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.

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