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Montgomery CC vs Golden Lion CC - Sunday 20th June 2010 - The Garrison

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

5-1... Not, I'm afraid, the scoreline in the world cup final (as reported in North Korea), when Kim Jong Il came off the bench to score five goals in injury time as North Korea put a combined USA/England side to the sword for the fourth world cup running.

Nor the scoreline when a Daniel Champ inspired Gomorrah thrashed Sodom, shortly before God decided to clear up what had been a fairly dirty game, with a spot of fire and brimstone.

No, 5-1 is in fact the scoreline between Golden Lion CC and Montgomery CC with the Big Cats of Rochford currently very much in the ascendancy.

With the Monties now back at the Fortress where they hold a 3-1 winning record in 2010, the hope was that home advantage would count for something and get the fighting rats back to winning ways against the Lion.

Captain Daniel Nik Nak Pin Head Crabby De Vito was charged with landing the initial body blow by winning the toss for the first time this season.

Tails finally failed to fail and the man with more staples than an FA dossier on England's abysmal performances in South Africa put the Lion into the field.

With the injured Smith coming in at eleven, the potentially explosive combination of Pidgeon and Drake opened things up for the Monties.

Naturally Phil Sams was menacingly marking out his four pace run-up and ready to subject more valiant Monties to some right arm economical.

However, having faced 90mph against hopeful MCC recruit Mr. B. Machine at Writtle on Saturday, Pidgeon was ready even for the dreaded Sams and launched his third ball back over his head for a one bounce four. The next ball got the same treatment and a further single meant that Sam's first over had cost nine.

In a change to the usual bowling line up Captain Ward opened up from the other end but the change was successful as El Destructo chased a wide one and was caught at point for a swift 10.

Threadgold was in at three and he blocked out the remainder of Ward's over.

Having been given some initial tap, Sam's response in his second over was a predictable one. Wicket maiden - damn and blast! Drake bowled for one and the Monties required steadying.

Aggus Jnr was in at four and he and Threadgold blocked out against the probing Ward and questioning Sams.

Ward took himself off after four overs and brought new MCC recruit Bailey into the attack as the Lion continued to besiege the Monty line-up.

Bailey was giving Aggus plenty of verbal encouragement to have a go and after playing it safe for a number of deliveries, the lesser of the Aggi took the bait and aimed an agricultural mow at his twentieth ball and fell for four.

The MCC was now 32-3.

Threadgold remained though and was now starting to see the ball well. Baker had now joined him at five and the two actually managed an all run four, despite Baker wheezing "Stop, stop!" after three, much to the amusement of his teammates on the sidelines.

The two of them put on twenty for the fourth wicket before Baker was also lured into the trap by Bailey and smarty stumped by Palmer for three.

Clayton was in at six and with the Monties precariously balanced at 52-4 but with more than half their overs remaining, he was happy to keep one end tight whilst Threadgold played the strokes.

And that was the way of it. Clayton blocking anything straight and Threadgold gradually increasing the momentum of his innings.

Sams had bowled straight through, as did Bailey who finished with excellent figures of 8-4-13-2. Ward brought the pace of Harp and the spin of Sloman to bear upon the Monty three and six but they were equal to it.

Threadgold reached his fifty from just shy of seventy balls and now looked to accelerate. Content to push Harp's accurate seam up for singles, he was more aggressive against Sloman.

Vogue, who had been slumbering in a world of forward defensives, awoke at last and began to play some attacking shots, though usually followed with a practice forward defensive or two.

On the sidelines the watching Monties waited with baited breath to see if Threadgold could join the exclusive centurion club, currently inhabited only by Sean Elliot.

The nerves on the sidelines didn't appear to be matched in the middle as Threadgold calmly played his shots, picking gaps in the field with precision and from only one hundred and eight deliveries brought up his century.

Warmly applauded by both sides, Threadgold added a further five runs before he was finally out, bowled by the returning Ward for a fantastic 105. Bravo JT!

That had lifted the score to 142-5, Threadgold and Clayton having put on ninety runs and dragged the Monties into a much stronger position.

There was still work to be done nonetheless - the Lion had posted over three hundred in their last innings against the MCC and has chased down over two hundred as well when batting second.

T. Smith who had been prowling the sidelines, padded up for over an hour, desperate to get into the middle and start swinging the willow, was finally given his chance. Unfortunately Ward rapped him on the pads first ball, up went the finger and that was that!

Couzens was in at eight and survived the hat-trick ball, swung the bat a bit and then watched in amazement as Harp Jnr managed to pluck a full blooded Clayton pull out of the air at mid-wicket off Salt.

Clayton gone for a belligerent, brigadier block knock of nineteen.

