Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Day 3: Glos face a battle to stave off disappointing defeat.

 Day3: Gloucestershire 255 and 37 - 2 v Essex 321.

Whilst the other half of the Jessop Tavern View salivates about beer and upcoming T20 matches this half is keeping a nervy eye on the proper cricket at Nevil Road. After losing 2 late wickets, Gloucestershire will face a nervous final day as they try to salvage a draw from a game that seemed to be meandering slowly to a convenient draw for both sides.

The less optimistic, and more realistic Glos fans might won't to check here for tomorrow's weather forecast. Not encouraging.

The bowlers actually did a pretty decent job today. At 108 for 1 and with peg leg Shah and bowling allrounder Bopara still to bat things looked pretty good for Essex. Yet an excellent spell from the Gidman brothers then opened the door for the Sperm donor and only ten Doeschate and Adam Wheater helped Essex to a first innings lead of 66. In hindsight the boys might have been better off trying a little less hard and allowing Essex to bat out the day, claim maximum batting points by lunchtime tomorrow, and then only have a session and a half to bat out.

As it is both Coughtrie and Cockbain fell cheaply and it will take some good batting tomorrow to save this game from what would be a very disappointing defeat. The talent is there to save us, and so far this season Glos have usually come to the party when they have been asked. Yet the memories of the last x number of years of awful cricket mean that we're not confident.

We are still not sure why Coughtrie was opening instead of Chris Dent. We understand he has been doing so whilst Dent was out injured, but, considering that he has also been handed the gloves for the first time in this game, surely it made more sense for him to bat at 7. His limited stroke play also seem more suited to a lower order position which would allow him to hold up an end whilst people like the Sperm donor and Saxelby have a biff around him.

Lets hope the boys can do enough to secure the draw. It would be disheartening to throw away a good start to the 4 day season by sliding down the table with defeat here. Particularly just before the T20. Fingers crossed that Essex continue to feel obliged to give the ball to Bopara in the hope that he can convince the England selectors that his wretched first innings duck can be glossed over with a first class bowling average of 43.

Twenty 20: Time for the butchers of Surrey v Murali

Friends Life Twenty20 preview: Surrey v Glos

The Jessop Tavern is conducting a social experiment this Thursday at the Oval. Thanks to a sweet ticket deal obtained from popular website Groupon, we will actually be present at the game to watch Murali, Kevin O'Brien and Kane Williamson take on the flat track bullies of Surrey. If you are also attending the game, perhaps you would like to come say hello to one half of the Jessop Tavern View? We know that there are a few of you who of you read the blog, so if you fancy a pint and a natter about the trials and tribulations of being a Glos/county cricket supporter, send me a tweet @tgwill.

Right, on to the match preview for what could be an interesting game. Gloucestershire have, frankly, been pretty awful in T20 in recent seasons. Last year was a particular nadir, as we lost 11 group games and finished bottom of the South Group with just 10 points. However, we are feeling a bit more optimistic about this year's competition, not least because of the high profile signing of legendary rubber-wristed Sri Lankan Muttiah Muralitharan. He may be 39 years old, he may be a bit of a mercenary these days, he may have been taken apart by the Spear in the 2007 T20 semis but we reckon he is still pretty handy when he only has to bowl 4 overs. Plus, just look at that grin in today's interview on the official site. If ever there was a man who can smell some cheap county wickets, Murali is that man.

Glos fans can also look forward to a sighting of the Butcher of Bangalore, Kevin O'Brien, in his natural T20 habitat. We are also interested to see how young Kane Williamson gets on in the shortest format. His highest score in 10 domestic T20s is just 30, but we would expect him to improve on that during this tournament. Where better to start than on the flat, hard Oval deck against a pacey attack?

Thanks to our new friends at the Surrey Cricket Blog, we know that Surrey have a batting line up to fear. However, with the absence of Tremlett and Jade Dernbach on England test duty, there's rather less fast bowling to be worried about. That said, Surrey have replaced one Aussie T20 signing with another (and arguably a superior one than the original at that.) Shaun Tait's patchwork quilt of a body decided that even 4 over spells were going to be too much for him, so they picked up former Dutchman and Cricketwithballs favourite Dirk Nannes. Like I said, a clear improvement and someone to be very wary of at the start of the innings.

