Saturday, May 30, 2009

Glos claim first win in Derby

T20: Gloucestershire 162-8 beat Somerset 141-5 by 21 runs

Different day, different weather, different location and thankfully different result for Gloucestershire, as a much improved performance claimed a 21-run win over Somerset.

Taunton was bathed in sunshine all day and the compact ground was even more a pleasure to watch cricket than usual; anyone making the trip was treated to the conditions the sport was made for. In total contrast to Wednesday's misery in the cold empty Cardiff rubberdome, this was an exceptional afternoon out as Glos dominated their local rivals.

At the interval the general consensus was that Somserset were favourites chasing just above eight-an-over, but the Shire were back to their best in the field and the target was defended comfortably.

I was most pleased for Steve Kirby, who answered any critics with a devastating spell. He found a perfect line and length to limit scoring, and picked up both openers in a spell of 4-0-17-2. He led the attack that rose to the occasion wonderfully to give Glos their first Twenty20 win of the season.

The twin spin attack of Vikram Banerjee and Richard Dawson was an inspired selection, as their eight overs went for just 50. Dawson also contributed 27 from 20 balls to bolster the innings, just as it looked as if tumbling wickets were again going to thwart chances of setting a competitive total.

There was a failure to build a big partnership, as batsman made runs in brief flurries, aside Craig Spearman's swashbuckling 51 from 29 balls that was the highlight of a frustrating Glos innings that seemed 30 runs short; the fielding effort proved this not to be the case.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Glos lose in drab affair

T20: Glamorgan 166-6 beat Gloucestershire 127 by 39 runs

Gloucestershire slumped to their second consecutive Twenty20 defeat as they went down by 39 runs in a truly awful cricketing display by the Shire.

There was a distinct lack of determination or passion on display by Glos, who never got into the game on a damp, chilly evening in the virtually empty Sophia Gardens. The batting again failed and although the author favours the current balance of the team, alterations must surely have to be considered.

Chasing above eight-an-over, an opening flurry was followed by what is becoming a customary collapse by the Glos order. There is such a lack of being able to consolidate and this is creating pressure down the order that in Twenty20, there is little time to recover from.

Will Porterfield played some nice strokes before being bowled by a good slower ball; 9-36 followed, including another failure for Alex Gidman, who's place in the team must surely be coming under scrutiny following a series of poor one-day performances.

The bowling display would have to go down as the worst this season, as the overweight journeyman of county cricket - Mark Cosgrove - was able to take the Glos attack apart in his 52 from 39 balls.

Too many four balls were sent down and Gemaal Hussain in particular, looked as if he was simply running into bowl without thinking.

To their credit the Shire fought back in the second-half of the Glamorgan innings, as the 10-an-over 86 opening stand was pegged back, largely thanks to Richard Dawson's 0-18 from four overs. But in amongst the improvement was several misfields that gave away needless runs and allowed the home side to accumulate their total.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Glos fail in small chase

T20: Worcestershire 145-7 beat Gloucestershire 122 by 23 runs

Gloucestershire again failed in half of the game at New Road to slip to an opening game defeat in the Twenty20 cup.

After performing well being asked to bowl first, the Shire restricted Worcestershire to just 145-7 from 20 overs, but a terribly-managed chase left Glos 23 runs short - a huge disappointment given the first half of the game and an opening stand of 41.

But Hamish Marshall played his usual quick-fire innings and that sparked a ridiculous collapse - worse than that experienced at the Oval recently, with nine wickets falling for just 52 runs.

Nobody, save Will Porterfield briefly and Jon Lewis' late heroics, dedicated a moment's thought to reading the game situation. The target was just above 7-an-over - quite frankly a doddle in Twenty20 - and yet the batsman played like they were chasing 17-an-over.

The key to a run-chase is to preserve wickets; even if the rate climbed to 8/9-an-over, so long as no less than seven wickets were intact, the target would have been easily achievable. But the gung-ho attitude the Glos batsman went out with was one of the most unprofessional things one has seen.

Alex Gidman's miserable form in one-day cricket continued, as his registered a fourth-ball duck. If he is only playing five specialist batsman, he has got to start weighing in with runs - if this continues then his place must surely be in doubt if the balance of the side is to remain as it is.

