Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Glos bowlers gain upper hand

LVCC: Gloucestershire 69-2 v Kent 213 (PTS: Glos 3 Kent 1)
LIVE coverage on www.gloscricketradio.co.uk

Gloucestershire's bowling attack put in a solid performance on day one against Kent at Beckenham as they dismissed another high quality line-up for just 231.

Admitted they were helped by some interesting shot selection from some batsmen, but sufficient pressure was created to take ten wickets and put the Shire into a strong position after a scorching day in south London.

The sun baked down all day and after Kent won the toss and decided to bat, a day of toil beckoned. But Glos were able to regularly chip away at the wickets and although many batsmen got starts - a lot of 30-plus scores featured on the Kent card - none went on and capitalised on what looked like a good batting wicket.

It was the Shire's ability to break partnerships that saw them bowl their hosts out for a small total and put them in command as they closed 69-2.

Porterfield drove hard at a spinning delivery from James Tredwell and Hamish Marshall received a beauty from Azhar Mahmood that found his outside edge. But Kadeer Ali scrapped away for his 18 and the hope will be for him to continue his time out in the middle and play himself back into form - the conditions are perfect.

Alex Gidman hit some late boundaries to also close unbeaten on 18 not out, and he will look to push on and press home the advantage the bowlers have created.

Official report: www.gloscricket.co.uk
Coverage continues tomorrow on www.gloscricketradio.co.uk

Monday, June 29, 2009

Twenty20 misery ends in eighth defeat

T20: Glamorgan 151-4 beat Gloucestershire 148-7 by six wickets

Gloucestershire ended their frustrating Twenty20 campaign with defeat to Glamorgan on a dreadful afternoon in Bristol.

An incredible feeling of after the Lord Mayor's show was evident upon entering the ground, as the buzz of Friday's match was replaced by a sombre atmosphere that often comes with these Sunday matches.

Twenty20 should always be an evening event, the weekend fixtures never provide the same ingredients for the quick-fire game and people shouldn't be asked to hand their Sunday afternoon's to only 40-overs - people want a day out on a Sunday, and Twenty20 provides only a chance for some fresh air.

This Sunday event was perhaps the worst ever, with the heart and soul understandably lacking from the players who could have done without this week, and indeed the supporters who have been dragged down from the high of further championship success and the Friends Provident win.

David Brown's 56 from 35 balls was the only plus point on a pretty miserable day at Nevil Road, worsened further by the disgraceful behaviour from a number of Welsh supporters that saw police forced to intervene.

The worst thing to take away was that once again the Shire should have won. They set a competitive total, claimed early wickets - the visitors were wobbling at 54-4 - but then allowed Glamorgan back into the game as Gemaal Hussain went for 10-an-over in what turned into a comprehensive defeat.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Glos beaten in derby thriller

Gloucestershire threw away yet another Twenty20 match this season, as Somerset twice staged fightbacks to win the westcountry derby at Bristol by three wickets, in perhaps the best Twenty20 match ever played at Nevil Road.

Thankfully, the fancy dress/facemask bonanza failed to materialise as once again Gloucestershire v Somerset sold itself, serving up a real cracker of a match in the late Bristol sunshine, although the spectacle was soured by a penalty-run fiasco before the start of the 19th over of the Somerset innings.

Despite a streaker, a few balls sent beyond the stands, and numerous umpire conferences over the state of the ball, the officials decided that the Shire had failed to bowl their overs in the allotted timescale - vigorously enforced by the Sky TV schedules. The penalty took Somerset to within four, robbing everyone of the tense 10 from 12 ball target that had been set up. Had Sky not been present, I have no doubts that over rate would never have been considered.

The home side dominated the opening 10 overs of both innings. Having gone at 12-an-over batting first, the Shire again lost wickets at bad times and the last 10 overs was a real scrap; James Franklin and David Brown playing very irresponsible shots given the situation, as Glos were bowled out in the 20th over.

For once, the powerplay fired Gloucestershire off to a great start. Kadeer Ali hit seven boundaries in 33 off 13 balls before Hamish Marshall and Will Porterfield continued the onslaught in a 63 stand. But the ridiculous run-out of Marshall proved the turning point in the innings, as the Shire failed to rebuild, and what should have been a score above 200 ended with 173.

