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Montgomery CC vs Golden Lion CC - Sunday 13th July 2008 - Shoebury Garrison

Montgomery CC: M. Aggus, O. Pidgeon, M. Couzens, R. Clayton, T. Smith, D. Champ, G. Turner, J. Aggus, C. Smith (cpt), K. Baker, J. Birch

T

hroughout the annals of cricketing history one question has plagued the minds of patrons of the great game we play: Who is the greatest side of the post war era?

To name but a few:

The mighty invincibles of 1948?

The devastating Windies of the 70’s and 80’s?

Steve Waugh’s 17 test winning Aussies?

The 2008 Golden Lion Sunday team?

Not much to pick between them.

And it was the MCC that welcomed the Golden Lion to Fortress Garrison on Sunday 13th, determined to put in a better showing than had been displayed in our last game against Chequers CC.

The Fighting Rats would need to demonstrate far more batting prowess to post a defendable total on our home pitch and bowl with added dexterity to tame the cricketing king of beasts.

With the MCC line-up bereft of borrowed Leigh players, it was down to the true ranks of this darling of the English summer to right the wrongs of Sunday the 22nd June.

The line-up on this hazy afternoon contained the stoic Aggus, the flamboyant Pidgeon, the sideburn-less Couzens, the effervescent Clayton, the Kiwi Smith, the veteran Champ, the sadly dying Turner, the wily Aggus snr, the pie distributor Smith, the top heavy Baker and the virtuous Birch.

With Christopher “Doodlebug” Smith standing in as skipper for Keith “Head-boy” Baker, the toss was taken and the MCC was put into bat.

In a change to the normal procedure the format of today’s game was to be timed rather than the usual 40 overs a side. The MCC were to bat from 2pm to 4.30pm, tea was then to be taken with the Lion replying with up to 20 overs past 6.30pm. This gave rise to the unique possibility of a draw.

Such a word however, does not enter the vocabulary of the “death or glory” fighting rats. We would be aiming for a result.

The outfield looked slightly slower than previously but the strip continued to threaten low bounce and thus danger for the batsmen.

Aggus and Pidgeon walked out to open proceedings for the MCC.

Disaster almost struck immediately when Pidgeon was put down before scoring. It was to prove a costly error by the Lion.

A barrage of attacking strokes ensued as Pidgeon went on the offensive and sent the scoreboard racing.

At the other end Aggus played his usual game – nurdling the singles, rotating the strike and blocking resolutely.

In fact the Aggus game plan has oft been witnessed in times gone by. One such innings from a William Scotton resulted in the following poem being published in Punch:

Block, block, block At the foot of thy wicket, O Scotton!

And I would that my tongue would utter My boredom. You won't put the pot on!

Oh, nice for the bowler, my boy, That each ball like a barndoor you play!

Oh, nice for yourself, I suppose, That you stick at the wicket all day! And the clock's slow hands go on, And you still keep up your sticks; But oh! for the lift of a smiting hand, And the sound of a swipe for six!

Block, block, block, At the foot of thy wicket, ah do! But one hour of Grace or Walter Read Were worth a week of you!

Quite.

However, despite the harsh words of Punch, Aggus and Pidgeon played quite superbly. A heady combination of boundaries and quick run one’s and two’s ensuring that the pressure was firmly on the bowlers and fielders.

In no time at all Pidgeon had blasted his way to a maiden MCC half century and it was a shame for all concerned that he perished at last for 55. A magnificent knock.

In that time Aggus had also departed, chipping one of his leading edge to be caught and bowled by Sams for 11.

The opening partnership had been worth 63 runs though and had given the MCC a platform to build on, with plenty of overs left and wickets in hand.

Correspondingly, with two new batsmen at the crease in the form of Victoria Wood look-a-like Couzens and the always chipper Clayton, it was a time for the Lion to haul themselves back into the game.

They did so almost immediately with Clayton getting bowled round his legs for a blob by Sams.

That brought Tom Smith in at number 5 with the score at 74-3. Smith had been threatening runs for his last few innings but had not yet registered the big score that his attacking talent had promised.

Smith reined is his natural attacking instinct and playing watchfully with Couzens moved the score onto 100 before Couzens was undone by a devious straight one and bowled for 13.

With Smith getting his eye in he started to play positively whilst at the same time guarding his wicket against anything of threat.

He continued to advance his score through the cameo innings of Champ – one trademark pull for four behind square and Turner – a glorious stroke for four, before succumbing to the fatigue that tragically, often affects his game these days (AIDS).

With the score now wobbling slightly at 114 for 6, John Aggus came to the crease, with the intent on outscoring the lesser Aggus, for the second game in succession.

He and Smith went on to form a 50 partnership which saw Smith onto his half century, another fantastic knock from an MCC batsman in this innings.

Aggus soon surpassed his son and went on to carry his bat, finishing unbeaten on 30.

Smith finally capitulated with the score on 169 and after a quick 2 from the merchant of spin, Baker saw out the last overs with Aggus, to finish on 8 not out, including one crashed boundary of his very first ball.

The Monties finishing on 193-8 with Birch still waiting in the wings for his maiden 2008 knock.

The MCC went into tea in far better spirit than they had after their bat against Chequers, knowing that they had a score that could well be defended.

Another gourmet extravaganza was laid on by Miss Stubbington and the prospective Mrs. Champ, an assortment of savories and sweets that rightly received every praise from the home and away teams.

Thus full of vitals and ready to fight tooth and claw for a first home victory, the Montgomery took to the field.

Opening the bowling would be the not so deadly strike duo of Couzens and Champ, with three wickets to boast between them in 2008, it was time for the fabled pace attack to shine if the MCC were to emerge victorious.

The first three overs passed with only a caught and bowled chance off Couzens which he spilled, to show from it.

Cue – Daniel Champ.

An astonishing 10 ball over, containing four wides, three dots, one run and most importantly two wickets!

One driven to John Birch in the covers and one top edged to be pouched on the run by Pidgeon – what a game for this man!

Could this be a return to the bowling form of 2007 for Mr. Champ? Let’s hope so.

Stung into action by the Champ’s opening salvo, Couzens got in on the act in his third over and bowled Sloman for 11.

Thornley was next to fall, playing on for a duck.

Next into the attack was Aggus snr. Not content with a swashbuckling 30 not out, he got stuck into the Lion immediately. Four runs off his first four overs showed an excellent economy rate but it was the following three that were to produce one of the best spells in MCC history – four wickets, falling for one run!

Mayhew bowled lbw, Bailey snaffled by Smith, Caie giving Birch his second catch.

Quite brilliant.

Couzens chipped in at the other end to have the dangerous Ward caught well by Aggus at mid off and Penningston caught behind by the unflappable Pidgeon (see what I did there).

With Smith T and Baker playing at short mid wicket and silly point, up close and personal, with lids on, the MCC was playing in a more aggressive manner than ever before.

The unstoppable Aggus did not disappoint, claiming the fourth wicket of that remarkable spell, Sams, caught by Baker to leave the Lion looking distinctly kitten like, all out for 78.

All in all an excellent display. Two half century knocks, one 30 not out, two four wicket hauls, two, two wicket overs, strong running between the wickets and some excellent fielding.

It leaves the Montgomery with two victories from five games this season, and a 50% record at the Garrison.

After a win-less 2007, the current season has given us plenty of encouragement for the remainder of the summer and beyond.

Good job for Bradman, Richards, Waugh and co that they never made it down to the Garrison!

Matthew Couzens

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