Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Festival ends in double defeat

LVCC: Surrey 423 & 186-8 beat Gloucestershire 286 & 320 by two wickets (PTS: Surrey 24, Glos 5)

It was a super game and although Gloucestershire lost, it was very encouraging that Surrey were ran very close chasing a small total. Maybe even 30 more could have won the game. But there was a fightback and it is not often that Gloucestershire respond from 100 behind.

For the past few seasons, the performances at Cheltenham have been so soft and, particularly last season, really have derailed a good season. But this year a poor Kent team were rolled over by an inning and this performance was a strong one against an excellent Surrey side that should be up at the top of the table. The acquisition of Jon Lewis will go a long way to putting that right next year.

But now Gloucestershire they are in serious limbo. Everything is on hold until the ground redevelopment planning application is heard. Contracts cannot be tabled and Gloucestershire need to keep Chris Taylor surely? A quality experienced hand who is enjoying a good summer and who seems to have plenty of year's left in him.

No youngsters that I've seen would be able to replace what Chris Taylor offers.

And in Hamish Marshall and Chris Dent, the opening partnership may have been solved. So to lose Marshall would be a major blow. It would be a shame if 2012 had to be another rebuilding season in that area.

CB40: Lancashire 294-6 beat Gloucestershire 290-4 by four wickets

2012 will still be another rebuilding year in one-day cricket. Gloucestershire are experimenting with youngsters in the short forms and it will take time to develop the nous and become streetwise that you need in one-day matches. The Gloucestershire of old would never have lost this match, even at Cheltenham.

But one-day experience will return. The immediate task is to keep a side together that have been going well in the Championship. Promotion probably won't come this year - Middlesex and Northamptonshire look the best two sides in the division. But this young side have done so well. The senior bones that are at the core of the team need to be kept together to ensure another challenge can be mounted next season.

Eyebrows will certainly be raised though if Gloucestershire can't keep Marshall and Taylor after cash was spent on Kevin O'Brien, who has produced one innings so far, and Muralitharan, who has produced nothing on the field, but probably lured a few extras through the turnstiles.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Lewis departs as Glos fight back

Day 3, Close: Gloucestershire 249-4 & 286 lead Surrey 423 by 112 runs (PTS: Glos 5, Surrey 8)

I'm sure a lot of people, including myself, would have taken day three at Cheltenham if offered. Gloucestershire fought back, if not with a vengeance, but with some heart. A maiden first-class century for Chris Dent was a delightful way to improve the mood of many after the news that Jon Lewis will leave Gloucestershire at the end of the summer.

It was heartbreaking news. Lewis has served 17 seasons at Nevil Road and been one of the greatest performers in the club's history. Even at 35 and shorn of the help of Steve Kirby this season he has performed brilliantly and is on course to eclipse 500 runs in a season for the first time.

But everyone needs to look to their future after sport and Lewis will have coaching opportunities at Surrey. More to the point, his immediate future is now secure. Gloucestershire still have to wait to September 7 for the planning application for the ground redevelopment to be heard. There is much financial uncertainly with other senior players, Hamish Marshall and Chris Taylor, yet to have been offered a new deal.

But for the time being, Gloucestershire have a handy advantage and still with wickets in hand. The fear of a collapse was allayed by Chris Dent's chanceless innings. He was patient and played attractively - exactly what Dent is capable of and a performance to make everyone feel much better about the future.

His partnerships, worth 94 with Alex Gidman - who remains 57 not out - and Kane Williamson - who threw away his wicket with a poor stroke - have given Gloucestershire a fighting chance with all three results still technically possible tomorrow. But Surrey remain favourites.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Coughtrie miss a killer for Glos

Day 2, Close: Surrey 392/8 lead Gloucestershire 286 by 106 runs (PTS: Glos 4, Surrey 7)

Catches win matches. That could be the end of the blog because that sums up the first two days of this match. A very even game save Mark Ramprakash's 141. Dropped on four by Richard Coughtrie. Such a shame for the young man; anyone can drop a catch; we all make mistakes - just some of the catchphrases that matter not one jot. It is a miss that will probably cost Gloucestershire this match.

That may be a touch pessimistic but it will take the best performance of the season with the bat to save the game. Surrey possess a superb bowling attack and more importantly, a batting line up than can score so quickly.

The innings run rate is nearly four-an-over. Even if Gloucestershire made 400 in four sessions, Surrey could easily chase down 300 in the final two. It is a very long way back for Gloucestershire.

What also hurt the home side was the partnership of 126 for the eighth wicket. Gloucestershire had chipped away well all day and limited the partnerships. But for such a large stand to come so late in the innings was a big nuisance. It turned the match squarely towards the visitors.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Unexpected win for Glos

CB40: Gloucestershire 196-6 beat Essex 195 by four wickets

Unexpected because of the results in the competition so far and the X1 that Gloucestershire fielded - again packed with youngsters, including a return to action for the now 17-year-old Craig Miles.

Miles looked a much better prospect watching him bowl from side on, on a good hard deck. From the top of the Jessop stand in April there was definitely a sense of what's-the-fuss-about. But today his potential was evident. Plenty more growing to do and already capable of picking up 2-fors in first team cricket. Impressive.

Impressive was also another controlled innings from Ian Cockbain. It wasn't the innings of a finisher but that of an opener whose knock the total is built around - he should be pushed up the order. He won the game today and could have won yesterday's game too.

But this game was more lost by Essex. They were outrageously poor in simply not sticking around. Seven down in the 13th over was pathetic. Once batsmen got settled - Phillips, Napier and Wright - they proved how profitable the College can be with two record partnerships for Essex against Gloucestershire.