With Langer, Trescothick, Hildreth and de Bruyn all dismissed with only 23 on the board, the game was pretty much up for Somerset. The home fans were off to the bar to toast another victory over their rivals, only to return from the long queues to have missed Peter Trego's powerful 49 from 26 balls which propelled the visitors back into the game.

Trego was dismissed with the required rate still 10-per-over, but no-one legislated for Craig Kieswetter's amazing ability to score big runs in TV matches. He played a phenomenal innings, exploiting Bristol's short straight boundaries and won Somerset the match with his 84 from 42 balls.

However, questions must be asked of the lengths that the Shire bowled. There were far too many length deliveries, and Kieswetter was able to swing through the line with regularity, in a game Gloucestershire will be glad was a dead rubber for them.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Glos scrape to unlikely win

T20: Gloucestershire 134-8 (19.5 overs) beat Northamptonshire 133 (20 overs) by two wickets

Gloucestershire defied the odds as a much changed side scraped past group-leaders Northamptonshire at Wantage Road.

The bowling again was the highlight for the Shire, as they bowled Northants out for just 133, but the batting again struggled and despite only chasing six-and-a-half per over, Glos managed to lose eight wickets and scrambled to their target with one ball to spare.

The big positive, aside the meaningless result, was that Grant Hodnett made 60 from 46 balls. He is another player to have worked hard over the winter and again showed why his is worthy of a place in the 1st X1; his main rival, Kadeer Ali, made 21 not out, but his form recently that has shown Hodnett to surely be ahead of him in the pecking order.

Jon Lewis and Steve Kirby were both rested, but recent signing Gemaal Hussain again stepped up to the mark and followed up his debut at Worcester with another great spell, his 3-22 and wickets for James Franklin and Ian Saxelby meant the Shire could return home with a half smile on their faces.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Glos slump to worst defeat of campaign

T20: Warwickshire 144-3 (16.1 overs) beat Gloucestershire 141 (19.4) by seven wickets

Gloucestershire produced another dire performance to slump to a fifth defeat out of six Twenty20 matches and were officially eliminated from the competition and now face next year in division two of the new T20 league.

Unbelievably for a side on such good form in all other cricket, Glos were again totally off the pace in a 20-over match, with a performance that lacked any interest whatsoever and totally let down the supporters that had turned up.

For a second time this year Glos were rolled by Warwickshire as their 141 target was easily overcome with nearly four overs remaining. Jonathan Trott's 73 not out guided the Bears home, but had Chris Taylor not spilled a very straightforward chance very early on in Trott's innings things could have been different; a costly drop indeed.

The Shire lost too many wickets and therefore no partnerships were developed, and the chances to build a big score were severely hindered. Hamish Marshall made 25 before going unnecessarily hard at a sweep shot and top edging a catch, and James Franklin's 19 was ended via an outlandish shot after several boundaries already in the over.

The visitor's bowling was nothing out of the ordinary, but Glos failed to play the situation and never gave themselves a base to work from, and their total was well below par, despite a well made 33 from David Brown.

Supporters to take week off

This week's fixtures
Monday: Warwickshire (h) 17:30
Tuesday: Nothamptonshire (a) 17:30
Friday: Somerset (h) 17:30
Sunday: Glamorgan (h) 14:30

Gloucestershire have four games left in their Twenty20 cup campaign, with all games realistically dead rubbers as only a mathematical miracle could see the Shire sneak through as a best third-place.

That unlikely scenario would require Glos to win all four remaining fixtures, and despite their excellent season thus far, an aspect of their cricket as been lacking in the 20-over games, as only one of five matches have been won.

As a result, a squad of 18 players has been named, and all players will be likely to feature a some point during the week.

The disappointment is that three home games remain - against Warwickshire later today, the derby against Somerset on Friday and then against Glamorgan on Sunday - and crowds will be down with the Shire having nothing to play for.

Friday's match against Somerset - a near sell-out in recent years - has been reduced to a fancy dress event in an attempt to pull in a bigger audience. A quite embarrassing publicity stunt occurred on the Hammond roof last Friday, with staff appearing as gladiators and many members wondering why the cast of the Sky One gameshow had turned up to watch the cricket.

