Saturday, May 09, 2009

Glos win lays the foundations

Gloucestershire 393 & 72-0 beat Leicestershire 133 & 331 by 10 wickets

Over 1,000 spectators witnessed the Shire record consecutive county championship victories for the first time since 2004, and the first four-day win at Bristol for three seasons.

The ten wicket victory was just rewards for a side that has worked hard to correct the shortcomings of last season, and now the foundations are in place to remain in the upper reaches of the table.

In the first four fixtures the Shire have competed and arguably should have won all four, but tougher tests are to come and consistency and lack of injuries will be the keys to success.

Alex Gidman has embraced the captaincy, and while some decisions still raise a few eyebrows, he seems to have accepted responsibility in his batting - rather akin to Strauss for England - and the talent that saw him highly rated a few years ago, appears to be surfacing again. Captain's runs are a major morale boost and hopefully Gidman can lead by example for the remainder of the year.

A real plus has been the bowling attack. The Shire seem to have developed an ability to take 20 wickets in a match, and this has come from a better all-round attack that is able to maintain pressure. The quality four-man seam attack that took the field against Surrey has the real potential to dismiss the best of line-ups, and supported by the improving Vikram Banerjee, signs are promising.

Which brings us to the downfall of the Glos' four-day cricket - squad depth. We have seen injuries to Ian Saxelby and James Franklin that, although they haven't cost results, in the long run will see better sides take advantage of replacement medium-pacers.

Despite Anothony Ireland's wickets in this match, on flatter pitches his lack of pace will prove cannon-fodder, and it is essential the left-arm variety of Franklin is on the pitch - he adds much to the attack in a manner of Ryan Sidebottom and it may not be until July till we see Franklin in whites again.

Moreover, Rob Woodman looked out of place and a season in the 2nd X1 must surely beckon for the "all-rounder". One cannot see this player having an impact in first-class cricket - hopefully he can prove me wrong.

The Shire's best X1 are a team capable of producing good cricket, and the direction of John Bracewell has transformed their fortunes. A month break until the next championship match could disturb the momentum, and hopefully Twenty20 fever won't prevent Glos performing in the four-day arena.

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