Their battling nearly set something up for the visitors as Gloucestershire again lost too many wickets too soon but Cockbain and Kevin O'Brien, who was unusually but welcomingly sensible, found the partnership that won them the game.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Glos fail in modest chase

CB40: Nottinghamshire 266 beat Gloucestershire 247-9 by 19 runs (PTS: Notts 2, Glos 0)

Well you can't complain when the sun shines at Cheltenham and over 500 runs are scored in 80 overs but it was certainly disappointing that Gloucestershire never properly challenged only a par score.

The ridiculously inexperienced bowling attack - James Fuller in his fourth match and Matthew Taylor, brother of Jack, on debut - did exceptionally well to bowl Notts out. It was a great comeback from the blistering start the visitors made, fast even for the College.

Fuller, save the the first ball falling over at the bowling crease trick, looks a very good prospect. He has a strong arm action and bowled with pace and hurried the batsmen. Taylor was only military medium and often bowled to the wrong field.

But the bowlers stuck to their task well and Jack Taylor, Ed Young and Kane Williamson bowled to decent plans and contained the scoring.

With the bat, Gloucestershire had more than the ammunition to knock off the runs but less than a combined 50 from Hamish Marshall, Alex Gidman and Chris Taylor wasn't good enough. They needed to be counted as senior players and the latter two gave their wickets away.

Kevin O'Brien once again proved what a hit-and-miss-miss-miss player he is and there wasn't much else. Ian Cockbain played the innings that would have won the match at number two.

But Glos were almost out of the competition anyway so a good game in the sun should have been good enough for the punters.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Sweet relief as Glos win at Cheltenham

LVCC: Gloucestershire 515 beat Kent 205 & 168 by an innings and 142 runs (PTS: Glos 24, Kent 3)

When umpire Martin Bodenham raised his finger to send Robbie Joseph back, Cheltenham College erupted like never before. There was an outpouring of such delight and relief and a celebration of a thumping win - 55 years on from Gloucestershire's last success over Kent at Cheltenham, also by an innings.

David Payne wheeled away and his team mates formed a jumping, dancing huddle. Alex Gidman stood alone at first slip, both arms raised. A 10-year demon had been exorcised.

Only Chris Taylor from the current team had played in the previous win back in 2001 - he made a century in that match against Sussex and that same year he made 196 against Nottinghamshire.

And disastrously, he made 196 again. The first ball of the day was dispatched to the cover boundary; the second edged behind. There was a collective pang of anguish around the ground as Taylor hung his head and walked off slower than any batsmen. It was such a shame and made you think that his career was never destined to include a double hundred - hopefully he'll get one more chance.

But that disappointment was replaced an hour later as Gloucestershire got among the wickets and Kent rolled over so weakly - it was awful cricket from the visitors. Only one man - David Balcombe, on loan from Hampshire - showed the necessary heart.

Gloucestershire were rampant. The Churchdown Club struck up a few drolling notes of "Glaaawwwssssttterrrrrr", previously only reserved for late on Sunday afternoons following a one-day win. The ovation was tremendous. Players milled around with the spectators and wandered off towards the Montpellier wine bar, beers in hand. It was a jolly good afternoon at Cheltenham.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Taylor dominates day two

Day 2, Close: Gloucestershire 486-7 lead Kent 205 by 281 runs (PTS: Glos 8, Kent 3)

When Chris Taylor scores eight more runs tomorrow morning - heaven forbid he's denied his first double century - it will surely go down in the great Cheltenham innings. The entertainment he provided was wonderful.

He played within himself - only one reverse sweep showing the extrovert side of his batting. He drove beautifully, cut superbly and defended properly by getting himself into line. The only chance was a late cut which emerged from the gloom and cannoned off Martin van Jaarsveld's face at first slip.

All day the bowling was manouvred around with ease - Kent failed to gain any control and the scoring rate was high even for Cheltenham. Robbie Joseph was unbelivable in sending down 16 no-balls, without once remarking his run-up.

Discipline was all that was needed to score runs and Alex Gidman resisted until one swipe across the line saw him fall far short of a big score he should have made.

Dare we talk of the V word? Not since 2001 has that occurred here but Kent are so awfully demoralised - their body language in the field was outrageously poor - that batting for even a day will be a major challenge.

LIVE ball-by-ball coverage continues tomorrow on www.gloscricketradio.com

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Sorry it's been a while...

Day 1, Close: Gloucestershire 107-3 trail Kent 205 by 98 runs (PTS: Glos 3, Kent 2)

...but i've been rather busy. But nowhere better to blog than from the Cheltenham College pavilion balcony. This place is just truly wonderful and nothing replaces the anticipation on the first morning of a festival - particular when the opposition are a team that should be beaten.

Kent are a side horribly out of form. Rob Key also failed a fitness test this morning. At 59-6 I thought this was it, 90 at the most. But in Darren Stevens Kent have a quality campaigner who has guts. He's also bang in form.

Guts is what you need on the first morning of a match when the ball is wobbling slightly - and only slightly under heavy cloud; the pitch is a belter. Kent simply didn't play well enough and Gloucestershire, chiefly Will Gidman, put the ball in the right zones to force mistakes.

And it looked as if the game was already over at 91-1. Before a pesky rain break. A rain break that wouldn't have even had umpires considering interrupting play at any other standard. But first-class cricket demands the best so off they went for 15 minutes and it's amazing what happens to the brain when one breaks out of the zone.

Hugely disappointing for two players who looked a million dollars - Kane Williamson in particular. But to no avail, Gloucestershire are still well placed for 300 +.

