Thursday, 19 April 2018

The promotion bandwagon is up and running

Gloucestershire 110 (Roderick 51, Stevens 3-19) and 108 for 5 (Howell 52*) beat Kent 64 (Taylor 4-20, Miles 3-11) and 153 (Bell-Drummond 61, Higgins 5-22) by five wickets
Scorecard

Crucial fifties from former skipper Gareth Roderick and newly-minted opener Benny Howell, saw Gloucestershire defeat Kent in a low-scoring game completed in under three days, despite the loss of day 1 to a wet outfield following heavy rain.

This was a wild game, with many crazy statistics, including Glos winning despite not scoring over 110 in either innings, only three individual scores above 50 and 17(!) LBWs from 35 wickets, all in under 3 full days of cricket.

Day 1 at Canterbury was lost to a wet outfield and Gloucestershire were always likely to bowl first, given the overhead conditions. A four man attack without Liam Norwell, who was rested after a pre-season injury, meant debutant Ryan Higgins provided seam backup to Worrall, Miles and Matt Taylor. We also had Benny and Gourmet-Burger in reserve, although as events transpired they were in selected the team as batsmen only.

Glos ripped into Kent in favourable bowling conditions on Day 2, reducing them to 29-6 on the way to 64 all out. Matt Taylor showed why the shire's seam attack is potentially one of the division's best, removing Bell-Drummond, captain Joe Denly, the dangerous Stevens and former Jessop Tavern favourite Will Gidman on the way to 4-20, He was ably supported by Miles with 3-11 as Kent were skittled in 18.5 overs.

By the close of play, the match was halfway done, with Glos handily ahead at 110-8. Despite numerous low scores, largely brought about by the seamer-friendly conditions, Glos managed to close with a lead of 46, thanks to a gritty half century from keeper Roderick. This was the knock of the match, a fact acknowledged by coach Richard Dawson who rated it worth a hundred in any other game.

Day Three began in familiar fashion, with Glos dismissed in the first over of the day without adding to our overnight total. This left u with some work to do, as batting conditions improved somewhat on Sunday morning and the dangerous Bell-Drummond got going. He struck 10 fours and a six in a rapid 61 as Kent moved ahead of Glos for the loss of Dixon. Joe Denly arrived and looked to have been caught for a golden by KNB, but refused to walk and was reprieved by the umpire. The crucial moment of the innings was yet another LBW, as Higgins snared a well-set Bell-Drummond bang in front with the score on 75 and the lead just 29.

Kent slipped to 89-5, before recovering at the hands of Gidman, who put on 43 with Rouse before nicking off to Roderick for Miles' solitary wicket of the innings. Higgins showed real potential with the ball, nipping it around at a handy pace to take his maiden first class five-fer as Kent were dismissed for 153.

This left us 108 to win and with conditions still tricky, new skipper Dent was castled by a jaffa from Kiwi Matt Henry bringing Roderick in again with over a hundred still required. The two saw us through to an early close due to bad light at 61-1.

This left a nervous Monday morning for those sitting in the office listening on the BBC. We questioned Benny's move to opener in our season preview last week, but were delighted to see the Frenchman score a crucial fifty of his own as Glos won by 5 wickets. Benny's positivity, hitting 9 boundaries and facing only 90 balls, was a welcome counterpoint to the uncertainty shown at the other end, with 4 wickets falling in knocking off the 47 runs needed. Jack Taylor's second poor dismissal of the match, leaving a straight one from the wily Stevens to be plumb LBW was a bit concerning, given that the vice-captain's runs will be needed given he's set to bat at in the top 6 this season.

So, what does this all mean, ahead of tomorrow's home opener versus Glamorgan? Clearly the boys have a quality seam bowling attack, as evidenced by bowling Kent out cheaply twice, despite being without last year's leading wicket-taker Liam Norwell. Taylor bowled well on D1 and Worrall is clearly going to be a factor in Division 2, having taken 4-55 on his Shire debut. Higgins was a pleasant surprise and if he can function as a 4th or 5th seamer alongside the established attack then we could have a really handy attack this year.

