One day, Cannings will cruise to a comfortable win, free from nerves, collapses or panic. There will be no rescues needed, no one will be watching through parted fingers and there will be no fears about throwing the game away. One day. But at the moment, it seems, that is just not the Cannings way.
On Saturday ACCC travelled to Seagry, a side in good form and whose season had developed much like our own. It was the third week running that Cannings’ opposition had sat second in the table and on this occasion they appeared to be the strongest of the lot. Batting first, Seagry’s openers delivered some brutal hitting, leaving Hugo Saye And Harry Easton toiling fruitlessly with the ball in the hottest conditions of the season so far. They put 86 runs on the board in 21 overs before the skipper finally misplaced one, sending a drive straight into Saye’s hands at mid off from the bowling of Garreth Robb.
But it was only a brief moment of respite for Cannings and the incoming batsman continued his side’s momentum. It was another 10 overs- and 69 runs- before the ball flew into Richard Mansell’s safe hands, and the home side were ominously set on 145 with 14 overs remaining and eight wickets in hand. To this point they had produced what was in many ways the perfect batting performance: solid, giving away few chances and latching onto one or two balls per over to send to the boundary.
From here, though, things changed. Outside the top three, only two more Seagry batmen managed to reach double figures as the wickets tumbled, with Robb eventually taking four and Graham Mansell a further three, and Matt Tilley also deserving praise for holding three catches. After a hot and draining 45 overs in the field, Cannings had managed to keep them to 213-9, the highest target of the season and made more daunting by a number of batmen being absent, but considerably better than it might have been.
Cannings began their chase in a manner that was slow and solid, with Richard Mansell and Tilley negotiating the first ten overs safely for 28 runs. Then Tilley edged to gulley and Robb- having scored back to back half centuries in the past two fixtures- nicked a bouncer to the keeper first ball and things suddenly looked bleak. Soon after, Mansell also edged behind and Ed McQuaid- who had taken a superb over-the-shoulder catch in the field- was unfortunate to play the ball straight back into the hands of the bowler, leaving Cannings desperate on 47-4 after 17 overs.
With so many recognised batsmen missing and the game looking all-but-gone, Graham Mansell and Doug Dickson stirred up something of a resistance. Suddenly bowlers who had enjoyed respect were seeing their efforts sent to the boundaries and the score rattled into triple figures. For the third time, though, a single over claimed two wickets, Dickson caught on 24 before Mansell was bowled for 45. The result of the match was now a formality. Nearly 26 overs had gone and Cannings were 118-6, with the task of simply salvaging as many runs as possible now given to Saye and Easton, opening bowlers who could at best be described as ‘part-time’ batsmen.
But they weren’t to succumb to defeat without at least making Seagry work, counter attacking strongly as boundaries began to flow. As the overs ticked by they remained at the crease and, almost without realising it, an impossible target moved ever more clearly into view. Suddenly the goal shifted from simply trying to get a couple of extra batting points to actually winning the game and this realisation swept a change in emotions through both teams. Seagry’s frustrations grew and, having been so comfortable, it was they who were now trying to persuade themselves that they could still win it, pleas which became increasingly forlorn as the runs flowed.
With just eight runs needed and plenty of time to spare, Saye met Easton in the middle of the wicket and advised him to just see out the accurate, economical opening bowler and take the runs from the others, but the younger man was having none of it. The first ball of the next over was slapped for four and the second lifted to an impossibly nonchalant six, winning the game spectacularly and bringing up Easton’s first ever half century in the process. In just 12.2 overs the pair had put on a 99 run partnership which had seemed unthinkable half an hour before, Saye not out on 43 alongside Easton’s unbeaten 51.
The remarkable is becoming increasingly commonplace for this side, although a poor start means they remain 5th in a thickly congested upper half of the table. They travel next to Corsham before the big clash with unbeaten league leaders Beehive at home on 11 July. Put it in your diary now and come along to watch; it’s going to be good.