LIVE ball-by-ball coverage continues tomorrow on www.gloscricketradio.com

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Gidman injury biggest worry from Trent Bridge

CB40: Nottinghamshire 270-9 beat Gloucestershire 229 by 41 runs (PTS: Notts 2, Glos 0)

No-one fancied Gloucestershire under the lights at Trent Bridge. It was a Sky game, so Glos were bound to lose anyway. But they did pretty well and the cards were fairly similar.

Two partnerships produced the competitive Notts total. The innings from Voges was the overseas contribution that you pay your money for. It was a very good innings that guided the contributions the middle order made and gathered them into a good score.

But Gloucestershire - who bowled Notts out for just 57 here back in 2009 - did well to not enable any other stands of note. But the 111 Voges and Chris Read shared won the match.

By contrast the visitors got more stands going but couldn't take them onto big partnerships that would have got them closer. Ed Young made a good half century together with another demonstration of his ability with the ball in the one-day game - thankfully he can bowl in the one-day game because his four-day effort last week was outrageously awful.

Most worryingly though is not the result of this game but another hand injury. Will Gidman took a blow fielding a ball off his own bowling and was unable to bat. With Hamish Marshall and Chris Dent currently out with a broken thumb and finger respectively, the latest hand-related injury is the biggest blow from the trip.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Pitch the winner as Glos thwarted

LVCC: Leicestershire 323 & 245-5 drew with Gloucestershire 504-9dec. (PTS: Leics 7, Glos 11)

In the end the docile nature of the Grace Road pitch won the game. Even 30 wickets in the match was unachievable - it was simply a case of get yourself out. The surface played true throughout the last day. There was no help for the spinners.

Not that Gloucestershire possessed a spinner capable of winning a match even in helpful conditions. Kane Williamson was the pick of the three spinners used (Chris Taylor only bowled an over). He could at least develop some pressure and at least give himself a chance by floating the ball up and into a similar area. Vikram Banerjee did none of those things and was, again, ineffectual.

Once a stand got together on the final afternoon it was going to save the game. But for a long time, Leicestershire couldn't find a stand to last longer than 40 minutes. When a partnership did at last develop, it was very easy. A spinner to produce a magic ball was the only way another wicket would have been taken. Such a bowler wasn't available.

What bowlers were available were seamers that stuck to their plans very well. The economy rates were far better. Ian Saxelby bowled his best overs since his comeback from injury - more performances like this should secure his place as the new ball partner for Jon Lewis, who also ran in persistently.

It was a worthwhile draw for Gloucestershire. The fightback after tea on the third day gave them maximum bonus points. Runs for two players that needed them - Williamson and Alex Gidman - was also most welcome. There will be no easier place to make runs this season but this was a good marker for both players to kick on this season: victory against Essex before the T20s will set the campaign up nicely.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Fightback sees Glos in the hunt for win

Day 3, Close: Leicestershire 315-9 trail Gloucestershire 504-9dec. by 190 runs (PTS: Leics 4, Glos 8)
LIVE commentary on www.gloscricketradio.co.uk

For a long long time on day three bore draw was the only phrase that came to mind. Leicestershire were 195-0 and cruising. Nothing was happening for the seamers and Gloucestershire's lack of quality in the spin department was very evident.

Vikram Banerjee bowled to the wrong field and never settled to a plan. He couldn't send down six of the same delivery and got into no rhythm. His wicket was a bonus as Nathan Buck played a poor stroke, going to cut a ball that was too straight.

But the seamers bowled well. There was no help but all three - Lewis, Saxelby and Will Gidman - operated very tidily. There was no repeat of the four-balls that have been leaked too easily this season. Once the second new ball gave them more help, wickets tumbled.

It will still be a fabulous effort to win this match because the pitch is flat and quite slow. Gloucestershire will need to polish the first innings off pretty quickly so they are fresh to bowl with the new ball - they may only be time for one tomorrow.

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

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Glos pile on the runs

Day 2, Close: Leicestershire 15-0 trail Gloucestershire 504-9 by 489 runs (PTS: Leics 1, Glos 5)
LIVE ball-by-ball commentary on www.gloscricketradio.co.uk

It was some day to bat at Grace Road. Had Gloucestershire been able to play all day yesterday this total could have been 600. But they have given themselves a great chance to try to win this game. 20 wickets in two days will be hard going.

In eight overs before the close, Jon Lewis and Ian Saxelby produced nothing of note. Spin to win may be the mantra. And in Vikram Banerjee, Ed Young, Kane Williamson and Chris Taylor, Gloucestershire don't exactly have an attack to give batsmen nightmares.

But Jigar Naik - who finished with four wickets - and Claude Henderson did get the odd ball to grip; such as the dismissal of Will Gidman who was trapped leg before for his first dismissal in five innings. This pitch will also deteriorate further.

It will take patience and crucially control to build pressure. Anything like the performance against Northamptonshire will see Leicestershire, who made 507-5 last time here at Grace Road, save this game comfortably. They will need to find a plan, stick to the plan and bowl properly to that plan.

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

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Williamson shines through the Gloom

Day 1, Close: Gloucestershire 177-3 v Leicestershire (PTS: Glos 0, Leics 1)
LIVE ball-by-ball commentary on www.gloscricketradio.co.uk

Kane Williamson has taken a while to find his feet. A procession of poor scores had left Gloucestershire supporters with raised eyebrows but he found his touch today and looked very good in making his first century in this country.

He certainly had the pitch to make runs on. This is a flat, bare surface at Grace Road and Gloucestershire will need to pile on the runs in this first innings to have a chance to win this game. There is nothing on offer for the seamers, so Gloucestershire will need to give the two spinners they selected - Vikram Banerjee and Ed Young - plenty of runs to bowl against.