Anyway, let's hope for a big Thursday night crowd and some entertainment to get the Twenty20 season off to a good start. Chief Executive Tom Richardson will certainly be hoping so, as rumour has it even the big money acquisition of Murali has failed to have much impact on ticket sales for the Shire's home games.

Ed Young hits half century as Glos recover after the rain

Day 2 close: Essex, 25-0, trail Gloucestershire 255, by 230 runs

The rain in Bristol falls mainly on Nevil Road. At least we have a good drainage system. Having seen 72 overs lost yesterday and a slow day's play on Day 1, The Jessop Tavern View has decided we will limit ourselves to a recap of events so far in the match.

Gloucestershire recovered well from the depth of 159-8 on Day 1, to reach 229-8 at the close of Day 1 and extended this to 255 all out yesterday. Notable performers came from three youngsters; Richard Coughtrie, Kane Williamson and former spin bowler and now batsman, Ed Young. Coughtrie belied his image as a man who could score 20 in 3 hours and then get out, by scoring 45 in over 3 hours and then getting out. This was a shame, as he had shown remarkable restraint on a day when the slip cordon was always interested, especially when the Division's leading wicket-taker David Masters was bowling. Kane Williamson again looked a class above the rest of the batting, as he struck 8 fours in an attractive 50, before immediately nicking Bopara to Foster, who took a stunning one-handed catch. This will have pleased Bopara, who now considers himself a bowling allrounder and will be hoping to replace the injured Jimmy Anderson for the Lords Test on Friday.

The third knock of note came from Ed Young, who struck his maiden first-class fifty. Young put on 70 with Jon Lewis, who again proved that a good technique is often overrated compared with a good eye and determination to stick around in seam-friendly conditions.

The Gidman brothers both failed, disproving the Jessop Tavern View's theory that one of the two will always be in good form, while the other disappoints. Alex Gidman again fell LBW attempting to work to leg. You would think that fresh off a big hundred in our last game and facing Reece Topley, a young left armer already gaining some column inches, he would have been wary of the inswinger early on in his innings. He was not, played all around it and was palpably LBW.

It was encouraging to see Chris Dent return to the side after his broken finger, but less pleasing to see him down at number 7. Having gone through this palaver last season, surely it is time for him to be given a consistent run at the top of the order? While credit is due to Coughtrie for opening for the majority of the season so far, you would think that we should aim to open with Dent and Cockbain where possible, if only for the fact that Dent already has a season of first class experience under his belt.

If the rain hold off today, it will be interesting to see if we can make inroads into the Essex batting lineup and make a match of it.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Preview: Gloucestershire v Essex. County championship.

Gloucestershire v Essex @ Bristol. May 29-June 1.

Since the Jessop Tavern View is playing the dutiful boyfriend this weekend by putting himself out on wedding duty, our big match preview of the upcoming championship match comes early enough for everyone to fully digest our words of wisdom.

Gloucestershire currently lie 4th in division 2, with Essex in 5th place. As this is the last round of championship matches before mid June this match will probably go a long way to decided Gloucestershire's fate this season. Win it, and we are right in the thick of the promotion battle. Lose, and the Jessop Tavern View will start looking up when the football season starts again.

It has become our favourite pastime recently to judge a side based on the ratio of youngsters to journeymen so we had better have a look at how Essex fare. Playing in their current match with Middlesex are 3 genuine youngsters in batsmen Jaik Mickleburgh (you have to be young to have a crap name like Jaik) and Adam Wheater, and left arm quick Reece Topley. Fitted around them are peg-legged Owais Shah, sometime England flat track bully Ravi Bopara, Graham 'the butcher' Napier, and veteran Matt Walker. Then the journeymen really begin. Mark Pettini. Tim Phillips. David Masters. We would say this is a middling effort.

On paper Essex look a far stronger batting lineup than bowling. Heck, Ravi Bopara has bowled the second most overs for Essex this season. We presume this is due to a slightly selfish streak that was agreed with Essex in the winter. 'I won't play in the IPL as long as you let me bowl', was probably the gist of the conversation, quickly followed by someone muttering under their breath that just because he can trundle in a bit won't make him a better player than Eoin Morgan. However, Essex's batsmen have not exactly been on fire so far. Sadly for Gloucestershire both Peg-leg and Napier have recently returned to the side and appear hungry for action.

