Thursday, April 30, 2009

Glos injuries leave game in balance

DAY 3 Close: Northants 161 & 200-5 require another 171 to beat Gloucestershire 294 & 237

The match ended tantalisingly poised at the end of day three at Northampton after an exciting days cricket in which 14 wickets fell and leaves both sides vying for victory.

It was a surprise that play was possible at all given some forecasts, but play went ahead and ended with Northants requiring a further 171 with five wickets remaining.

The Shire were bowled out for 237 in their second innings, failing to build on their overnight 105-1 and post a big target. This was again a failure of batsman to build partnerships - the situation did need not require a big hundred, a few partnerships of 50 or 60 would have secured an unassailable lead.

The chase for a first championship win since 1st September 2007 has been severely hampered by injuries. Alex Gidman was clearly in no fit state to bat, and Ian Saxelby was wheeled out at number 11 - both players would have been expected to contribute significantly. Chris Taylor's 55 was not supported and Glos would have been disappointed to have only posted 370 - around 80 runs short of what they would have been aiming for to almost put a defeat beyond them.

As it is, a defeat is well untruly a possibility as a wonderfully composed partnership of 98 between Andrew Hall (50*) and David Willey (43*) has brought Northants back into the match.

While the close halted a Glos charge last night, the same event this evening will have come as a welcome break for the Shire who had Saxelby and James Franklin unavailable to bowl all afternoon, meaning the part-time seam of Hamish Marshall and Kadir Ali was called upon.

Even though hampered, Glos reduced Nothants to 102-5 and seemingly cruising to victory, but this latest partnership has pressurised the weakened attack and tomorrow could see the game swing either way.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Glos dominate on day two

DAY 2 Close: Glos 294 & 105-1 lead Northants 161 by 238 runs

Gloucestershire enjoyed a wonderful day's cricket on day two at Northampton as they took the initiative in the match and lead by a commanding 238.

Despite only lasting another five overs in the morning, the bowing attack got to work and dismissed Northants for 161. Glos lost Will Porterfield first ball of their second innings but reached 105-1 by the close.

Glos have done well to manoeuvre themselves into a strong position, as play tomorrow is doubtful. But with the lead they have, ten wickets in two and a half sessions on the final day is not beyond them. If they could post a target of 270 it would make for an interesting conclusion, and a good chance of victory.

The opening bowling partnership changed yet again; this time Steve Kirby and James Franklin opened up. Steve Kirby bowled with typical aggression got reward with his 4-41. It was another excellent display with the ball, plenty of control allowing pressure to build and Northants were dismissed for 161, giving Glos a lead of 133.

The day had started in the worst possible fashion for the Shire as they were denied a third batting point. Banerjee and Kirby were picked up within five overs to leave Saxelby stranded on 60. But despite a feeling of having not made the most of their opportunities, the runs on the board have seen Glos slide firmly into the driving seat.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Glos batsman flop in satisfactory day

DAY 1 Close: Glos 287-8 (Saxelby 54*, Snell 47; Wigley 4-68)

The Gloucestershire top order again failed on day one at Northampton, but Steve Snell and Ian Saxelby orchestrated a recovery that saw Glos put a score together and edge towards a third batting point.

The 300 mark should be surpassed in the morning and that is a sizable lead with a differing weather forecast. With the bowling attack hitting their straps thus far, working themselves into a strong position is very possible tomorrow.

136-5 was not what Alex Gidman had in mind when he won the toss and decided to bat first. The new ball claimed Kadir Ali and Hamish Marshall cheaply, but the remainder of the order, save Jon Lewis, worked themselves to a useful start, only to be dismissed.

Perhaps it is etched into the Shire's batsman; an ability to get one's eye in, look in good touch, play some nice strokes, but a lack of application to cash in on opportunities to score runs. This was certainly evident in the batsman today.

At least two of those players that found themselves in the high thirties have it in their job descriptions to produce a big total if scoreboard pressure is to be developed - I have mentioned this factor several times already, perhaps Mr. Bracewell should show the players this blog to identify that any old mug can see what they're failing to achieve!