What made the defeat even more frustrating was that it had been an excellent effort by the Glos five-man attack, with Gemaal Hussain bowling with pace and enjoying a dream debut as his four overs claimed 2-17. In stark contrast to the other pace bowler, as Steve Kirby showed why he is always doubted in one-day cricket by going for above 10-an-over; although his extra pace did take three wickets.

Richard Dawson bowled tidily in conceding 26 in four overs, although nothing to suggest he will be a permanent replacement for Vikram Banerjee. Talking of spinners, the ex-Shire Ian Fisher popped up with 3-13 to shove two fingers up to the Nevil Road management and significantly contribute to the 23-run win.

The return of Twenty20

This week's fixtures:
Worcestershire (a)
New Road, 17:30

Glamorgan (a)
Sophia Gardens, 19:00

Somerset (a)
Taunton, 17:30

Gloucestershire get their Twenty20 campaign underway later today when they will travel to New Road to face Worcestershire.

Having played some excellent one-day cricket so far this season, the hope will be the 50-over success can be transferred into the 20-over arena, as progress in this competition could lead to a lucrative champions league invitation.

But many members will be settling for improvement on last year's debacle, where only one win was recorded. An improvement in weather wouldn't go a miss either, following the complete washout of both West Country derbies.

No better place to start the recovery than at New Road, which saw a disastrous bowling performance from Glos in last year's opening fixture, who, defending a competitive 168, were humbled by nine wickets as the captaincy and team morale looked very shaky.

The second game sees a trip across the Severn to face a Glamorgan side that reached the quarter-final stage last year, but on paper do not possess the most threatening of outfits and the Shire will be encouraged by their six-wicket win in the Friends Provident Trophy last summer. With rain forecast for the early part of the week, it will be an interesting test for the sophia gardens ground come 7pm Wednesday.

On Friday, the Shire will travel down to Taunton for a derby match against Somerset that is sure to produce another fabulous game of cricket. Having conceded a world record score in 2006 on their way to defeat by 117-runs, the 2007 meeting produced complete reversal in fortunes as Carl Greenidge's finest (only?) hour helped Glos to an eight wicket win.

A trip to Taunton is always highly anticipated by Gloucestershire supporters, and Friday will be a great chance to get one over our rivals in what is sure to be a great game of cricket.

With only 20-overs, required run-rates can escalate extremely quickly and chasing any score is a difficult task. Glos need to play to their strengths; get a score on the board and bowl and field like Gloucestershire teams have always done. There is no doubting we have a very capable squad, who will be full of confidence.

Early wins are needed to get the ball rolling - momentum played a part in the Friends Provident success and it can do also in this tournament. If points can be acquired sooner rather than later, it makes qualification that much easier; and qualification should be a more than realistic aim.

Richard Dawson and Gemaal Hussain have been included in the squad for Worcester. Alex Gidman has said that five bowlers will be picked - perhaps he was reading this blog? As the author has always called for our batsman to be backed to get the runs, and enough bowling should be picked to avoid an awkward fifth-bowler scenario.

And can someone please tell somebody to remove the poster on the Jessop's stand, advertising LAST YEAR'S T20 fixtures - quite embarrassing to say the least, and another example of the club's very lacklustre approach to marketing.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

"No problem" for Clark

Gloucestershire chief-executive Tom Richardson has declared that a deal is in place to bring the Australian fast-bowler Stuart Clark to Nevil Road on a short-term deal.

Speaking to http://www.gloscricket.co.uk/ Richardson said providing Clark could acquire a visa it was "no problem" that the Sydney-born international would be joining Glos.

So a quality replacement has been found to fill James Franklin's absence, and one would envisage Clark having a major impact in the two championship fixtures his deal covers. His addition to the bowling attack will help Glos' chances of taking 20 wickets against Derbyshire and Middlesex and continuing their excellent start to the season.

