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Montgomery CC vs Island Taverners CC - Sunday 29th May 2011 - Shoebury Garrison

Montgomery CC: M. Couzens, M. Aggus, K. Baker, J. Kyles, J. Aggus, T. Smith, C. Smith (cpt), P. Sibley, J. Aggus (snr), D. Champ

Last year's game against Island Taverners was one of the great games in the annals of Montgomery CC's six year history.

Dead and buried at eight down with only forty odd on the board and chasing 188; a glorious Baker / T. Smith partnership had led the MCC Lazarus like from the dark depths of a humbling defeat to an improbable victory.

This year's match was also being played at The Garrison with the nomadic Taverners facing an MCC side featuring Jim Kyles, making his second appearance and taking up position behind the timbers with Pidgeon absent.

The Taverners won the toss and opted to bat.

They started slowly thanks to some very economic bowling from Sibley and Champ which saw them bowl out their combined sixteen overs at a cost of only 29 runs with Sibley taking the wicket of Higgins, smartly caught by T. Smith for 17.

Couzens and T. Smith were briefly introduced as the game meandered towards the halfway mark, with Couzens getting one through Lannen's defences for five.

After four overs of that, John Aggus and Baker got in on the action, both bowling their full eight, Aggus taking two wickets but Baker perhaps making the most telling contribution, though not his from bowling - excellently running out the dangerous Hammond for 39 when he was going well with C. Hall.

There were some last minute fireworks when the returning Couzens took three wickets in four balls in the final over but it had been a smart bowling and fielding effort all round by the Fighting Rats to restrict the Taverners to a solid 169.

After tea had been consumed MCC openers Couzens and Aggus set off for the middle to begin the MCC reply.

They had got as far as 15 when Aggus was bowled by Brown for 10.

That brought Baker to the crease and you could have forgiven the Taverners fielders for casting some unfriendly looks in his direction as he made his way to the middle, with his unbeaten 79, the catalyst for last year's famous MCC victory, fresh in their memory's.

In fact it would be fair to say that the worst fears that the Taverners might have been harbouring about what Baker would achieve this time round, would have fallen rather short of what was about to take place.

As the man himself has been known to remark - "It's Baker time!"

And it certainly was.

In the history of the MCC three centuries have been scored, both by Leigh-on-Sea regulars. Full time Montgomery batsmen including Gillies, Aggus, Couzens and Baker himself, have all gone beyond 75 but no-one has ever reached the magical three figure mark, Gillies coming closest with 86 back in 2007.

As Baker and Couzens put on 52 for the second wicket and then Baker and Kyles put on 25 for the third, that glorious mark still seemed a long way off.

When J. Aggus staggered out of the pavilion having been asleep in all his pads and then stumbled back one ball later and then T. Smith continued his marvellous run of 0's (three out of three so far this season), the concern was that someone needed to stay out there with Baker if the game was to be won.

The man for the job was Captain C. Smith. Playing a patient and conservative innings which was well marshalled by Baker, the two of them put on 64 to take the MCC within sight of victory.

And within that 64 runs, was the innocuous single which took Baker to the milestone which every Montgomery batsmen has been hoping to achieve since May 2006 when the MCC first took to the field.

K. Baker the inaugural Montgomery centurion.

Well batted sir and hearty congratulations.

Having achieved the landmark Baker then finally fell for 104 from only 79 deliveries, a magnificent innings and one that had once again taken the MCC to the verge of the win.

When Sibley hit two fours from his opening three deliveries it left skipper C. Smith to hit the winning run in the 36th over and take the MCC to a second consecutive victory at The Garrison.

All in all a very satisfactory performance, with one particular contribution which has been etched into the history of the Fighting Rats of Shoebury Garrison.

Matthew Couzens

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