Snell managed to knuckle down as far as 47 but it was number nine that was the first man to pass fifty. A controlled innings from Saxelby saw him reach an unbeaten 54 and saw out the close with Vikram Banerjee who successfully negotiated 29 balls for five runs.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Spearman and Franklin fit for Northants

TUESDAY 28th APRIL
Northants (a)
Northampton, LVCC, 11:00

Gloucestershire will go into Tuesday championship match at Northampton firmly believing they are capable of playing the cricket required to win four-day matches.

Several players have found early-season form and it will be a case of bringing an all-round game together to produce a first victory for two years.

In the games against Surrey and Essex the bowling attack - minus James Franklin for the best part of the second match - has threatened as a unit. So much so, as their is uncertainty over who should take the new ball. Jon Lewis' natural swing is an obvious choice but whether to partner him with the pace and aggresion of Steve Kirby, or the variation of Franklin's left-armers.

Somewhere between Alex Gidman and Franklin is an excellent all-rounder. Franklin has performed in his cricket so far, however, to fulfil his all-rounder mould, we need to see him produce runs at number six and be able to marshall the tail. It has been Lewis that has provided lower-order resistance thus far, but hopefully the New Zealander will find his range.

Gidman has been steadily accumulating runs and successfully backing up the bowling attack with his seamers. He needs to kick on and make a big score in this match to affirm his credentials as the club's premier batsman.

One of the batters needs to take their innings further and cash in. We have seen 60's and 70's so far, but that is only half the job for the top order. If 400 plus is going to be a regular first-innings achievement then we need to be seeing our specialist batsman scoring heavily.

Will Porterfield - on the back of his impressive season debut on Sunday - has been included in the 12-man squad.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Glos dominate in second one-day win

Gloucestershire 268-9 beat Surrey 140 by 128 runs

By Dom Mather

The Shire recorded a second one-day victory of the season as they brushed Surrey aside by 128 runs at Bristol.

Ian Saxelby starred with 4-31 after Will Porterfield's 74 from 84 balls set up the win.

After losing the toss and being asked to bat it was a stuttering start for Gloucestershire; Kadeer Ali and Hamish Marshall both fell early, caught behind off the very aggressive bowling of Andre Nel. But when Will Porterfield and skipper Alex Gidman joined forces in the middle the runs started flowing for the home side.

Porterfield hit three consecutive boundaries in one over, and the fifty partnership came up after only 56 balls. Porterfield’s run a ball half-century, with seven fours, also brought up the Glos’ 100 off 22 overs.

But Alex Gidman was given out to a debateable LBW on 31 off the South-African born Grant Elliot. And Elliot removed danger-man Porterfield for 74 off 84 balls.

Glos then stumbled to 183-6 after losing David Brown and Steve Adshead in consecutive balls, but Chris Taylor took took the innings forward, hitting 63 in partnership with Jon Lewis, who made an excellent 32 from 30 balls.

286-9 - aided by 3 penalty runs courtesy of a Jade Dernbach beamer - looked an extremely competitive total and so it proved as almost from the beginning of the Surrey reply you could tell that they were in trouble; Surrey were reduced to 85-6 before being rolled for just 140.

Taylor claimed a trademark stunning catch at gully to give Saxelby his first wicket, before enducing a top-edge from Brown for his second.

Steve Kirby removed Mark Ramprakash for a duck, as his edge was taken spectacularly by Adshead and a farcial run-out saw Jon Batty depart.

Taylor took an even better catch to remove Elliot - an absolutely phenomenal effort - before Vikram Banerjee picked up two wickets and Saxelby having the final word, as Nel cut into his stumps.

The match looks like a good omen for the Glosters, with Ian Saxelby, Will Porterfield, Chris Taylor and Vikram Banerjee all looking to be in fine form. Here's hoping it may continue to Tuesday's trip to Northampton in the championship.

Official Report: www.gloscricket.co.uk

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Glosters Out To Avenge World Record Loss

SUNDAY 26th APRIL
Surrey (h)
Bristol, FPT, 10:45

By Dom Mather

Gloucestershire meet Surrey tomorrow in their second Friends Provident Trophy match of the season and are hoping for consecutive wins after beating Sussex last week by seven wickets.

James Franklin looks like a shrewd signing, after taking seven wickets whilst adjusting to English conditions he is quickly becoming a key player for the Shire, however after a hamstring twinge he is a doubt and captain Alex Gidman says he will not be sure about the Kiwi until Sunday morning.

