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Montgomery CC vs Chequers CC - Sunday 10th August 2008 - Canewdon

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

A

h Montgomery, undefeated in two games, sharp in the field, bowling well, batting better and now with a chance to make amendments for the poorest showing so far in 2008.

A chance to avenge the humiliating defeat in the inaugural home game at Shoebury Garrison.

A chance to visit crushing retribution on this cricketing foe, a chance for revenge, for reprisal.

For vengeance.

The task for the fighting rats? To travel to the very heart of the enemy – to do battle on their home pitch and with only ten men.

How best to prepare for this Herculean task? MCC wicket keeper led the way in the pre-match preparations – staying up for 36 hours on a binge drinking extravaganza that would have reduced Oliver Reed, George Best and Ozzy Osborne to whimpering for the Alka Seltza.

After some rather ropey looking breakfast at the usual feeding haunt and a lengthy drive in convoy, the MCC arrived at the setting for the approaching contest.

The Monties won the toss and decided to field. After the debacle at the Garrison was this a sensible choice?

There Chequers had reached the paltry target of 117 for the loss of just one batsman (with one retiring after recording a half century) in only 16.4 overs.

However, as Churchill once said “If you are going through hell, keep going.” After the pain of such a crushing defeat in their inaugural home game, the fighting rats had a score to settle.

Today there would be a display of endeavour, of blood, sweat and tears.

There was no doubt that this would be a different game and after the timed game against Woodham, this was to be a 40 over game – meaning, that for better or worse, there would be a result.

MCC opening bowlers Couzens and Champ began proceedings with purpose and quickly discovered some extra bounce in the pitch.

A short pitched delivery got rid of Russell for 1, a top edge going straight up to Pidgeon, who managed to clutch correctly, the one of many balls he was seeing!

In the next over Daniel Champ had Joslin caught at leg slip by a terrified looking Couzens who had wandered in absentmindedly from fine leg.

From there Chequers fought back with Riley playing some nice strokes.

The score reached 40-2 before the next wicket fell – Ryan top edging another short ball from Couzens and being snaffled by Smith T for 5.

Couzens struck again the next over, with (wait for it), another short ball that lifted and led to another false stroke, this time caught by Clayton.

The MCC’s blood was up.

Brown was introduced for Champ and bowled a fine spell of swing bowling that restricted the score and had the Chequers batters playing and missing with regularity.

Bowling in tandem with Baker who replaced Couzens, they made further inroads into the Chequers middle order – Baker having Riley caught behind by Pidgeon for 30 and Brown removing Lunn caught and bowled.

Chequers were wobbling.

Now was the time to twist the knife. And who better to do this than the young looking man with a grudge against God and the rest of the world for his unfortunate affliction – Gareth Turner.

More excellent bowling ensued from the MCC’s armoury of seam bowlers.

Turner struck in his third over, having Holmes caught behind and giving Pidgeon his third catch, despite taking a fearful pounding from the ball in his semi-conscious state.

With Baker cleaning up Chequers youngster Chaplin with a beauty for a duck, the home side were eight down.

However, Pooley and Grich battled, Pooley playing some authoritative shots as they put on a 20 partnership.

At this point, the skipper threw the ball to MCC’s veteran strike bowler Daniel Champ for a second spell. Champ, despite taking an early wicket had been struggling for line in his opening spell and had cut a forlorn figure in the covers thereafter.

However, from somewhere he summoned a gem of a ball which lanced through the previously watertight defences of Pooley, like a knife through butter.

Off stump was pinned back and a snarling Champ, pummelled the backs and hands of his celebrating team mates, in a rare display of rage charged emotion.

Grich didn’t last long against such an onslaught and Champ fired another salvo into the breach to bowl him for 9, leaving Sams not out on zero.

Chequers bowled out for 113 in 38 overs with extras by far the highest score on 40.

An achievable target.

So, how best to approach this? A slow but steady accumulation of runs, avoiding risks and ensuring the victory in a sensible manner?

I think not. Mercy is for the weak.

Baker and Clayton strolled to the crease and the demolition began. Despite the early setback of losing Clayton for a duck, Baker and Aggus then put on a century partnership.

Baker unleashed a barrage of attacking stokes – including five sixes. Aggus played more conservatively but acted as the perfect foil to Baker’s battering ram.

Chequers used seven bowlers as they varied their attack to make the breakthrough but despite a caught behind shout off Aggus and some dropped catches off Baker, they were never in the running.

Baker raced to a half century – going to fifty with a huge six over deep mid-wicket and continued before finally falling on 77.

Couzens came in at 4 but Aggus scored the winning runs, finishing on 34 not out as the Montgomery won by 8 wickets in their most comprehensive victory yet.

Vengeance achieved and the MCC now has two wins and a draw in their last three games.

Wakering are next into the firing line.

Matthew Couzens

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