Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Glos emerge on top after crazy first day

DAY 1 Close: Derbyshire 44 & 127-4 lead Gloucestershire 156 by 15 runs (PTS: Derbys 3, Glos 3)
LIVE ball-by-ball commentary on www.gloscricketradio.co.uk

So much happened on day one at Bristol it was hard to take it all in: the game was so advanced by tea.

The morning session was ridiculous. James Franklin was exceptional at landing the ball in the best areas - full was how to bowl. At one stage Franklin had taken five without conceding a run as Derbyshire resembled a club 3rd X1 - their batting showed no where near the footwork required in testing conditions.

But come the very warm afternoon, the home side lost their way with the ball; they didn't make the batsmen play enough and it took a needless run-out to break an extremely comfortable opening stand as Derbyshire batted again.

Once again there was nothing wrong with the Bristol surface - exceptional swing bowling and poor batting were the cause of 24 wickets.

The ease at which Hamish Marshall and Chris Taylor added 69 was testament to that. Taylor, Franklin and Alex Gidman straight after lunch, threw their wickets away. It was as if they got caught up in the drama of the day. Gloucestershire rattled along at 4.43 an over yet only managed 156 - bar Marshall, no-one could occupy the crease.

The lead wasn't important: bonus points were. Gloucestershire's inability to apply themselves - admittedly in testing conditions - resulted in no bonus points. Derbyshire, the industrious Graeme Wagg aside, are a poor bowling unit and 300-plus should have been more than achievable.

But three 19-point victories should put Gloucestershire in with a great shout of promotion; the win is what counts. But the hosts definitely missed a trick - they should have tried to slow the game down and build a total to score bonus points: every one counts at this stage of the season.

LIVE coverage continues tomorrow on www.gloscricketradio.co.uk

Monday, August 30, 2010

Glos cruise to Nertherlands win

CB40: Gloucestershire 192-1 beat Netherlands 191 by nine wickets

Gloucestershire professionally overcame the Netherlands at Bristol to move onto 16 points in Clydesdale Bank Group B. If Gloucestershire beat Northamptonshire at Wantage Road next Saturday Gloucestershire should be in the semi-finals.

Alex Gidman shared 192 with James Franklin to sail the hosts past their target in the Bristol sunshine. Gidman will be disappointed it has taken the poorest bowling attack to finally score a hundred against but the second-wicket partnership he contributed to settled any nerves of chasing a small target.

Nerves that would have risen when Will Porterfield was caught behind from the first ball of the Gloucestershire reply. But Gidman has done an excellent job opening the innings in 40 over cricket; Franklin played his usual calm knock and the home side had no trouble.

There wasn't much trouble in the field either, although the Netherlands were handily placed at 132-2. But a run out - so often the cause of a sizeable partnership coming unstuck - saw the visitors lose eight-for-59. Encouragingly, David Payne picked up three wickets and there were two for Ed Young.

Gloucestershire have played their way into contention for a semi-final - likely to be away against Somerset. If Essex lose either of their two remaining matches they cannot overhaul the 18 points Gloucestershire would total if they beat Northants. If Yorkshire lose to Essex next Saturday, Gloucestershire's net run rate would have to somehow slip below that of Yorkshire's for the West Country club to be denied second place.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

10-over bash keeps Glos alive

CB40: Gloucestershire 122-3(10 overs) beat Netherlands 68-6(10) by 54 runs

Gloucestershire were always going to overpower the Netherlands; the hard part was getting on the field.

For a long while it looked as if a straightforward two points were going to be washed away but conditions relented and Gloucestershire were able to pick up an easy win to keep their hopes of qualification for the Clydesdale Bank 40 League semi-finals alive.

It was actually ideal for the players: minimum work for the result they needed. Just 10 overs a side - the minimum permitted - were able to be bowled and the visitors ensured there would be no upset with a solid batting display.

Inevitably inserted into bat - chasing was the only realistic way the Netherlands would be able to win the game - Will Porterfield and James Franklin provided the two scores of note that were required. They shared nine boundaries and took the score almost to 100: the point at which the visitors assumed control of the match.

Defending the score was routine, especially when Jon Lewis picked up three-for-three in his two overs. The top order removed the game was over, although Alex Gidman felt generous and gave seven players a bowl - he has captained the MCC before so knows about giving everyone a game.

