Tucker set for last stand
Janeiro Tucker, Cup Match’s most prolific batsman, said he will take his guard for the final time in next week’s classic.
The Somerset all-rounder will retire from Cup Match at the age of 41 after the annual encounter to be played at Somerset Cricket Club.
“This is it, this is going to be my last Cup Match,” Tucker said. “I’ve put in my time, 21 years, and I know I can play on. But at a certain time in your life you have to know when to come off the stage, and for me I think it’s the right time now.”
No batsman has left their mark on Cup Match quite like Tucker, who has earned the moniker “Mr Cup Match”.
In 1999 he scored an unbeaten 103 to become the first Somerset batsman to score a century at Wellington Oval and two years later achieved the highest individual innings of 186 at the same ground to surpass the previous record of 173, which was set by St George’s Lloyd James 39 years earlier.
In 2008 Tucker became the first Somerset batsmen to amass 1,000 runs in Cup Match and a year later notched his third century with an unbeaten 126.
In 2013 he stroked an unbeaten 104 en route to becoming Cup Match’s leading run scorer and the first batsman to hit four centuries in the classic.
He also leads the Cup Match batting averages, has taken the most catches, featured in record batting partnerships, won more Cup Match MVP awards than any other player and, like his father John, has captained Somerset. A cousin of former St George’s captain Calvin “Bummy” Symonds, Tucker made his Cup Match debut in 1992.
He was dropped in 1993 and missed the 1997 classic because of a knee injury after being recalled the year before.
“A lot of people say I shouldn’t go but they don’t understand how long I have been playing,” Tucker said.
“I know I can continue on but it’s only me left from my era and it just doesn’t feel right because some of these younger guys weren’t even born when I started playing Cup Match.
“There were a whole different calibre of players when I came in. St George’s had players like Noel Gibbons, Clevie Wade, David ‘Chick’ Adams, Charlie Marshall and Arnold Manders, while the Somerset team had Rodney Fubler, Terry Burgess, Olin Jones, Ricky Hill, Albert Steede and Richard and Dexter Basden.”
Tucker, who has also retired from international cricket, has yet to score a century in the West End. Champions Somerset are bidding to become the first team since the Sixties to secure three successive victories.
“It’s always nice to finish up at your home ground. Hopefully I can leave on a high,” Tucker said. “If I can leave Somerset with a hundred and a victory that would be a perfect ending for me.”