A far better policy would have been to reduce ticket prices or offer some promotion to entice the punters, instead of trying even harder to dilute the already watered down cricket Twenty20 serves up; at least the poster in the Jessops stand has finally been changed, albeit several months late.

Alex Gidman will sit out the first two matches this week as he continues to recover from a back spasm and rightly wants to ensure his fitness for next week's important fixtures.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Glos revival continues with crushing win

DAY 3 Close: Gloucestershire 342 & 45-1 beat Middlesex 153 & 233 by nine wickets (PTS: Glos 20, Midd 3)

Gloucestershire extended their advantage at the top of the county championship division two after completing a nine-wicket victory over Middlesex at Bristol.

The victory was achieved courtesy of a wonderful bowling performance throughout the match. The problem in previous season has been the lack of ability to take 20 wickets, but this season, the Shire have assembled a threatening bowling attack.

Not only have Jon Lewis and Steve Kirby returned right to the top of their games, but the bowlers being introduced around these two have developed excellently to a point where there is no longer the feeling of an easy ride once the opening pair have been negotiated.

Anthony Ireland has worked hard over the winter, gained a yard of pace, and now bowls with the control required to take wickets in first-class cricket. Vikram Banerjee also, has progressed to be the first-choice spinner, and now really thinks about his bowling and is able to vary his pace and flight well, although does have a tendency to bowl a little short.

Alongside those four, the Shire have James Franklin - who didn't enjoy too much luck in this match - but whose natural angle provides great variety and the overseas seems to be adding far more than he achieved in previous spells with Glos and Glamorgan; his first-innings 67 pushed the home side's lead from useful to almost unassailable in terms of Middlesex's chances to save the match.

Middlesex are a useful outfit and with Andrew Strauss, Owais Shah and Eion Morgan in the line-up, it was a fantastic achievement for Glos to restrict them to just 386 runs in the match. If batsman could take their starts to big scores, the Shire will have a team extremely difficult to beat.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Glos close in on victory

DAY 2 Close: Middlesex 153 & 129-5 trail Gloucestershire 342 by 60 runs (PTS: Glos 6, Midd 4)

Gloucestershire enjoyed a wonderful second day against Middlesex at Bristol and moved to a position where victory should be achieved tomorrow.

James Franklin's 67 worked Glos to a lead of 189 and when Vikram Banerjee captured Owais Shah in the final overs of the evening, the Shire could sense victory; they lead by 60 and require five further wickets.

It was the long evening session that allowed Glos to set about making inroads into the Middlesex order and Jon Lewis responded with a fantastic spell to clean bowl both openers not offering a shot; England captain Andrew Strauss recorded a third-ball duck.

Lewis' right-hand man Steve Kirby also continued some of the best bowling of his career to claim two wickets in a consistently quick and accurate spell - he was very unlucky not to claim a third wicket with his final over of the day, as he crucially produced his hostility with regularity to cause batsman the most problems they might face in the whole division.

Banerjee was introduced and produced a mesmerising spell of cricket. He battled against Shah, who struck him down the ground, and eventually snared his man with a lovely flighted delivery that took the glove and presented Craig Spearman with a catch a slip. Banerjee bowled with much intelligence and varied his pace, length and flight and was well worth his wicket.

The pressure had been created by two partnerships. The overnight pair of Spearman and Chris Taylor put on 89 into the morning, before a David Burton five-for threatened to derail the innings, but Franklin and Lewis played some sensible cricket in a 103 stand to leave Glos two days to wrap up victory.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Glos on top after day one

DAY 1 Close: Gloucestershire 144-3 v Middlesex 153 (PTS: Glos 3, Mid 1)

LIVE commentary on www.gloscricketradio.co.uk

Gloucestershire claimed maximum bowling points on day one of the county championship match against Middlesex at Bristol, as they closed very much in the ascendancy.

Jon Lewis' 3-34 was the pick of an excellent bowling display from the Shire who dismissed the visitors for just 153 after winning the toss.

