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Montgomery CC vs Woodham Mortimer CC - Sunday 27th July 2008 - Woodham Mortimer

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

A

re you sitting comfortably? Then I shall begin:

A wise man once said that the word “draw” does not enter the vocabulary of the death or glory fighting rats.

However, having tasted sweet victory, twice this season the MCC set its eyes on our sixth game of the season, in the knowledge that a win or a draw would give us a 50% undefeated record.

In such circumstances, the Montgomery needed to display its growing maturity by ensuring that, although we would play for the win, this would be tempered by sufficient vigilance that we could at least obtain the draw, if things did not go to plan.

A glorious forecast was predicted at Woodham, where the MCC had twice been defeated (including a rather humiliating episode last year, where, despite the presence of two Leigh-on-Sea CC ringers, we were beaten by a team with a 13 year old and two girls).

After the usual team brekkie at The Arches the team set off in convoy to the picturesque countryside of north Essex, hangovers in tow.

Captain for the day Smith C won the toss and with a timed game decided upon, the MCC took to the field of play, ready for battle.

Sporting his slightly over-snug new Nike “skin,” Big Bird look-a-like Couzens opened the bowling with Tiger Tim Baker.

The pitch looked lively with some good bounce and carry, enough to keep the bowlers interested.

The ball beat the bat on a number of occasions but with Baker struggling with his line slightly, it was first change Daniel “sponge bath” Champ who struck first, Woodham skipper Brown tickling one as he tried to play a legside delivery.

Full credit must be given to Brown, who walked, despite only wicket-keeper Pidgeon appealing, setting a captain’s example for fair play and demonstrating that the desire to play the game in the right spirit is still very evident at Woodham CC.

At the other end the other Woodham opener Fawcett was displaying a dogged approach to his batting, blocking with a regularity that saw him score just two runs in the first hour.

We liked him!

Number 3 Maclachlan played in a more positive manner and the score gradually increased as both batters got their eye in.

Couzens continued to graft, in what would ultimately be a fruitless spell of 9-1-33-0 whilst it was good for all to see that Champ had rediscovered his methodical line and length that brought his so many wickets last year.

After this spell yielded no further results Aggus Snr was brought into the attack, fresh from his devastating spell against the Golden Lion and after seeing edges drop just short of, or fly over the top of, slip, bowled Maclachlan for 37.

Aggus snr’s attempts to further demonstrate his cricketing domination of the Aggus family, was completed later in the game when he bowled Fawcett for 34.

In the meantime, Gareth Turner was brought on for what could be his last spell of bowling for the MCC. After his customary ball over the top of the batsman’s head, Turner started to make use of the facilities, bowling every ball like it could be his last (he has a debilitating and ultimately fatal illness, you see). Bowling with decent pace, and a nagging line, he was unlucky not to take a wicket when one was put down wide of the wicket by the normally impeccable Pidgeon.

The next wicket to fall came from MCC debutant Jack Stratton, turning one viciously into Grundy, who edged behind to Pidgeon for just 1. He was unfortunate not to gain further reward when Aggus Jnr misjudged one at long off, seeing it bounce just in front of his, usually safe, hands.

The Woodham five and six batted well for the remainder of their innings, pushing singles and keeping the score ticking over, Payne falling at the last, run out by Pidgeon for 22, leaving Goodchild not out on 42 and Payne undefeated on 1.

A score of 192 to beat and although only five wickets had fallen there were plenty of positives from the MCC attack – some good bowling, reflected in the economic figures (Champ 5-0-9-1, Baker 4-0-15-0, Turner 6-0-27-0) and some sharp work in the field.

With the luxury of batting second, the Monties tore into the famed Woodham tea with barely disguised ferocity. Sandwiches were devoured, cakes guzzled; as food was almost inhaled it disappeared so quickly.

With the sun still shining and Champ opening the scoring, the game was well set for an intriguing second half.

Changes to the MCC order saw Baker opening the serving (sorry, that’s tennis), batting with Clayton.

Baker showed his intent by carving the very first ball past point for a boundary in what would go on to be a sparkling innings.

Clayton was watchful at the other end whilst Baker went on the offensive, including walking down the strip to young Payne and driving the ball back past him at a rate of knots.

Baker cut and drove his way to 34 before being caught off Woodham’s other opener – Barnard with the score on 48.

Smith C came to the crease at 3 and he and Clayton moved the score to 63 before Smith was caught for 11.

Turner was in at 4 and although Clayton went for 13 with the score at 77, he and Tom Smith at 5 put on a fifty partnership to ensure the draw and leave the MCC with the possibility of a second win.

Turner departed eventually for 28, having batted very well and Smith was joined by Stratton.

Smith continued to bat positively and finished on 38 not out, with 32 of those runs coming in boundaries, to roar to the top of the scoring charts.

Stratton also showed flashed of promise, finishing not out on 6.

Despite falling short of the required total, it was only by 20 runs and perhaps more importantly, only for the loss of four wickets.

It would not be untrue to claim that the MCC is improving on a game by game basis and that the feeling running through the team is that we can be competitive against anyone.

Next up – a rematch against Chequers.

Matthew Couzens

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