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Montgomery CC vs Chequers CC - Sunday 22nd June 2008 - Shoebury Garrison

M. Couzens, M. Aggus, K. Baker (cpt), B. Giles, J. Gillies, O. Pidegon, T. Smith, D. Champ, G. Turner, J. Aggus, C. Smith

A

At last that most gallant of cricketing institutions – The Montgomery, has a ground to call home (albeit for three games).

Shoebury Garrison.

The fortress.

A towering bastion of strength manned by the white clad knights of the order of the MCC.

Soon a name to be whispered in hushed respect by the servants of lesser clubs.

Soon a name to awaken fear in the very sinews of those who dare oppose her.

So, who first to the slaughter?

Who first to tread the ruinous path to annihilation?

Who first to have their bowling smitten by the fiery wooden blades of the Montgomery, to have their stumps obliterated by the burning red meteors delivered from on high?

Well it was Chequers CC actually and they didn’t seem to have read the script!

Unfortunately, as MCC wicket keeper Oliver Pidgeon put it so delicately: “The fortress turned out to be more of a bouncy castle.”

So, let us sit upon the ground and tell sad stories of the death of kings us getting a bit of a pasting.

The MCC line-up for this historic match saw the return of Oliver “understated sunglasses” Pidgeon and for the first time in 2008 – line and length lynchpin John Aggus. With Ben Giles of Leigh playing for the second match in succession and desperate to avoid becoming the first Leigh player not to post a score in at least one MCC turnout, the 11 was complete.

Despite some early concerns about the pavilion not being open, play got underway more or less on time with the MCC into bat.

Chairman Matthew “I love Bonaparte” Couzens was promoted to the opening spot to mark the occasion (not for being any good) and joined the man that makes Boycott look like Pieterson – Mark “Geoffrey” Aggus.

It quickly became apparent that the outfield was a lot quicker than anything else we had faced up to this point with the ball racing off the bat to the boundary.

Unfortunately the strip itself was very slow, which meant that timing was difficult and it was this that accounted for Aggus early on – caught in the covers, one handed off Riley.

Keith “Planet Mars” Baker took to the crease and the MCC moved to 29 before Couzens departed – aiming an ugly swipe across the line at a full toss and bowled for 23.

The Monties took heart in the knowledge that Ben Giles was in at number four. With 60* under his belt from Saturday it was certain that the duck against Leigh would be proved a blip and The Gilester would show his batting pedigree.

Getting off the mark early on, Giles and Keith played their strokes and kept the score ticking over. It seemed evident that playing against a modest bowling attack and with the quick outfield, a good score could be reached if one of the recognised batsmen stuck around.

It was not to be.

Giles had reached the lofty heights of six before losing his wicket to the bowling of Russell.

Gillies followed soon after for 3 and the MCC was wobbling at 42-4.

Pidegon was due some runs after flaying everyone to all parts in the nets and coming in at 6, the fighting rats needed something from their WK.

Pidgeon reined in his normal attacking game and mixed some impressive strokeplay with the required element of caution.

With the Skipper still holding court at the other end, the score moved to 66 before Baker also fell victim to timing and was caught for 18 having looked well set.

Smith T came in at 7 and bludgeoned his way to the same number, before coming down the pitch and getting stumped.

With Pidgeon still at the crease and with the tail having added vital runs already this season, all was not lost, but when he top edged Chequers best bowler – Thoroughgood, for 17 the score was a worrying 81-7.

Not enough on a pitch of this sort.

With an out of sorts Turner getting bowled for a duck by Broad Jnr (possibly due to an undisclosed illness – rumoured to be Aids) it fell to Champ and Aggus Snr to take the total past 100.

With plenty of overs still in the game and with the extra count mounting (wides alone counted for 17) then any time at the crease was helpful for the MCC cause.

Aggus Snr, who had not scored a run in his previous Montgomery appearances played some lovely shots to get to 7 but then lost his wicket to Poohley (we never established if that was his name – much like another Chequers bowler who went by the name of Spud).

Champ continued from the other end and played some nice pull stokes behind square leg to reach his highest score of the season – 10.

Christopher “Ooooh Matron” Smith at number 11, not to be outdone, cut one for two and pulled another for four before being bowled by the returning Russell for 6.

MCC all out for 117 with four players getting into double figures but only one passing 20 and extras accounting for 21!

However, any concerns over the score were forgotten when the spread prepared by CWAGs Stubbington, Eve and Jozsa was laid out.

In the history of the Montgomery rarely has a sight so wondrous been seen. Food, glorious food and in massive abundance. Turner, fought off his debilitating illness to gorge himself on no fewer than 8 cakes and the general agreement was that the lavish spread was worthy of the highest praise.

Unfortunately no such accolades could be given to the MCC’s performance so far and it was going to require an exceptional bowling performance to provide us with a maiden home victory.

To that end, an unconventional opening to the attack was implemented. Rather than open with the usual seam trio of Couzens, Champ and Baker, the skipper opted for the right arm over of Gillies and MCC leading wicket taker Christopher “Behold the Pie-man” Smith.

Upsettingly this cunning plan didn’t go quite to…errr…plan, as the Chequers’ openers negotiated the first few overs with some attacking strokeplay, unsportingly avoiding the trap that had been laid for them.

Couzens and Baker were brought into the attack and amidst cries of “Do it for Boney”, “You can form the first French cricket team,” Couzens struck, bowling Riley for 7.

Baker produced a good spell but even uncertain contact with the bat was racing away and anything short was seized upon by the batsman leaving economy rates in tatters.

Turning back to spin Vettori was introduced in tandem with Daniel “The Jew” Champ. Vettori struggled with his line initially but was looking dangerous thereafter. The Champion maintained his line and length and had a chance for a wicket with a slog straight up that bounced just over Gillies.

Unfortunately chances were few and far between and Chequers reached the required total inside 20 overs leaving the MCC dreaming of what could have been.

No heroic opening victory then, but two games at The Garrison remain for a stronger showing from the Fighting Rats.

Matthew Couzens

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