Favourable bowling conditions were well exploited and Glos chipped away at the wickets to push Middlesex onto the back foot. And although similar conditions continued into the afternoon, the home batsman applied themselves better to close just nine runs behind.

Steve Kirby continued his wonderful form, bowling with genuine pace, troubling all he bowled to, and was worth more than his 2-16.

Will Porterfield waltzed back into championship cricket with a patient 53 that contained some lavish strokes, but the Shire did offer chances, and Middlesex were unlucky although chances were shelled. The innings threatened to stutter as three wickets went down for 42, but a partnership of 40 between Craig Spearman and Chris Taylor has set Glos to take full control of this game tomorrow.

Official report: http://www.gloscricket.co.uk/

Gidman out of Middlesex clash

v Middlesex
Bristol, LVCC, 11:00
LIVE on www.gloscricketradio.co.uk

Gloucestershire will be without their skipper, Alex Gidman for today's county championship match against Middlesex at Bristol.

The all-rounder failed to recover from a back spasm that ruled him out of Tuesday's Friends Provident quarter-final, leaving the Shire with the choice of Anthony Ireland or Gemaal Hussain as the final bowler, with Kadeer Ali expected to fill Gidman's batting slot.

Glos have James Franklin back from international duty, which will be a major boost to the line-up as he will extend the batting which saw a long tail-end in his absence.

The last five meetings between the sides have only seen one result, however, the Shire's performances in those fixtures will need a great improvement if they are to achieve a positive outcome from this encounter.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Glos march into semi-final

Gloucestershire continued picked up where they left off in the Friends Provident Trophy, as they comfortably beat Nottinghamshire at Bristol to move into the semi-final.

The author was absent from the match, but took this from the official club website - www.gloscricketradio.co.uk:

Craig Spearman led from the front as acting-captain with an unbeaten 50 as Gloucestershire completed a comfortable six-wicket win over Notts at a sun-drenched County Ground.

The Shire reached their target of 190 with 12.3 overs to spare to qualify for a tie against Sussex Sharks at Hove in the last four on Sunday July 5.

Spearman and Chris Taylor (40) put the result beyond doubt with a fourth-wicket stand of 85 in 16 overs after Glos had been 68-3. But it was Steve Kirby who claimed the man-of-the-match award for his 3-33, which included sending back Ali Brown and Alex Hales to help reduce Notts to 9-3 after they had won the toss.

Jon Lewis finished with 4-34 and it was the opening spell of the two senior pace bowlers which set the tone for a game Gloucestershire never looked like losing.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Glos gain credible draw

LVCC: Gloucestershire 403-5 drew with Derbyshire 402-8 (Pts: Glos 11, Derbys 10)

Gloucestershire bowled their way to an 11 point haul in their drawn county championship match at Chesterfield against Derbyshire.

A decent bowling performance in the afternoon and evening sessions saw the Shire claim two bowling points, but a frustrating 57 run stand for the ninth wicket denied them a third, as Derbyshire batted their way to a declaration as 400 was passed.

Steve Kirby was the pick of the bowlers as he charged in throughout several spells and bowled with pace and aggression. His attitude in the field was extremely credible, considering the state of the game, and thoroughly deserved his wicket.

There was a recovery by the Shire from the morning session, which had been a poor effort and saw just the one wicket fall, and had allowed Chris Rogers to set the platform for his 104.

I am confident that over four days, Glos could beat this Derbyshire team as Gloucestershire have played some good cricket in this match, and to take 11 points from the two days play possible has been a good return.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Glos cash in on dry day three

T20: Gloucestershire 403-5 v Derbyshire 19-0 (Pts: Glos 5, Derbys 1)

Gloucestershire enjoyed a good day as uninterrupted play was possible on day three at Chesterfield.

Resuming at 58-1, the Shire reached 403-5 as the batsman cashed in on a flat pitch and poor bowling. However, with no arrangement in place to declare innings, the game is set for a draw.

Hamish Marshall starred with the bat, making 158 beautiful runs in his best innings for a very long time. He played shots all round the wicket and executed perfect timing with regularity as he showed his class and only gave one chance as he batted throughout the afternoon, only for a loose stroke to dismiss him in the first over after tea.