The batting remains a bit of a concern. We said on Twitter that a lot of the dismissals in the first innings were down to playing across the line or missing straight deliveries. We may have been a bit harsh, as listening to 'Pasty' during his BBC commentary stint, he claimed most of the LBWs were due to late movement rather than poor choice of shot, aside from Roderick who admitted he made a mistake in the first innings. We'll give the boys the benefit of the doubt for this one, but with an equally handy Glamorgan pace attack rolling into Bristol tomorrow, we will need to see improvements if the Shire are to continue their momentum into the first home game of the year.

Still, a first win in the opening game of the season since the heady days of 2011 is not to be sniffed at. Let's hope that another good performance can help the Jessop Tavern View recapture some of the heady optimism of 2011, our first season blogging here. We can't promise you 25 posts in April like our first year of blogging, but more wins like this will certainly inspire us to fire up the laptops more often!

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

2018 Preview: Part 2 - Green tops for Nevil Road

Our 2018 season preview concludes with a look at the bowling. Young pups Norwell, Payne, Miles and Matt Taylor should surely form a tasty, locally-reared quartet of a pace attack. Throw in the intriguing overseas signing of Dan Worrall and the Shire really should be a dangerous proposition with the ball.

Presumably the groundsman at Nevil Road is going to allow the short mower to go rust in 2018 as there doesn’t appear a spin option worthy of the name. The sight of opposition players scratching their heads, wondering where the strip is on a lush, grassy Bristol square should become a familiar sight in 2018.

Dan Worrall (Career average: 29.61 with 136 wickets in 35 fc matches at a strike rate of 55.94 and 5 five wicket hauls; One day average: 39.21 with 28 wickets in 24 matches)

Worrall represents something of a throwback signing. An overseas player, here for the entire season, which we reckon can only be a good thing. His career stats aren’t anything too exciting, but he has clearly shown enough signs of talent back in Oz to have found international recognition in the ODI setup.

He is coming off the back of a successful 17/18 Sheffield Shield season where his 34 wickets meant that only 5 men took more first class wickets down under this winter. All of this does point towards a shrewd signing by the Shire. However, we have seen one too many Shabbir Ahmed’s over the years to know that for every Courtney Walsh there is an Ashley Noffke!

Liam Norwell (Career stats: 248 wickets @ 26.89, including 10 5 wicket hauls and 3 10 wicket matches)

In 2017 Norwell took 59 wickets at 18.11, including 5 five-fors and twice he took 10 wickets in a match. We were about to write that this was a career year for the ginger paceman. But it wasn’t particularly. In 2015 he took 68 wickets. In 2016 he took 44. For the last 3 seasons he has been one of divisions two’s prime strike men.

Fitness issues dogged the early part of his career, but hopefully the decent strength in depth in the seam bowling department this year will mean his workload can be properly managed and 2018 will see him develop further....and then inevitably bugger off to Somerset next year!

Craig Miles (Career stats: 199 wickets @ 28.26, including 11 five wicket hauls and one 10 wicket match)

Come back the 2015-16 version of Craig Miles! Admittedly, the Jessop Tavern can never type Miles’ name without picturing 78 year old Azhar Mahmood dispatching a final ball bouncer over deep square leg for the 6 that was needed to win the match in a T20 blast match, but that version of Craig Miles at least had some spunk. Was 2017 just a blip?

The lack of news provided to long distance fans means that we are never entirely sure how injuries play out in the distant, unreported, galaxy that is division 2 of the county championship. Whatever the issues in 2017 the Shire will be hoping that the still only 23 year old can return to the sort of form that saw him take 50 wickets in consecutive seasons, and earn a call up to the England Lions.

David Payne (Career stats: 198 wickets @ 32.96, with 3 five wicket hauls. In List A cricket he averages 22.76)

David Payne will sit out the first part of the season recovering from recent ankle surgery. His quick recovery will be vital to the Shire’s success when the white ball cricket gets underway. In recent seasons the limited overs stuff has been Payne’s chance to come to the fore.

His championship work often goes unnoticed. His awkward left arm pace providing a nice counterpunch to the more orthodox angles of Norwell and Miles. His 28 first class wickets in 2017 might not look spectacular, but are the perfect ballast for other guys to work around. We wish him a speedy recovery.