They will have to bat well to make a big score. Claude Henderson is a wily old operator and Jigar Naik bowled usefully from around the wicket as the day drew to a close. They are the main threat. It was two excellent yorkers and the new ball that took the three wickets.

Alex Gidman also has such a chance to make a score. He looked in near-total control for his 32 not out and simply has to cash in on such a batsman-friendly surface.

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

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Poor batting sees Glos lose again

CB40: Glamorgan 155-6 beat Gloucestershire 154-9 by four wickets (PTS: Glam 2, Glos 0)

It was cloudy and cold in Cardiff. The pitch was slow and scoring was difficult. Not the best afternoon for a one-day game and the Welsh public did not turn up in any numbers.

But had Gloucestershire squeezed out another 30 runs, the entertainment may have been a little more enjoyable. As it was, 154 was never enough, even on a slow pitch.

Gloucestershire didn't give themselves a chance to make a useful score by losing too many wickets. Dean Cosker did produce two special deliveries to bowl Kane Williamson and Kevin O'Brien but the other wickets were poor cricket.

The chief culprits were Ian Cockbain, who ran himself out, and Chris Taylor, who got frustrated and holed out to long-off when well set. He may have taken 65 balls for his 24 but he was in and could have hung around to the batting powerplay. It was irresponsible cricket from Taylor.

Had Gloucestershire made a few more they would have had a great chance. Batting was not easy. Gareth Rees showed the way with a controlled half-century that won the game. Aside from three reverse sweeps he was prepared to graft out the runs.

Will Gidman did graft for Gloucestershire but he ran out of time. Had he led the innings, Gloucestershire may have had a base to build around. Food for thought.

Glos defeat only an aberration

LVCC: Northamptonshire 557-9dec. beat Gloucestershire 288 & 263 by an innings and six runs (PTS: Northants 24, Glos 4)

Two collapses lost Gloucestershire a match they could well have saved given the nature of the pitch at Bristol. It was flat and typically slow and good enough for the visitors to rack up a huge total which created too much pressure for Gloucestershire.

Their inexperience at the top of the order was evident. Players with more nous under such circumstances may have been able to see off the new ball. But they failed and twice Gloucestershire were blown away so early in both their innings.

Alex Gidman's form is of much concern. The skipper has moved himself down the order this season but aside a few runs in the small chase against Derbyshire at Bristol, he hasn't produced anything of note, with a recent run of single figure scores.

But his brother is a real find. Will Gidman spent a long time at the MCC and a few years up at Durham without being given a chance in four-day cricket. Now he has his opportunity and already has over 500 runs. Both his innings were patient affairs - he left well and defended confidently, giving himself a chance to get into an innings. Others - notably Kane Williamson and Jon Batty - played poor shots and never gave themselves a chance.

His played within his means and scored where he wanted to - primarily square of the wicket on the off side. He used the cut stroke very well and once he was settled he got forward more and drove superbly.

There is now of course an argument to push him up the order. But with Hamish Marshall in form, once he comes back Gloucestershire should get runs at the top of the order. Marshall's experience can help Ian Cockbain - who deserves to keep his place for the time being but may come under pressure from Chris Dent once he comes back from injury.

So Gidman should stay at number seven and hopefully his form will continue. But Gloucestershire need their captain to reproduce his few scores in the Clydesdale Bank 40 League - that would at least give him at start in championship cricket.

But not too much should be read into this defeat. It has been a busy start for a changed team and many didn't think Gloucestershire would get as good a start as they have with two victories so far. Gloucestershire have injuries and haven't found their best side just yet. There is much to look forward to this season.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Glos toil after good start

Day 1, Close: Northamptonshire 361-8 v Gloucestershire (PTS: Northants 4, Glos 2)
LIVE ball-by-ball commentary on www.gloscricketradio.co.uk

Well I did say Northants were batting well this season. They are going to get another maximum haul of batting points to add to their impressive tally so far. But it could all have been so different.

An hour after lunch, Gloucestershire's 16-year-old debutant Craig Miles had David Sales caught at extra cover and Northants were 125-5 - a collapse of 3-28 after lunch. Gloucestershire were one wicket away from really being on top: they had to get past Andrew Hall.

Such experience, such nous, such ability. The former South African international was averaging 91 coming into this match. He steadied the innings and got through to the meat of the afternoon where batting was so easy under the sunshine. It's another decent deck at Bristol.

His partnership of 182 with Nial O'Brien featured very few moments of hope for Gloucestershire, whose attack soon fell back into the leaky bucket it resembled in the first two matches. Runs flowed and flowed and it took a mistake from Hall - the only one he made - to end the stand.

O'Brien was very entertaining. A few more from him tomorrow and Gloucestershire will have some serious batting to do to save the game.

Coverage continues tomorrow on www.gloscricketradio.co.uk

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Credible draw for Glos

LVCC: Gloucestershire 358 & 347 drew with Middlesex 406 & 123-4 (PTS: Glos 10, Midd 11)

This was an excellent draw for Gloucestershire against a Middlesex side flying high so far this season. They might even have sneaked a victory had the weather not curtailed play on the final afternoon. The dismissal of Dawid Malan to a ball that rolled from a length suggested Middlesex could have been bowled out in the final hour.

But Gloucestershire will take the draw because they accumulated four batting points, making the draw worthwhile: 10 points is a reasonable haul. The result continues their good start to the season.