Clearly disappointed with his dismissal as he walked off, Marshall was just 11 short of his highest score in first-class cricket. He had looked in total control and it was fantastic to see a great start finally be converted into a big score.

Alex Gidman also played well for his 135. He looked very nervy early on, and immediately after lunch where poor footwork almost cost him is wicket, but once he became settled the timing returned and a perfect back-foot drive through extra-cover was one of the highlights of the afternoon.

However, when both fell after tea, the innings almost stalled completely. Chris Taylor edged Glos to maximum batting points for the first time this season, to only leave time for three overs to bowl after the declaration.

And those three overs were some of the worst of the day. Derbyshire did not bowl well at all, far too erratic and no consistency meant pressure was never built, but Steve Kirby and Anthony Ireland had three slips and a gully in place, and proceeded to bowl at the batsman's legs - Chris Rogers struck four effortless boundaries and neither opener was tested, which was an opportunity lost in a situation where Glos had a good chance to pile the pressure on the opposition.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Only an hour possible on day two

LVCC: Gloucestershire 58-1 v Derbyshire

Only an hour's play was possible on day two of the county championship at Chesterfield, with rain appearing just before lunch to prevent any play, and place tomorrow's action also in doubt.

Gloucestershire won the toss and, with bonus points in mind, decided to bat first.

Grant Hodnett made his first championship appearance of the season, and looked in good touch, comfortably rotating the strike and confidently coming forward; a wild edge over the slip cordon was his only error but a six over extra cover became the highlight of the morning.

The Shire did lose Kadeer Ali, whose return to the side could only yield one run, as he edged to slip from an Ian Hunter away-swinger.

After being hunched under a marquee, with it's roof steadily gathering water, for two days, it has been a frustrating experience for everyone, and the forecast is not good for the remainder of this match.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Washout on first day at Chesterfield

Day one of the county championship match at Chesterfield was abandoned for the day without a ball being bowled. Heavy rainfall overnight and into the morning on the Queen's Park ground left the outfield covered in puddles and the rain didn't subside enough to warrant attempting to prepare the ground.

An interview with John Bracewell and Steve Snell is available from www.gloscricketradio.co.uk/listenlive

Commentary of the match is available online at http://www.gloscricketradio.co.uk/

The Gloucestershire cricket podcast is also available from the Glos Cricket Radio website and clicking on podcast.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Four-day fixture to revive Glos

Derbyshire v Gloucestershire
Chesterfield, LVCC, 11:00
LIVE coverage on www.gloscricketradio.co.uk

Gloucestershire will resume their county championship campaign on Saturday with a trip to Chesterfield to face Derbyshire; the match will be broadcast live by www.gloscricketradio.co.uk.

Currently top of division two, the Shire will look to put the disappointment of the Twenty20 matches behind them, and regain the form that saw them play their best cricket for a few seasons.

Without the pressures of the short-format, batsman can look to occupy the crease and build innings - something not possible in twenty overs - but a traditionally bowler-friendly out-ground pitch could make that task somewhat harder, particularly against an attack that have only failed to claim one bowling point so far this season.

Vikram Banerjee is surprisingly omitted from the squad, so Richard Dawson will play if a spinner is required, in a side that will be expected to contain five bowlers.

A decision is required whether to reinstate Chris Taylor, or whether Kadeer Ali will earn a recall or Grant Hodnett will gain his first four-day start of the season.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Glos go down again

T20: Warwickshire 139-6 beat Gloucestershire 135-7 by four wickets

Gloucestershire slumped to a fifth Twenty20 defeat at Edgbaston, and with it their chances of getting out the group all but disappeared.

The disastrous dismissal (again) of Hamish Marshall as he was run out by the bowler having played the ball back up the pitch, set the tone in a scrappy innings where the Shire could only post 135, and despite chipping away at the Warwickshire batsman, the target was never going to be demanding enough. So what has gone wrong once again in the 20-over format?

Well clearly the loss of James Franklin as been a key factor. The loss of the all-rounder has created a serious imbalance in the side. Franklin had been performing steadily with the ball, but crucially had found some form with the bat; innings in several Friends Provident games saw Franklin begin to justify his recruitment. But his replacement in the side has gone to a genuine bowler, that has left Glos with a horrifically long tail.