However, the issue still exists over whether it's right that counties should be handing warm-ups to Australian players ahead of the Ashes. That is a concern because we are obviously all England supporters and want success for the national team, but a great chance to bolster the squad surely cannot be overlooked? It is a difficult decision, because it is not good practise to fall out of favour with the ECB, but Gloucestershire have a duty to their members and this is certainly a positive move.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Defeated shire claim top spot - Q/F date resolved

FPT: Gloucestershire 254-8 lost to Durham 255-6 by four wickets

Gloucestershire went down by four wickets at Durham in their final Friends Provident Trophy group match, but still qualified top of Group C by virtue of Sussex's defeat to Surrey.

At the Riverside, there were echos of last season's pro40 match, as Glos were inserted and reduced to 13-3. It took another recovery operation from James Franklin (85) and Steve Adshead (87) to bail out the top four, who between them contributed just 19 runs.

Franklin and Adshead seem to like batting with one another, as another fabulous stand of 175 was built on a steady beginning, before good acceleration - particularly from Adshead who again played shots of a man in-form - pushed the score up to something very defendable. Taken on merit, the effort was decent considering they had been asked to bat and posted a competitive score, but delving deeper into the details shows just what an effort it was.

However, Durham managed this chase far better than their attempt at Bristol. A 63 opening stand set the tone for the reply, as meaningful partnerships were built to waltz the home side to victory. Glos couldn't find the wickets that were required to apply the pressure, and when they did pinch one, failed to bag another cheaply enough to enable the tension to rise sufficiently.

Gloucestershire have drawn Nottinghamshire at home in the quarter-finals. This game will take place at Bristol on Tuesday 16th June with a 12:00pm start.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Glos line up Clark

Gloucestershire have indicated they would be interested in signing Australian fast bowler Stuart Clark as cover for James Franklin.

With Franklin set to be away throughout June, the Shire are lining up potential replacements, and Clark, who will join up with the Australian ashes squad, has been sounded out as a candidate.

Questions will again be asked of whether counties should be offering preparation to the Australian players ahead of an ashes series, so one is caught between a rock and a hard place as to which opinion to take.

With a Glos hat on, the signing of an international front-line bowler would be a excellent addition to a squad set to face championship games against Derbyshire, Middlesex and Kent in June, amongst the Twenty20 fixtures. However, do we want to be branded as the county that gave the Aussie's a boost before the ashes?

While the argument over Middlesex's Phil Hughes can swing both ways - with some arguing that his exposure in the county game will give the England backroom staff a chance to assess him, giving the home side an advantage, with a bowler however, I believe the benefits can only be stacked on one side of the fence - and that side is not in the northern hemisphere.

It is good to see that the club are weighing up for a big name replacement of our oversees player - one assumed we would make do for a month. But an Australian isn't the easiest nationality to digest, particularly at this time. Although winning back the ashes against a more prepared Australia would taste all the sweeter!

Gemaal Hussain, a 26-year old fast-bowler, has been signed on a two-year deal following successes in the Birmingham league and a trial with the Shire earlier this year.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Glos Cricket Radio to launch


An independent internet radio operation is set to launch to provide coverage of Gloucestershire's county championship matches.

For the remaining 12 matches of the season, www.gloscricketradio.co.uk will stream live ball-by-ball coverage, and produce a podcast, also available to download from the website.

The voluntary venture had been set-up to provide a service to the cricketing community and will fill the gap left by BBC Radio Bristol by providing supporters with comprehensive coverage of four-day fixtures.

The venture does have small costs to cover however, and its long term future depends on the ability to source commercial partners. If anyone would like to discuss advertising and sponsorship opportunities with the website and radio, they should e-mail commercial@gloscricketradio.co.uk

The first broadcast will begin at 10:45am on Saturday 6th June, with live ball-by-ball coverage of Gloucestershire’s trip to Chesterfield to face Derbyshire.

Glos Cricket Radio is totally independent of Gloucestershire county cricket club

Friday, May 15, 2009

Wash-out ensures qualification

FPT: Gloucestershire 306-9 v Sussex Match Abandoned

Gloucestershire confirmed their passage to the quarter-finals of the Friends Provident Trophy as the game at Sussex was abandoned at tea.

