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.