Somebody who won't be playing for Essex is their overseas star, Lonwabo Tsotsobe. The South African thought he was a premiership footballer and decided to voice what surely must be the opinion of all overseas players by tweeting 'what the hell am I doing here'. There is something just not quite right about the twitter saga raising its comedy head in division 2 of the county championship. Perhaps more intriguingly, who the hell follows Lonwabo Tsotsobe on Twitter?!

As for Gloucestershire, well because we are writing this before the second day of the actual match, Gloucestershire's official website doesn't have a squad list yet. Will 'the better' Gidman be fit? Which of the young seamers will be chosen? We would expect the top order to remain the same and that both Norwell and Payne will play if Gidman is not fit. This is a big match for this young side and another chance for the bowlers in particular, to take on some second rate test players.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

It's all over for the CB40....roll on the T20.

Well, frankly the CB40 is a complete joke of a competition anyway. Who wanted to win it? Gloucestershire now face about a hundred more matches in the competition with almost no chance of progressing. Yippie! Honestly, we know we are hardly the first to say this but the format of the CB40 competition is staggeringly stupid...even in the world of cricket where staggeringly stupid is frequently taken to new and unparallelled levels.

Gloucestershire lost last night by 41 runs and conceded 32 extras in the field. Enough said.

Despite conceding 271 runs to Notts the boys again showed good fight with the bat which perhaps gives some sort of hope for the up and coming T20 games. It is hard to really know how to feel when your team crashes out of these one day competitions. Personally we would rather see a stronger championship side, yet one day cricket brings in the money and the glory.

Ed Young bounced back positively from a poor showing (or, "outrageously awful", if you read the boys at Glos la la la - come on guys, he's only 22!) at Leicester last week. He batted well and bowled economically. With the spin department our biggest problem this season let's hope he can continue to develop his bowling to go alongside his evident talent with the bat.

Will Gidman's hand injury has been described as a soft tissue injury. Hopefully he will be fit for the weekend's game against Essex. A return to proper cricket, in a proper competition, before the circus arrives in June.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Grace Road: as flat as its name

Leicestershire 323 & 245-5 drew with Gloucestershire 504-9 dec. ( Leics 7pts, Glos 11pts)

Grace Road proved true to its name as Gloucestershire toiled hard but failed to dismiss Leics for a second time to claim victory. Still, the Jessop Tavern View feels an away draw is a good result and one that the county have struggled to achieve in the last few seasons, a fact mentioned by Alex Gidman after the match.

The batting performance was very encouraging, with Gidman scoring some much-needed runs and maximum batting points taken. Kane Williamson's century, while an excellent knock, was less of a surprise as he looks a class act. We expect it won't be the only hundred from him this season. We would go as far to say that he looks an excellent addition already and was arguably the best possible overseas player the county could have tempted to Nevil Road. Time for some rare praise for the Richardson-Bracewell combo, perhaps? Also of note, his Shoaib Malik-esque off spin took more wickets than Banerjee and Ed Young combined.

It is of course unfair to judge Ed Young on the 5 overs Gidman allowed him in the match. You have to wonder what the point of picking him was, unless it was purely to strengthen the batting. The point of Banerjee is less clear. You could argue he was playing to lure the opposition into a false sense of security, thus prompting and error. However, the amount of dross he bowls you wonder whether even this questionable strategy is worth pursuing. Mind you, he was 9 not out when we batted.

Anyway, a CB40 thriller v Notts on Wednesday, then Essex up next in the Championship on Sunday. Should be a good game. We might even preview them if we're feeling inspired!

Friday, 20 May 2011

Ed Young is our man - You read it here first

Day 3: Gloucestershire 504 -9/dec v Leicestershire 315 - 9.

Well it's not like we didn't warn you. 'Ed Young will be the man to keep your eyes on', we confidently predicted at the end of day 2, and so it proved. His 2 overs for 12 runs proved to be the catalyst for the overconfidence that led to Leicestershire's collapse from 195 for 0 to 315 for 9. We're sure that if you didn't know we talked utter bollocks before, you do now.

Yet again this Gloucestershire team continue to fight during every session. After last weeks humiliation against Northants its very encouraging to see the boys strike back in such a positive manner. This game has really been all about the more experienced heads. Where as the youngsters have impressed in earlier games this time it has been the captain and the Sperm donor who have led the way, ably abetted by Kane Williamson who we consider an experienced head despite being only 20.