The Shire had managed to bat themselves into a strong position having posted 306-9 from their 50-overs, before the heavens opened.

After sensibly deciding to bat, Alex Gidman batted at three and was one of a number of players who managed to play themselves in and then get out. Hamish Marshall once again had supporters tearing their hair out, as a quick start was ended all too soon as he failed to build upon his run-a-ball 32.

But there were many positives from the innings, as a big total was built with all but Chris Taylor of the batsmen contributing. James Franklin again proved his worth as an all-rounder with useful runs, and Steve Adshead continued his fine form with 66 not out from just 45 deliveries.

The performance showed good character by the Shire who bounced back from the abysmal showing at Surrey, but as the competition progresses one of these players "in" needs to make a big score - in the manner of Ramprakash on Wednesday. Far too often it is down to Adshead, Franklin, Lewis to make a significant contribution; it needs to be the top order who are getting all the runs.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Gidman leads Glos to embarrassing defeat

FPT: Surrey 306-6 beat Gloucestershire 142 by 164 runs

Alex Gidman's decision to bowl first at the Oval must surely be singled out as the reason for Gloucestershire's first one-day defeat of the season.

After taking the plaudits for the Shire's wonderful start to the season, Gidman must take full responsibility for a major error of judgement that cost Glos this match. Surrey were able to rack up 306-6, forcing the visitors to chase the game. The pressure told and a total of just 142 was total humiliation from the team billed as the pace-setters in this year's competition.

It doesn't matter how wet the outfield was, or how much cloud their was in the sky, or whether rain was forecast for later, no factor could detract away from the wonderfully flat and hard Oval wicket that is a dream to bat on. The only choice was to get first use of it and Gidman turned it down.

What went through the man's head? Forgetting for a second that the method by which Gloucestershire have historically won one-day matches is by setting a good target and then applying the "squeeze", there was another man who had a brainwave about bowling first on a great batting track - a certain Nasser Hussain. Perhaps Gidman assumed lightening wouldn't strike twice? Perhaps he was arrogant enough to assume his bowlers would fire the opposition out, even on a road?

Whatever his reasoning, out to bowl the Shire went, and they could only stand and admire at Mark Ramprakash giggling his way to 121 - such was his bemusement at being given the chance to bat first on his home ground.

In the face of such adversity, Gidman managed to play the worst shot of the day - offering up a simple catch when only on 3, albeit the game was up by then as the top order buckled under the pressure of the six-an-over target.

A way back into the game had been offered by Will Porterfield (42) and Chris Taylor (25) but the first of two run-outs scuppered the glimmer of light as Glos flopped to a hideously embarrassing defeat - one which I am absolutely sure would have been avoided, were it not for Gidman's blunder.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Glos battle to victory

FPT: Gloucestershire 221-7 beat Yorkshire 217-9 by three wickets

Gloucestershire ground out a very hard-fought victory over Yorkshire at Bristol to place one foot into the quarter-final of Friends Provident trophy.

It was Steve Adshead's excellent 56 from 57 balls that dug the Shire out of a hole that had been created by the bowling of David Wainwright who took three wickets for no runs and left Glos reeling at 107-6. But Adshead led the recovery with James Franklin, who's 51 not out saw the Shire home.

After useful runs the previous day, Adshead continued to play excellent one-day cricket and smashed two sixes into the tennis courts on his way to guiding his team to the winning line. He built a partnership with Franklin steadily: working the gaps and running exceptionally between the wickets. It was unfortunate that he couldn't complete the job, but received a deserved ovation for his efforts as he left the field.

Franklin justified his signing with a vital innings, and Glos fans will be pleased to see a genuine impact from their oversees. He played with intelligence alongside Adshead to continue the Shire's unbeaten start to the competition.

The victory might have been far more comprehensive. Yorkshire were reduced to 49-5 with Jon Lewis' three wickets, and it took a 115 stand led by captain Anothny McGrath (67) to haul the visitors back into contention. The effort certainly transformed the match that at one stage had looked like another drab one-sided affair (not that we mind those too much!)