Matt Taylor (Career stats: 67 wickets @ 41.83)

David Payne’s injury represents an opportunity for the only remaining bowling version of the Taylor brothers to stake a claim to become more than the squad bowler he has been since making his debut in 2013. At only 23, time is still on his side to develop on the potential that has been glimpsed at times.

However, a bowling average that has never dipped below 40 in first class cricket (and in List A it actually sits around 50!) does not lie and it will be a big step up for Taylor to be a regular contributor. Injuries and the need to rotate the seamers will give him his chance. Hopefully he will have the talent to grasp it.

Chris Liddle (Career stats: 46 wickets @ 48.41....ouch! In List A he has 97 wickets @ 26.60)

Liddle was a strange signing last year. The 34 year old journeyman arrived as a white ball specialist, yet found himself in the 4 day team for a greater number of games than expected. His contribution in the Royal London Cup was a very handy 18 wickets, but in the T20 Blast he made less of an impact with only 6 wickets in the competition despite playing every game. What his role will be in 2018 is unclear. Presumably a return to being a white ball cricketer.

Tom Smith (Career Stats: 74 wickets @ 49.20 in first class cricket; 55 wickets @ 39.63 in List A and 106 wickets @ 22.43 in T20)

Let's whizz through this quick. Glos won’t be spinning any webs in 2018. Smith has been a solid pro for the Shire since his arrival from Middlesex. However, his best moments have been reserved for the short form of the game and he represents nothing more than a man who can get through some overs waiting for the new ball.

Miles Hammond (Career stats: 1 wicket @ 196.00 in 3 matches)

The only other spinner listed on the Gloucestershire first XI page of the website (so not necessarily the only other spin option!) the 22 year old from Cheltenham has a long way to go. His 3 games actually came back in 2013, although he is a former England U-19 international.

Potentially the most interesting thing to watch with regards to Hammond in 2018 is whether his profile exists on the Glos website due to lazy updating by whoever runs the site or whether he is actually a legitimate member of the squad. We know where our money is.

Overview
So there we go. The 2018 season can officially get underway. The boys start with an away trip to Kent, so all is left is to wish them well and to hope that it's nice and overcast on Friday morning for our seamers to run through them before the sun shines for the rest of the match.

Good luck to all of the boys for this season. Our enthusiasm is high at the moment so let's see if you can keep us blogging through to September!

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

2018 Season Preview - 1,000 runs anyone?


The Jessop Tavern is back! Blink and you may well miss us. The Jessop Tavern’s enthusiasm is quickly drained and a recent recap of our blogging history indicates that we are very much fair weather bloggers. The Shire’s success each year is very much monitored in when our last post was for that season. In 2017 it was May. Enough said.

So what can Gloucestershire fans expect in 2018? Wisden reckon we are set for an 8th place finish in the championship and a quarter final appearance in the T20 Blast. What they reckon the odds are for Alfred the Gorilla making it. A hat-trick of finals day mascot race wins is unknown. Would that be success for Glos? Clearly it isn’t too much to aspire to, but then what should Gloucestershire’s aim be for this season? We’d settle for being competitive in the championship until September, with an entertaining cup run in either the T20 or 50 over competition. With Bristol missing out on one of the forthcoming franchises for the new T20 competition cricket in the west country will face uncertain times. An inspiring 2018 campaign would go some way to looking to the future with more hope.

Batting
We will write this season preview in two parts, with the batting first. On paper, the batting looks thin. Very thin. No batsman in the squad passed 1,000 runs in 2017. For what feels like the better part of a decade Glos have recruited an overseas batsman to bolster the weakest part of their squad. Williamson, Klinger, Handscomb and Bancroft have all done this job, with varying degrees of success.

In 2018 coach Richard Dawson has gone for a bowling overseas player, Dan Worrall. What impact this has on the Shire’s ability to score enough runs remains to be seen. The boys shouldn’t have too much trouble taking 20 wickets. Worrall, Norwell, Miles and Payne look a handy attack if they can all be fit. Whether they spend the bulk of the summer grumbling about batsmen failing to do their job will be the critical aspect of the 2018 campaign.

