Thursday, September 16, 2010

Glos lose Bristol thriller

LVCC: Surrey 186 & 180/3dec. beat Gloucestershire 106-5dec. & 250 by 10 runs (PTS: Surrey 19, Glos 3)

What a tremendous end to the season. The rain earlier in this match produced the most exciting end to a county championship match for a long time. It was a pity Gloucestershire contrived to lose from an excellent position but the season finished with a fine afternoon of cricket in brilliant sunshine.

The intense drama around the country on the final day, and the irrelevance of this match, distracted from what in the end was a thrilling contest. Set 261 to win, Gloucestershire were actually going very well and should have won the game. Unfortunately Gloucestershire slipped into their old ways and ended up with neighbours Somerset on the they-played-their-part-in-the-drama side of the fence.

Gloucestershire were cruising with Hamish Marshall and Chris Dent at the crease. Marshall continuing the form he has built up over these final few matches - even in losing causes - and Dent continuing to showcase his talent. It was another wasted opportunity from Dent which irked most. The first time he attempted to play the sweep was his downfall and he was out in the 90s for the third time this season.

And no-one else could regain control of the chase. Gloucestershire lost six for 34 as Jade Dernbach cleaned up the final two wickets in two balls. Jon Lewis ended his miserable second half of the season with the bat by recording a golden duck and Chris Taylor's efforts were eventually in vain.

The afternoon was Gloucestershire in a nutshell. Glimpses of excellent cricket; a move into a solid position; then collapse and defeat. Momentum plays such a big part in their cricket - when the waters are calm they can sail along but when it begins to get choppier they can never run up the jib and stabilise the situation.

The problem is clearly a mental thing because ability is often shown, just never consistently produced. The whole batting line up basically dines out on the mantra "form is temporary, class is permanent". Chalk and Cheese.

Perhaps Jeremy Snape needs to be brought back in, not for his moonballs but for a psychology session and a half.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Declaration could produce exciting finish

DAY 3 Close: Surrey 186 & 55-2 lead Gloucestershire 106-5dec. by 135 runs (PTS: Surrey 1, Glos 3)
LIVE ball-by-ball commentary on

Gloucestershire's declaration shortly after tea has set up a potentially exciting finish to the season tomorrow at Bristol.

Their hand was forced slightly by the loss of Alex Gidman and Hamish Marshall from the batting order due to illness that has spread through the camp but when wickets tumbled around tea, the hosts walked off with the hope of a competitive chase being constructed tomorrow. Hopefully there is some entertaining stuff to come.

More entertainment may have come had Kevin Pietersen not got out so early in the piece. Just three balls into the day, he edged Gemaal Hussain to Chris Dent - who swooped later in the morning session to dismiss Chris Schofield with a tremendous catch.

Pietersen will have his opportunity on day four as Surrey push for quick runs to set Gloucestershire a target. If they added another 120 to their lead by lunch, 65 overs to chase 250 may provide some excitement to close the season.

Most of the day was spent watching other scores, particularly at New Road where Worcestershire may get the opportunity to overhaul Glamorgan who look set to be held by Derbyshire. What reward that would be for a fabulous season with the bat for Worcestershire.

LIVE coverage continues tomorrow on

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Day Two washout at Bristol

DAY 2 Close: Surrey 112-3 v Gloucestershire
LIVE ball-by-ball commentary on

Heavy rain and persistent drizzle prevented any play on day two at Nevil Road.

2010 has been an excellent summer weather-wise and this is the first day that has been completely lost to the weather.

Hopefully as both teams have nothing to play for, an exciting contest can be conjured in the final two days, for which the forecast is fair.

LIVE coverage continues tomorrow on

Monday, September 13, 2010

Poor weather ruins Opening Day

DAY 1 Close: Surrey 112-3 v Gloucestershire
LIVE ball-by-ball commentary on

Rain and bad light were the best performers on day one of the final game of the season. It was very frustrating and after delays in the afternoon session play was eventually called off for the day at 5pm. The weather forecast is even worse for tomorrow.

Gloucestershire had been on top, reducing Surrey to 45-3. Lewis found the edge of Jason Roy and Gemaal Hussain had Mark Ramprakash well caught by Jon Batty diving low to his right: it was a smart take from Batty whose wicketkeeping has certainly improved over the season.

