St George's grind their way to retaining cup
St George's 361 for 9 (Pitcher 95, Smith 62, Foggo 59, Robinson 3-63) drew with Somerset 285 for 6 (Tucker 87, Stephens 57, Pitcher 2-39)
Once the showers that had book-ended the first day's play wiped out the morning session on Friday, a stalemate was almost inevitable. But as St George's batted on and on, finally declaring their first innings on 359 for 9 just before 4.30pm on the second day, the slim chances of a victory for either side receded to nothing.
The result - or lack of it - was sufficient to see the cup stay in St George's, courtesy of their crushing victory in Somerset last year. But as rain reduced the playing time, their aspirations of being the first side in the modern era to achieve three consecutive wins gave way to the more immediate aim of defending the cup.
It all started well for St George's with Chris Foggo firing a brisk 59 and Oronde Bascome a more measured 25 as Somerset were made to pay for their dubious tactic of asking the east-enders to bat first. Clay Smith became the third man in Cup Match history to pass 1,000 runs on Thursday afternoon, stroking his way to an elegant 62 before being caught by Malachi Jones off the bowling of Jacobi Robinson.
Charlie Marshall, for an aggressive 31, Delyone Borden and colt James Celestine, for ducks, were also back in the pavilion before bad-light stopped play early on day one with St George's on 257 for 6.
Rain delayed the start of play on the second day until after lunch, leaving an early declaration the only chance of a result. But St George's chose to bat on.
Cann, who had been hitting the ball cleanly on Thursday was the next victim for Robinson (3 for 63), caught by Dean Stephens on the long-on boundary for a typical quickfire 38. But still St George's batted on, perhaps to allow Pitcher, who fell just short of a maiden Cup Match century last year, the chance to lay that ghost to rest.
As it was, lightning struck twice for Pitcher, who was out in the nervous 90s again - clean bowled for 95 by Kevin Hurdle - but not before compiling a superlative knock that will surely see him crowned MVP for the second consecutive year. With Pitcher's wicket came the declaration with St George's on 359 for 9.
There were a few early jitters for Somerset with Stephen Outerbridge falling to George O'Brien for a second-ball duck. But Jekon Edness (25) and Azeem Pitcher (43) steadied the ship, before Dean Stephens and Janeiro Tucker finally gave the west-end crowd something to cheer. Stephens pummeled his way to a blistering 57 from 44 balls while Tucker peppered the boundary, cashing in on some wayward bowling, to accumalate 87 from 56 deliveries. Both men finally holed out to OJ Pitcher but Jacobi Robinson (26*) and Malachi Jones (15*) took up the mantle.
Somerset's innings closed on 285 for 6 to end the game an inconclusive draw.