Qualification is still very much on the cards for Gloucestershire. They require two more wins from their final matches - at home to the Netherlands and away to Northamptonshire - to take them to 18 points. A series of results then needs to go in their favour but plenty would back the scenario occurring.

If Somerset beat Surrey at Taunton, Yorkshire beat Essex at Headingley and one of Warwickshire and Nottinghamshire lose one of their combined five remaining matches then no other second-placed team will reach 18 points and Gloucestershire will progress.

The final criteria doesn't actually need to happen, providing Gloucestershire keep their net run rate - which should improve again with the Netherlands to come on Monday - above Warwickshire's.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Glos defeated in Crucial tie

CB40: Essex 188-4 beat Gloucestershire 184-8 by six wickets

Gloucestershire didn't bat well enough and lost a crucial Clydesdale Bank 40 League match that leaves them relying on other results for qualification from Group B.

Wickets fell incredibly cheaply after an excellent start - Alex Gidman and Will Porterfield again combined well as an opening pair. But no-one had the discipline to stay with James Franklin, whose 70 not out was the basis of a solid total but nothing was built around his measured knock.

Defending a small score, Gloucestershire didn't get the fortune they needed in the field - a host of edges went wide of fielders that on a better day would have produced half chances. But Essex had more than enough. Ravi Bopara was a joy to watch and it was a shame that couldn't take his innings further - he was given out caught behind; replays showed he had clearly missed the delivery.

The visitors had plenty in reserve and Gloucestershire needed above 200 to be really competitive. They should have got there. An excellent start was wasted - particularly by Hamish Marshall who played a poor shot and dragged on.

Franklin simply occupied the crease and made 70. He did nothing special so why anyone else down the order couldn't follow suit was a mystery: all the Essex batsmen did. Steve Snell threatened to, before he tried to attack the first ball of a new Ryan ten Doeschate over and chipped an easy catch to extra-cover.

The partnership between Snell and Franklin was very comfortable and needed to continue. Snell's demise saw another flurry of wickets with Richard Dawson, Ed Young and Jon Lewis falling quickly. Mercifully David Payne managed to get through a few overs to allow Franklin to stretch the total but Gloucestershire were short of runs.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Glos made to wait for Northants win

LVCC: Gloucestershire 302 & 76-3 beat Northamptonshire 124 & 252 by seven wickets (PTS: Glos 22, Northants 3)

Gloucestershire were frustrated for a while on day three at Wantage Road but the second new ball wrapped up the Northants second-innings and a small target was overcome.

The win pushes Alex Gidman's side back up to third in the table but they still require Glamorgan or Sussex - who still have to play each other - to drop points to get back into the promotion race.

A record partnership for Northants against Gloucestershire was shared between James Middlebrook and wicketkeeper David Murphy. The pair put on 141 very easily in the morning session where nothing was on offer for the bowlers, including nine overs for debutant Ed Young.

The lead was threatening to become testing for the visitors but the second new ball arrived and 26 balls added enough movement to cause three problems. Three deliveries swung into the pads and three leg before decisions closed the innings. About time too.

But Gloucestershire ended up under pressure chasing just 75. Will Porterfield tried to swing away the target but played one shot too many and was caught for 23. Jon Batty's helpless run also continued, this time his shot selection at fault as he was caught behind for just five. Gidman also lost his middle stump as Chris Dent's 28 not out took his side to victory.

Glos within sight of Victory

Day 2 Close: Northamptonshire 124 & 128-7 trail Gloucestershire 302 by 50 runs (PTS: Northants 3, Glos 6)

Gloucestershire's bowlers were again demonstrating why they are the most potent attack in the country as they took 15 wickets on day two at Northampton.

They ran through the Northants first-innings in just 37 overs and again had the option to enforce the follow-on. With such a light workload on board, Alex Gidman this time had no hesitation to insert the home side again. The decision has shortened this match considerably.

It will take some stubborn resistance from the lower-order to make Gloucestershire bat again. The top order has shown very little.

With three under-22s in their top five, the hosts possess a very inexperienced batting line up, one that couldn't cope chiefly with Gemaal Hussain, who's six wickets moved him top the country's wicket-takers.

Steve Kirby was also reapproaching his best. David Sales dragged him onto his stumps as the Lancastrian added another victim to his first-innings 3-32. But it was the way in which he made batsmen continually play and miss which was most impressive.

