Rather than engage in a costly and deeply unpopular invasion of Iraq, Tony Blair and George W Bush might have been better served taking a quick look inside Steve Parker’s kit bag. Somewhere in there, in amongst the tangles of unwashed kit and old boxes, lies something no-one ever found anywhere near Baghdad: a Weapon of Mass Destruction crafted of finest English willow.
Having been hugely disappointing in the first meeting this season, Cannings travelled to Ramsbury with a strong batting team looking for revenge. Winning the toss and batting first, Richard Mansell gave hints of what was to come with a four from the first ball. Alongside Matt Tilley, the pair then continued reasonably at a decent if unspectacular run rate with the aim of setting up a burst later on.
After an early flurry, Mansell settled into his usual stubborn game as Tilley started to get slightly more expansive. With Cannings on 77-0 from the first 20 overs, one Ramsbury bowler was even heard to announce that he was happy with the run rate, a comment he would later regret. It wasn’t until the 30th over that a wicket finally fell, with Tilley caught on the boundary for 72 and the team on 114.
By now there were concerns that the score needed to accelerate, and captain Parker strode to the crease with that solitary aim in mind. There are few players in the Wiltshire league who hit the ball harder than the Cannings skipper and, after a slightly scratchy start, he began to display his talent once again.
Mansell too began to shake of his conservative nature and celebrated his half century before being caught on 64. But it was at the other end that real action was happening as the ball was dispatched time and again through and beyond the boundary. Before long Ramsbury has set a cordon of four fielders from mid-on across ‘cow corner’ but still they couldn’t stem the tide. The fielders would likely have been better off just taking cover. Someone should have sounded an air raid siren in the village as cricket balls rained from the sky.
It was hard not to feel some sympathy for the young bowler whose three overs went for 57 runs, but Parker, now batting with Garreth Robb, was having too much fun to go easy. Eventually the skipper managed to run himself out in a manner as ridiculous as his hitting had been sublime, but by then he had notched the first ACCC century of the season, departing for 101. Wickets fell in each of the final three overs as the batsmen wasted no time playing themselves in and tried only to push the score as high as possible.
By the time the innings was over, Cannings had put on an astonishing score of 308-5. The final 14 overs brought 191 runs- 109 coming in the final seven- and the boys had struck 34 fours and 12 sixes. It had been utterly brutal and Ramsbury looked understandably stunned as they came in for tea wondering how on earth they should approach their innings.
The answer came early as Ramsbury hit 14 from the first over, their openers admirably deciding to have a go at the target rather than just try to frustrate. They were playing a risky game though and in only the second over one was mishit, being skied high and falling into the hands of Richard Mansell from his brother Graham’s bowling. At the other end Hugo Saye was then lucky to bowl the other opener with a poor ball, but followed it up in his next over with one much more deserved. It was his 150th league wicket, making him only the second Cannings player to reach the landmark after Graham Mansell got there earlier this season.
Ramsbury batsmen came and went at regular intervals after that but with 20 overs gone Cannings suddenly found themselves under pressure from an entirely new source. The score was 70-6 but grey clouds were gathering and small sports of rain starting to fall. League rules state that for a match to count, the second innings must reach at least 25 overs before being rained off, otherwise all is null and void.
With that now in mind the game needed finishing as soon as possible, so up stepped Tilley who delivered a stunning hat trick when it was needed the most. His three wickets in three balls took the last resistance from the home team and allowed Robb to finish the game off as Ramsbury were all out for 72. It completed a 236 run win, the largest margin of victory recorded by any team in the division this season and the second largest the team have ever recorded.
Cannings travel next to Wanborough with around 10 regular players missing, hoping to raise a team which can continue their run of form. Next home game is against Potterne 3 in what should be another exciting match. Come along to watch on the 15th, but make sure you have a phone to hand and you’re ready to dial 999; Cannings are on fire.