But impact-of-the-day must surely go to Wainwright who had Chris Taylor caught and bowled, removed Alex Gidman for a duck and then ended Will Porterfield's innings as he looked to move the Shire towards victory, all within his first two overs. But Adshead and Franklin battled hard and their 106 partnership steered the Shire to a memorable win.

Official report: www.gloscricket.co.uk

Friends Provident Trophy Group C
1. Gloucestershire PLD: 5 PTS: 10
2. Sussex PLD: 5 PTS: 6
3. Yorkshire PLD: 5 PTS: 4
4. Surrey PLD: 4 PTS: 2
5. Durham PLD: 5 PTS: 2

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Durham demolition keeps up winning streak


Gloucestershire 301-8 beat Durham 153 by 148 runs

Gloucestershire completed a 148 run win over Durham to maintain their position at the top of group C in the Friends Provident Trophy.

On a glorious afternoon for cricket, a good crowd witnessed the Shire rack up 301 before early wickets scuppered any chance of a Durham chase to produce their most comfortable victory of the campaign.

Durham possessed a potentially destructive batting line up, and both openers were dropped in the first two balls of the innings; signs were ominous. But both were dismissed to poor shots and only Gareth Breese's controlled 47 showed any signs of engaging with the batting required to chase such an imposing target.

The win was built around a fantastic start to the Glos innings, as Will Porterfield continued his excellent run of form with 68 from 71 balls and shared a partnership of 116 with Hamish Marshall (56 from 50 balls). The pair played aggressively to fire up the innings and set up the big total.

A larger total might have been expected, but for a mid-innings collapse that saw 118-1 turn into 210-6. Suddenly 280 became a good score, and Chris Taylor's run-a-ball 71 ensured that was met. Taylor played with great intelligence: playing himself in before accelerating at appropriate moments. It was a fine innings and showed the experience of a man in his benefit year.

Further knocks from Steve Adshead (39 from 37 balls), who again showed his one-day pedigree, and some lusty hitting from Jon Lewis (27 from 24 balls) edged the Shire past the 300 mark, and the total proved too much for Durham.
Official report: www.gloscricket.co.uk
Pictures: Nick Case

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.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Glos edge forward

Leicestershire 133 and 243-6 trail Gloucestershire 293 by 17 runs

Gloucestershire moved closer to consecutive county championship victories by taking six Leicestershire wickets in the second innings on day three at Bristol.

They will resume in the morning still 17 ahead and confident of completing a victory, which will be deserved for the excellent cricket played so far in this match.

Although the sun shone amongst patchy cloud, a viscous blustery wind swept across the county ground and made conditions less than desirable for players and spectators alike. But Jon Lewis ran in against it to claim 3-27 and move the Shire to within sight of victory.

The day began with Steve Snell continuing his excellent innings and it was a shame he couldn't make a century, but it had been his supporting act the previous day that set up the lead, which ended at 260. It was a great effort from the batsman to compile the largest total of the season, and a marvellous recovery from 70-4.

But again the visitors made a positive start to their reply and a 127 opening stand frustrated Glos. But they were able to chip away at the wickets and claimed two with the second new ball late in the day to put them in the driving seat.

Lewis found some extra bounce and, after trapping Paul Nixon LBW, managed to find a bottom edge from Wyane White's first ball as he attempted to leave, and Will Porterfield claimed an excellent low catch at second slip.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Glos assume control at Bristol

DAY 2 Close: Gloucestershire 361-7 lead Leicestershire 133 by 228 runs

The second day was a one of stark contrast to the first at Bristol, as only two wickets fell as Gloucestershire built up a commanding lead.

Alex Gidman fashioned his way to a wonderful 159 to record the first Glos century of the season. He played with great style in a throwback to the England A days, to drive the Shire into a winning position, as bad light curtailed play.

Steve Snell was very much part of the act, and worked hard supporting Gidman in a partnership worth 128 - the like of which we haven't seen too much of this season. He remains 69 not out alongside Tom Stayt, who's useful 30 from 46 balls ensured the Shire a fourth batting point; some real hitting would be required to claim a fifth.

