MCC v Davipart @ Riding Mill July 23

Mallards faced their second game in a week with an almost completely changed side with only Skipper Wood and McGuinness keeping their places against an undermanned Davipart side who having won the toss and chosen to field then changed their mind as they only had five players at the ground!

Late replacement Mitcheson and club despot Taylor opened the bowling for the home side with the latter getting off to a very dodgy start with a succession of wides and boundaries seeing 16 come from his first over.

Fortunately Mitcheson was bowling beautifully from his end so the damage was slightly limited and Taylor eventually found a measure of control and almost a wicket, his opening bowling partner spilling a catch at short third man.

After eight overs, however, the visitors had raced on to a very healthy 59-0 with Mitcheson finishing with 0-11 from four overs and Taylor 0-39.

McGuinness and Perera took over the bowling reins with the latter hitting his rhythm quickly to unsettle the well-established openers, Haygarth and Sandhu, before they both retired with Davipart on 88-0 from 12 overs.

Mallards were slowly pulling themselves back into the game however, with Perera pinning the new batsmen down and the home side finally grabbed their first wicket when he bowled Harwood for 4 in his third over and completed his four overs with fine figures of 1-20, McGuinness ending his spell with 0-26.

The visitors had now reached 114-1 from 16 overs and with Rawley looking in ominous form it was clearly time for the home side to bring out the big guns so Butcher and Nitsch came into the attack.

Butcher immediately mesmerised the batsmen with his pace (lack of), seeing keeper Buckley narrowly miss a stumping chance before taking a catch behind off the very next ball.

Unfortunately Rawley took a shine to Nitsch’s first over, hitting three boundaries to retire on 32 but Butcher managed to tie down the new batsman Thomson before inducing him to hit a lofted chip to Perera who took a good catch – much to the chagrin of the other Mallards fielders as this brought back the previously retired and very dangerous Haygarth for the last over.

With Butcher finishing with 2-5 from his two overs Nitsch had to raise his game, which he did, restricting Haygarth to singles and twos before his final ball was hit straight down the ground towards Taylor, who couldn’t decide whether to try and take the catch or stop the boundary, sadly he did neither, his second  misfield of the night resulting in a final four and a daunting total of 141-3 for the visitors.

With Davipart still undermanned Mallards loaned them a couple of fielders, prospective Mallards debutant Chris Lucas and A N Other (Mitcheson, then Wood, then Dickinson) supplementing the visitors.

The in-form opening partnership of Steel and Wood got things underway but after the former had clubbed 7 runs from four balls the latter inexplicably walked across his stumps and was bowled round his legs by Thompson for 0 to bring Dickinson into bat rather earlier than hoped for.

Steel seemed to take the loss of his opening partner as a personal affront and continued his one-man attack on the bowlers, taking 11 from Hamza’s first over and then clubbing Thomson for two fours and a six to retire on 32 in just 15 balls in the third over. At this point the only other contribution was a no ball as Mallards(!) raced to 33-1.

New batsman Buckley joined Dickinson at the crease and, with Mallards well ahead of the required run rate, tried to settle things down at a more sedate pace, though even this proved difficult as some sloppy wicket-keeping saw the ball race through for four byes three times in one over and the scoreboard raced on to 63-1 from just seven overs.

Dickinson’s patience finally ran out in the next over as he drove straight to mid-on to depart for 8, Hall joining Buckley at the crease. The latter, however, was beginning to pick up the tempo and unleashed a succession of leg-side boundaries, one of which nearly demolished the scoreboard and at the half-way stage Mallards were sitting pretty on a mighty 85-2.

Buckley completed a splendid 30 and retired shortly after, with Butcher joining Hall who after getting off the mark with a boundary had been steadily accumulating singles to keep things ticking over nicely.

Butcher immediately clubbed a four straight down the ground but, with the scoring slowing down a little was bowled by Rawley as he tried to pick up the pace to leave the home side on 106-3 from 14 overs with 36 required for victory at a run a ball.

Nitsch joined Hall at the crease and the pair steadily accumulated runs to move on to 117 from 16 with 25 needed from the last four overs.

To stem the tide, opening bowler Thompson returned to the fray and immediately bowled Hall for a solid 17 to bring Taylor to the wicket, hoping to steer the team to victory to compensate for his less than glorious fielding display.

By this time Nitsch had settled in and, after Taylor got off the mark with a single, he swiped two successive boundaries to the leg-side boundary to take Mallards within 13 runs of victory with three overs remaining.

The return of the visitors other opening bowler was then greeted with a huge six as Nitsch all-but sealed the win, with the two batsmen cleverly picking up five more runs from the remainder of the over, the only scare coming when Lucas narrowly failed to hold on to the one chance offered as Nitsch’s thick-edge looped towards him at third man.

With two overs left the home side now only needed two to win from 12 balls and with Nitsch taking a single from the first ball of the next over it was left to villain-turned-hero Taylor to steer the ship home, which he calmly did, via his pad, a leg-bye sealing a seventh win of the season by six wickets with ten balls to spare, Nitsch finishing on an excellent 24 not out.

With the away side failing to make the pub a happy Mallards team enjoyed more than their fair share of roasties and gravy as they toasted victory in the traditional fashion in the beautifully sunny Wellington beer garden.