They have another top-of-the-table encounter next week against Northamptonshire, who have began strongly. They have been scoring heavily this season: the largest haul of batting points in the division. Weight of runs in the first innings is where they have won their two matches so far - they have scored almost 500 in three of their four matches.

Gloucestershire will need plenty of options to bowl them out so four bowlers need to be played if a similar pitch as this week is going to be prepared - which I would suggest is because the batting needs all the help it can get and prospered in the conditions this week. More options are needed to bowl out sides cheaper than the Middlesex first innings - the score that realistically took a Gloucestershire win out of the equation.

Gloucestershire don't quite know what their best attack is yet. Liam Norwell was rested at Kent before being recalled this week and Ian Saxelby was left out. David Payne has also been in and out of the side. I would play all four seamers and leave out Richard Coughrie.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Glos dig in through brave Taylor

Day 3, Close: Gloucestershire 358 & 218-5 lead Middlesex 406 by 170 runs (PTS: Glos 7, Midd 8)

At one stage on the third afternoon at Bristol, Gloucestershire were dead and buried. They only had a two-figure lead, were five down and had Chris Taylor and Hamish Marshall injured. A third day finish was most likely. Until Taylor braved his knee injury to produce what could still be a match-winning innings.

Gloucestershire found a partnership they desperately needed; something to get the second innings going. Ian Cockbain made another decent score but there were no meaningful stands - the 54 partnership for the first wicket was interrupted with Marshall going off hurt.

Middlesex took regular wickets. The new signing, Kane Williamson, faced a total of 23 balls over two innings for 15 runs, including a duck today - not exactly what he was signed for. Alex Gidman matched him: 10 from 18 balls in the match for the skipper.

But a stand of 90 between Taylor, who was as fluent as in the first innings, and Will Gidman, who also shared a solid partnership with him when Taylor made that hundred, put on 90 to move Gloucestershire towards safety. Another session of batting should make the game safe.

If they then bowl well with the new ball, Gloucestershire could yet win the game. Middlesex could also win if they take five fairly cheap wickets. But anything over 200 is going to be a challenge on a wearing pitch.

Glos on back foot as Middlesex respond

Day 2, Close: Middlesex 296-4 trail Gloucestershire 358 by 62 runs (PTS: Midd 5, Glos 5)

On the evidence of the way Middlesex played on day two at Bristol, Gloucestershire's effort with the bat is only a par score. It is obvious the groundstaff this season are preparing wickets that give batsmen more of an opportunity and batting in 2011 is certainly easier at Bristol.

Middlesex should take a first innings lead leaving Gloucestershire work to do in their second innings to probably bat three sessions to draw this match. A high scoring draw at Bristol? Unheard of.

The problem with packing their side with batting is that Gloucestershire only have three bowlers available plus Will Gidman. They had to really persevere but simply keeping things tight was the order of the day - demonstrated as all four dismissals were caught at the wicket.

The wicket of Malan four overs from the close was a useful breakthrough. Early victims tomorrow and there still may be a window for Gloucestershire to win this game. But a Middlesex victory is most likely from here, given the time left in the game.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Glos impress on day 1

Day 1, Close: Gloucestershire 302-6 v Middlesex (PTS: Glos 3, Midd 2)

This was perhaps the best day's cricket Gloucestershire have enjoyed for some time. Winning the toss, putting runs on the board and still having something left over for tomorrow.

Previously, these situations have come at the end of the season when there's nothing to play for but this was a marvelous effort against the major early movers in Division Two - Middlesex have won three from three and thumped Surrey by an innings last week.

Chris Taylor scored his first championship century for two years and it came just after his ton against the Unicorns. The quick pace of the innings was a continuation of his one-day knock: Monday's hundred came from 97 balls, today's effort from 125.

But the partnership with Will Gidman was the key. Gidman played a very patient knock and anchored the 162-run stand. Hopefully he can press onto his own century tomorrow as Gloucestershire need 98 from 24 overs for maximum batting points: something very rarely in reach.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Glos survive Unicorns scare

CB40: Gloucestershire 195-6 beat Unicorns 171-9 by 24 runs (PTS: Glos 2, Unicorns 0)

The Unicorns are an interesting little project. Thrown together to satisfy the need for another team in the Clydesdale Bank 40 League, they have produced some excellent matches and an excellent shop window. Last year they turned over Glamorgan and Worcestershire and forced Lancashire into a last-ball scramble. The 2011 crop took Somerset to the penultimate over last week so they were never going to be a walkover.

And with only 195 on the board Gloucestershire were very vulnerable. A slow Bristol pitch is often blamed for mediocre first innings scores but you can never tell until both teams have batted. When the Unicorns batted, they never gave themselves a chance - three single figure scores in the top four was where the Unicorns lost the game.

The protagonist of those low scores was David Payne, who started the season poorly but has settled in, more familiar with the one-day arena in which he featured several times last season - including that incredible spell at Essex - his damage to the top order sent Gloucestershire on their way.

They needed early wickets because Chris Taylor's century was over half Gloucestershire's total - very unusual to see a hundred scored and the total less then 200. His second one-day hundred was his second in three games: his first came in the final one-day match of last season in a brilliant innings at Northamptonshire where he and James Franklin put on a record double-century partnership.

The innings will hopefully inspire confidence for a big contest against Middlesex this week. Key to Gloucestershire's success will be Kane Williamson, who played a modest knock on debut. He worryingly got out when in - the trademark of many a Gloucestershire batsmen - but showed ability that will hopefully transfer into first-class success.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Glos complete excellent win

LVCC: Gloucestershire 292 & 206 beat Kent 208 & 245 by 45 runs (PTS: Glos 21, Kent 4)

It was nervy for a long while on day four but Gloucestershire eventually completed an excellent win. Kent, relegated last season, were by far by the best team in this division two years ago and have a large part of that side still intact.