On a pitch that has offered very little the Gloucestershire seamers decided against the early season tactic of firing down as many 4 balls as possible and decided instead on making scoring as difficult as possible. We've questioned before whether this seam attack has the ability to dry up the runs on lifeless pitches. Here was our answer.

It is to be hoped that the boys are able take the final wicket before Leicestershire can add the 40 runs they require to avoid the follow-on and that the pitch then deteriorates rapidly. Whether Gloucestershire possess a spinner capable of taking wickets once the shine leaves the new ball will be the biggest question. We've said it before and we'll say it again, Ed Young will be the man to keep an eye on. Heck, it's not as if Banerjee is going to spin us to victory.

Whatever happened to Alex Gidman?

It seems slightly cruel to write this post off the back of captain Gidman scoring his first championship hundred since September 2009, it's just that reading through some of the press from his innings the Jessop Tavern View was reminded of how good a player Gidman could/should have been.

Gidman made his Gloucestershire debut in 2002. By the end of 2003 he had progressed to such an extent that he was not only selected for the England academy but did enough there to prompt Rodney Marsh to name him captain of the England A team that toured the subcontinent that winter. OK, we all know there have been lots of guys who have shown this sort of potential at 23 or 24. It is what they do next that matters. Yet in 2007 Gidman was still being talked up after being selected for the England Lions game against the West Indies. "The men to watch in this side are Stuart Broad and Alex Gidman" wrote Simon Briggs. Well, one of these has done alright. It does, however, highlight the sort of talent that Gidman possessed (possesses?)

His career statistics are hard to read. In 9 seasons he has passed a thousand runs 4 times. But never has he got on to have that one really big year. In 2006 he posted 1200 runs at an average just below 50. That is his best year to date. It's perfectly respectable. But this is a man who has played the majority of his career in division 2 of the county championship. An excellent article on Cricket Archive points out that Gidman is a big match player, highlighting several fond memories as evidence. In fairness the last 5 or 6 years have hardly given Gidman much of a chance to shine on the big occasion.

So what do we make of Gidman. Is he really now the 'lesser' brother? Lets not forget that he is still only 29. Too old, presumably, for any resurrecting of his England career, but not too late to relaunch his county championship credentials as one of the the circuits most prolific scorers.

As critical as we have been about the skipper, especially last season, it is hard not to like a man who effectively threw away his career in 2008 by deciding to stay at Gloucestershire. You can't help but feel that Gidman really would have been better served had he moved to a bigger, more fancied county, where he could have had more chance to shine. Whether this shows a lack of real drive and motivation, or an admirable loyalty will be decided over the next few seasons.

Let's all hope that yesterdays glorious 168, plus the kick up the backside that must come from watching his younger brother become the divisions leading run scorer, will help captain Gidman go on to have that really big year his CV so far lacks. We'd love nothing more than to stop having to call him 'the other' Gidman.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Alex Gidman finally gets runs as Glos rack up a big total

Day 2, Close: Leicestershire 15-0 trail Gloucestershire 504-9 by 489 runs (PTS: Leics 1, Glos 5)

Prior to today, Alex Gidman had not scored a Championship century since September 2009. Given that all 15 of his Championship hundreds have come in the course of large team totals, he could be seen as a bit of a flat track bully. The Graeme Hick of Division 2 of the county championship, if you will. Only less good. Over 100 first class hundreds less good, actually.

Despite our cynicism, The Jessop Tavern View is pleased that Alex finally scored some runs today. We know the pitch is flat. We know that Leicestershire's attack is a bit knackered. Claude Henderson is 39, made his first class debut in 1990 (!) and has already bowled 169 overs in 4 day cricket coming into this match. Still, 168 is a good knock and he scored them at a reasonable pace. The better brother, Will Gidman, had a rare failure today, falling LBW to Henderson for just 16, proving that the brotherly form baton was firmly with Alex on this occasion.

