Mallards v Riding Mill May 18 @ Riding Mill

During our recent winter of discontent, this country’s cricket tragics found many clever and unusual ways of keeping the wolves of insanity from the door. Shadow batting in full kit, Twitter-based dice cricket tournaments, all sorts of surrogates were found to get us through the winter’s isolation. All of this however, was backed on a solid belief that come summer the sun would shine and all would be well with the world again. The mind’s eye saw cloudless skies, manicured emerald-green outfields and every cover drive timed to perfection.

Unfortunately in the cold grey light of… well… summer, the reality has been quite a bit wetter, with three games out of five so far having been lost to rain. Last week for instance showed just how much rain can fall on Durham in an evening. Tonight, however was different, the clouds had parted and it looked like we might get a game in. Cautiously we assembled at the ground to take on Riding Mill for the first time this year. This fixture has become known informally as the Wellington Trophy, though there is no actual hardware involved.

Whilst the rain had abated, it had left its mark, with a number of damp patches on the pitch and what would prove to be a sluggish outfield. This did not matter as it was a game of cricket, finally! The skippers tossed up and we would bat first. The number of overs was limited to 18 due to threats of rain later in the evening.

Openers Ankush and Cox took up the challenge with the former wasting no time, nailing two sixes in the first over. His power didn’t last though, holing out in the second over for 13. Hamid joined Cox and the pair began cautiously with the two-tone pitch making timing difficult and the slow outfield making finding the boundary difficult. However the two worked the singles effectively and kept the score moving.

As they became used to the conditions the rate of scoring increased a little until the 12th over when Cox went 6-4 in consecutive deliveries to retire on 33 with the score on 82, an excellent partnership of 69. Hamid reached his 30 soon after and we were well set at 85/1 after 13 overs and well set for a decent score. The incoming batsmen however didn’t have the luxury of time to play themselves in and Riding Mill’s slower bowlers were proving quite effective on this track. The unpredictable bounce combined with appreciable turn meant that runs came at the rate of around three an over for the last five overs.

McCaffery made a duck, Steel at 5 was timing the ball well but was thwarted by the slow outfield before being bowled by a big turning delivery by Terry.  Butcher at 6 found timing the ball difficult but remained not out on 5. Latif was caught for 1 trying some late-innings hitting. In all Mallards finished on 101/4, not the score that it could have been and we would have to work hard to defend it.

After the turnaround, the Mill’s openers began brightly as our bowlers, Browne and Hamid,took an over or two to find their radars. However in the 5th over, with the score on 29, Browne beat Kent’s defences and started a fightback. Mallards needed some quiet overs to put the pressure back on the batting side. Starting to ring the changes, Latif and Cox replaced Hamid and Browne. Both were able to control the rate effectively, Cox removed the opener Collins, well caught by Browne, before Latif’s spin did for Terry.

This made the score 46/3 after 11 overs, our noses (bills?) slightly in front but still needing to maintain pressure. Latif finished with 3-0-10-1 and Cox with 3-1-5-1 and then came Ankush. His first ball trapped Dhillon in front for 9, and his second clean bowled Steel-Morris for a golden duck. Fantastic stuff, it was now 57/5 and the pitch wasn’t getting any easier. At the other end, Holland followed a maiden in his second over with the wicket of Raza, snared by a fine tumbling take by Ankush at gully.

All the time, the required run rate was climbing, then when Ankush ran out Marks off his own bowling for 20, it got harder. With just one over to go, the score was 79/7 and with 23 runs required off the last over, it was in the bag.


Butcher had the honour of bowling the final over and started well with three runs and the wicket of Willis (caught by Latif) from the first three balls. 82/8, 20 needed off the last three. Thacker was on strike for ball four and sent it sailing over long on for six. The fifth hit the sightscreen and the sixth was the biggest hit of the lot, disappearing over the neighbours fence to finish the innings on an even 100, meaning a one run win for the Mallards. An excellent performance in the field, keeping the runs down whilst picking up regular wickets.