Aggus Snr marched into the middle and but like T. Smith before him, also went for a golden, as he tried unselfishly to force the pace. Champ, the MCC's number ten joined Couzens in the middle with only a few balls of the forty overs remaining. Salt was on a hatrick and came agonizingly close to claiming it as Champ chipped the ball just over his head. Could this be a new shot to add to "The Champ" from the peach - the Tentative Tease? Only time will tell.

The MCC thus finished on 171-8 with Smith thankfully not needing to risk his damaged head for the cause.

Tea followed and the Monties were left to ponder whether 170 was a good enough score against a Lion side containing the same batsmen who had bludgeoned 300 odd in their last encounter at Shoebury Park.

With Smith remaining on the sidelines, Baker took charge of proceedings on the field and the Lion again sportingly provided a sub fielder.

Burton and Salt made their way out to the crease having watched; slightly bemusedly no doubt, as the entire Monty team ran through some imaginary drills with a non-existent ball, mainly involving leg side wides, drops and getting out of the way of anything that might sting the palms.

Once the action got going for real however, the Monties looked far more credible as Champ and Aggus Snr opened things up against Salt and Burton.

Salt who had so often proved the scourge of the Monty bowling side, had gone cheaply in the last game and did again here, Smith T banishing his first baller with an excellent tumbling catch at deep mid-wicket.

Harp was in at three and the Monties needed no reminding of his fifty ball eighty in the previous game. Harp's liking of the on-side was to prove his undoing in this game though; playing across the line he was bowled for a duck by Champ.

That fired up the fighting rats with the Lion 9-2 and two of their most dangerous batsmen back in the hutch for only four runs between them.

Burton had demonstrated his improving technique with some nice straight batted shots down the ground but had also been looking uncertain once Aggus Snr was into the groove. Sure enough, with the score on 24, the Patriarch of the Aggus clan trapped him straight in front and he was on his way back to the pavilion for 12.

Palmer and Ward both had previous against the MCC and Baker looked to rotate one end, replacing Champ with himself whilst Aggus continued to keep things tight as he bowled straight through.

Ward was playing his usual aggressive game and when Couzens replaced Aggus, subjected him to a couple of lusty blows to leave the Frenchman doing his best Nicolas Anelka impression.

Despite the fine balance in the game the good spirit between the two sides was demonstrated when a potentially contentious full toss hit the stumps with neither batsmen, bowler, fielders nor umpires sure of the correct decision. In the end Ward was given out, but then called back so that neither the wicket or the no-ball counted.

Smith T joined the attack in place of the finishing Champ with Baker keeping some of his own overs in reserve. Smith had been subjected to an aerial barrage by Ward in the last game but was able to extract some satisfying revenge when the Lion skipper was caught in the deep by Threadgold.

Another big wicket with the score now at 72-5.

Carter joined Palmer who had started to pick up the pace himself, but only a few balls later he hit one skyward which was doomed as soon as Clayton set himself beneath it.

The Golden Lion was now 76-6 but still had plenty of batsmen capable of playing their shots so the MCC had to continue to keep the pressure on.

Carter and new arrival Cockell had moved the score on to 89 when the Adelaide Express was undone by a rank long hop/vintage slower ball bouncer from Couzens which nearly bounced twice on its way to hitting the stumps.

Sloman joined the fray at eight with the MCC sensing that, with the run rate climbing ever higher and the Lion running out of batsmen, a hard fought victory could be on the cards.

Sloman launched Couzens over mid-wicket early on but wasn't able to time the shot the second time and Baker safely pouched the catch to keep the steady flow of wickets going as the Lion stumbled to 93-8, still over seventy shy of their target.

Bailey was slow clapped into the middle by his team-mates of last week and gave as good as he got when the banter started flowing:

"Let's see what you've got then Baker! I haven't got much, but let's go anyway!"

It was Smith though who made the breakthrough, lancing one through his defences for just one to leave the Lion on the brink.

Harp Jnr was in at ten but was immediately under pressure with the Lion needing to score off every ball, when he pushed for a sharp single, Pidgeon was able to send the ball back to Smith who calmly ran back to remove the bails.

Only Sams now stood between the MCC and victory and he was comprehensively bowled by Baker, leaving Cockell unbeaten on 22*. This seemed just as well after Clayton's request for Baker to "put him in his box!", though Vogue later claimed he meant keep him in his crease, not deposit his corpse in a coffin!

The Lion tamed at last and the perfect tonic following the defeat by Westley in the previous game.

Perhaps most importantly, the MCC had now beaten both Westley and Golden Lion at the fortress where all three teams will be meeting on the 27th for the much anticipated Garrison 20/20 Cup.

Matthew Couzens

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