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)
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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.

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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)
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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.

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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.

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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)
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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.

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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)
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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.

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Friday, April 08, 2011

Glos fight back as new season begins

Day 1, Close: Gloucestershire 224-6 v Derbyshire (PTS: Glos 1, Derbys 2)
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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.

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