Gloucestershire have also caught extremely well in this match; Chris Dent again very sharp at second slip. It was Chris Taylor of all people, replacing Hamish Marshall in the gully, that blemished the performance with two straightforward spills.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Glos collapse to relinquish strong position

DAY 1 Close: Northants 4-2 trail Gloucestershire 302 by 298 runs (PTS: Northants 3, Glos 3)

Gloucestershire lost 7-34 with the second new ball after tea on day one at Northampton to be bowled out far short of the commanding first-innings total they should have made.

242-1 was the score shortly before tea when Chris Dent, on 92, ran past a James Middlebrook delivery to bowled - his dismissal ended a record second wicket partnership and sparked a remarkable collapse.

Alex Gidman was incredibly fidgety at the wicket and his feet went nowhere as he was bowled for just one. The second new ball then claimed 7-34 as Gloucestershire's dominating afternoon descended into a modest total.

No one could stop the rot. After Porterfield and Dent only Chris Taylor (21 not out) and Jon Lewis (11) limped out of double figures.

There was more drama to come as Gemaal Hussain, who had Steven Peters well caught by Porterfield, and Jon Lewis, who produced an edge from nightwatchman Middleborough, made a double-breakthrough before the close.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Glos slip up at Headingley

CB40: Yorkshire 247-5 beat Glouestershire 224 by 23 runs

One wonders if Yorkshire now deeply regret batting first at Cheltenham. Because in the return fixture it was they who put the runs on the board and squeezed Gloucestershire out of the game.

The visitors should have won though. 160-3 was the perfect platform to accelerate from and win a crucial group match. But a collapse under pressure, 7-64, saw Gloucestershire fall comfortably short of the winning line.

The chase was in stark contrast to Sunday's back-from-the-brink effort. 41-3 then, this time the top order did a great job, with quick runs for Alex Gidman, Will Porterfield and Hamish Marshall. But the middle order couldn't close out the game.

The heroes of Cheltenham contributed just 13 runs between them - with a back-to-earth duck for Steve Snell. He will probably be soon out of the door but just in is Ed Young. Eight overs for 33 and 25 from 24 balls was a very encouraging contribution.

It was very much a day for pace off the ball as Jon Lewis and Steve Kirby went for eight-an-over from their combined 15 overs, while the spinners conceded half that rate. And it was the medium pacers of Richard Pyrah that undid the visitors' chase with 4-43.

The defeat leaves topping Group B out of Gloucestershire's hands. They now need to see off the Netherlands home and away, defeat Northamptonshire at Wantage Road and beat Essex at Bristol on August 23. The can afford no further slip ups.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Hussain ponders Glos exit

Gemaal Hussain is in talks with other counties about a move away from Nevil Road at the end of just his first season in county cricket. John Bracewell doesn’t want to play the loyalty card, this blog certainly does.

Hussain has worked extremely hard for an opportunity in first class cricket. After developing his game at London County Cricket Club – a development centre founded by WG Grace – he trialled at various counties and played for several second X1s.

Gloucestershire were the first county to show faith in the young man and gave him a two-year deal.It has been their work over the winter that has developed Hussain, harnessed the natural talent and produced a fine bowler.

After Ian Saxelby was ruled out for the long term before the start of this season, many expected Anthony Ireland to fill his place. But it was Hussain that was called up. An uninspiring debut at Beckenham last year forgotten, Hussain claimed nine wickets on debut and his stock has risen to such an extent that several counties have expressed an interest in the 26-year-old: with deeper pockets than Gloucestershire.

Hussain was rejected by Nottinghamshire; Worcestershire; Surrey; Sussex for whom he played 2nd X1 cricket. He is now the one that can do the rejecting but to snub the county that provided your breakthrough would be hideous.

Bracewell would like, instead, to use the professionalism card. Great surfaces to bowl on plus a quality backroom staff that is developing a reputation for bringing on promising youngsters should be enough persuade Hussain.

But he is 26. 10 years at the top? The lure of making the most from what you’ve got may be a factor too pertinent to ignore.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Glos win another Festival thriller

CB40: Gloucestershire 302-7 beat Middlesex 299-8 by three wickets

Gloucestershire put the misery of another four-day defeat immediately behind them as they won another thrilling one-day match at Cheltenham. The college ground never fails in producing fantastic cricket matches.

