Match Reporter: Glenn Steel
As the Mallards stalwarts arrived at the ground, somewhat depleted by injuries (very best wishes for a speedy recovery Leon and Trevor) and the discovery that a waddlingof Mallards had infiltrated the opposition ranks, it felt like a new start. A couple of ringers (thanks Dave and Colin) had made up the numbers and we mused at the notion that under our (literally) new skipper, one Thomas Colum Browne (TCB), a significant challenge was faced by us that evening, a damp pitch, an opposition containing a significant phalanx of Mallardian talent and our dubious [hit and, more often, miss ed.] record this season.
However, massed behind our inspirational skipper, serious confidence and determination grew steadily. The coin was thrown, heads was called and Mallards were presented with the divine option. We’ll have a bowl said TCB. Good decision? Inspired!! Based on Logic? You bet your boots. Inspirational motivational quotations were uttered. We need men who can dream of things that never were (John F. Kennedy). And we did.
To say that the fielding performance was the stuff of legend was an understatement. Under the wise hand of TCB, firm and logical manipulation of a prodigious bowling attack brought consistent and regular reward using the sporting wicket to great effect. Significant movement both off the pitch and through the air resulted in miserly bowling (Dunhill 4-1-3-2, Mitcheson 4-1-11-1, Haylock 2-0-4-2) and inspired field placing resulted in a steady flow of wickets. Supported by the constant banter from the field (lead by master psychobabble consultant McCaffery) the precocious Mallardian middle order of Riding Mill were consistent in their scoring (Dickinson, Nitsch and Bennett scoring a single each) only Heslop with a gallant, aggressive and ultimately futile 15 bucking the trend.
Only Howe with a patient 15 not out and a regular contributor for the opposition, Wide with 14, swelled the score to 77 for 9 off 20 overs (something of a recovery from 36 for 6). However, catching was unbelievably sound and secure. Four catches, NONE DROPPED. Pride of place must go to Dave Lee (more later) with a stunning catch at mid-wicket to get rid of the dangerous Bennett from a full blooded pull.
The nature of the pitch warranted a cautious approach (a run rate of less than 4 being required). However, Steel had other ideas as he ran out Gardner in the second over, thus further developing his developing reputation as a Boycott-esque run out merchant. However, the strategy adopted by Lee and Steel to defend resolutely and take toll of bad balls worked well. Tight spells by Reed and Page were repelled.
Lee, in particular, despatched the bad ball with great certainty and the partnership developed (56 for the 2nd wicket) to the extent that when Steel was dismissed leg before by Bennett, the game was all but won.
Lee retired with an excellent 36 soon afterwards and it was left to a belligerent McCaffery, supported by Haylock, to carry Mallards to victory by 8 wickets with 6 overs to spare.
Overall a splendid, all-round, performance. Good toss to win embellished by inspirational banter and leadership. The experienced lags in the Mallards ranks advised TCB to retire from captaincy while he was ahead – it’s all downhill from here!!! “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. No use being a damn fool about it.” (W.C. Fields).