While the other side Gloucestershire have defeated so far, Derbyshire, are not expected to challenge for promotion, Kent certainly are and this was definitely an early six-pointer. It was also very important to provide a response to the defeat at Glamorgan, another fancied outfit.

The first innings batting effort won this game. An early marker with the bat sets the game up and Gloucestershire's failure to get anything meaningful on the board in the first innings consistently for many seasons has been their downfall. Against Derbyshire, without the solid first innings, the fourth innings chase may have been 250 and far trickier. Against Glamorgan, had 300 been posted in the first innings, then their fourth innings chase would have been 250 and within reach.

Hamish Marshall got both innings off to a good start - crucial to posting a significant total. For his comeback match both his scores were pleasing. But not the way he gave it away when well set in both innings. Ian Cockbain is worth persisting with; Richard Coughtrie will be dropped for Kane Williamson who finally arrives this weekend. I would imagine he would open and Marshall will return to his usual number three slot.

With the bowlers, there is no point ever playing Vikram Banerjee. He doesn't add anything and Alex Gidman seems to prefer other options. 12 overs 0-for-27 was his contribution in this match. Granted he might have bowled more had the weather been better but I would rather have had Liam Norwell as another seam option in side ahead of Banerjee. He has proven he can't take wickets even in the most favourable of conditions. As a friend noted at Arundel last season, he wouldn't give you nightmares in club cricket.

Gloucestershire seem to play him just because they want to pick a spinner in the right conditions, like at Cheltenham last year. But he has not developed in three years and is not worth a place in the side. I would rather Jack Taylor being given a game. I would certainly suggest Ed Young when he returns.

But a fine win for the Shire and more evidence that they can compete this season. Middlesex at Bristol next week is a huge test.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Glos well set for victory

Day 3, Close: Kent 208 & 52/2 need another 239 to beat Gloucestershire 292 & 206 (PTS: Kent 4, Glos 5)

Rain may have curtailed play on day three at Canterbury but Gloucestershire's prospects of victory are looking bright. With Joe Denly unable to bat with a fractured thumb, the visitors need another seven wickets for a second championship win.

The second breakthrough just before the rain break - Sam Northeast caught behind off Saxelby - tips the scoreboard in the Glosters' favour. With plenty of runs to play with and showers around the area tomorrow, Gloucestershire should win.

I said 200 at least was needed from the second innings and it was just provided. It was a nervy affair as Gloucestershire slipped to 91-5: an in-and-out trick from Alex Gidman again - his second score of the match in the 20s - after the top order collectively got starts and failed.

But they edged 200 to set Kent a tough target and one that Gloucestershire should be able to defend tomorrow.

Much depends on how the baseball players go - Martin van Jaarsveld and Darren Stevens both have unusual pickups with the bat raised high before the bowler enters their delivery stride. Very curious. Maybe it's a Kent-thing because young Adam Ball also employs the same pickup.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Glos in excellent position

Day 2, Close: Gloucestershire 292 & 40-1 lead Kent 208 by 124 runs (PTS: Glos 5, Kent 4)

Taking 84-run first innings leads, teams that wish to challenge for promotion simply have to convert those positions into victories. Gloucestershire must at Canterbury.

It was a shame to fall short of 300 after such a good start but a smart effort with the ball - helped by an injury to Joe Denly - and a solid start again with the bat has produced a winning position.

250 in this second innings will win the match. 200 should probably be enough. It simply needs to be a solid effort. Two strong partnerships will provide it.

Gloucestershire never had almost 300 to bowl at last season. It's amazing what having runs on the board can do to your position in the game.

The bowling was far more disciplined. Only 25 boundaries were conceded - they conceded 33 in Glamorgan's 202 in Cardiff. It was good to have David Payne in the wickets too - preferred to Liam Norwell for this match, 3.5 an over was also a far better economy rate also: it was above 4.5 against Derbyshire.

Allowing an 18-year-old number nine to make 46 was very annoying but a fit Denly may have made the same. Swings and roundabouts. Gloucestershire should go on to win this game.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Could have been better

Day 1, Close: Gloucestershire 292-9 v Kent (PTS: Glos 2, Kent 3)

It was all going ever so smoothly. Winning the toss and trotting off for lunch 94 without loss. The Gloucestershire scoreboard resembled that of a proper team. Then nine wickets fell in two sessions to not quite ruin the day but considerable muck was smeared on the overall picture that was so rosy at lunchtime.

Hamish Marshall is back and now Gloucestershire have some experience in the top order. His 72 was most welcome but being well set and getting out was Marshall all over.

Likewise Chris Taylor, settled by his runs in Sunday's one-dayer. 71 for him but out so late in the day you could hear the collective grinding of teeth in the Severn Valley. Another well-done-but-should-have-been-more.

Taylor back tomorrow would have been very nice. Now there is a battle to take a third batting point that simply must be achieved. The collapse of 9-178 would be partially offset by a score of over 300 - the competitive mark for first innings' scores.

Maybe a common feat across the game but Gloucestershire don't half love losing wickets in batches. They lost 3-9, then two more on 167, then 2-7 just as they were winning the day. It ended pretty even.

How did the kids fare? Ian Cockbain made another talent-displaying score without going on to prove too much. Richard Coughtrie failed again worryingly. Ian Saxelby made very useful runs and along with David Payne will hope to bowl well tomorrow to ensure the great start that Gloucestershire threw away does not cost them a first innings deficit.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Glos open one-day campaign with win

CB40: Gloucestershire 198-7 beat Glamorgan 197-7 by three wickets (PTS: Glos 2, Glam 0)

It took a stumble but Gloucestershire began their limited overs season with a victory over Glamorgan.