Chris Dent (Career average: 38.07; 2017 average: 44.45 with 2 hundreds)
New club captain for 2018, Chris Dent has all the tools to be a plunderer of division 2 runs (as well as a fine one day player). Will the captaincy inspire him? Time will tell. It is hard to knock Dent’s output over the last 5 years. He has hit 1,000 runs in 3 of those 5 years and scored 11 hundreds. However, he failed to crack what should be an automatic thousand runs in a season in 2017 and his conversion rate of 2 hundreds for 10 times going passed 50 is the real source of frustration for fans.

Dent has never been the main man in the Gloucestershire batting, mainly due to Klinger and others being present. In 2018 he will be the key wicket for teams, along with being a first-time captain. Its a big ask for Dent in 2018 and one he will need to be up to if Glos are to have an even semi-respectable season.

Benny Howell (Career average 28.29; 2017 average: 68.00 with 1 hundred in 2 matches)Is Benny the answer at the top of the order? We vaguely remember Benny arriving at the Shire in 2011 as this French opening batsman which prompted us to imagine a bloke who stood square-on the bowler and tried flicking all balls over his head to the boundary. Sadly this wasn’t the case, although Benny’s batting has been of the boundary hitting variety, usually some lower order biffing, and mainly in one day cricket.

Of course, Benny has turned himself into one of the county circuit's best one day bowlers, but opening the batting in the championship? At the end of the season Benny did hit a very fine 163 against Glamorgan. But is that enough to build a batting line-up around? This was only his second first-class hundred, and an average that has never gone above 30 in each of his 6 full seasons at the club means this is a risk to rely on his runs.

James Bracey (Career average: 41.41; 2017 average: 41.41 with one hundred in 9 matches)Is Bracey our new hero? The 20 year old left-handed keeper batsman appeared on the scene in 2017 and took to first-class cricket immediately. 3 fifties and a maiden hundred (in the same match that Benny scored his ton) is a solid return for a young man coming into the team. Whether building your batting lineup around an end of season performance against Glamorgan is a policy for success remains to be seen. However, Bracey is the future and let's hope he can push on and develop this year.

George Hankins (Career average 26.42; 2017: 26.23 with no hundreds in 12 matches)Hankins made his debut in 2016 and seemed to grow into that season with his maiden hundred coming at the tail end of that campaign. 2017 was, therefore, a disappointing ‘growing’ season for the 21 year old, with no hundreds and just the 4 fifties.

The Shire seemed determined to provide him with experience in all formats, although how much Hankins enjoyed his 7 T20 matches, where he scored 17 runs at an average of 5, is in doubt. It is hard to know which way he will develop as a cricketer in 2018. Glimpses of potential are well and good, but in a side that looks pretty thin in the batting department, it is hard to believe that this is the ideal environment in which to grow.

Graeme Van Buuren (Career average: 46.28; 2017 average: 22.33 with no hundreds in 8 matches)Arriving from South African on his pet hamster's passport in 2016, Van Buuren immediately looked a very handy pick-up. 2 hundreds in his 7 games in 2016 at an average of 45 seemed to herald a very useful middle order player. Injury then ravaged his 2017 campaign, so not too much should be read into last year's stats. So can Van Buuren bounce back? Along with captain Dent he represents the experienced heart of the batting, so he will need to find his best form early if Glos are to put up a fight.

Gareth Roderick (Career average: 38.79; 2017 average: 33.58 with no hundreds in 9 matches)Another South African import whose 2017 season was ruined by injury. Former club captain Roderick has struggled in recent seasons to back-up the impressive start he made to his Gloucestershire career. 2 hundreds and an average of 44 in his debut season of 2013 was built upon by an average of 58 in 2014 before his season was ruined by injury. Since then Roderick has never averaged above 33, nor scored more than one hundred or gone over 800 runs. Again, more will be needed from a player with the ability to score runs at this level.

