Mallards v Benwell & Walbottle June 5 @ Riding Mill

Dearest cousin Eglantine,

Forgive me, my dear.  It has been some two years since my last monograph [Mallards v Riding Mill CC, 30 June 2021].

Taking the overland route to fulfil my commitment to visit the British garrison in Kirkuk (my, how I enjoy giving their gun barrels a damned good polishing) I found myself unavoidably detained by some pesky Marxist-Leninist revolutionaries in the Crimea.  Tiring of their ludicrous politico-economic theories, furry hats and silly dancing, I eventually effected my own escape by lacing my captor’s stroganoff with a suitable dose of laudanum tincture.  I must remember to write to the current Prime Minister, Mr Disraeli, to enquire why Her Majesty’s government did not send a gunboat to secure my freedom: Pax Britannica, it would seem, does not extend to my vital work servicing the needs of the troops across the British Empire.

My journey by steamship to London (after stopping off to inspect the tools of a company of Royal Engineers on Kefalonia and to quickly rub down the lances of some Hussars in Gibraltar) was somewhat uneventful.  It was with some relief, then, that my return to my country estate at Broomhaugh Towers, Riding Mill, was followed in short order by an invitation from my sometime companion Professor Ian ‘The Flashing Blade’ Stone (about whom I shall disclose more later) to observe the strapping gentleman of Mallards CC in their fixture against Benwell & Walbottle CC.

Oh Eglantine! One cannot resist an opportunity to take a firm grip on the Professor’s tumescent blade! That, and the chance to observe the Mallards and their fine collection of balls (see pic above) meant that I made my way to Broomhaugh, home of Riding Mill CC, with haste.  After summoning a man to find and erect a deck chair for my use (Stone, 2019), I settled in to observe the spectacle.  Cognisant as I am of the ease with which Mallards are distracted, I decided to watch from a discrete distance; the bushes at the Jon Rob benches end providing suitable cover.

I was in time to observe the magnificent Mr Edge and Mr Standring open the bowling for Mallards.  Sterling effort and, much to my excitement, a deal of sweat and grunting saw each rewarded with a wicket, Mr Standring removing Ridley for 14 and Mr Edge accounting for Woodman for 16.  Benwell & Walbottle were 41-2 after 7.3 overs.  My, how my tora-loorals were heaving at the sight of those thrusting young bowlers!

The redoubtable Mr Latif (who ended his spell with superb figures of 3-0-7-1) joined the fray and saw off new batsmen Lees, a wondrous caught and bowled reminding me of the time I entertained a section of Household Cavalry in their barracks at Horse Guards, Westminster.  A skilful grip, a subtle wrist and variations in rhythm and speed meant that every one of those strapping cavalrymen were ‘through with their shot’ rather too early, much like Mr Latif’s victim.

The magnificent Mr Malik despatched White for 13.  Mr Holland’s wily right-arm darts then despatched Bateman for 1.  Meanwhile, Robbie had accumulated a well-crafted 32; Benwell & Walbottle were 96-5 after 16.1 overs.  I must invite Mr Malik and Mr Holland to join me for dinner at Broomhaugh Towers: I would very much like to review their respective actions and, perhaps, show them my gigglemug.

Mr Holland then removed Waddell for 7 to leave Benwell & Walbottle on 113-6 after 18.2 overs, stumped with considerable aplomb by the ever-reliable Mr Buckley.  My, Eglantine, the very thought of Mr Buckley’s stump sent my lally-gag all a-flutter.  It seems that the scorer was similarly distracted, failing to record Clelland’s score upon his removal by the marvellous Mr Malik with Benwell & Walbottle on 121-7 after 19.4 overs.  Perhaps he, too, was flustered by the way that Mr Butcher swooped to take a wondrous catch.  How he moved with speed, poise and grace, much like the time I took only 20 minutes to service the gunnery of a company of Royal Marines in the Aden Colony.  Mr Butcher’s athleticism set my niminy all apiminy, I can tell you.

Benwell & Walbottle closed their 20-over innings on 122-7.  Mention must be made of the left-arm wrist-spin offered by Professor Ian ‘The Flashing Blade’ Stone (3-0-16-0), studious umpiring by the ever-delectable totalitarian, Dr Despot, and excellent work in the field by Mr Gurr and Mr McCaffery.

My location in the long grass at the Jon Rob benches end had, by this point, attracted some attention.  After a quick rustle in the bushes with [Note: name redacted on advice from Latif Solicitors] I settled in to watch Mallards’ reply, ably led by Mr Gurr and Mr Malik.  The former wafted his blade with considerable finesse, reminding me somewhat of how I grasped the weaponry proffered by a battalion of the Tyneside Scottish during their tour of duty in Bombay.  Mr Malik was first to fall (caught) to Waddell for 1 and was soon followed by Mr Gurr, caught for 9 off the bowling of Clelland.

Mallards score of 16-2 off 2.1 overs became 21-3 off 3.4 overs, Dr Green falling (bowled) to Waddell.  I was strangely unmoved by Dr Green, somehow feeling that ‘entertaining’ him would somehow approximate to a form of reflexive onanism.  My state of excitement returned when Mr McCaffery arrived, only to subside again when the energetic Mallard was despatched (bowled) by Waddell for 2.

Noting my intention to ask Mr McCaffery if he needs me to take a firm hold of his bat handle, I observed that Mr Butcher had steadily accumulated a magnificent score with splendid support by Mr Standring and Mr Buckley.  The former was bowled by Robbie for 5 and the latter went after scoring a smart 19, bowled by Ridley.  Mallards had accumulated 62-5 from 9.5 overs.

Mr Butcher scored steadily, his rate slowly increasing as he offered several lusty thrusts, much like the time I put the whole regiment of Durham Light Infantry ‘through their paces’ in their barracks at Gilesgate.  Mr Butcher retired on 30 and was replaced by Mr Holland, who fell to Robbie after receiving a ball that not so much kept low as went subterranean.  Mallards were 82-7 from 15.2 overs.  Mr Edge added a gritty 5 before falling (bowled) to Robbie.

Mallards were now 94-8 from 18.1 overs.  How the ever-energetic Professor flashed his tumescent blade as he sought to bat his team to the target! Waddell accounted for Mr Latif, who added a well-crafted 11, and Mr Butcher returned to the crease after frantically re-donning his cricketing attire after somehow failing to remember that he was ‘not out’ on retiring.  Perhaps he was flustered after I encountered him behind the scoreboard on the containers boundary.  My word, Eglantine! His masterful ball-work needs to be recorded! Let me tell you that he told me that [Note: redacted on advice from Latif Solicitors].  Sadly, his vigorous efforts behind the scoreboard meant that he seemed somewhat tired on his return to the middle: Mallards closed their 20 over innings on 114-9.  A magnificent effort from all concerned, not least Mr Butcher and my beloved ‘Flashing Blade’.

I would have liked to give each Mallard a good rub-down in their changing room, but word had by now reached me that Royal Navy battleship had arrived at Tyne Dock.  Anxious as I was to ensure that the ship’s company were offered a suitable start to their shore leave, I quietly left my position in the bushes and made the steam engine from Riding Mill station.  Pausing only to polish the driver’s funnel, I reflected on another wondrous evening at Broomhaugh.

Farewell for now, my dear Eglantine.

Yours bemusedly,

Florence Leglance (Ms)