Craig Spearman is also in a race against the clock; the former New Zealand Batsman who made 69 runs without falling last Sunday has damaged his thigh and may be out until the match versus Northamptonshire.

Gloucestershire are hoping to make a mends after the last time these teams met in 2007 where Glos lost by 257 runs after Surrey had made a world record 496 in their 50 overs.

One of the hot prospects who is looking to make that happen is left-arm orthodox bowler Vikram Banerjee who took two wickets in consecutive balls at the end of his spell last week; Banerjee had not been in the One Day plans before this season and is now showing former captain Jon Lewis his selection mistake.

After his international duty, during which he scored a century, Will Porterfield returns to the Gloucestershire squad.

Gloucestershire (from): Kadeer Ali, Marshall, Gidman (capt), Spearman, Porterfield, Hodnett, Taylor, Brown, Adshead (wkt), Banerjee, Saxelby, Lewis, Kirby, Franklin.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Green pitch costs Glos

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

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

16 wickets on Day Two leaves Glos on the ropes

Day 2 Close: Glos 155 & 115-9 (Masters 11-4-12-3) lead Essex 177 (Gidman 15.1-6-23-3) by 93 runs

An extraordinary day's cricket at Bristol, in which 16 wickets fell, left Gloucestershire fighting to stay in their second county championship match at Bristol.

After performing well in the morning and early afternoon to bowl Essex out for 177 and then making a solid start to their second-innings, a dramatic collapse saw 9 wickets fall for just 69 runs as the Shire finished the day just 93 runs ahead with one wicket remaining

The day had begun well for Glos who took four cheap wickets in the morning session.

Ian Saxelby made the initial breakthrough and a ludicrous attempted third-run, saw Hamish Marshall run Mark Pettini out with a direct hit from the third-man boundary. Marshall then took an excellent low catch at slip off Jon Lewis, before Alex Giman - who operated from the Jessop's stand end for the majority of the morning - enticed a slender edge from Jaik Mickleburgh for the first of his three wickets.

A late flurry from Ryan ten Doeschate pushed Essex up to 177 to give Essex a lead of 22.

The Shire safely negotiated the deficit and looked set to produce a competitive target at 51-0. But when ten Doeschate broke the partnership, batsman fluently tumbled to leave the final pair battling to creep the target up to something more competitive.

Had James Franklin survived until tomorrow, reaching a target of 120 plus would have been realistic, but with regulation tailenders at the crease, every run will be a bonus.

For the second time in the match, Essex have used the green pitch and overcast conditions to their full advantage. David Masters in particular, threatened regularly and was unfortunate to only claim three wickets of the lower order.

The hope will be that the target can be edged up above 110 and then something special can be produced with the ball. If the conditions remain as bowler friendly, and James Franklin returns to the field, then the Shire will have a chance to pull off an unlucky victory.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Glos struggle on Day 1

DAY 1 Close: Essex 60-3 (Franklin 2-7) trail Glos 155 (Marshall 64; ten Doeschate 5-62) by 75 runs

Gloucestershire had a poor day with the bat as they were bowled out for just 155 by Essex on day one at Bristol.

Alex Gidman lost what appeared to be a crucial toss on a green pitch, and so it proved as David Masters dismissed both openers as the Shire slumped to 38-4. A recovery of sorts was then negotiated by Hamish Marshall - who went on to make 64 - and James Franklin (21) in the day's highest partnership of 55.

However, Masters dismissed Franklin and Ryan ten Doeschate got to work on the Shire's lower order. The tail falling over as the last six wickets went down for a mere 62 runs; ten Doeschate finishing with an excellent 5-62.

The Essex bowlers certainly put the new Tiflex ball in the right areas and made full use of the wicket's assistance.

Glos then had the evening session to make inroads. The debate over the new ball still rages on; Steve Kirby was handed it today, but his eight overs saw no results. James Franklin appeared first change and worked wonders in his first three overs. He only conceded a single and removed both openers LBW with swinging deliveries. Jon Lewis picked up another as Essex closed 60-3.