Jack Taylor (Career average: 32.89; 2017 average: 41.00 with 2 hundreds in 15 matches)Crowd favourite, and new vice-captain, Jack Taylor will have all of 2018 to focus on his batting after his season-long bowling suspension. Whether Taylor ever goes back to bowling will be interesting. That Steve Smith bloke seems to have done ok having ditched the lollypop spin bowling to focus on scoring runs with an unorthodox technique!

Where Glos choose to unleash Taylor’s unique batting talents will be a test of coach Dawson’s improvisation. The feeling that Taylor is better utilised as a match-changing lower order biffer is hard to refute, and he may find number 7 his ideal position. Whether that is too low for a guy in the team solely for his batting will be the question? Modern cricket is all about momentum and innovation, and using Taylor in this way will allow him to play his natural game that has brought great success over the last few years.

Will Tavare (Career average: 31.63; 2017 average: 31.29 with 2 hundreds in 11 matches)
2017 was hardly a vintage year for Tavare, and the feeling exists that his place in the pecking order has gone to the likes of Bracey and Hankins. You suspect that Tavare will get his chance again and it will be up to him to take it. This is a man who in 2014 topped 1,000 runs with 4 hundreds. Even last year, which was hardly his best, he managed two hundreds, as many as Chris Dent.

Ian Cockbain (Career average: 30.15; 2017 average: 27.00 in just 1 match)

Jessop Tavern View favourite and T20 specialist Ian Cockbain will presumably be overlooked for the championship games and instead will be utilised as a one day specialist. His T20 epiphany in 2016 resulted in a more modest return in 2017 (252 runs at 25 in the T20 Blast) but in the 50 over game Cockbain was the only real bright point for Glos with his maiden one day century and an average of 59 across the 7 matches.

Kieran Noema-Barnett (Career average: 27.05; 2017 average: 22.38 with no hundreds in 11 matches, bowling: 23 wickets at 32.04)The gourmet burger should really be a Jessop Tavern favourite. A sort of Jackson Thompson cricketer. A Mike Gatting style of buffet eater who was sponsored by a gourmet burger restaurant, what’s not to like? Well, his figures for starters. No not his figure. And no, not those types of starters. 
We just struggle to see what he brings to a team. In 2017 we saw far more of Noema-Barnett with the ball in hand than is good for any side. We saw it as a sign of how much the Shire were struggling, and the same will bne the same in 2018. This said, there is still time for him to turn this around. Adopting the big man with big bat and big biffing would be the place to start. Less of the Jesse Ryder opening the bolwing sort of stuff, and more of the Jesse Ryder in nightclub toilets would be the other way to go.

Ryan Higgins (Career average: 24.71 in 5 matches; 2017 average: 18.42. Bowling; 12 career wickets at 23.41)It’s hard to know anything at all about this winter’s 'big' signing. The Zimbabwe-born man signed from Middlesex and has such a limited first-class record that it's hard to try and make sense of what Glos fans might expect from him.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

A new hero of the Jessop Tavern steps into the light

Glos, 275 for 8 (Klinger, 134) beat Kent, 264 for 9 (Liddle, 5 for 36) by 11 runs.
Glos gave themselves a fighting chance of at least making it interesting for the fans over the final round of matches in the RLODC with a tense 11 run victory at home to Kent. It was a fairly improbable victory, and one that coach Richard Dawson admitted himself that he didn't know how it had happened.

The victory was all about one man. No, not that man. Michael Klinger scoring one day hundreds for Gloucestershire are exactly the same as Chris Dent scoring pretty little 30s. Not particularly worthy of comment. This victory was about a new hero. A dashing, exciting new prospect, tearing in with his left arm medium plodders. This victory was about a 33 year old man showing its never too late in the day to put in match winning performances when everyone has given up on you. This was a victory about Chris Liddle.