Jon Lewis smashed 18 runs of the final over to see his side over the line with a ball to spare. His fist-pumping strut towards the Sandford Road tents was an unleashing of frustration evidently built up from two more championship failures.

Lewis took the final glory but the lions share of credit belonged to Chris Taylor and Steve Snell, whose remarkable fightback gave Gloucestershire a fighting chance. They came together with the innings struggling at 100-4 in the 18th over but added 158 at over eight-an-over.

Snell - in probably his final innings for Gloucestershire at Cheltenham - played beautifully in a career-best knock which combined power with touch and excellent running between the wickets for 95 from 62-balls. More of those innings will certainly earn him another county contract. But he fell in the same Pedro Collins over that saw Taylor also dismissed as game swung back in Middlesex's favour.

Often problems arise during the powerplay for batsmen and so it proved as Taylor looked to clip towards the unguarded legside boundary and was caught at sqaure-leg. Snell was cleaned up with an excellent yorker two balls later.

The script was written for debutant Ed Young but it was the old-hands who saw Gloucestershire home in front of 5,000 at the college. Richard Dawson smashed 17 from nine balls to keep the home side in the hunt, before Lewis completed a fabulous victory with two lofted extra-cover drives into the pavilion.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Glos slump to Cheltenham defeat

LVCC: Worcestershire 278 & 339-4 beat Gloucestershire 480 & 136 by six wickets

Gloucestershire slipped to consecutive defeats at Cheltenham as Worcestershire chased down a target of above 300 for the second time in six years. The result is another sucker punch for Gloucestershire's promotion hopes.

Full credit must go to Daryll Mitchell. Two hundreds in a match is a wonderful achievement and his second innings deserved to win a match. A marvellous stand with Moeen Ali ensured it did.

Worcestershire managed the chase extremely well. The first two sessions were more a survival mission which created the opportunity to push towards the target after tea.

Gloucestershire did have their moments as Chris Taylor inexplicably shelled Moeen at short-leg. Porterfield also put down a chance as the game slid away from the home side: their miserable run at Cheltenham and against Worcestershire continues.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Tense final day in store as Glos push for Win

DAY 3 Close: Worcestershire 278 & 8-0 need another 331 to beat Gloucestershire 480 & 136 (PTS: Worcs 4, Glos 7)
LIVE ball-by-ball commentary: www.gloscricketradio.co.uk

A remarkable day's cricket saw Gloucestershire fired out for just 136 after deciding not to enforce the follow-on at Cheltenham. Worcestershire need a large chase to win but they have overcome such targets before here.

Psychology plays a large part in sport, Alex Gidman knows that. He obviously felt the psychological effect of batting last on a wearing pitch was more damaging to his team than the benefits of driving the opposition into the dirt when already down.

That dilemma faced the Gloucestershire skipper after efficient work with the second new ball allowed his side to take a 202 lead on first-innings. He will look very foolish if the home side don't go on to take their first championship victory at Cheltenham since 2001. He effectively wasted 40 overs as his side didn't get out of sight with the bat.

He had an opportunity to get a demoralised - and in Daryll Mitchell's case, quite very - batting line-up back into the middle. 202 is a huge lead and there was a chance that more efficient bowling could have seen the game wrapped up by an innings.

What transpired was the opportunity for the visitors to show some character in the field. They certainly did. Shakib-al-Hasan could never have dreamt of picking up a five-for from where the game was placed but a series of batting errors saw him pick up his maiden milestone haul and made Gloucestershire look ridiculous, capitulating to 136 all out.

It was unbelievable stuff. The mood was so lackadaisical and no-one particularly knew the way to play. Hamish Marshall was aggressive, James Franklin defensive - both were dismissed cheaply as the home side slumped but about ended up where the game needed them to be.

339 is achievable for Worcestershire and it won't be a case of shut up shop from ball one. The carrot is very much dangling and Gloucestershire need inroads to ensure it is they that are pushing for victory come the final hour.

LIVE coverage continues tomorrow on www.gloscricketradio.co.uk

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Glos in for toil as Worcs respond

DAY 2 Close: Worcestershire 126-2 trail Gloucestershire 480 by 354 runs (PTS: Worcs 1, Glos 4)
LIVE ball-by-ball commentary on www.gloscricketradio.co.uk

Gloucestershire will need to enforce the follow-on at Cheltenham to win this match. But the toil that the home bowlers endured in the evening session suggests this match is destined for a draw.

