Mallards v Wearmouth CC 20 July @ Wearmouth

 The great thing about Mallards’ match reports is that reporters get the chance to write history as they would like to perceive it, sometimes with reality being completely thrown
out of the window. And why not?
As a club, we’re blessed with some notable members who are published authors (fiction and non-fiction), experienced reporting hacks, many who just enjoy a chance to write something that’s not yet another work-related document and finally a few who, well, have a need to share their surreal view of the world with the rest of us occasionally. Long may our reporting tradition continue.
That diversity makes for rich pickings and a way to mitigate those out of season blues – as well as helping Buxom remember what the hell went on in the season when it comes to compiling the end of season awards shortlists several months later!
Yet another great thing about match reports is that sometimes they give the reporter a chance to indulge in a little bit of narcissistic bragging when they do something remarkable that hasn’t happened in quite a long while. Especially when it comes to the aforementioned awards shortlisting. Of course, some players may be just too modest to indulge in such conceit or maybe it’s that they just can’t be arsed to contribute to Mallards in this way. Who
In this particular case however, neither of these apply as I am of course referring to the return of your despot to the field of play, for what I hope will not be my only game of the season.
Arriving in reasonably good time, your despot was greeted by the meagre handful of Mallards who had managed to make it before 6pm. Changing into whites – ecstatic in the discovery that they still fitted – your despot meandered out and was promptly asked if he
would like to conduct the toss or wait for a vice captain to turn up, being still five short of a starting ten at this point. Not to be deterred by such trifling deficiencies in actual number of available bodies, an executive decision was taken, the toss duly lost [no change in that
department then– Ed.] and Mallards invited to field, with the Wearmouth team generously donating a surplus player (who was a surprisingly decent bowler).
Fortunately, the cavalry arrived in the shape of McCaffery, Ramsay and Butcher – the latter also acting as a taxi service for newcomer Nish and our very own Jonny Binstow as he has now been dubbed. A quick change and the game finally ready to get underway 20 minutes
after opening time.
Now at this point, both vice captains demurred from taking on the skippering role, citing the unwritten law “he (or she) who does the toss takes the chalice”. A moment of catatonia passed while your despot had flashbacks involving feral cats dressed in whites and then a pause while long archived memories of what skippering involves (being at least 5 years since last undertaking the role) were dredged up, as a field of some sort was set and the match
could begin.
Mallards openers were tidy, with Peter Bell being especially miserly going for just 7 runs in his first spell of 3 overs. However, it was at the other end that a bewildering clatter of wickets fell to some atrocious shots, despite the despot suggesting to the procession of
incoming batsmen “think about it, have a cup of tea and then play your shot”.
By the 6th over Wearmouth had scraped to 26 for 5, with a special mention to stand-in keeper McCaffery for a particularly fine caught behind making it look like he almost know what he was doing. Could this be a historic Mallards performance in the offing?
Sadly no.
The last over in the opening spell from the top end proved to be particularly expensive, as Wearmouth’s opener finally got a chance to take strike. Supported by skipper Ram a productive partnership started to develop with Ram in particular, after a slow start, going up
the gears and retiring on 30. Browne bowled 3 eclectic overs to finish on 22 off 3,while donated player Premraj was somewhat targeted by his usual teammates and apart from earning a wicket from a fine catch by Browne at cover, finished his 3, going for 25.
By the end of the 13th over, Wearmouth had recovered to 92 for 6 with 2 back in the hutch should they be needed. And needed they were, as wickets continued to fall. Latif taking just one wicket off 3 expensive overs, albeit the returning Wearmouth skipper who failed to add to his 30 – with McCaffery taking full advantage of the fact he was wearing gloves to take a skier and his second of the innings. Mallards newcomer Nish looks a tasty prospect however, clearing out the tail with a sharp run-out and a clean bowled for just 15 off his allotted 3. That saw both retired batsmen back at the crease. Opener, Brigham sensing a half century was in sight, but with only one wicket remaining, dashed down the wicket just one time too many to Bell, who was returning for the last over of the innings, to be clean bowled on 49. The innings closed 2 balls shy of the allotted 20 overs, but the final score a far more credible 140.
Having made a rudimentary batting order to assist the two wonderful scorers who completed both books in both innings immaculately, the despot was petitioned by several players keen to fix their position in the roster as far away from the top order as possible. So, the original list was scrapped, a new one drawn up, and this will explain why there is an almost blank page in the score book.
(Real) Youth seemed the order of the day, so Binmore (aka Binstow) and Ramsay were invited to start the Mallards reply. Binmore taking first strike, made full use of some wayward bowling by Wearmouth opener Donkin – just a shame that we don’t play free-hits for no-balls. Ramsay succumbing to the rush to get the runs moving at his end as well was a just bit assertive early in his innings and was unlucky to offer a well taken catch to depart for just 1. However, Butcher next in at 3, showed what a bit of experience can do, blocking 4 balls before unleashing a trademark cut to the cover boundary.
At 29 for 1 off the first 3 overs could the run chase be on, with Mallards well ahead of the required run rate? Sadly not.
Binmore, batting like a man possessed by his near namesake, was bamboozled by one that got through from Roopesh for 25 and likewise Butcher fell victim to the same bowler, out to a good catch for 13. With Nish showing just what an all-round find he is (thanks Hamid!), the other end saw a steady procession of wickets. To be fair, the light by this point was not great, and even though the despot persuaded the home team to swap to a pink ball at the halfway overs point, it did little to stem the loss of wickets. The end saw the despot coming in at 11, smashing the Wearmouth skipper over cover, only to see the ball hit a depression in the outfield and come to a halt 3 feet short of the boundary for just a single. However, that

was enough to see him carry his bat, as Nish, conscious that the major run-scoring burden would be on him was finally caught for 29 at the end of the 16th over and the game was over with Mallards all out for a creditable, but losing 90.

All in all, a good game played in a great spirit by both teams. The Wearmouth lads are a really decent bunch and possibly we may be able to squeeze in the non-event fixture from a few ago before the end of the season.
With a wake going on the clubhouse bar, and it being nearly 9.20pm, a drink at the end didn’t seem appropriate – even though there was the obvious excuse to celebrate your despot’s return.
Pas de changement alors.
So, instead, it was off home and dreams of what could have been.
Next time …