The mighty Liddle. Brought in from Sussex last year as a one day specialist. A man who disappeared. A player we didn't even realise was still on the books until he appeared on the team sheet at the start of the year. An unlikely hero if ever there was one. In fairness, Liddle has been our most consistent one day bowler in the competition. He has 12 wickets in 4 matches at an average of 13 and an economy rate of below 5. That places him second in the wicket taker's table. One behind Durham's James Weighell (yep, we've never heard of him either)

After Klinger's fine innings of 134 was squandered by Glos' inability to push on in the final overs, the game looked done as the impressive Daniel Bell-Drummond looked as if he was coasting to his third hundred of the competition. Kent were sitting pretty on 200 for 2 from 39 overs when Liddle began his second spell. Cometh the hour, cometh the 33 year old journeyman. Liddle removed both Bell-Drummond and Sam Northeast to give the Shire hope, and then proceeded to remove Stevens and Blake to turn a hopeless situation into one that even Glos couldn't find a way to lose.

Liddle's story at Glos is slightly clouded in mystery. We aren't entirely sure what the problems were last year, but maybe he is now finding his feet again. The Jessop Tavern queried at the start of the season whether Gloucestershire should have tried to draft in an experienced campaigner to provide a bit more depth to the bowling, and a bit of experience. We weren't really thinking that Chris Liddle was this man. In fairness he may be 33, but has only played 29 first class and 67 list A games. Maybe Richard Dawson is a canny assessor of talent. Or maybe there was no one else.

Glos now find themselves in mid table in their South Group, 3 points behind third place Sussex, but with a game in hand. Admittedly Hampshire are between Glos and qualification, having played the same number of games, but the Shire have a fighting chance as they prepare for a must-win game against table topping Somerset on Friday. The Royal London Cup has finally captured our imagination prior to a trip to Lords being on the table!

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Glos looking likely to have been spun out of the RLODC by Crane and Dawson

Hampshire 239 for 3 (Vince 89*, Alsop 53) beat Glos 237 ao (Jack Taylor 63, Dawson 3-30) by 7 wickets
Gloucestershire's chances in this years Royal London One Day Cup took a considerable battering by a Hampshire side that looked superior in all departments over the weekend. Glos have made a habit over the years of making themselves add up to more than the value of their parts. On Sunday Hampshire totalled up their own parts, decided they were significantly better than the men from the west country, and then exhibit the extra class that the names on the scorecard suggested was there.

Winning the toss and electing to bat first Glos actually got off to a fairly fluent start. Klinger, the Colonel and Dent all got starts before the introduction of one-time England spinner Liam Dawson and Aussie Shield cricket star Mason Crane spun the Shire into a hole that they never looked like climbing out of. Dawson and Crane bowled beautifully, especially in their first spell when 10 combined overs of spin went for only one boundary. Jack Taylor and Benny at least got Glos into the game with a 6th wicket stand of 70, but 237 always looked an under-par score.

And so it proved. Needing early wickets and control Glos got neither. Instead pretty much every Hampshire batsman looked very comfortable. Young Tom Alsop continued his fine 50 over form from 2016 in setting a nice platform with fellow opener Jimmy Adams. Even after these two departed, Test rejects George Bailey and James Vince had far too much for a Glos attack that has struggled for penetration in this competition.

In fairness Glos do a very good job at preventing this sort of match from happening too often. Running through the two sides prior to the match Hampshire's contained 6 players with international experience, two young players in and around the England Lions set-up, and a high-class county stalwart. In this case the class shone through. In a scenario like this Glos do become very reliant on Michael Klinger to fight fire with fire. On this occasion he wasn't able to and Glos suffered.

Glos now sit bottom of the South Group. Their 2 points is 6 adrift of leaders Somerset. Even 4 victories on the bounce would still struggle to see them qualify. The 4 games so far have just demonstrated the class difference between the top teams and Glos. Admittedly they were unlucky against Glamorgan, but subsequent stand out performances from Alastair Cook and James Vince have been enough to see Glos rooted to the bottom of the table. It's just one those things. No one has performed particularly badly, Glos have just looked a little bit short at this level this year.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Put up or shut up for Glos in the Royal London One Day Cup

For many years rugby's Heineken Cup stood as the pinnacle of how a successful sporting competition should be run. High quality teams with small groups and a tough qualifying requirement of finishing in the top two to progress to the next round meant that the intensity of the competition existed right from the start. Compare that to the nauseum of football's Champion League group stage and you know what we mean. Right from the start of a competition winning should be imperative. Bizarrely, given their love of 100 game seasons in othe sports, the American NFL has this balance right as well. 

