began to feel very vulnerable. Browne finished his spell 0 for 19 from four overs, and Watson 0 for 24 for 4. Corbridge were 44 for 1 from 8 overs, ahead of the Mallards run rate, when their captain had a change of mind and decided to call Boaden in to retire on 30, and Maude shortly after, retiring on 20. Boaden’s innings was commendable in the conditions, and Maude was also looking well set. However, the fielding side fought back through Latif and Stone, the new bowlers, who troubled the new batsmen, supported by continued tight fielding.   Chomsey was bowled for 0, and Scott for 5, both by Latif, who had figures of 4 overs 2 for 13, and Stone 0 for 10 from 3. After 15 overs, Corbridge were 69 for 3, needing 12 to win off 18 balls, Burrows on strike with 2 runs to his name, joined by “number seven”, the scorebook not recording the names of the remaining batsmen.

Cox came on to bowl, sportingly opting for a short run because of the poor light. The keeper advanced to the wicket, and both he and the batsman were surprised by the pace – Burrows bowled for 2 off the first ball. 69 for 4! Cox, bowling sharply and accurately completed a wicket maiden to the incoming batsman (“number eight”) – 12 needed of 12 balls. Hall went for 5 in his over and the batsmen ran a bye – 75 off 17 and six needed to win off the last over. On came Cox, accurate as before – two dot balls, a single, a dot ball, a bye. Four needed off the last ball. The batsmen managed a single, Cox finished with figures of two overs, 1 for 2 and Mallards won by two runs in a well played, friendly contest.

Despite having to defend a low score, it was an excellent team effort by the Mallards, with the bowling supported by good keen fielding, and the team continued their encouraging start to the season.