Anthony Ireland was the other wicket taker. Tom Lancefield played across the line and chipped an easy catch to Hamish Marshall in the gully.

Kevin Pietersen looked very good - the highlight of a very short day. He looked to have so much time and was very positive in his footwork, driving with great confidence and had time to hook Ireland for six before bad light took over. For the greater good, hopefully he can continue to entertain and gain some form ahead of the winter. The runs would be even more impressive under testing swinging conditions: Pietersen has never faced the Tiflex ball before.

LIVE coverage continues tomorrow on

Friday, September 10, 2010

Rain can't save Glos at Grace Road

LVCC: Leicestershire 295 & 351-4 dec. beat Gloucestershire 159 & 158 by 329 runs (PTS: Leics 21, Glos 3)

For a while on day four a Grace Road, the poor weather looked as if it may spare Gloucestershire, especially when James Franklin and Ed Young put together some stout resistance. But Gloucestershire didn't deserve any favours.

They fell to their eighth-heaviest defeat of their history and, for the first time for a long time, were thoroughly outplayed from start to finish. Most frustratingly was everything fell into place elsewhere, with Glamorgan drawing at Surrey: a Gloucestershire win here and, despite last week's debacle, they were right back in the promotion hunt.

But there were almost no positives to take out of the game. Hamish Marshall was just about one, he played very well and showed some ability to stave off the new ball - Jon Batty did slightly in the first innings but fell back to old ways in the second. Marshall again got out when he should have gone forward to make a century: story of his career.

Two more miserable displays with the bat doesn't need to highlight the point that Gloucestershire's failures with the bat will continue to blight their chances in the county championship unless action is taken. Tinkering obviously hasn't worked.

Chris Dent will hopefully develop into a solid batsmen - the potential is absolutely there - but the rest of the order contains experienced pros who have no pressure on their places. Who would you drop Chris Taylor for? This was said last year, but two batsmen are required.

Will Gidman may be one of those players. Another will probably have to be an overseas acquisition - as well as James Franklin compliments the side, Gloucestershire have enough bowling to replace him, assuming Anthony Ireland remains at the club. Gemaal Hussain is almost certainly out of the door.

It would be a disaster if Will Porterfield departs. But if Will Gidman can fulfil his youthful potential as an opening bat, Batty can bat down the order and an overseas can slot in at number three or four, Gloucestershire will look stronger with some depth. Especially if Chris Dent's bowling - which showed plenty of potential at Grace Road - can be developed into a more permanent role.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Glos tumbling to eighth defeat

DAY 2 Close: Gloucestershire 159 & 78-5 need another 410 to beat Leicestershire 295 & 351-4dec. (PTS: Glos 3, Leics 5)
LIVE ball-by-ball coverage on

The only mystery on day three at Grace Road was why Matthew Hoggard decided to bat as long as he did. Once Leicestershire passed 400 ahead they had far too many runs to make a Gloucestershire victory a possibility. This game should already be over.

It wasn't a mystery that Gloucestershire didn't apply themselves at the crease - Will Porterfield's chipped drive to mid-off being the main culprit; Chris Dent is excused: he received a peach of a yorker from Hoggard - nor was it a mystery that Leicestershire did, and made the visitors toil away laboriously in an afternoon session, after the first hour, of tedious cricket.

The only good thing to come out of the afternoon was Chris Dent's bowling. His left-arm spin was encouraging: he offered plenty of flight and bowled at a better pace than Ed Young and on a more consistent length. Dent can bowl more in first-class cricket.

From five-for-three many simply wanted the torture done and dusted but Hamish Marshall played the type of innings he's enjoyed several times recently. He played Claude Henderson particularly well: using his feet both back in the crease to cut and down the wicket to drive over the infield. But when he nicked Henderson behind, the runs completely dried up - Alex Gidman scored three after his dismissal - and the pressure mounted.

Chris Taylor offered a bat-pad chance in the final over of the day. He trudged off shoulders slumped as a symbolic figure of the way Gloucestershire's season is ending.

LIVE coverage continues tomorrow:

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Downbeat Glos almost down & out

DAY 2 Close: Leicestershire 295 & 147-1 lead Gloucestershire 159 by 283 runs (PTS: Leics 5, Glos 3)

Gloucestershire had the air of a very troubled side on day two at Grace Road. Their batting was unbelievable poor and Leicestershire took complete control of a game they might win tomorrow.

