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Montgomery CC vs Basildon & Pitsea CC - Sunday 1st August 2010 - The Garrison

Montgomery CC: M. Brady, J. Gillies, R. Clayton, M. Aggus, M. Couzens, P. Sibley, O. Pidgeon, K. Baker, J. Aggus, T. Smith (cpt), D. Champ

S

o, my friends, we have discovered that 20/20 is, as we suspected, a silly and immature form of the game.

One for those of the short attention span, seeking instant gratification, who cannot possibly appreciate the intricacies of the longer forms of the game - 40 over matches for example.

Yes, 40 over matches, virtually a five day test in all but name (and a trifling few days), arguably the purest form of cricket and one in which the Fighting Rats were now ready to return.

Two frenetic 20/20 competitions had both resulted in defeat, despite the valiant batting of Baker (two fifties, one as part of another hundred plus partnership with T. Smith), as well as a number of impressive MCC debuts, so it was time to put away the Mongoose and the slower ball bouncer and get back to cricketing reality.

The MCC welcomed Basildon & Pitsea CC to the Fortress for the first time.

With Captain Smith away, Vice Captain Smith (of the T rather C persuasion), would be taking the reins of a side which featured two debutants - Matt Brady and Paul Sibley, as well as the usual suspects - Clayton, the Aggi, Couzens, Pidgeon, Baker, Champ and periodic rat - J. Gillies.

Smith lost the toss and B & P opted to bat on a muggy afternoon in Shoebury.

Now, I can't tell you exactly what happened as we forgot to copy up the scorebook but I shall do my best to summarise.

After losing two quick wickets from the bowling of the indominatable John Aggus the B&P numbers one and four, racked up a sizeable partnership.

Often resorting to some slogging that could best be described as rural, they nevertheless looked comfortable against the best Couzens, Champ and even the evergreen John Aggus could throw at them.

It took the introduction of Baker and Sibley to stem the tide, though wickets were not forthcoming, despite both bowlers producing a good spell.

The Monties began to get frustrated as the partnership went past a hundred, with both batsmen scoring fifties in quick time and memories of uneven contests at Hadleigh and Galleywood began to resurface.

As the partnership pushed beyond 150, Baker especially began to show his irritation, particularly when the batsmen, would play and miss with a big heave and then practice a cover drive afterwards.

Baker's mounting rage was enough to get the breakthrough as he finally bowled Sharpe after a sustained period of aggressive bowling. Sibley was unlucky not to join him on the wicket chart, but the breakthrough was crucial for the Monties nonetheless.

Riz, Sharpe's long-time partner at the other end, continued to play aggressively but now the soft underbelly of Basildon & Pitsea (which had been hinted at by Sharpe and Riz as their reasoning for going hard), was exposed.

Wickets began to fall with regularity and Skipper Tommy T. Engine was the main instigator with his best spell of the season - taking 4-20 from his seven overs. Excellent work by the stand in skipper.

Combining with the returning D. Champ, the two MCC bowlers reduced Basildon & Pitsea from 185-3 to 203-8 as the Monties dragged themselves back into contention.

After some sumptuous tea provided by Matthew L . Couzens (and a couple of mouldy looking sarnies that no-one ate from Aggus Jnr) it was time for the Monty reply.

MCC debutant Matt Brady opened up with Gillies and put on 18 for the first wicket before Gillies fell for 9, bowled by Riz, with the MCC batsman still looking to replicate his 2007 form which saw him record the highest score by an MCC batsman.

Clayton was in at three and after a watchful start helped the score along to 37 before Brady was bowled by Cordell for a debut eleven. Nothing wrong with that Matthew - just ask Messrs Giles, Stubbington & Brown about their first appearance!

Aggus joined Clayton at the crease, with a high score of 23 for the season thus far, falling well short of the lofty standards that had been set in 2009.

With Clayton now settled and beginning to play some shots, Aggus was able to concentrate on getting himself off strike.

The two of them put on 29 before Clayton was run out by some smart work in the field.

Couzens was in at five and he and Aggus had to take stock - there was plenty of time left but a decent partnership was essential if the fighting rats were to emerge victorious.

For once, the partnership was actually delivered as Couzens and Aggus put on 82 for the fourth wicket.

Couzens fell for 38 with the score on 148 and the Monties just over fifty runs shy of victory.

Pidgeon arrived and listened to Aggus' words of wisdom:

"It's full and straight so don't swing across the line!"

"Would I?!" answered El Destructo with a twinkle in his eye before dispatching his first ball for four.

Unfortunately the sagely advice of Aggus was accurate and five balls later, Pidgeon was making his way back to the hutch.

The MCC was now 153-7, but crucially with Aggus still in the middle and well set.

Baker joined him, expecting a hostile reception after his friendly chats with the batsmen earlier. A couple of beamers duly arrived but Baker was able to stay with Aggus, who reached his half century and together they carried the MCC to the brink of victory.

With the margin now only ten runs, Baker was bowled by Sharpe which brought Aggus Snr to the crease.

Together the Aggi were able to see the MCC home, Aggus Jnr sending two of the last three balls he faced for four, to make it five wins out of six for the fighting rats at home.

Aggus Jnr finishing on 62* with useful contributions from Couzens and Clayton and bowling honours going to T. Smith with his 7-1-20-4.

Southend next to step foot in the Fortress.

Matthew Couzens

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