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Montgomery CC vs South Fambridge CC - Sunday 18th April 2010 - Rayleigh

C. Smith, M. Aggus, J. Gillies, A. Heath, O. Pidgeon, R. Clayton, M. Couzens, K. Baker (cpt), T. Smith, D. Champ, J. Aggus


hus it was, that on the 18th April in the year 2010 After Dan, that most venerable of cricketing institutions – Montgomery CC, took to the field for the first game of the new campaign.

In the first of their seventeen 40-over matches this season, the fighting rats would be pitting their wits and not unsizeable ability against a new foe – South Fambridge of Rayleigh.

On a glorious afternoon devoid of cloud (or Icelandic volcanic ash for that matter, despite the best efforts of the easily pronounceable Eyjafjallajoekull), the Monties were going to start proceedings in bat.

The 2010 Montgomery team continued the consistent tone of 2009 with all the regular campaigners in action. This included Aggus Jnr, Aggus Better, the newly slimline but still hugely headed Baker, Lieutenant Dan (Champ), Mr. Hold that pose Clayton, the ferociously quick in the field Couzens, I haven’t picked up a bat since last season Gillies, ICBM arm Heath, the shin-snapper “El Destructo” Pidgeon, the even more slimline Smith C and the man with the van Smith T.

With the inspirational view of Cap’n Baker’s Bananaman pants still fresh in their minds, Smith C and Aggus the younger, strolled into the April sunshine to do battle.

Initial viewings suggested that the longish grass in the outfield would mean little value for shots on the deck – perhaps it was time for the Dangerman’s five maximum salvo in an over? Time would tell.

Opening the bowling for South Fambridge was South African import Du Plesis, apparently the opening bowler for Ashingdon Saturday I’s. Great!

Despite bowling a wide with his second ball, he was soon coming through at a good lick and with plenty of outswing.

At the other end the bearded Grech was also keeping things tight.

After five overs the Monties had crawled to three courtesy of the wide from Du Plesis and two byes. However, crucially, the wickets count read zero.

In the sixth over, the first runs finally came off the bat as Smith cut Grech for four.

No such damage could be inflicted on the figures of Du Plesis who finished with figures of 4-3-1-0, a reasonable economy rate of 0.25! In the eyes of John Aggus though, that remains expensive!

Meanwhile, Aggus Jnr and Smith were starting to put some runs on the board and had advanced to 24 before Aggus top-edged a pull off first change Lebond and was caught for 12.

Gillies was in at three but looked slightly rusty, having not batted since last season and managed only five before being bowled, giving Lebond his second wicket.

This brought Alex Heath to the middle and the score had moved to 35 when Fambridge struck again, this time it was Smith, bowled for nine by Spratt.

Pidgeon was in at five and with two of the Monty’s most attacking players at the crease; the momentum of the innings was immediately on the rise.

Pidgeon had flayed all comers to all parts in the nets and he looked in the mood for punishing the Fambridge bowlers for their impudence in taking three Montgomery wickets.

Unfortunately, the need to boost the impetus of the innings meant taking risks was a necessary evil and when Pidgeon drove to mid-off the cursed Du Plesis was waiting to swoop on the stumps when the ball was fired back in and El Destructo was run out for 13.

With the Fighting Rats in the midst of their customary wobble, Clayton had set a course for the crease, meanwhile Fambridge brought on the interestingly named Binman, their eighth bowler and he adopted an aggressive length against Heath, bowling consistently short.

However South Fambridge demonstrated that behind the hostile approach, they still play the game in the right spirit, calling back Heath after he’d been given out to one that had reared up and looked to have taken him on the glove, but had in fact hit him on the arm.

On the sidelines, talk was of Heath teaching the refuse collector a lesson for having a ridiculous name and bowling yet more short pitched deliveries, unfortunately, Heath had only added one to his score when he top-edged yet another short one and departed for 12.

Couzens joined Clayton in the middle and was able to offer some helpful advice on dealing with Binman – “they’ve all been short, so just be ready for more of the same.” Sagely indeed, especially when Clayton’s first delivery from Binman was a full pitched toe crusher which hit middle stump.

Sorry Roberto.