Gidman played a proper captain's knock to begin with. Patient and watchful under yesterday's laden skies, all too aware of the tumbling wickets and the predicament of the Essex match. But today the sun shone and Gidman grasped his opportunity and struck 22 boundaries with the air of a man who was in complete control - a fantastic innings and long, long overdue.

With two days to play, the Shire will look to bat on, gain a lead of 300 and give themselves five sessions to bowl Leicestershire out; the differing weather forecasts can only improve the conditions for bowling.

Official report: www.gloscricket.co.uk

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Another wild days play at Bristol

DAY 1 Close: Gloucestershire 75-4 Leicestershire 133 (Pts: Glos 3, Leics 1)

It was another unusual day at Bristol on day one of the county championship match between Gloucestershire and Leicestershire, as 14 wickets fell in conditions that were heavily in favour of the bowler.

Leicestershire actually managed to reach 83-0, before the onslaught of wickets left the prospect of four day's play extremely unlikely, with just two-and-a-half innings remaining already, and bowler-friendly conditions set to remain.

The visiting batsmen gritted out the first session, in testing conditions. Jon Lewis in particular, bowled very economically and pressurised the batsman, who, to their credit, did not yield before lunch and made a tidy partnership that had Alex Gidman scratching his head as he continually changed the bowling with five men used before the interval.

On resumption however, eight wickets fell for just 13 runs as Anthony Ireland answered his critics (most notably yours truly) to send Leicestershire crashing with 6-31. The Zimbabwean got into a wonderful rhythm and was able to land the ball on a sixpence and the conditions did the rest.

A brief flurry from the tail pushed the total to 133, before the Shire themselves were reduced to 20-3. One wonders if the ECB ground-inspectors will be in touch, following the second consecutive four-day pitch that has not encouraged proper competitive cricket.

Alex Gidman recovered the situation and reached 34 not out at the close, but the Shire are still under pressure after losing Chris Taylor moments before.

It will be more hard work for Glos tomorrow, who will be aiming for 250 in order to take charge of the match, and much application at the crease is required if that is to happen.

Official report: www.gloscricket.co.uk

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Glos can make it a brace

WEDNESDAY 6th MAY - SATURDAY 9th MAY
Leicestershire (h)
Bristol, LVCC, 11:00

Gloucestershire go into Wednesday's county championship match against Leicestershire with aspirations of claiming another victory and continuing their impressive start to the season.

Last week's victory at Northampton will have been a big relief for the players who had to wait 19 months to record another four-day win, but hopefully now the winning feeling is back and the cricket that is required to win in the championship can be reproduced.

A major reservation of the Shire, however, is the injury situation. The first choice X1 is strong and one would expect any team to be given a decent game, however, the Glos sincerely lack strength in depth and the sight of several first choice players on the physio's table is concerning.

James Franklin hasn't been completely fit since his arrival and although his absence hasn't cost much, it would be desirable to have the oversees player out on the pitch more often than not!

Saying that, Tom Stayt enjoyed a good season debut at Headingley. He bowled with some pace and could prove useful in four-day cricket, when simply containment is not enough. His non-inclusion in the 2nd X1 squad bound for Surrey this week suggests he is set to play against Leicestershire.

Leicestershire being one of the weaker teams in the division, and the game being at Bristol, the money is surely on the in-form Glos looking to go one better than the two draws the teams managed last season. Particularly as in the two meetings, the Shire were in good positions to force a victory, but were thwarted by the weather.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Glos make it three in a row

Gloucestershire 269 beat Yorkshire 241-8 by 28 runs.

Gloucstershire avenged last season's Friends Provident Trophy quarter-final defeat by comfortably beating Yorkshire at Headingley.

The win was just desserts for a fantastic one-day performance that further highlighted the Shire's credentials in this form of the game.

After posting an excellent total, it took patient cricket and pressure to claim the wickets that eventually put paid to Yorkshire's chase. The chilly breeze and Jacques Rudolf's 118 caused a few nerves amongst the Glos' supporters, but once the run-rate began to rise the Shire had the opposition at their mercy.

A third straight victory in the competition was set up by a controlled batting display and a vintage knock from Craig Spearman, whose 92 from 71 was a pleasure to witness.