The Welsh county are no major players in this group and far better teams need to be overcome for Gloucestershire to qualify. The likes of Glamorgan must be beaten.

Ed Young, forgotten by many after the plethora of new names that have entered Nevil Road over the winter, played a calm innings to steer his side over the line after a typically Gloucestershire middle order wobble.

Chris Taylor, John Batty & Will Gidman all failed but Young just played the patient knock that teams often need chasing small targets.

Young has been in excellent form for Oxford MCCU - scoring a hundred against Lancashire - proving his potential. I would imagine he will get a run in the one-day side, especially after contributing one-for-24 from his eight overs and effecting the run out of Mark Wallace.

The bowling effort - traditionally where Gloucestershire win one-day matches - won this match. Three early wickets grabbed the momentum. Jon Lewis picked up four-for but Will Gidman's five overs for just 17 was the best spell; he has certainly proved his signature was worth it so far.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Glos tumble to final day defeat

LVCC: Glamorgan 202 & 370-9dec. beat Gloucestershire 183 & 195 by 189 runs (PTS: Glam 19, Glos 3)

It happened again. This time courtesy of a miserable collapse of six wickets for 31 runs which saw Gloucestershire fall to a crushing defeat.

Faced with the same task as the previous two seasons in Cardiff, Gloucestershire competed much better and at 164-for-3 an hour into the afternoon, a draw looked very likely. But the second new ball changed the game.

James Harris produced a yorker to end Jon Batty's stubborn resistance. Adam Shantry then claimed Ian Saxelby caught at short leg and Jon Lewis caught at cover in consecutive balls to end the Gloucestershire fightback.

It was such a shame because Ian Cockbain had again displayed plenty of talent in his 47 and Richard Coughtie held out for 127 balls for 23. The youngsters had started the day well but a false stroke and a ridiculous run out - Coughtrie was backing up to a spinner when Gareth Rees through down the stumps from short leg - brought nerves into the dressing room.

But Chris Taylor played very nicely. He made an attractive 83 to signal a return to form and he looked to be leading the way to 5pm before the burst of wickets saw Gloucestershire's chances once again dumped into the River Taff.

A blow to confidence after the positive start against Derby. Once again, Gloucestershire have issues in the batting line up. Kane Williamson needs to come along a.s.a.p.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Glos in familiar territory

Day 3, Close: Gloucestershire 188 & 42-0 need another 343 runs to beat Glamorgan 202 & 370-9dec. (PTS: Glos 3, Glam 4)
LIVE ball-by-ball commentary on www.gloscricketradio.co.uk

For the past two seasons, Gloucestershire have faced having to bat four sessions to save the match in the fourth innings here at Cardiff. The squeezed home two years ago and failed so miserably last year. Tomorrow they cannot afford to fail.

Were Gloucestershire to fail in making it to 5pm it would be a crushing psychological blow. Batting will not be easier anywhere else this season.

This pitch is so docile. There is nothing on offer for the seamers. And nothing on offer for the spinners. It is still in pretty solid conditon. It's flat and pretty slow and there was no trouble in Dean Cosker making 26 not out for Glamorgan, partially against the new ball.

They have an excellent opportunity to put down a confidence marker tomorrow. Particularly Ian Cockbain - the most organised of the youngsters on show so far. He could cement his place at the top of the order for a while with runs tomorrow.

There was only a slim hope of Gloucestershire being able to bowl out Glamorgan. After two early wickets, there was hope but it was so easy to bat. The second new ball hardly threatened either. I did say this last year but Gloucestershire should be ok.

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

Friday, April 15, 2011

Glos drift away as Glam take command

Day 2, Close: Glamorgan 202 & 185-3 lead Gloucestershire 188 by 199 runs (PTS: Glam 4, Glos 3)
LIVE ball-by-ball commentary on www.gloscricketradio.co.uk

Gloucestershire fought their way back into this match only to be blitzed out of it again by wayward bowling in Glamorgan's second innings.

They conceded five-an-over and a host of boundaries as Alviro Petersen and Gareth Rees made hay either side of tea. Will Gidman came back with two wickets - including another failure for Mike Powell who is surely on his last legs as a professional cricketer - but only three down, Glamorgan are in such a strong position and should set Gloucestershire 350 to win.

Chasing 350 is not out of the question because this pitch has flattened out. Once again, the new ball period is absolutely crucial. Gloucestershire didn't make breakthroughs with it this afternoon and paid the penalty.

They found a way back into the match through Jon Lewis. He worked off the stubbornness of Vikram Banerjee who played his second greatest first-class innings - the greatest being a first-class best 35 at the Oval last year. The pair added 77 vital runs to almost get Gloucestershire back on terms.

But their fighting spirit has been undone by the bowlers who again conceded too many too quickly and now must produce something tomorrow morning to forge a path back into this match.

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

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A sliding day for Glos in Cardiff

Day 1, Close: Gloucestershire 76-5 trail Glamorgan 202 by 126 runs (PTS: Glos 3, Glam 2)

I wasn't in Cardiff today but if I was I would have seen everything exactly how it always has been from Gloucestershire.

I would imagine I would have seen them threaten with the new ball in reasonably helpful conditions; get themselves into a great position; but then fail to hit the jugular and let the opposition off the hook. 50-6 to 200 all out was some comeback and kept Glamorgan in the game at that early stage.

