Champions St. Georges were dethroned in spectacular fashion when a shocking second innings batting display enabled Somerset to seal a 10-wicket victory in Somerset with plenty of time to spare. It was their first victory since 2002, before losing the cup in 2005.
Nobody at the ground could believe how quickly St. Georges crumbled in the afternoon session after beginning their second innings 52 runs behind after Somerset posted 271 in reply to the St. Georges first innings total of 219.
Somersets innings closed at 12.16pm yesterday with nine wickets down after captain Jekon Edness retired hurt and was unable to return after the fall of the ninth wicket. He finished with a stylish 67, only the second 50 of the match after Glenn Blakeneys 68 on the first day for St. Georges.
Edness stroked six fours and three sixes off 63 balls before severe cramp forced him to be carried off the field on a stretcher. Before he could even get back on his feet, last man Derrick Brangman was bowled first ball to end the Somerset innings.
The match was very much in the balance at that stage and St. Georges looked in the mood to erase the deficit as quickly as possible when Treadwell Gibbons smashed spinner Jacobi Robinson for three fours in the first over to force Somerset to make a quick bowling change. Interestingly it was the decision to replace Robinson with Kamau Leverock at the southern end that enabled Somerset to take a decisive upper hand after Gibbons dominated a quick opening stand of 20 with Jason Anderson for the first wicket.
However, the match quickly changed after that as Greg Maybury, who shared the new ball with Robinson, and Leverock both took wickets in their second overs to make it 20-2 and at regular intervals after that the St. Georges batsmen capitulated.
Captain Edness watched from the sidelines as his vice-captain Malachi Jones led the team admirably with some shrewd decisions as St. Georges batsmen continued to fall to some rash strokes on a wicket of inconsistent bounce.
Delyone Borden and Fiqre Crockwell both went quickly as Maybury, running in with speed and purpose, picked up two more wickets to put the champions in deep trouble at 43-4, still nine runs in arrears. And when Glenn Blakeney and then captain Lionel Cann also departed, the scoreboard had a dreadful look to it for St. Georges . . . 53-6 and effectively only one run on the board.
Rodney Trott, known for his dogged batting, stayed around for 85 minutes for his top knock of 24, but when he was run out on 74-8 going for a second run and run out at the bowlers end by Tre Manders throw, the last of the St. Georges resistance was gone and victory for Somerset was inevitable.
In the end St. Georges crumbled for 79 in 27.2 overs between 12.33 to 3.48pm as Maybury signalled his arrival on the Cup Match stage with impressive figures of five for 18 from 8.2 overs, including four maidens, after going wicket-less in the first innings.
Leverock and Jones provided excellent support, taking two for 26 and two for 13 respectively.
No doubt many who were not at the ground were scrambling to get there, but with just 27 needed for victory, Chris Douglas, who kept wicket in the St. Georges second innings in his captains absence, was not in the mood to delay the victory party and let the run chase with 23 from three fours and a match-winning six over the extra cover boundary to spark a pitch invasion and start a Somerset party that went well into the night.
Somerset took just five overs to wrap up their comprehensive victory, Douglas scoring 23 and Terryn Fray eight at the other end. Edness expressed his delight at the margin of victory for Somerset, knowing he played a significant role even if he wasnt on the field when the match was won.
My knock in the second innings was important even though I had to retire due to me being hurt but if I could do it again I wouldnt change anything one bit, said Edness who suffered a narrow defeat at Wellington Oval last year.
It means a win for us and at the end of the two days we are deserved winners for this year. Many people doubted us and our ability to get the job done, and for those who did doubt it just look over the two days and see that we were the best team.
For St. Georges captain Lionel Cann there was plenty to be disappointed about, losing the cup for the first time as captain and then falling one run short of becoming the fifth player to score 1,000 runs in Cup Match. He went into the game needing 13 runs and managed eight in the first innings and four in the second to finish with 999 aggregate runs.
Our plan once we saw the wicket was to bat once, we knew that the wicket on the second day would be slow, little bounce and doing all sorts of stuff, said Cann.
We were in a good position the first day and if we had scored 300 then today we would have been lifting the trophy. We knew the second day it would be impossible to bat on that wicket. That where we lost it . . . yesterday.
If I was the Somerset captain I would have batted on a little longer and get 150 lead. It is the worst wicket Ive ever played on. I like to see results but we need to see cricket too and over the last two days we did not see any good cricket. It wasnt good for cricket but you did get a winner.
The match was firmly in the balance after the rain-hit first day which saw a heavy shower force the start to be delayed by 70 minutes, before another stoppage 50 minutes into the match resulted in the teams taking an early lunch at 12.30 with the covers on the wickets for a second time.
The late start resulted in the umpires making up the lost hour by starting the match a half-hour early on the second day and extending the scheduled close by another 30 minutes.
Considering the conditions St. Georges did well to reach 219 but Somerset were right back in contention when they reached stumps at 100-2 from 28 overs.
One setback for them was the loss of Stephen Outerbridge 12 minutes before the scheduled close when he left his crease to a turning delivery from spinner Delyone Borden, who opened the bowling with Stefan Kelly, and watched as Jason Anderson quickly removed his bails.
Nightwatchman Greg Maybury negotiated the last couple of overs with Terryn Fray (26 not out) as the home team put themselves in a good position to press home an advantage in the morning session, though inconsistent bounce of the wicket still made batting difficult at times.
The ball was already turning sharply for the spinners, hence Lionel Canns decision to open with Borden ahead of Justin Pitcher and colt Kyle Hodsoll. But it was the tidy gentle medium pacers of Janeiro Tucker which rocked St. Georges back on their heels after Anderson and colt Treadwell Gibbons Jr put on 57 for the first wicket in 79 minutes. The left-handed Gibbons, whose father played a big role in Somersets exciting win in 1996 on this same ground, insisted on taking the new ball and quickly removed any pre-match nerves with some fluent strokeplay, including a cover drive for four off Malachi Jones on the fourth ball of the match to open his and his teams account.
When he was eventually caught at midwicket by Derrick Brangman, Gibbons had amassed 41 runs off 67 balls through seven fours and a six. Tucker, the fifth bowler used by captain Edness, got the breakthrough in his first over when Gibbons clipped the ball to Brangman. St. Georges were two down in Tuckers next over when Fiqre Crockwell was trapped lbw on the first ball of the over and very quickly the champions were 57-2.
Anderson and Glenn Blakeney moved the score along to 94 when Anderson was bowled by Brangman for a patient 24 but the wickets kept falling after Tucker returned for a second spell and exploited the uneven bounce and turn at the southern end to claim wickets in the eighth, 10th, 11th and 13th overs to finish with figures of six for 28 from 14 overs, including the wicket of Allan Douglas who was just starting to wage a mid-order fightback with his 29 which came off three fours and two sixes. He was dismissed at 198-7 as St. Georges struggled to reach 200.
Brangman supported Tucker with two for 43 from 12 overs while Jones came back for a second spell and closed out the innings with his only scalp when Maybury took a good catch running backwards at point to dismiss Hodsoll.
Jacobi Robinson was the most used and expensive of the Somerset bowlers. The seamer-turned-spinner was used in three spells and finished with figures of one for 70 from 18 overs.
Chris Douglas hit a colourful 33 to lead Somersets fightback late on day one before he became colt Kyle Hodsolls first Cup Match victim, bowled while trying to pull a shot ball to midwicket in Hodsolls second over. The Somerset 50 came up in 70 minutes and the 100 in 125 minutes to leave it all to play for on the second day.