Daryll Mitchell and Moeen Ali - a centurian against Gloucestershire at New Road earlier in the season - found the going particularly easy under brightening skies and there was no joy for the seamers or Vikram Banerjee.

The wickets that did fall were slight misjudgements of line and it will take more disciplined bowling to create enough pressure to bowl Worcestershire out for under 330. If they eclipse that mark, this game will be a draw, and a boring one at that.

Gloucestershire built their way to 480 earlier in the day but playing so patiently despite being completely on top, that they failed to take maximum batting points. An absolutely travesty. It was lazy cricket, there was no impetus and a target that the batsmen should have sailed past wasn't overcome.

That took the gloss of James Franklin's hundred. His innings contained none of the pizazz that saw Will Porterfield's ton greeted with cheering not heard since Virginia Wade won at Wimbledon but it was an excellent innings that proved centuries can be made.

The home side did lose 4-18 to end their innings a touch prematurely but even 47 overs at the visiting batsmen wasn't enough to make more than two breakthroughs. A struggle may follow.

LIVE coverage continues tomorrow on www.gloscricketradio.co.uk

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Porterfield ton sets up great Day for Glos

DAY 1 Close: Gloucestershire 324-4 v Worcestershire (PTS: Glos 3, Worcs 1)
LIVE ball-by-ball commentary on www.gloscricketradio.co.uk

Irishmen often enjoy themselves at Cheltenham. But Will Porterfield's career-best 175 wasn't exactly the enjoyment those from the Emerald Isle are used to in North Gloucestershire.

Not a drop of Guinness was poured not any gambles laid in Porterfield's blistering 209-ball innings which helped Gloucestershire dominate on day one of a must-win match for the home side.

Having worked the visitors bowling, which lacked any depth, around the college ground, the Ireland captain again went for his strokes and received a slice of luck when Daryll Mitchell shelled a chance on 32.

But fortune favours the brave and Porterfield lifted Shakib-al-Hasan over the Churchdown Club tent before cutting him into the pavilion to bring up the century that everybody has craved all season. The ovation was raucous: 1894 had been avoided.

What Gloucestershire also managed to achieve was to build in significant partnerships. Century stands by Porterfield with first Alex Gidman - who edged to slip for 40 - and James Franklin - unbeaten on 50 despite being dropped - saw the home side enjoy their best Cheltenham day in the county championship for many seasons.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Glos slump to another Festival defeat

LVCC: Glamorgan 216 & 371 beat Gloucestershire 243 & 168 by 176 runs (PTS: Glam 20, Glos 4)

Gloucestershire's wait for a victory at Cheltenham continues as Glamorgan dealt a serious blow to their promotion hopes with a 176-run victory.

Another batting collapse saw a game which the home side were in control of on the first morning slide away to a crushing defeat. Gloucestershire conceded 16-points to their promotion rivals.

Their batting again crumbled around a dramatic sense of panic, with five wickets going down for the addition of just nine runs in 57 balls. All after another solid start. The second half-century opening stand of the match was thanks to Will Porterfield's positive play.

The Ireland captain played aggressively and although he didn't make the most of his opportunities - admittedly receiving an excellent delivery from Huw Waters in the first innings - he did provide impetus that has been lacking from the Gloucestershire top order all season.

Jon Batty played two identical innings - both abject failures. Beginning solidly, hitting a boundary or two, before becoming tied down and relying on back-foot play. Both his dismissals came as a result of not getting onto the front-foot.

Consecutive collapses is extremely worrying for Gloucestershire, who now must beat Worcestershire to realistically stay in the promotion race.

Their other worry is against lower-order batting. Regularly teams rally after losing cheap wickets in the middle order and Gloucestershire allow teams off the hook. This occurred twice at Cheltenham, as Glamorgan added 242 runs for the last three wickets over both innings - take those runs out of the game and this match could have been very different.

As it transpired, Glamorgan showed more fight when it was required and their match got better and better. Mark Cosgrove's wonderful knock on day two was complimented by Mark Wallace helping himself to a hundred on the third morning, for a match haul of 185 runs.

Those who dared to dream the second-highest chase at Cheltenham could be achieved were woken up abruptly by James Harris' and Waters' devastating burst. The match finished in triumphant fashion for the Welsh County with Robert Croft's first career hat-trick.

Official report: www.gloscricket.co.uk
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