A collapse of eight-for-78 was another horrendous slump that saw more batting points sacrificed and this time, no chance to redeem themselves with the ball because they were so far behind on first-innings.

Leicestershire then showed what could be done and move themselves into an unbeatable position with a great start to their second innings. A lead of 400 and this game could be over on day three.

LIVE coverage continues tomorrow on

Monday, September 06, 2010

Glos struggle in sombre mood at Grace Road

DAY 1 Close: Gloucestershire 54-2 trail Leicestershire 295 by 241 runs (PTS: Glos 3, Leics 2)
LIVE ball-by-ball commentary on

Gloucestershire's body language on day one at Grace Road suggested they were a side with not a lot to play for. Rocked by the news of Steve Kirby's departure, they let the initiative slip and ended the day on the back foot.

Steve Kirby decided he could not longer play second division cricket. He has more to achieve in the game and one cannot begrudge his ambitions. He has been a stalwart of Gloucestershire - resurrecting his career with the county in 2005 - enjoying six seasons and claiming 64 wickets last season in a vintage year.

Kirby turned down a benefit to depart Nevil Road so he must have been dead set in his decision. He is a fine man and a cricketer you would always want on your side. Good luck to him.

To start with, Gloucestershire responded very well to that news and a miserable last week. They reduced their hosts to 36-3 before Paul Nixon played a stern dogged innings to get things going again. His protege, Tom New, top scored with 63 as batting became easier into the afternoon.

The visitors misery against the tail also returned. Leicestershire added 69 for the last two wickets and made the largest total in the first-innings of a match against Gloucestershire for some time. Pressure that Gloucestershire are not used to.

Predictably given the swing in momentum, Will Porterfield and Chris Dent fell leg before to consecutive balls from Nathan Buck. Buck is a fine young British prospect and bowled beautifully with the new ball - consistency that the Gloucestershire attack rarely found - save a brief James Franklin spell in the afternoon.

LIVE coverage continues tomorrow on

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Glos win not Good Enough/Sort the Fixtures Shambles

CB40: Gloucestershire 268-4 beat Northamptonshire 186-9 by 82 runs

Glos take final CB40 win at Wantage Road. Essex win knocks them out. Snowy analyses the county fixtures structure.

Gloucestershire produced their best complete one-day performance of the season but Essex's victory saw the West Country side complete a miserable week by going out of the Clydesdales Bank 40 League.

With so many results going against them, and their season being effectively put to bed, it has been a week to forget for Gloucestershire.

James Franklin and Chris Taylor shared 207 for the fourth wicket - comfortably a record stand against Northants and equalling the all-time List A-best for the fourth wicket - as the visitors racked up an excellent total on a sluggish pitch. The target was more than enough to defend easily.

It was superb batting. Control was provided after Gloucestershire were struggling slightly at 61-3 and then the accelerator was pressed at the perfect stage: 46 came off the powerplay. But Essex coasted to a win over Yorkshire to scupper Gloucestershire's hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals.

The cricket produced was more frustrating than enjoyable because Gloucestershire only have themselves to blame for not qualifying for the semi-finals. They were abject with the ball at Chelmsford earlier in the season and with the bat at Bristol in the recent crucial televised match. Two comprehensive defeats to Essex leaves Gloucestershire with no complaints as to who deserved to qualify.

But Alex Gidman's men had another chance - at Headingley, again on television. This was a game they were in touch with and needed to navigate through but they missed their chance: really good sides find a way to win those types of games.

One does hope the format of the Clydesdale Bank 40 League is changed for next season. One qualification spot from seven teams is very unfair and leaves teams with very little margin for error - Gloucestershire only lost three out of 12 matches and had a record far better than most teams in the competition, yet still didn't qualify.

The format also leaves scope for plenty of dead rubbers - that is never a good thing for counties trying to attract crowds, especially for Saturday matches in the football season.

The Unicorns experiment definitely worked so I would keep them in the tournament but ditch the Netherlands - they weren't much competition and the hassle of traveling was a nuisance. 20 teams; four groups of five; eight matches; the top two teams in each group qualifying for quarter-finals to retain an attractive knockout element to the competition; and a Lord's showpiece final in September.

That would be a competitive, compact tournament. Four home matches for each county is a good number to market properly. Sunday afternoons should be the primary matchday with a regular night for floodlit matches also an option. This format could work equally as well with 50-over cricket should the counties want to revert back.

