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Golden Lion CC vs Montgomery CC - Sunday 23rd May 2010 - Shoebury Park

Montgomery CC: A. Drake, D. Champ, C. Smith (cpt), O. Pidgeon, M. Aggus, R. Clayton, M. Couzens, T. Smith, J. Mooney, J. Aggus

The Golden Lion Cricket Club... A name that causes clenched fist and gritted teeth amongst the ranks of Montgomery CC. For five years now these two cricketing behemoths have traded blows on the field of play but despite some very close games, the Lion currently lead 4-1! On a scorching day at Shoebury Park the MCC prepared to rectify this statistical error and put the Lion firmly back in its cage.

The Fighting Rats welcomed back John "the kid" Aggus, whilst James "I'm never playing again" Mooney was showing you can never say never as far as Montgomery CC is concerned. With Ashley "I'm a left hander but I'll make do with right hander's gloves" Drake also back for his second game in succession, the ten men of Montgomery were ready for anything.

Captain Smith lost the toss and the MCC were mercilessly put into the field by Lion Skipper Ward, though he did sportingly make up the shortfall in MCC numbers with some Lion fielders. Suspicious glances abounded as Lion tweaker and taker of eleven Monty wickets over the years; Sams took up position at cover.

Couzens and Champ opened the bowling, Couzens averaging half a wicket a game at the moment but the evergreen Champ again an early contender for most wickets.

Despite the greenish tinge there didn't appear to be a great deal of seam movement on offer, though the last week of excellent weather was making for some decent carry.

Couzens began with a maiden but it was Champ's first over which was to have an immediate impact as Lion stalwart and run machine against the MCC, Salt, top edged his first ball straight to Pidgeon!

The perfect start for Champ and the Monties.

That brought T. Harp to the crease at three, a new face in the Lion side and he immediately served notice by sending a Couzens long hop to the mid-wicket fence.

At the other end Champ was well into his stride and took his second wicket with the score on nine as the Lion's other opener Burton was sent back to the "pavilion", also without scoring, caught at cover by Sams, his eleven wickets momentarily forgotten.

Golden Lion skipper Ward was in at four and he blocked out his first over.

A promising start for the Montgomery.

Harp had showed his intention to go hard early on and he continued in this vein, swiping anything short of a length into the on-side, leading to an expensive fourth over for Couzens.

After Champ had also bowled his 4th over, Skipper Smith, mindful of the temperature, rotated his strike force and brought Smith T and Aggus Snr into the attack.

Harp now had his eye fully in and continued to trade in boundaries, peppering the mid wicket and square leg boundary, as the tank engine was punished for anything short.

Aggus Snr wasn't standing for any nonsense though and had both Ward and Harp looking uncertain outside the off stump. With the sun beating down and both Ward and Harp on the attack, the MCC looked a little shell-shocked as Harp raced to his fifty and shortly after the Lion passed 100.

Suddenly catches were going down and mis-fields were starting to creep in as the Montgomery reeled from the Lion batting barrage.

Smith T finished his 4th over but Aggus Snr continued as he seemed the most likely to get the breakthrough. Smith C brought himself on to bowl, having taken six wickets in his last ten overs and with the MCC in serious need of a breakthrough as the Lion run rate was surging past seven an over.

Smith's knack of taking important wickets continued though as Harp played on for an 87 in under fifty balls. The Lion was now 145-3, with Ward and Harp having put on 136 for the third wicket.

Fortunately the 4th wicket partnership was worth one hundred and thirty less as Ward also departed, giving John Aggus a thoroughly deserved wicket, when a swirling catch was taken by who else other than Clayton! Ward gone for a brutal 44, including three sixes.

Drinks were taken and the revitalised Monties were able to target two new batsmen - Palmer in at five and the Adelaide Express/Melbourne Milkfloat/Brisbane Bubble Car, Carter, at six.

Aggus bowled out and Smith finished his fourth over and brought Mooney on to replace him. Jade was straight on the money (despite being dead) and his left arm initially reined in an attack minded Carter.

Aggus replaced Aggus as Keano was brought on for some flight and guile and the unfortunate Palmer was drawn into the web of deceit when he was well caught by sub fielder O. Harp.

Whoever said beware of Greeks bearing gifts obviously hadn't accounted for the fact that it was the Lion sub fielders who were keeping the Fighting Rats in the game!

Unfortunately the Aggus breakthrough had come at the cost of another fifty partnership, with the Lion now 202-5 and with Carter still going strong.