Tomorrow's morning session could prove the key moment in the game. Should the Shire pick up two or three quick wickets, they will fancy their chances to dismiss Essex without conceding too much of a lead. However, the visitors have a good opportunity to take the game away from the Glos, if they can bat a majority of the second day.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Shire make winning start

A seven wicket victory got Gloucestershire's one-day season off to the perfect start as they continued their impressive record against Sussex.

It is now 13 years since the south-east county registered a victory at Bristol, as they were bowled out for 227 and then saw Craig Spearman make an unbeaten 69, as Glos won with 22 balls to spare.

Spearman's innings was the first of note since his horrific injury at Milton Keynes last summer. Supporters that day will recall the horrendous sight of Spearman injuries, but warmly cheered the return to success for the New Zealander, who shared a partnership of 122 with Chris Taylor (68 not out) to steer the shire home.

The Gloucestershire chase was well-paced and comfortable. After losing Kadir Ali for a duck, Hamish Marshall's 27 and Alex Giman's 43 set a good platform. The key was to keep wickets in hand and build the innings - Spearman and Taylor achieved this wonderfully, as patient batting was required with a slow outfield and big boundaries.

Earlier in the day, the Gloucestershire of old had returned in the field, as disciplined bowling and energetic fielding created the pressure that saw wickets fall at regular intervals.

Steve Kirby (1-43), Jon Lewis (2-34) and Gidman (2-38) did the early damage before Vikram Banerjee - making the most of his early season opportunities - took the useful wicket of Matt Prior (50) on his way to 3-47.

Alex Gidman called for his team to do the simple things well before this match, and the performance certainly answered the captain's call; a very pleasing victory for the shire in a tournament where getting victories on the board early is a great step towards qualification - as last year proved. And seeing off a useful Sussex side will be a big morale boost ahead of the visit of Surrey next Sunday.

Official report: www.gloscricket.co.uk

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Glos face Sussex in Bristol opener

SUNDAY 19th APRIL
Gloucestershire v Sussex
Bristol, FPT, 12:00

Live coverage on BBC Radio Bristol and on Twitter: www.twitter.com/TheShire09

Cricket returns to the county ground on Sunday as the shire open their Friends Provident campaign against a Sussex side who have not been victorious at Bristol since 1996.

Good weather is forecast for the match so hopefully the new drainage system won't be required, however, the test will be how well the new turf has bedded in or weather the match would be better staged at the Memorial Ground.

Sussex arrive having only won three 50-over matches since lifting the trophy in 2006, but boast a competitive squad - including England wicketkeeper Matt Prior - that claimed the pro40 title last season.

Although Gloucestershire have had the upper hand over Sussex in recent seasons they will be wary of Luke Wright, who's wonderful 125 from 73 balls defeated the shire at Hove in 2007.

The only likely team change for the Glos from the draw at Surrey will be David Brown for Kadir Ali. Brown will provide an extra bowling option, the type of which is effective in one-day cricket by containing the opposition.

A competitive contest is expected, with excting one-day cricketers on both sides but hopefully the shire's one-day pedigree will return and the excellent record against Sussex at Bristol can continue.

Time eludes Glos as they settle for draw

DAY 4 Close: Surrey 160 & 64-2 drew with Gloucestershire 333 Pts. Surrey: 7 Glos: 10

Gloucestershire impressed as they secured a draw in the opening county championship match at the Oval.

Managing to take nine of the 17 wickets required in the day, the Glos lead was still 109 when players agreed a result could not be possible late into the afternoon on day four.

Earlier in the day, a good morning performance from the shire's bowlers saw Surrey bowled out for 160. Although at one stage Surrey were 46-6 so the Glos might feel slightly disappointed not to have wrapped the innings up quicker. It was Uzman Afzaal's resistance which kept them at bay for a while, even threatening to take Surrey past the follow-on target with 65.

The wickets were spread around; two each for Kirby, Saxelby and Banerjee - justifying the spinner's selection - as Glos forced Surrey to bat again, and reduced them to 24-2 before Ali Brown clubbed 35 as Surrey reached 5pm to claim the draw.

Gloucestershire can take a lot out of their opening match, playing some good cricket and getting on top in a match which they would have been favourite's to win, had it not been for rain interuptions. The bowling was very deciplined and threatening throughout against a quality batting line-up. And Alex Gidman had several bowlers to turn to; there was an interesting debate over who should take the new ball.