The 40-over competition should be played in the latter half of the season. Better pitches, generally better (certainly warmer) weather - conditions to attract people out for an afternoon. Eight rounds of matches in eight weeks during July and August, with the knockout stages extending to the end of September.

T20 could then take prominence during May and June - the format can survive colder weather and compulsory off-field entertainment of jugglers using flaming cricket stumps should warm everyone up sufficiently. Or maybe the ECB can use their SkyTV money to afford patio heaters for every ground.

Ten T20 matches spread over eight weeks is enough, any more and the cricket is devalued. The difficult part is placing the T20 finals day. It's a great spectacle for the sport and can generally grab headlines at the start of August - interrupting the one-day tournament is probably unavoidable.

The County Championship should remain as it is. 17 rounds of matches - including a University/Tour match for each county can be spread across the season to provide necessary breaks for midweek one-day matches and rest. Early season matches should have a Sunday-Wednesday window - yes, people do want to watch championship cricket, they just never get the chance to do so - with T20 on Thursday, Friday or Saturday. Later in the season championship games can switch back to Tuesday-Friday with one-day cricket on a Sunday.

Regularity to the fixture list is essential to attract supporters - I'm sure Sky Sports will disagree. Regularity to a fixture list is impossible when a match has to be played every night of the week: the commentators actually have the audacity to bemoan poor crowds at their televised games. A shambles that needs sorting.

The key is to arrange test cricket and ODIs in a sensible manner so that county cricket has to do as little schedule-filling as possible to avoid the fixture list becoming another mess.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Pathetic Glos slump to horrendous Defeat

LVCC: Derbyshire 44 & 236 beat Gloucestershire 156 & 70 by 54 runs
(PTS: Derbys 19, Glos 3)

"It's like a bloody wake here," said one member assessing the post-game atmosphere around the pavilion, "So it ought to be," replied John Light. The former chairman was bang on the money. What a farce this whole match was.

Chasing 125 took one partnership. To build one partnership took occupation of the crease. Derbyshire are not a particularly threatening attack; their only threat was with the new ball - a havoc-playing period throughout the match. Not one Gloucestershire batsmen looked prepared to simply play out the new ball and remove the only threat.

The performance was incredibly complacent and just a touch arrogant - the way Alex Gidman, James Franklin and Steve Snell swung away their wickets was an assumption that someone was going to win the game: no-one had the discipline to do so.

The complete lack of control over the innings was unfathomable given the importance of the match. To take only three points from, on paper, the easiest match of the season, was ridiculous for a side chasing promotion - Glamorgan supporters must be bearing a grin as wide as Bridgend beach.

It was quite frankly pathetic. What on earth were the batsmen doing? It was fair enough to try and hit away the target at the top of the order - not that there was opportunity to do so after Will Porterfield and Chris Dent were genuinely dismissed - but when the innings changed, the batting should have changed. An hour of solid batting would have won the match - Gloucestershire weren't capable of doing that.

The problem runs deep. When the tide is running against them, Gloucestershire are never able to discover a way to swim upstream. As the wickets tumbled and the panic set in, there was no dam-building strategy. Only Hamish Marshall stood against the current but he was washed away too in the end.

Marshall simply stayed at the wicket - and it was damn effective. He knew Derbyshire were soft beneath the surface and his 44 was controlled and disciplined: all the characteristics of a good knock, regardless of the situation. One more innings like it and Gloucestershire would have won the match.

But it should never have got to a fourth-innings wobble. Had more Marshall been displayed in the first-innings, Gloucestershire would have killed the game on day one. They bottled it. They handed back initiative. They missed out on any bonus points. Then they dropped Chesney Hughes.

Hughes is an immense talent. His flair and beautiful strokemaking was on display at Derby earlier in the season. Here his dogged, determined side was on show - intelligence plus ability is some combination.

Dent put him down on 48 - a dipping chance that hurt Dent: he disappeared and didn't return to the field. Hughes doubled his score and Derbyshire had half a score to bowl at. While significant, the incident wasn't wholesome in the reasons for defeat.

Twice in two years Gloucestershire have been on the cusp of promotion - last year it was defeats to Middlesex and Leicestershire that put paid to their chances. This defeat will probably be the defining moment of this campaign.
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