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Montgomery CC vs Runwell Commoners CC vs - Sunday 28th June 2009 - Lake Meadows

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

Fresh on the heels of the victory against Southend came the Monty’s first game against Runwell Commoners of Billericay.

Runwell were an unknown quantity, but following the victory against Southend the MCC were feeling positive and with several players in form, were ready for the challenge.

That was soured slightly by the “pavilion”, a concrete bunker which looked more suited to surviving a nuclear holocaust than laying on a Sunday friendly spread.

Also of interest was the pitch, which close inspection suggested would be “lively” and have no trouble keeping everyone on their toes.

Thus far the idealistic image created by the pleasant sounding name of Lake Meadows had turned out to be somewhat different in reality, although suspicions had already been raised by the opposition naming their club after the local loony bin.

It was another very hot and humid day, with the slightly surreal scene of cottonwood seed blowing across the pitch, making it look as though it were snowing, in 30 degree summer heat!

The Monty XI for the game saw the return of Leigh-on-Sea 1’s all rounder Steve Brown. Also returning to the line-up was Gareth Turner, continuing bravely with his fight against an aforementioned illness whilst also striving to become the world’s largest athlete, a status currently attributed to American Paul Wight – c.7ft and 35 stone.

Keep up the good work Gareth. You will get there.

The MCC also welcomed back Ollie Pidgeon behind the sticks and the MCC’s most delicate and subtle batsman, James “Crash, bang, wallop, no vegetables for me” Mooney.

It was to be another 40 over match and in a change to the normal routine it was the MCC who were to field first.

Runwell openers Tonkiss and Parsons strolled out to polite applause, with Champ to open the bowling for the fighting rats. Early wickets were the order of the day and with Champ in fine form it didn’t take him long to make the first inroad into the Runwell line-up as he bowled Parsons off his pads for 1.

Oakes in at three was soon to follow, bowled by Couzens for 4 as the MCC took the early initiative.

With the openers bowling a good line and keeping the run rate tight, Runwell regrouped with Tonkiss looking to work the ball into the gaps and push the singles hard.

Brown came into the attack with his collection of wily slower balls and cutters and got himself on the wicket tally by removing number 4 Smith for 9, caught and bowled. The MCC looked to press home their advantage but Tonkiss and skipper Oakes played well and moved the total towards three figures.

After surviving a few lbw shouts, Tonkiss got his comeuppance for trying to push the singles a little too hard when Brown deflected an Oakes drive onto the stumps with Tonkiss well out of his ground.

Runwell were now 91-4 but still had plenty of overs to post a respectable total. Aggus Snr, was on the money as ever in a typically accurate spell and Mooney combined the shorter delivery well with some fuller length bowling. Smith T also showcased his seam up in a strong three over period.

The pitch was, as expected, playing in a different way almost every ball, some rearing up, others shooting along the floor.

However, despite a good showing from the MCC attack and the unpredictable nature of the pitch, Runwell were now picking up their scoring with Oakes and Stevenson playing well. Could it be that Runwell were about to free themselves from the restraints of the MCC bowling straitjacket?

Skipper Smith brought himself on for a bit of variation with his slow right arm off breaks, but was unable to find the breakthrough as Runwell moved past 150.

It was the returning Daniel Champ who got the wicket that the MCC were looking for, bowling Oakes for 53 with Runwell now 153-5.

What was needed now was some containment as time progressed towards the latter stage of Runwell’s 40 overs.

Unfortunately despite good work from Brown and Aggus Snr, Couzens was unable to keep the scoring down, his last two overs being blasted for 23 runs as Runwell set a solid 202-5 from 40, Stevenson finishing unbeaten on 52.

Champ was the pick of the bowlers – finishing with 8-0-36-2 with Brown backing up well with 7-0-40-1 and Couzens’ final spell letting down what would have been a reasonable 8-0-34-1.

Tea was most agreeable despite the cold war surroundings and talk naturally centred around the possibility of the MCC chasing down over five an over.

