MCC v Sparta July 9 @ Riding Mill

Match Reporter: Craig Scott

My first attempt at a match report, I could complete this in two sentences, but for those of you that don’t know the score, I’ll go into a little more detail. For those that do know the score, you can probably stop reading now and get back to the Ashes.

There are few things better than a beautiful sunny evening and the  prospect of a game of cricket at Riding Mill, with the outfield getting quicker by the game and the wicket getting greener, no wait, getting better.

With Sparta winning the toss, and sensibly deciding to bat first, we were quickly underway (I assume we got underway on time as I missed the first 3 overs!).  Our trusty opener Tom Browne started well, with only 3 runs conceded off his first over.  His bowling partner Steve Hunt went one better, going for only 2 runs but picking up the wicket of Hunter, caught by Rob ‘Safehands’ Scutt.  A decent start.  Tom and Steve both continued to bowl well, but with little reward, the usually dependable Gez spilling a catch, not an easy one, but we might be able to forgive seeing as he is usually wearing a pair of gloves, Tom finishing with figures of 4-0-25-0 and Steve with 4-0-21-1, and with Sparta on 46-1 after the opening 8 overs. With Sparta opener Foulds retiring hurt, digging out a Yorker from Browne and getting his feet stuck in the pitch and twisting his knee, the Riding Mill pitch now being compared to the Wimbledon debacle given the amount of injuries of late, the decision to build a cricket pitch on an old Indian burial ground now coming back to haunt us.

With Mallards a little short on bowlers, it was Scott and McCaffrey who took the next spell, Scott going for 9 from his first, and McCaffrey, bowling for the first time in over 25 years, and quickly running out of WD40 to put on his shoulder, going for 6 from his first.  In the 11th over, finally some breakthroughs, with McGuiness coming down the track to Scott, only to nick one onto his stumps playing a big ol’ heave to cow corner (does this count as 2 wickets please?), and then new batsman Pearson perishing first ball, spooning one into the air straight back to the bowler, who kindly bottled the catch, stepped aside, and allowed Gez to atone for his earlier drop, now that is teamwork!  Sadly, these wickets were the last to fall, with McCaffrey, Butcher and Greenwood (who bowled some tidy stuff at times with a couple of LBW shouts) unable to stop the flow of runs, despite numerous field changes to plug the gaps, the Sparta batsman seemed to find new gaps with ease, and finished on 160-3 (ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTY FOR THREE) Sorry I went all BBC VIdi-printer there.

8 an over needed then as Greenwood and Howe set out to bat, with Gez cutting the first of some well timed cut shots for four in the first over.  Howe stuck in at the other end, and looked better than the scorebook suggests, being bowled for 1 by Bowman, but played straight and faced some decent bowling. Greenwood also got a good un, and was bowled by Bowman for a spritely 12.  To the crease came Jordan and  Scutt, who still had to face a decent Sparta bowling attack.  The two set about with the admirable mentality of keep wickets in hand, but sadly the runs dried up, with Mallards stuck on 23-2 after 10 overs.  Scutt and Jordan eventually fell, bowled for 4 and 6 respectively, bringing our leader for the day Butcher to the crease.  Hit out or get out were his calls from the boundary whilst waiting to come on, and he didn’t disappoint, retiring for a well made 31, including 5 boundaries.  McCaffrey and McGuiness didn’t have too much luck, McGuiness stumped for 5 and McCaffrey caught for 0.  The ever reliable Beacock showed good intent hitting a quick 11 with a couple of well timed boundaries, but it was never going to be enough as Mallards closed on 93-6.

Still, it was an enjoyable evening, with Yorkshire Puddings making a debut down the welly, delicious, even though we ate them all before the gravy turned up!