Baker, followed soon after for a blob, bowled by another full one from the ruler of rubbish, the emperor of effluent, the warlord of waste, the sovereign of shite, the liege of litter, the guru of garbage – yes you’ve guessed it, that pesky Binman – too busy bowling out Monty bats it’s no wonder you have to wait bloody days after a bank holiday to get your bin bags collected.

Anyway, we digress, Couzens was now joined by Smith T and they tried to get the innings back on track as Montgomery were still toiling towards three figures with only five overs of the forty left.

There was still time for South Fambridge to again demonstrate their sportsmanship by calling Smith T back, after he too had been given out, as a shy at the stumps saw the bails come off, but with the hand only!

Regrettably, like Heath, Smith was only able to add one to his score after his reprieve, before he was caught at mid off, trying to keep the score moving.

The Monty number nine was sent for and despite the rumour abounding that he’d passed his 2010th birthday, the Champion was soon jogging to the crease.

He and Couzens added another 18 runs – mainly due to some opportunistic shots from Jesus, sorry, Dan (that pesky youngster keeps stealing your limelight doesn’t he DC)?

A couple of rare beauties included a Chinese cut through his own legs and a pull shot for three that was played almost behind his head – take note ye of the IPL!

Montgomery CC 110-8 off 40 overs. Excellent work by our most reliable bat – Mr. Extras, again top scorer with 28. Jolly good show.

The South Fambridge tea was excellent and after all had had their fill it was time for the Monty bowling attack to earn its spurs if this modest total was to be defended.

Baker opened things up against another fantastically name Fambridgian – J. Vile, with Healey taking guard at the other end.

The new bowling action and svelte physique was obviously doing the trick as Baker kept things tight.

Couzens opened from the other end and also kept the score down.

A decent start from the Monties and with plenty of further ammunition in the bowling magazine, hope yet abounded.

Baker was the first strike as Healey’s Essex shirt availed him not at all and the Monties rejoiced at the crash of ash.

Couzens came in for some tap from number three Frost, but when he top-edged a pull into the on-side, Aggus was lurking at cover and despite the ball swirling around in the glorious blue of this Sunday afternoon, he held on and now South Fambridge were two down.

Time for a bowling change and in came John Aggus and Dan Champ. Dan has long nurtured his young apprentice and John was ready to come of age yet again for the Fighting Rats.

Immediate in-roads were made into the South Fambridge card, as John first removed the vile Vile, when a chip was excellently caught by Smith C.

Then Champ bowled Charles lbw and suddenly, despite the early onslaught by Vile and Frost helping South Fambridge past the fifty mark, the Monties were amongst them!

The indominatable Aggus then had Jones caught – another fantastic catch, this time by Smith T. In came Frost...and then off he went again! Two in two for John Aggus, Champ taking another remarkable catch.

A hush went through the Montgomery ranks – twice before a Monty bowler has taken two in two, but never before has the hat-trick been completed.

Who was this batsman stalking towards this middle? None other than Binman himself!

The Monties prowled round the bat, close in all over the pitch and a feeling of expectation permeated through the field.

Surely there could be no escape? Alas yes. A solid forward defensive put paid to those hat-trick plans for a little longer at least.

In the meantime, not satisfied with one wicket and a catch, Champ then bowled Frost Snr for one and with Fambridge still needing thirty odd, the game was finely poised.

Unfortunately one major factor was yet to be accounted for – Du Plesis.

Strolling in at number nine, he immediately sent Champ to the fence.

There was still time for T. Smith to get in on the action and he at least had the satisfaction of removing Binman, plucked out the air by Champ for his second catch (I’m not sure that even Jesus did that).

In an attempt to quell this late surge by Du Plesis, Baker brought himself back into the attack but unfortunately to no avail and South Fambridge got home with two wickets to spare.

Many plus points from the game – the 40 overs used, runs, albeit few, for just about everyone, cracking catches as almost every presentable opportunity was snaffled in the field and more excellent bowling – special mention for D. Champ – 6-0-24-2 and particularly for John Aggus – 6-2-8-3!

And if nothing else, we could all take heart from Arsenal crashing to a 3-2 defeat having been 2-0 up after 80 minutes.

Next up, a return to the Garrison and a game against Westley. Up the MCC!

Matthew Couzens

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