St George's v Somerset, Wellington Oval August 2, 2009

Cann digs deep to save Cup match

James Whittaker

St George's skipper Lionel Cann smashed a superb unbeaten hundred as St George's clung on to the cup in a dramatic stalemate at Wellington Oval.

It was a tale of two centuries with Somerset's talisman Janeiro Tucker grinding out his third Cup Match treble earlier in the day to leave his side on the brink of a first victory in the east for three decades. Set 295 for victory, St George's looked down and out on 107 for 5 with star batsman Glenn Blakeney watching on crutches from the sidelines.

Somerset celebrated the key wicket of Charlie Marshall, out for a duck in his final Cup Match, as though it had won them the game. But they hadn't counted on Cann.

In his last year as skipper, the explosive batsman played the definitive captain's innings. He combined grit and patience with his usual flamboyant stroke play to ease his side home. With Rodney Trott and later Delyone Borden blocking efficiently at the other end, St George's made light of a potentially traumatic final 20 overs to hold on for a deserved draw.

Cann dealt almost exclusively in boundaries, shutting out the good balls and crashing the bad ones out of the ground. As he brought up his century, with another four off Dwayne Leverock, he tossed his bat into the sky and leapt in the air, punching his fist in celebration. It was his first Cup Match hundred and redemption after being out on 99 last year. More importantly it was an innings that saved the match for his team.

By the time he reached three figures, the game was over. Somerset had toiled in the field for more than five hours and they had run out of ideas on how to prise out the last remaining batsmen.

With three overs left to bowl and St George's on 243 for 6, still 52 runs short of their target, the captains agreed to a draw. Jacobi Robinson used a total of ten bowlers, literally throwing everything he had at St George's in pursuit of victory. Everyone but wicketkeeper Jekon Edness had a crack. Robinson, with 2 for 35, and Leverock, 2 for 54, came the closest to engineering a win. But young pace bowlers Malachi Jones and Jordan De Silva were bafflingly under used spending much of the match as virtual spectators on the boundary wall.

In the end Borden, who scored 11 from 44 balls, proved an immovable object. And the only way Somerset could have got Cann out this evening was to put a fielder in the top stand of the bleachers.

After the game Cann joked that the inspiration for his run-a-ball hundred had been to try and emulate Somerset's Mr Cup Match - Janeiro Tucker.

When Tucker came to the crease just after tea last night, his side were in dire straits. They had yet to erase a deficit of 44 from the low-scoring first innings and there were three men out. But he played a dogged, gutsy knock combining first with Stephen Outerbridge (52) and then with teenage colt Deunte Darrell (32) to claw Somerset back into the match.

By the time he stroked his hundredth run across a boundary that was thick with discarded shrimp and chicken bones, the wisdom of the terraces had it that it was Somerset's game to lose.

A post-lunch blitz from Jacobi Robinson, who walloped 63 from 31 balls and Tucker, who ended unbeaten on 126 from 230 balls, hardened that belief in the hearts and minds of the Somerset faithful. Sluggo and 15-year-old off-spinner Joshua Gilbert combined to quickly reduce St George's to 53 for 3 And when Robinson himself took two wickets in two balls to get rid of the troublesome Chris Foggo, for 24, and the legendary Marshall for a duck, they had one hand on the cup.

But Cann, first by sheer determination and then by sheer class, snatched it back.