Gloucestershire 155 & 119 lost to Essex 177 & 101-3 by seven wickets
Gloucestershire lost their first county championship match at Bristol, being defeated by seven wickets by Essex, with the primary culprit being the over bowler-friendly wicket.
It was evident from the start of the match that the wicket was too green and overhead conditions enhanced the dominance of ball over bat that saw the match end early on the third afternoon.
After losing the toss, the Shire were always up against it as Essex made the best of first use of the wicket, and when the clouds rolled over on the second afternoon, Glos were fired out for just 119 to set up the Essex victory.
The target of just 97 would have been a stroll for any team on any wicket, and 44 from Matt Walker - in his new lease of life following a switch from Kent - saw Essex home and completed the match with over a day and a half still to play.
One thinks the chief-executive might want a quiet word in the groundsman's ear, as this early finish has cost the club a fair amount of revenue.
The ground clearly was not ready to host a four-day game. The one-day pitch was rolled sufficiently to produce a decent batting deck, but the amount of grass left on this wicket was startling. In addition, the outfield in the three days of cricket so far at Bristol has been extremely sluggish - suggesting not enough time has past since the relaying of the outfield.
One cannot put the blame of the defeat solely on the wicket - Essex were able to put the ball in the perfect areas with more regularity than the Glos attack (although for the second match running they performed admirably); the game might have been a different story had it been played under blazing sunshine for four days; however, when the odds are stacked so heavily in favour of the ball, a proper cricketing contest cannot ensue.
The game between Kent and Hampshire at Basingstoke last year is the prime example of a non-event with the result decided on the toss of the coin.
One would imagine the Sky producers have had strict words with the club in order to roll out as flat and hard a pitch as possible for a TV run-fest, so why was more attention not paid to this four-day pitch so the spectators could have witnessed a proper cricket match? Those who had planned a Friday afternoon watching the culmination have had their plans scuppered through lack of preparation.
When Leicestershire arrive in two weeks time, the hope is that we will have a proper cricket wicket that will enable a more competitive contest that will benefit everybody. It was an amateuristic effort by the club, which saw a very winnable game turn into a lottery and defeat.
Official report: www.gloscricket.co.uk