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.
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