Cricket has a grand tradition of the ‘captain’s performance’, whereby the skipper steps up to deliver whatever is necessary for his side to win the game. This year, Cannings enjoy two captains and, after Garreth Robb took Ramsbury apart a couple of weeks ago, Matt Tilley produced on Saturday a performance of which Steve Waugh, Graeme Smith or Alastair Cook would have been envious, and helped concoct a 175 run win over Buscot Park.
Batting first, Cannings sent their bickering brothers out to open, Richard Mansell playing in his usual steady style while Graham attempted the more expressive shots. His ambition got Cannings off to a decent start but it wasn’t to last and Graham was soon caught on 17, bringing Tilley to the crease.
Struggling for runs so far this season, the skipper at first looked slightly nervy and took some time to feel his way into the game. With Richard Mansell still at the other end, the game went through a solid (some cynics might say boring) period but fortunately that wasn’t to last. Tilley eventually found his feet and from that point on the ball was disappearing to all corners of the boundary with such frequency that needing to actually run between the wickets was becoming a bit of a novelty.
Even Mansell got swept up in the excitement, winding up his creaking shoulders and daring to hit the ball beyond the square, at one point notching consecutive boundaries. Eventually the 137 run partnership was broken, Mansell out LBW for a hard-earned 50, an innings which had provided the base for his partner to really rattle through the runs.
Tilley followed soon after, caught at point after playing a tired shot, by which stage he’d smashed 18 fours on his way to a towering 109. His tempo was continued by Robb who added a rapid-fire 37, while Ed McQuaid, Andy Plank and Alex Surman also attacked freely.
The first 20 overs of the innings yielded just 73 runs; the second 20 brought 153 and the last 5 a further 47, giving Cannings a daunting total of 273.
In reply, Buscot never really got going. Jake Rogers, opening the bowling for the first time, took two wickets to add to the other early victim claimed by Hugo Saye. Ryan Simons bowled well to take three, including breaking the one partnership Buscot managed to put together, but the pick of the bowlers was Harry Easton, whose pace and bounce had the batsmen floundering like a bunch of Englishmen facing Mitchell Johnson at the Gabba, finishing his nine overs with figures of 2-11.
But it was Tilley’s day. After his ton, he held two superb catches in the field and took the ball to finish off the game, bowling just nine deliveries which gave him two wickets for a solitary run. The standout individual in one of the most complete team performances Cannings have produced in years.
As a final note on a memorable day, Buscot Park should be congratulated for their honesty- from rescinding an appeal when Richard Mansell was incorrectly given out LBW by his brother, to admitting a foot had strayed over the boundary while fielding and walking after getting an edge with the bat. They played the game with the spirit most teams- ourselves included- should aspire to, and that deserves recognition.
This Saturday sees Cannings look to repeat their form away against Marlborough 2, while the next home game is on the 18th against Wanborough. As always, your support will be most welcome.