One would like to see them work harder in the middle order to build partnerships and take the innings to a different level, rather than simply allowing the good work of the top order to peter out, and for batsman who are "in" to seize their opportunities and make a big score, in order to really develop scoreboard pressure. Hopefully this can be achieved against Essex at Bristol, starting on Tuesday.

Official report: www.gloscricket.co.uk

Friday, April 17, 2009

Day Three washout leaves Glos with tough task

Gloucestershire require the tall order of taking 17 Surrey wickets on the final day at the Oval after day three of the match was abandoned without a ball bowled.

After a 1:15pm inspection, bad light prevented play for much of the afternoon, rain then returned to scupper any hopes of action.

183 is the follow-on target and the shire will need to defend this total to stand any chance of victory. Should they be made to bat again, then time will surely defeat them.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Glos emerge from the rain on the up

DAY 2 Close: Surrey 18-3 (Franklin 5.2-2-11-2) Glos 333

It took until after tea for play to get underway on the second day at The Oval, but Gloucestershire managed to work themselves into a strong position in under two hours play possible.

The shire could only add an extra 12 to their overnight total, as Jade Dernbach - who did the damage to the Glos' middle order on the first day - wrapped up the tail to deny the westcountrymen a fourth batting point.

Surrey then began their innings under laden skies and the shire's swing attack got to work. James Franklin immediately justifying his recruitment by taking two wickets in his 5.2 possible overs. Excellent full swinging deliveries cleaned up both openers before Jon Lewis swung one into Matthew Spriegel's pads to reduce Surrey to 18-3 at the close.

The follow-on target of 183 is now a realistic aim for the Glos to defend, as despite not making as much of the conditions on day one as perhaps was required, more aggressive bowling tomorrow morning could see the shire press home their advantage. However, the forecast for tomorrow is extremely poor.

Official report: www.gloscricket.co.uk

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Glos relinquish initiative

DAY 1 Close: Glos 321-8 (Ali 90, Marshall 76, Gidman 69; Nel 19-6-46-3, Dernbach 16-0-3-73)

A dramatic middle order collapse saw Gloucestershire relinquish their strong early position on the opening day of the season.

At 247-2, the shire were well placed to post a big first innings total, but two wickets from James Benning's steady seam bowling removed Kadir Ali (90) and captain Alex Gidman (69) to spark a collapse that saw seven wickets fall for just 37 runs.

Earlier in the day, a second wicket stand of 126 saw Hamish Marshall make 76 before he played on, but a 121 stand between Ali and Gidman steered the glos into a strong position. But James Benning had Ali LBW and Gidman pushed at a ball in the same over and was caught behind.

Jade Dernbach then returned with the second new ball to claim three further wickets and put Surrey on top after day one.

The shire had a great opportunity to push for a big score and take control of the match, however, a failure of batsman to go on and make big scores has seen the initiative lost. In addition, no-one was able to take control in the lower order to produce a rebuilding act.

Jon Lewis provided good resistance late in the day and his 27 off 24 balls could edge the shire up to a fourth batting point.

While moderate scoreboard pressure does exist, the flat Surrey pitch warrants a higher par score. Gloucestershire will probably be in the field before lunch tomorrow and favourable bowling conditions will need to be exploited if the shire are to regain the initiative in this match.

Official report: www.gloscricket.co.uk

First up: Surrey

The shire have a tough opening match of the 2009 season, with a trip to the Oval to face a Surrey side looking to bounce back up to the first division at the first attempt.

Glos will be able to field recent signing James Franklin in their line up, but runs will be the name of the game on one of the flattest pitches in the country. It will be essential that big runs are made first innings in order to become competitive in this match.

For which reason, I can see David Brown being included in the final 11. With rain forcast for Thursday and Friday, I cannot see the pitch wearing sufficiently to make spin a great factor, and with Brown's better batting ability, he will be able to bolster the lower order.

Surrey boast an experienced line up and it will be a test for the new attack, but the new Tiflex ball, and April clouds will provide ideal conditions for the shire to be aggressive in the field.

BLOG PREDICTION: Entertaining draw

Blog Coverage - 2009 Season

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