Glos worked their way to 269 by building meaningful partnerships. Kadeer Ali (63) and Will Porterfield (37) shared an extremely well-managed stand of 88. They simply ticked the scoreboard over and punished any loose bowling - including three sixes into the member's stand.

Spearman began sluggishly and moved very gingerly early on - it was noted that better running would have perhaps been worth an extra ten runs - but got into his stride and took responsibility after running Ali out in a ludicrous mix up. Some wonderful hitting brought him close to what would have been a deserved century, but he holed out going for another big shot.

The Glos' innings stuttered in the latter stages and to be bowled out when 270-plus was on the cards was a disappointment, but the fielding performance defended the total with ease.

A 67 opening stand was broken by Jon Lewis before 10 overs for 34 by Chris Taylor turned the tide fully towards the Westcountry. Taylor bowled with accuracy and variation and the part-timer proved very difficult to get away.

The tight bowling was supplemented by the energy and desire in the field that we have come to expect from the Shire, and it choked the Yorkshire batsman into hitting themselves out - Michael Vaughan chipping a full-toss to deep midwicket. Rudolf had no support and the Glos came away with victory by 28 runs.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Yorkshire to provide tough test

Gloucestershire travel to Yorkshire on Sunday in what is set to be the Shire's toughest test in the Friends Provident Trophy thus far.

In an extremely competitive group, away victories will come at a premium, so a win at Headingly would prove a serious scalp for Glos in their quest to qualify.

Michael Vaughan is set to play in the fixture despite twisting a knee playing football on Thursday, while the Shire have James Franklin and Ian Saxelby, who claimed 4-31 against Surrey, unavailable - this will be a major blow to the attack which will again rely on stalwarts Jon Lewis and Steve Kirby. Rob Woodman and Tom Stayt are in contention for call ups.

The Shire have shown good form in beating Sussex and Surrey at Bristol and they will need to continue their good all-round cricket if there are to be successful in the north.

In the matches so far a solid opening has eluded them with the highest stand just 20. Hopefully this can be addressed and a solid platform can be built, with one of the openers going on to make a big score.

Big scores are built on being able to develop partnerships and the Shire have managed this well but still have a terrible knack of losing wickets in succession. A more assertive effort has to be made to rebuild when a new batsman arrives at the crease, instead of allowing further pressure to be created. This will be essential against an experienced Yorkshire attack.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Glos edge to first win for two seasons

Gloucestershire 294 & 237 beat Northants 161 & 326 by 44 runs

Gloucestershire claimed their first win in the county championship since 1st September 2007 with a nervy win at Northampton.

Glos required five wickets on the final day and it took until after lunch for a stubborn Northants to be bowled out. The margin of 44 runs was extremely closer than would have been expected and is testament to Northants recovery from 101-5 on the third evening.

Only Snell, Porterfield and the injured Saxelby failed to bowl in the second innings as Glos struggled with three seamers out of action.

The hope was to rattle through the wickets early and the 116 stand was removed without too much further damage as Vikram Banerjee claimed David Willey for 47, before an injury-defying spell from Alex Gidman removed Andrew Hall for 91 to really turn the tide in the Shire's favour. Hall was taking the game away from the Glos and his wicket ended a partnership of 65 and enabled the fielders to breathe again.

Northants managed the chase well and built useful partnerships to chip away at the target and spread the tension amongst the fielders who sensed the game slipping away at several stages. But the Shire managed to find wickets at crucial times and the new ball finished the job, with Steve Kirby and Jon Lewis - who bowled 44 overs between them - taking three wickets each.

A wicket on the stroke of lunch all but sealed the win, as Kirby broke another stubborn stand of 38 and a huge sigh of relief was let out by the Glos who had feared defeat being snatched from the jaws of victory.

Gloucestershire deserved the win after dominating proceedings for two and a half days of the match, and determinedly soldiering to ten second innings wickets with only three recognised bowlers.

A fantastic achievement from a side that have showed the cricket they are capable of before this match. It is only one victory, however, but hopefully the players will now be refreshed of what is required to win a four-day match and the mediocrity of past seasons can be laid to rest.

Official report: www.gloscricket.co.uk
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