The young attack leaked quick runs in the first match & quick runs allows batsmen to quickly get their eye in. Ben Wright & Graham Wagg must have quickly settled: they added an oh-so-frustrating 138 for the seventh wicket.

Wright was dropped by Ian Saxelby at slip when on not many - how crucial a miss that could prove to be.

I would imagine I then would have seen Glos struggle to cope with the new ball, lose early wickets and immediately put themselves under pressure - exactly the same reason why innings rarely got going last season and for several seasons prior to that.

I then imagine I would have seen Glamorgan take an advantage in the game by revealing the Gloucestershire lower order with just 67 on the board.

It has to be Will Gidman to the rescue again tomorrow - he needs to be the Glosters' Wright - otherwise the excitement of the first morning could slide away & be drowned out very quickly in this match.

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

Monday, April 11, 2011

Winning start for new-look Glos

LVCC: Gloucestershire 343 & 146-3 beat Derbyshire 157 & 331 by seven wickets (PTS: Glos 21, Derbys 3)

This victory is exactly what Gloucestershire needed. A new look outfit performed well in many areas to win comfortably but far sterner tests are in store.

There was definitely a sense that Gloucestershire had removed a lot of their old wood. Too early to judge but there may be something in this policy of youth.

The bowling attack looks like it can threaten. The greatest fear allayed I think. Liam Norwell was a real handful and Ian Saxelby bowled superbly for large periods of the second innings. David Payne took wickets and Jon Lewis was his usual dependable self.

But all of the bowlers - save Lewis - went for quick runs. This needs to be addressed because you cannot concede four-an-over all season. The lack of spinner also presents problems.

The batting was average. Will Gidman's innings was a delight; runs for Jon Batty encouraging; but failures for the top order - particularly Chris Taylor in his unusual new role at number four - against the weakest bowling attack in the division is cause for concern. It is disappointing that the captain hides himself at number five and exposes youngsters to the new ball.

One would envisage the returning Hamish Marshall will replace Richard Coughtrie at Glamorgan. When Kane Williamson arrives he could well replace Taylor if Ian Cockbian and Chris Dent outscore him in Cardiff - a scenario that would be pleasing to many Gloucestershire supporters.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Chance to Atone for Glos

Day 3, Close: Gloucestershire 343 & 19-1 need another 127 runs to beat Derbyshire 157 & 331 (PTS: Glos 5, Derbys 3)
LIVE ball-by-ball commentary on www.gloscricketradio.co.uk

In the corresponding fixture last season, Gloucestershire fell to the most miserable defeat of modern times. Dismissed for 70 in pursuit of 120. Tomorrow they face a similar task and have the chance to exorcise those demons.

They need 146 to win. It should be an absolute cakewalk given the nature of this pitch and the overhead conditions. The hard part of batting in this match has been against the new ball. Once that is overcome, batting is remarkably easy, as demonstrated by big partnerships in the middle order of two innings in this match.

Greg Smith was part of the second large stand of the match. He's not the most aesthetically pleasing player but he was mighty effect and scored at an excellent rate. He was badly dropped by Chris Dent on 99 but fully deserved a century.

his runs have given Derbyshire another sniff - they will claim belief from last season's heroics. A major difference this year is the absence of Graham Wagg. His variation and genuine aggression was a major factor in last season's collapse. This pitch is also flatter. Gloucestershire should be ok.

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

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Never Fear: Norwell is here

Day 2, Close: Derbyshire 157 & 28-0 (f/o) trail Gloucestershire 343 by 158 runs (PTS: Derbys 3, Glos 5)
LIVE ball-by-ball commentary on www.gloscricketradio.co.uk

Any fears that Gloucestershire had lost their brilliant bowling attack were allayed on day two at Bristol as a new crop came to the fore.

Liam Norwell is a big lad with broad shoulders. He charged in and hit the deck hard. He was a real handful and picked up a tremendous six-wicket haul, including the last four for just nine runs. It was very promising for a 19-year-old.

David Payne didn't quite live up to the billing in an erratic display. In fact all the bowlers went at healthy rates. But regular wickets nullified quick scoring, as Derbyshire didn't last three hours.

Game in the bag if Gloucestershire can show the same menace with the new ball tomorrow morning. Should Derbyshire overcome an hour or so, batting will become much easier and they may have a way back into the game.

Batting was very easy for Norwell and Payne in a record 10th wicket stand either side of lunch: only a mix up causing a run out ended the partnership. There stand has given Gloucestershire a match-winning total.

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

Friday, April 08, 2011

Glos fight back as new season begins

Day 1, Close: Gloucestershire 224-6 v Derbyshire (PTS: Glos 1, Derbys 2)
LIVE ball-by-ball commentary on www.gloscricketradio.co.uk

It was all so familiar. A fragile top order. A flurry of wickets. A terrible start. But then came a gem of an innings from Will Gidman to rescue the day.

Tipped to be at the top of the order when he was signed from Durham, the younger Gidman showed all of that potential with a patient, watchful and then flourishing innings.

He was so careful early on - exactly what was needed given the precarious predicament - and built so steadily with a rejuvenated Jon Batty, who played his best innings in a Gloucestershire shirt. The rebuilding was so steady it was like trudging through treacle for a large part of the afternoon.

But after tea the day came alive. Gidman drove, Batty cut and a record 6th wicket stand against Derbyshire was achieved. 50 came off 10 overs after the interval.

The script was written but a dismissal befitting the earlier wickets - a strangle down the legside - robbed Gidman of a dream debut hundred.

LIVE ball-by-ball coverage continues tomorrow on www.gloscricketradio.co.uk
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