Colin Thompson, The Royal Gazette
Janeiro Tucker stole the limelight during one of the most entertaining draws in recent Cup Match memory which saw champions St.George's cling to the spoils by a thread after an absorbing two-day battle at Somerset Cricket Club.
With a massive six off St. George's off spinner Delyone Borden in the 27th over of the match, Tucker surpassed Albert Steede as Somerset's all-time leading run-getter and then went one better six overs later by becoming the first West End batsman to reach the 1,000 run milestone with a delicate sweep off the same bowler to the fine leg boundary for four.
The veteran all-rounder, who was a unanimous choice for the Man of the Match award, smashed 75 off 88 balls in 111 minutes during a belligerent knock that contained five sixes and six fours and for an encore hit another half-century (69 not out) in Somerset's second innings to take his overall Cup Match aggregate to 1,104 runs and leapfrog Steede (975), Lloyd James (988) and Clay Smith (1,076) in the process.
Of the four batsmen to surpass 1,000 runs in the classic, Tucker is the fastest to reach the milestone having done so in only 20 innings from 13 appearances.
The 33-year-old's heroics, however, were still not enough to guarantee Somerset victory as champions St.George's hung on for a draw after the hosts had made early inroads with the new ball.
Chasing a target of 237 for victory inside two hours and the mandatory 20 overs, St.George's found themselves wobbling at 39 for four. But an unbroken 20-run partnership between Smith (18 not out), making his final appearance in the classic, and Marshall (18 not out) saw off the threat before opposing skippers Lionel Cann and Jacobi Robinson conceded the inevitable at 7 p.m.
Earlier, it had all looked so promising for the hosts after they dismissed St. George's shortly before lunch yesterday to take a 25-run first innings lead. However, in pursuit of a sporting declaration, Somerset lost wickets at regular intervals and were eventually bowled out inside of a session just before tea as Borden picked up six for 76 to lead his team's attack while Gregg Foggo had two for eight off 11 overs to leave the mercurial Tucker stranded after running out of partners.
St. George's, though, never took up the challenge and after being forced on the back foot, opted for the cautious route until stumps were drawn.
That the East Enders remained in contention on the last day owed much to a record sixth-wicket stand between skipper Cann (99) and Marshall (38) who added 131 runs that enabled the champions to avoid the follow-on.
Cann surpassed his previous best (80) in the classic but fell one -run shy of a maiden Cup Match ton when he was given out caught behind by umpire Roger Dill, though television replays suggested he never got bat to ball.
Cann struck nine sixes and seven fours off 127 balls in 167 minutes before being dismissed in the nervous nineties.
If it was any consolation, the aggressive cricketer took his overall Cup Match run tally to 796 to overhaul Cup Match legends Rupert Scotland (736), Sheridan Raynor (740), Alma (Champ) Hunt (762) and coach Noel Gibbons (783).
Cann is now the eighth highest run-getter in the classic and sixth highest for St.George's behind the likes of Marshall (1,338), Wendell Smith (1,143), Clay Smith (1,076), James (988) and Edward Swainson (829).
Pace ace Malachi Jones, who bowled with plenty of venom, led Somerset's attack in St.George's' first innings, snatching three for 43. Colts Jordan DeSilva (two for 40), Chris Douglas (two for 40) and veteran left-arm spinner Hassan Durham (two for two) also had a major say in restricting the champions to 217.
Somerset dominated opening day's play after electing to take first strike on a batting strip possessing few demons. Led by Tucker's robust hitting, the challengers piled up 242 for eight before declaring right on the tea interval.
Also among the runs for the challengers were colts Douglas (34) and Ricardo Brangman (22) while recall Del Hollis chipped in with a useful 18.
After a one hour and 50 minute rain delay and toiling for eight overs without success, St.George's finally broke through after lunch by claiming three quick wickets to gain the upper hand. But a 89-run fourth-wicket stand between Tucker and recall Sammy Robinson (40) gave Somerset the lift they needed to go on and pile up a decent total to defend.
Seamer Ryan Steede, who conceded 14 no balls, rebounded by taking four for 70 while fellow seamer Foggo and off spinner Borden had two apiece.
With one session remaining in the day's play, St.George's went to bed reeling at 96 for five with recognised bats Smith (ten), Glenn Blakeney (ten), colt Fiqre Crockwell (six), Jason Anderson (three) and Delyone Borden (two) all back in the hutch cheaply as Somerset exploited the new ball.
Cup Match's all-time leading run getter Marshall also achieved a personal milestone in this year's classic when he held two catches to draw level with Cal (Bummy) Symonds (24) for the second most catches in the classic.
Marshall grabbed Douglas at first slip on the resumption of play after lunch yesterday to give 15-year old colt Tre Govia his first wicket in Cup Match.