Cockell in at seven tweaked his back early on and had to send for a runner, but continued to play well with Carter and even a three over blitz from El Destructo was unable to dislodge him, despite some fizzing bouncers. Champ was seen to be wincing as Pidgeon gritted his teeth menacingly, but this wasn't a flashback to nets and a Pidgeon brute hitting the Peach in the ribs, Champ was just feeling the after effects of a pulled groin sustained earlier in the game.

Carter meanwhile was able to go on the attack as the Lion innings moved into its latter stages and he reached his fifty before the returning Champ was able to send him on his way for 60.

In that time though another hundred partnership had been put on and the Lion was now 307-6, the second highest score conceded by the MCC.

Cockell finished unbeaten on 34 with number eight Sloman on 4*.

Golden Lion 311-6 off 40.

A rather dispiriting effort in the baking sunshine with four MCC bowlers going for ten an over, some sloppy fielding and only Champ's 8-0-54-3 and economical efforts from Aggus Snr and Mooney anything to write home about.

After some calculations over tea the Fighting Rats mathematicians ascertained that the target rate to chase down this whopping score was 7.8 an over.

Daniel "H-Bomb" Champ and Ashley "Armageddon" Shore were sent out to get the innings off to a flier. Unfortunately there, licking his lips at the prospect of these fledging Monty openers, was none other than MCC nemesis Sams, all memories of catches in the covers gone!

Lining up at the other end was his usual partner in economy, Bailey.

Sure enough, the first two overs went for just a run each. Champ decided that attack was the way forward and throwing that straight bat nonsense into the proverbial gutter, launched a devastating Champ at Sams. Unfortunately it didn't quite pay off and the easily bruised one was on his way for a blob.

Drake followed two balls later, for three and suddenly from the relatively secure, if not spectacular position of 2-0, the MCC was whimpering at 4-2.

At least the run rate had now exploded from 1.0 to 1.3, meaning a piffling 308 was now needed from 222 balls at 8.3 an over.

Attack, attack, attack from the Fighting Rates next over? Ah, no. Maiden.

With the openers now gone, Captain Daniel "Crabby" Nik-Nak-De-Vito at three and El Destructo at four were now charged with getting the innings back on track as soon as possible.

The Trebuchet nurdled away whilst Pidgeon went on the attack, though there was, dare I even venture to suggest it, the odd defensive shot mixed in there.

The two of them had moved the score on to 27 when Sams struck for the third time, giving young Bailey his second catch and sending Smith back for five.

Aggus entered the fray at five and the ship was again steadied.

Both batsmen were looking to play themselves into a bit of form and with the temperature having dropped it was now a lovely late afternoon for batting, even if the score was now getting out of reach, there was certainly still ample opportunity for the MCC batsmen to try and play themselves into a bit of form.

Pidgeon announced that he was starting to see the ball well in the twelfth over, when he launched Bailey for a maximum to the approval of his watching comrades.

Aggus also started to find the gaps with some boundaries of his own.

The score reached 64 when Pidgeon was caught off the slow left arm of Sloman, for a rapid 37.

Clayton joined Aggus in the middle but the score had only progressed to 79 when Aggus departed, bowled by Harp for a respectable 23.

Clayton's brief cameo was over shortly after when he was out for 5, also caught off the bowling of Sloman. Couzens and T. Smith were now occupying the crease and Smith was immediately onto the attack. Couzens was content to play second fiddle and opted for singles whilst Smith took the fight to the Lion bowlers including one textbook cover drive for four off Harp.

The pair put on 63 before Smith fell for an excellent 35.

Mooney was in at nine and in typical Mooney fashion looked to play his shots from the outset. One drive into the off-side suggested things could get expensive for the Lion if Mooney got his eye in properly but Harp was able to get a full one through his defences early on and he departed for three.

John Aggus was the last man at number ten and he charitably gave Couzens the lion share of the strike (against the Golden Lion - what wordplay you get treated to lucky readers), so that he could reach his fifty off the penultimate ball, though a number of his teammates suggested Couzens had let the side down by not achieving the required rate in the final over - a mere 130 - just 21.6 per delivery. Weak, Couzens.

So a solid score of 180-8 off their 40, but the damage was done in the Golden Lion innings, though heart could be taken from a number of batsmen getting some runs.

Back to the fortress next week and a first encounter with the Island Taverners.

Matthew Couzens

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