With that in mind it was time to get dangerous. Skipper Smith unfurled the Hero 808 and promoted himself ten spots to opener!

With MCC all time leading run scorer Aggus in tow, fireworks were assured and the MCC got straight down to business with… a maiden. Kaboom! Smith launched Butler for a four in response and talk on the sidelines revolved around whether we would see five maximums in an over from the Chinook and see Aggus record his fourth half century of the season.

Unfortunately lady luck had other ideas and Williams picked up his first wicket as Aggus played on for the dreaded duck.

Mooney was in at three and was almost out first ball as he went straight on the offensive against Williams but saw his top edged shot land safely over the keeper.

A further two runs to Smith saw Mooney facing Butler and he didn’t hang about – in true Mooney fashion he watched the first ball (quite conservative for him actually), then carved him for four second ball, then blasting a massive maximum over mid on, losing the match ball in the process.

The MCC were now 18-1 off four and just shy of the run rate. If Mooney could keep in then there was every chance of keeping in touch with the target.

Williams though was bowling an excellent line, full and straight (Couzens was terrified on the sidelines – “Surely it shouldn’t be allowed!”) and he lanced one through the defences of Smith C to bowl him for 6.

That sent Brown to the crease and he immediately set of for a single, leaving Mooney at the mercy of Williams. Regrettably, mercy was in short supply and another ball arrowed through the guard of a Monty, leaving Mooney bowled for 11, Williams having taken 3 wickets for four balls, off three overs and the MCC were quivering at 23-3.

Smith T joined the fray at five and in need of some runs urgently if he wanted to challenge in the run race again this year.

He played carefully as he and Brown tried to settle, whilst still conscious of the run rate ticking up.

Brown played himself in and began to time the ball nicely, taking two fours off Butler, whilst Smith blocked out two maidens against Williams, who now had 5-3-3-4, damn his eyes!

There was still time for the Monties, but they needed a partnership. Again the pitch decided to intervene as first Smith T was bowled by Butler for 1 and then further disaster struck when one pea-rolled along the floor to skittle Brown for 12.

Montgomery CC now 39-5.


Couzens joined Pidgeon at the crease and the two of them attempted to keep the good ship Montgomery afloat. Pidgeon had hit 27 and 38 in his two games thus far in 2009 so was in good nick and decided Williams had had it all his own way thus far and cracked two fours off his seventh over.

Couzens also got in on the action and drove Butler for one before hitting a tiring Williams’ half volley for another boundary.

The Monties moved past 50 but again misfortune struck, this time it was Pidgeon playing on for 10.

Clayton was in at eight and Couzens passed on some pearls about defending anything straight and was then promptly rapped on the pads by Oakes’ first delivery - a straight one and sent on his way lbw for nine.


Turner joined Clayton at the crease and showcased evidence of his increasing muscle by hitting the unfortunate Bean back over his head to raucous approval from the MCC ranks.

Clayton was yet to score and looking to get off the mark mistimed a shot off Bean and was caught for a blob. Turner followed one run later when Runwell threatened to bring on a faster bowler, but was by now the top scorer with 14!

Things were looking decidedly grim with the fighting rats collapsing in mouse like fashion to 73-9 and looking likely to record their weakest score of the season by well over 50 runs.

Fortunately help was at hand and the rats finally recorded a partnership worthy of the name as Aggus Snr and Champ played their shots as Brown serenading them with Earthsong on the sidelines whilst the other Monties cheered every scoring stroke.

Champ looked a changed man from earlier seasons as he made Bean look like Mr. Bean, hitting him for three consecutive boundaries as Runwell’s decision to forget about drinks at 20 overs began to look like arrogant presumption!

A roar of approval greeted first the hundred mark and then the fifty partnership as both players advanced into the mid twenties.

Alas though, all good things must come to an end and Champ was finally out for 22, Aggus Snr finishing on 24* with the score on 125 and the Monties showing some fight at the end.

Matthew Couzens

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