Admittedly, I favoured the decision to play just five batsman - all players of quality, and players that should be backed. However, one-day cricket often works best with plenty of bits-and-pieces cricketers: the Paul Collingwood's and Dimi Mascarenas' of this world. So perhaps Rob Woodman or David Brown warranted inclusion as a like-for-like replacement for Franklin?

Granted, the side have not batted well at all, but surely bolstering the batting would be no more a shot for the confidence of the top order, but a sensible insurance policy to avoid what has been described as "an end being opened": the removal of enough recognised batsman to bring in the lesser players to place more pressure on the player at the other end - a trick that has brought the downfall of the Shire so far in this competition.

Unless runs are on the board, a team has no chance of victory - so a gamble on small numbers to get those runs cannot continue. Albeit unlucky with Franklin and Will Porterfield's international duty, players that are genuinely recognised to bat have to be introduced because not enough runs are being scored.

All-rounders are capable of producing cricket that can work in one-day cricket, so why not get both Woodman and Brown in the side, in place of the one-dimensional cricketers that have not been doing their jobs and have seen the Shire slump out of the Twenty20 cup.

Another chase, another defeat

T20: Northants 162 beat Gloucestershire 152-7 by 10 runs

Gloucestershire again went down in the second-innings of a Twenty20 match, as their chances of progression were left hanging by a thread, as a seemingly impossible-to-lose chase turned to defeat to leave the Shire on the verge of elimination.

Chasing 163 to win at Bristol seemed a cakewalk after Hamish Marshall blitzed through the powerplay at above 10-an-over to leave what was sure to be a comfortable stroll to the winning margin, but his quite unnecessary dismissal in the final over of powerplay turned the match.

He had played some quite delightful strokes making 42 from 22 balls and the required rate had tumbled to a very modest Twenty20 level. However, Glos' achilles heel again intervened and six middle order wickets went down for just 40 runs, and the 33 from 18 balls proved too much for the tail.

There was a collective sigh of disappointment as the game slipped away from the home side, as most people expected to be driving home as Gemaal Hussain swung and missed at the penultimate ball, needed two sixes for victory. What a disappointment it was. Marshall played wonderfully to set the position up, but the experience of neither Spearman or Taylor could steer the Shire home when required.

It required someone to assert themselves and play properly in knocking off what was close to a run-a-ball after Marshall's innings, but no-one stood up and, as has been experienced, required rates can escalate rapidly in the short form of the game. Batsman were blocking three balls before even looking where they could perhaps score - a repeat of Monday's game when the target was also in sight, but slipped away.

It had been a decent performance in the field, with two possible hat-tricks dampening the Northants innings well, but the performance with the bat has effectively made tomorrow's match at Edgbaston a do-or-die scenario - and we've not even reached the second phase of the group stages.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Glos fail in Worcs chase

T20: Worcestershire 188-9 beat Gloucestershire 175-8 by 13 runs

Gloucestershire lost their sixth straight one-day match to Worcestershire, as they fell 13 short of chasing the visitors' 188 at Bristol.

Again Glos failed to produce good enough all-round cricket to win and conceded above nine-an-over: surprising considering their recent successes have been in the field.

Steve Kirby's 2-28 from four overs were not backed up, as the Shire twice let Worcester get away, after a middle period that clawed the innings back from a 102 opening stand.

The bizarre experiment of opening with Vikram Banerjee failed miserably, and Banerjee's impact was completely neutralised - contributing to Glos facing their highest target in this year's competition.

The chase was actually quite admirable, and for a while the Shire had a sniff as Alex Gidman finally made some runs. His 64 shared a partnership of 94 with Hamish Marshall, but quick wickets scuppered the response, and the target eventually gained the better of the home side.

Just two points from four matches is exactly the opposite of what was required, and the pressure is now on to find a couple of wins to keep the Shire's interest in the competition continuing to the later period of the group stages.

Stuart Clark will no longer be joining Gloucestershire because he failed to achieve a work permit in the required time frame.

I cannot understand how the authorities have allowed this to happen. The system is quite ridiculous when a very straightforward application has to endure such a procedure, and is very much to the detriment of the Shire.
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