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Montgomery CC vs Westley CC - Sunday 26th April 2009 - Shoebury Garrison

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

After only one victory in their maiden season of 2006 and no victories in 2007, the Montgomery CC enjoyed their most successful season to date in 2008 with four victories and one draw to sit alongside five defeats.

So how would Essex’s favourite cricketing institution perform in 2009?

The season opener was against new opposition – Westley CC and was to be held at The Fortress Shoebury Garrison where the MCC have a positive record of two victories and one defeat in their three games there.

On a sunny afternoon at the end of April we set our scene then, expectation in the air, comedy underwear from the skipper replacing any requirement for a pre-match pep talk.

Questions such as:

“Will Gareth make it through to the end of the season, it’s such a shame, it really is.”

“Just how many times will Dan play “the champ” this year?”

“Why is the skipper’s head like a small moon?”

“Why is Mark’s Dad so much better than he is?”

…were mulled over in the dressing room.

The MCC was fielding its most successful 11 and welcomed back O. Pidgeon behind the sticks following his broken wrist at the end of last season.

In a 40 over match the Fighting Rats were put into bat by the opposition skipper and regular openers K. Baker and R. Clayton strolled out to take guard for the first ball of the season, hopes high amongst the team for a strong start.

However, Montgomery would not be the world renowned institution that it is if the plucky fighting rats were not forced to battle back from adversity with regularity!

With only one over gone Baker was sent on his way lbw for a duck.

Fortunately the captain’s temperament when confronted with a hint of misfortune is rock solid.

He certainly didn’t march past his teammates in stony silence and then hurl his bat around the changing room whilst loudly swearing about the teammate who had given him out.

With last season’s top scorer back in the pavilion without scoring it was down to Aggus the younger to steady the ship with other MCC opener R. Clayton.

However the MCC had only moved to 15 when another lbw shout rocked the Montgomery. This time it was Aggus, triggered for 4.

When Smith T then departed for a duck, bowled and then Clayton followed soon after for 11 the MCC was in the midst of a customary wobble at 23-4.

At least Couzens could be relied on to keep out the straight one, cover driving Mulchinock’s first ball for 4, before remembering that his more usual shot was the ungainly push across the line.

With normal service safely resumed he was bowled next ball for 8, by the straight one.

Montgomery CC 27-5.

Not quite the auspicious start we were hoping for!

Fortunately the MCC still had both the elegant Brown and the extravagant Pidgeon in reserve.

Both batsmen played beautifully as a partnership worth 64 was meticulously put together. Brown playing with poise and placement, Pidgeon playing with power and precision.

Pidgeon had moved to 27 before he was caught off the bowling of Malox.

Brown soldiered on, bringing up his maiden Monty 50 with a crunching maximum. With late runs added by Turner (3), Aggus Snr (13) and Champ (5), the MCC battled to 150 all out off 39 overs with Brown top scoring with 56 and Smith C finishing not out on 0.

After a sumptuous tea provided by Couzens and Baker, featuring arguably the greatest tuna mayo sarnies the world has yet seen, the Monties marched back to the field of play knowing that a strong bowling performance would be required to prevent Westley reaching the modest target of 150 in their 40 overs.

Champ and Couzens opened the bowling and it didn’t take them long to make inroads into the Westley lineup.

Champ struck first having C. Pilley edge behind for 1. Couzens landed the next blow, having Molloy caught behind as well by the excellent Pidgeon.

When Champ then caught 4th man in, G. Pilley, off his own bowling (his first catch for the Monties in his 4th season), Westley were having a wobble of their own at 7-3.

C. Duck and P. Taylor began the job of rebuilding the innings and played some attractive shots as Westly moved the total north of 30. However, the Montgomery have a solid back catalogue of bowlers these days and with Aggus Snr, fresh from outscoring his son, straight back into his miserly line and length and grenade twirler Smith tossing up some offbreaks, it wasn’t long before the 4th wicket went down, Taylor caught off Smith for 13.

When MCC youth team bowler Turner scurried in to get rid of Duck, caught and bowled for 21, the Monties were looked in a strong position and on course for an unlikely victory.

Naturally that was the cue for Westley to begin a fightback with B. Porter in at 6, trying to drag the scoring rate up as he moved past 25.

This brought MCC skipper K. Baker into the fray, who produced an excellent spell, conceding only 18 runs off his 8 overs and crucially removing Porter for 27.

With Aggus Snr also amongst them, Westley’s required rate continued to lengthen and the fighting rats could smell victory.

With the age old adage that wickets are the best means of slowing the run rate, Aggus Snr got his just desserts for an excellent spell, taking two late wickets, Tarrant lbw and Howe bowled.

When Quested was smartly run out for 15 by Pidgeon after good work by Smith T, Westley were on the brink.

This left last men in Mulchinock and Andrews at the crease but with too much to do and Westley fell short of their target by 27 runs, scoring 123 in their 40 overs with extras the highest scorer on 36!

An excellent fielding display by the Monties with special mentions for D. Champ: 8-2-18-2 and J. Aggus: 8-0-23-2 with wickets also taken by Couzens, Smith C, Baker and Turner.

The 2009 season hadn’t looked to be getting off to the best start when the Monties were wobbling at 27-5, but thanks to the batting endeavours of Brown and Pidgeon and an all round strong performance in the field, the Monties record for this season now reads played one, won one.

An excellent start gentlemen.

Matthew Couzens

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