Enter the Royal London One Day Cup. A competition that, this year, potentially feels like it has found its feet. Both Glos and Hampshire begin today knowing that they realistically have to win to stay in contention. Both teams have one win from their three matches. Lose today and one them will be staring down the barrel of an early exit. However, the structure of the competition does now mean that their would still be the possibility of Michael Klinger making some sort of Aaron Rodgers-style 'run the table' quip and potentially a third place finish could happen. To us, this makes for a good competition. The fact it is being played out in chunks also makes it easily engaged with. The fact no one else is watching is irrelevant! We're enjoying it, and as people who write a blog merely to entertain ourselves, we've never be much interested in whether other people are also on board.

Glos find themselves in this position after a disappointing defeat to Essex at the end of last week. We say disappointing mainly because if Alastair Cook is your main one day tormentor then you feel like you could have done better. Cook's hundred proved the difference between the two sides. Cook made a hundred. Phil Mustard could only make 90, and Ian Cockbain fell for 79. If either of those two had been able to reach three figures then the Shire might have squeezed home.

The other curiosity from the Essex match was the sudden re-emergence of the Gourmet Burger. Having not featured in any of the previous matches this season, Gourmet Burger was drafted in to replace the unwell Graeme Van Buuren. Fair enough. Last minute illnesses mean that it isn't always possible to have like for like replacements. What seemed fairly inexplicable was that Glos seemed to think they had the second coming of Gary Sobers stepping into their team. Noema-Barnett was brought on first change, given two overs, was butchered round the ground and taken off. He was then thrown in to bat at number 5. Ahead of Benny and Jack Taylor, who have both been in the runs recently. He made an 8 ball duck. Hopefully a lesson has been learnt.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Match Preview: Gloucestershire v Leicestershire

Ed's note. We originally meant to post this ahead of the Leicestershire match, which in the event we won handily. The only reason to post this now is our continued frustration with the lack of information available on the respective county websites. See the last two paragraphs. Maybe Will Brown subscribes to our posts and will do us a favour and get the website sorted. However, having just read the latest 'team update' online, we're not sure we should be crossing our fingers. Let's hope Gareth Roderick is ok and will be back to 1st team action soon.

The rebound match. For both sides, as Glos, fresh from being skittled for 61 in their opening game, welcome Leicestershire, bundled out for 83 in their opening game, to the Brightside Ground.

Both sides were given a taste of how hard life will be for them in division 2 this season in the opening round of victories, and so this game already has the feel of a real 32 pointer. Division 2 already seems to have a very real clear split in terms of the quality of the teams, and both Glos and Leicestershire will consider this season a success if they can be mixing it at the top end of the table. This game will go along way to providing one or other of them with the chance to get their season up and running. For the loser, well the one day cup starts soon.

We'd love to bring you some team news, heck, even some squad news. But county cricket refuses to enter the 21st century in the way that it communicates with its fans and so we have no idea what either team are planning. Will Glos name an unchanged squad? Is captain Roderick likely to be fit? Will we trust only 5 batsmen, or will one of either Chris Liddle or Jack Taylor make way for an extra run scorer? Only those turning up at the ground this morning and buying a scorecard are likely to know these answers. The idea of posting this sort of info on the web seems alien to both Gloucestershire and Leicestershire.

The Jessop Tavern is well aware that this is a moan we have had for many years, but in a month in which we have seen the ECB begin to launch the new franchised T20 competition, with the aim to attract new fans, is it any wonder that fans are turned away from supporting teams who refuse to engage with them via the modern world.

Would it really be that difficult for someone to ask Richard Dawson for the squad and a short press release ahead of a fixture? Pop this on the website. Tweet it. Job done. Presumably the counties have noticed that not many people arrive at the grounds, so why not make it as easy as possible for those following online to find out as much relevant information as possible before the live BBC commentary feeds start at 11 am? Cricinfo do a sterling job, but understandably, the focus of their daily live blog is the Division 1 teams and matches. The smaller counties may protest lack of budget, but they can and should do more to make their supporters' live easier.

Rant over.

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