Mallards v KSOB May 2 @ Riding Mill

Driving down the A69, the clouds over the Tyne Valley were low and grey, covering the tops of the hills like some sort of Alpine snowstorm. The low clouds didn’t firm up the confidence but to Riding Mill we went. On arrival, the wicket was greener than a snooker table but in the process of being cut. There was about 30mins to go still until the scheduled start time. There’d already been some doubt that the game against KSOB would be on due to several days of rain and drizzle, but some great work by Riding Mill and their groundsman, meant that the game was on and the start time of 6pm was met with KSOB batting first following skipper Buxom’s winning of the toss.

With the ground smelling like a local league football pitch on a late November Sunday morning, the sky greyer than the skin of John Major and temperatures at a level at which you’d be scared to put the heating from the fear you’d bankrupt yourself, the game got underway. 18 overs a side, maximum 4 overs per bowler, retire at 30.

KSOB opened the batting with Coyne and Moir, with skipper Buckley predicting (correctly as it turned out) that Coyne would get the runs required to retire. Mallards opened with P Bell from the Sheep Field End with young Tedge from the Tree End. Bell coming down the hill in rather slippery conditions took an over to get into his stride with 10 coming off his first, but only a further 7 coming off his next two, going for only 17 runs off his 3 overs. Mr Edge was a bit tighter going for only 3 runs off his first over but also claiming the wicket of Moir, who’d scored just 4 runs, caught behind by Buckley from a top edge hoik that went so high in the air it came down with snow on it. Tedge’s next two overs went for ten more runs meaning young Tom finished with 1-13 off 3 overs. Great efforts from both opening bowlers, as well as in the field from everyone, taking into account the slippy outfield.

Bell and Edge (great firm of solicitors btw, highly recommended) were replaced by Malik and Kumar (Hamid and Ankush to you and me) who continued to keep the bowling tight – Malik finishing with 0-20 off his 3 overs and Kumar finishing with 1-12 off his 3, with the wicket of N Garg being caught by TEdge for just 20 off the last ball of his second over. KSOB were now 62-2 off their first 12 overs. Good tight bowling and fantastic efforts in the field keeping the score low, as was the difficulty of batting on the wicket due to limited bounce and pace coming on to the bat.

The last 2 bowlers were P Nair and L Latif, bringing in a subtle change of pace to the previous four bowlers. This helped slow the scoring down considerably with Nair finishing on 2-4 off his 3 overs having taken the wickets of Molangri, who was bowled after scoring just 1 run, with a peach of a delivery that clipped the off stump and L Craddock for just 4, who was caught sharply by Kumar low down to his left. Latif finished on 2-8 off his 3 overs, taking the wickets of M Menton, who scored just two, caught by Malik at mid-off, and the wicket of L Naylor who was stumped by ‘keeper Buckley for just 1.

The last 6 overs of KSOB added just 13 runs to their total and they finished on 75-6 off 18 overs. A great effort all round, from both teams to be fair.

Required run rate of just 4.2 per over needed to get to the 76 runs to win the game. This wicket wasn’t going to make that overly easy though.

Mallards opened their reply with Kent and Kumar opening the batting. KSOB opened with Craddock from the tree end and he couldn’t quite find his rhythm, with a total of 8 runs coming from the over through a combination of extras and a boundary to Kent. L Naylor opened from the Sheep Field End and was somewhat tighter, as he conceded just 8 runs in total off his three overs. Apparently, he got a wicket as well, but that doesn’t seem to be in the scorebook!

Craddock was taken off after his first over (presumably to go and find the remaining material to finish off the length of his trousers – they were practically shorts!) and was replaced by Garg at the Tree End. He kept the bowling fairly tight in his 4-over spell, finishing with 1-12 as he took the wicket of Kumar, who’d scored 7. He could’ve gone for more runs if umpire Buckley had picked up on the no-balls he was delivering on several occasions.

After 6 overs, Mallards were 25-0 so were pretty much on track for the required run rate.

Naylor was replaced at the Sheep Field End by K Menton who very kindly took his gloves off to bowl. It seemed to work for him as in his 2nd over he took the wickets of Kent and R Wilson (who’d replaced Kumar), both of whom were caught and bowled for 17 and 0 respectively. Looks like Wilson Snr is keen to keep the duck trophy on his mantelpiece in 2024 too! K Menton finished with 2-4 from his four overs, so kept it tight somewhat.

Mallards were now 38-3 after 12 overs. The required run rate had crept up but we were still within striking distance with 6 overs remaining. We needed a fraction more than a run a ball to win.

The new batters were Nair and Butcher, who found it difficult to get the ball away off the bowling of K Menton and N Garg. The bowlers kept it tight and with the lack of pace and bounce from the wicket, chances of scoring were becoming increasingly hard to come by. Eventually Garg and K Menton were replaced by Molangiri and M Menton at their respective ends, with M Menton getting success in his 2nd over by claiming the wickets of Butcher for just 5, clean bowling him with a wickedly deceptive delivery behind the batsman’s legs (we’ll ignore the Rocky Horror jump to the right by the batsman) and the wicket of Butcher’s replacement, Si Holland, for a 2-ball duck as he was caught and bowled off a leading edge, trying to take the game to the opposition. Right idea, unfortunate with the timing of the bounce off the pitch.

Malik joined Nair in the middle and between them tried to up the run rate, Nair eventually being run out to a fine accurate throw from their fielder (Naylor) trying to get back for the 2nd. Skipper Buckley went in at number 8, knowing that it was all or nothing when he got to face. After being nearly run out on a quick single call from Malik, when Buckley eventually got on strike, it turned out to be nothing as he went for a heave so agricultural that the NFU would’ve been impressed with it, and got an inside edge on to his stumps first ball.

P Bell came in next and managed to get a couple of singles, one of which gave the strike back to Malik who hit a rather huge six back over the head of Molangiri and into the trees. This gave some hope but KSOB were too far in front now. Bell was bowled by the returning Naylor (think I’ve found out where that came from in the scorebook now – it’s Lisle!!) and TEdge went in to help finish off the Mallardian innings, with Mallards falling 9 runs short of victory.

Still, an enjoyable game played in the right spirit and the fact that we got to play at all was the real winner.