Lionel Cann is heading back to St David’s to finish his cricket career.
The experienced batsman, whose top knock of 62 helped St David’s reclaim the Eastern Counties Cup with victory over Cleveland County at Sea Breeze Oval last season, feels the time is right to return.
Cann is leaving St George’s after two seasons to give something back to St David’s, who selected him for the Eastern Counties Cup counties last summer after St George’s dropped him for Cup Match.
“It is nice to go back because I wanted to finish at home,” said Cann, 46, who is the longest-serving active Eastern Counties player. Last year was his 50th match in the competition, after making his debut in 1987.
He celebrated with his highest counties knock as St David’s chased down Cleveland’s total of 155, winning by three wickets. Cann has scored 785 runs in 38 innings for St David’s, who will host this year’s series.
“When I left St David’s in 2011, instead of going to one of the top teams, I went to coach the youngsters at Warwick Workmen’s Club,” Cann said. “They were considered the thrashing boys and I wanted to build a young team there.
“I coached them for five years and once my time was done there, I was coming back to St David’s, actually, to finish off my career. However, I talked to Ryan Steede, the St George’s coach, and he was like, ‘Look, St David’s have enough quality players, come and help St George’s come back to the Premier Division’.
“So I went to help St George’s and we had a good season and ended up coming up [in 2017]. Then, when I was leaving last year to come back to St David’s, Ryan asked me to stay another year because, although we had moved up, they wanted to consolidate in the Premier and St David’s had a very good team then, too. I felt my services were more required in St George’s.
“Now I’ve only got a couple of years left where I can play at a higher level, so it is time to go back home to help them with their programme.”
Cann did not play his first match for St George’s season until just three weeks before Cup Match after recovering from a knee injury he suffered while playing a football match for St George’s Stallions in the Masters Division. It cost him his place in Cup Match and Somerset recorded an innings victory.
“I was injured and didn’t play much but [St George’s] still managed to come third in the league,” he said. “That helped me to make my decision.
“I played county for the last two years for St David’s and told them I was coming back anyway. Everybody was prepared for me to come back. It will be nice to be back home.
“When you are playing you need new challenges to keep you motivated. This will be my 33rd year playing cricket, my challenge will be to consolidate a full time spot in the St Davids team.
“I don’t expect any freebies, I just want to make sure to earn my spot. The Eastern Counties was great after missing out on Cup Match, and then to be Man of the Match.
“That was my highest score, but when I was playing counties for St David’s I was playing with some great players and was always batting late. Then I hadn’t played county much since 2011 when I left so in my peak years I missed out on county.
“County is big, but one thing about St David’s is for the last 15 years they have gone past that. Before it was just country cup, now they are winning league titles and different trophies.
“Cup Match is behind me, it did hurt being dropped. You can’t live on that, you have to move on, everybody goes through their disappointments.
“As far as playing Cup Match again, I don’t know. I haven’t retired but don’t known St George’s position on it, whether they have retired me. I’m just going to go out and play my cricket and enjoy it.”