Thursday, May 13, 2010

Nixon claims wicket as Glos win again

LVCC: Gloucestershre 376 & 15-1 beat Leicestershire 102 & 285 by nine wickets (PTS: Glos 23, Leics 3)

A first-ever wicket for Paul Nixon in first-class cricket was the real story of the fourth morning at Bristol, even though Gloucestershire took just 30 minutes to wrap up a third-straight championship victory.

Nixon, playing his 21st season of first-class cricket, had previously sent down 112 balls for no reward but he will always be grateful to Will Porterfield, who fell over an inswinger, was struck half-way up the pad and was given out LBW for just one.

There were delirious scenes in the middle as the fielders celebrated reward for a distinguished career.

Those celebrations overshadowed what should have been the home side's delight at picking up a very comfortable third-straight win. It took the second over of the morning for Matthew Hoggard to edge Anthony Ireland to Jon Batty but Gloucestershire - frustrated at having to come back this morning - will be even more annoyed to not pick up consecutive home victories by 10 wickets over the East Midlanders.

Despite the anticlimax, this 23-point success pushes Gloucestershire to within 20 points of Sussex, having played the same number of games. They are right back in the promotion mix but now have the challenge to continue playing successful cricket.

They have already secured half as many wins as they managed last season, and there are still two weeks before the end of May. The scheduling has made it essential to get points on the board early, and after a stumbling start, Gloucestershire have achieved that.

There are now selection issues for next week's match. A spinner and Steve Kirby are both required at Sophia Gardens. A batsman will make way for the extra bowler and one would imagine Ireland will make way for Kirby - despite seven wickets in the match.

So which batsman will be dropped? The only candidates are Porterfield, Batty or Steve Snell. Snell has contributed more than Batty so far - admittedly not against the new ball - and Porterfield has only had once opportunity. On that analysis, Batty could be the one to make way. But I wonder how long John Bracewell's memory is; Porterfield couldn't buy a run in first-class cricket last season.

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