The match result from here depends largely on our attack's ability to take 20 wickets. Lewis and Saxelby made little impression in the overs before the close, so it will be down to our four-pronged (if you believe that Williamson and Taylor count as bowlers) spin attack to do the damage. Worrying, when the 'best' of these is Vikram Banerjee, a man whose 96 first class victims thus far have come at an average of 45! Ed Young will be the man we'll be keeping an eye on tomorrow. By eye, we of course mean ear, as the excellent Glos Cricket Radio is the closest we'll get to the live action. Young is a very promising youngster, by all accounts, and hopefully the man for the job over the next two days.

Let's hope for a nice dry day tomorrow to turn the pitch into a raging bunsen. Cmon the 'shire!

Williamson proves himself more than just a good gym trainer

Day 1: Gloucestershire 177 - 3 v Leicestershire.

Imagine being a young, exciting overseas player signed by Gloucestershire. You are 20 years old. You are keen to pick up valuable experience in different conditions. You are given a sales pitch that presumably includes the names WG Grace, Wally Hammond and Mike Procter. You are sold. Then the club's bumbling administration fails to sort out your work visa (Does anyone actually know what happened here?) No problem you think. These things happen.

Then you turn up to discover that your teams best batsman is a guy called Gidman, not the captain, but his younger brother who bats 7. You are then asked to bat 3 behind 2 guys with less than 10 first class appearances between them, one of whom doesn't appear to have the ability to hit the ball off the square. In the nets you get to face the club's best spinner, Vikram Banerjee. It is therefore no wonder that Kane Williamson didn't hit the ground running. 40 odd runs in his first 2 county championship games wasn't cause for too much criticism in the Jessop Tavern's eyes, but another poor showing here would have increased the pressure on the young Kiwi star. But fear not. Kane Williamson can now confirm that he can do more than run a good Pilates class.

In a rain-interrupted match it is hard to gauge a score of 177 for 3. It is a score that is very delicately placed. If Williamson and Gidman go on tomorrow morning then Gloucestershire can hope to take advantage of bowling last on a strange early season pitch that has seen both sides include two spinners. Collapse like we have done recently and Gloucestershire will be desperately logging on to BBC weather for the latest forecasts over Grace Road. The pitch is pretty flat at the moment so even the captain should be able to cash in.

As an aside to today's play we would like to take the opportunity to praise Leicestershire for showing the correct approach to division 2 cricket. Filling their team with mostly young, up-and-coming players. Nathan Buck is 20. Matthew Boyce is 25. Josh Cobb is 20. Paul Dixey is 23. Claude Henderson is...! After taking a bit of stick for our criticism of Northants' approach to journeymen, results-based cricket it is good to see a side similarly investing in young English players.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Fair weather blogging

The Jessop Tavern View would like to apologise to its loyal following for its disappearing during the harrowing defeat to the journeymen of Northants.

Our collapse on the second day caused us to pack our bags and make for the nearest airport as we respectively spent the last week sunning ourselves in the Aegean, and sampling some of Scotland's finest single malts on Speyside. A 16 year old, single Sherry cask, Aberlour whisky is, I can confirm, the perfect antidote to Gloucestershire's ineptitude. Sadly it is also very expensive, and Gloucestershire's next bout of abject uselessness is sure to come around quicker than my ability to earn the required amount to purchase another bottle.

We can also conclude that we are fair weather bloggers. Quite why we even bothered to start a blog about Gloucestershire cricket is therefore anyone's guess.

However, due to the overwhelming demand from my co-blogger's Dad, we are back from our respective holidays and are poised and ready to report on a match against one of those other hideous sides from the East Midlands, Leicestershire.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Gloucestershire toil after promising start

Day 1: Northants 361 - 8 v Gloucestershire

It could have been oh so different for Gloucestershire's young team today. At 125 for 5 shortly after lunch the boys really had the chance to turn the screws and put themselves ahead in the match. As it was, the sun came out, the pitch flattened out and Gloucestershire's young seam attack began to represent, well, a young seam attack.

No one is really to blame. Everyone toiled away manfully against a very strong Northants batting lineup. No one hemorrhaged runs too alarmingly, but learning how to keep things tight and take wickets through pressure will be a keen lesson if this team has serious intentions of promotion.

A special mention to 16 year old Craig Miles who made his debut today in place of Liam Norwell who has a muscle strain. The Jessop Tavern view were a little concerned to hear Glos cricket radio describe him as looking similar to Richard Dawson, but for a 16 year old he seemed to acquit himself well.

Unless Northants are polished off early tomorrow Gloucestershire's depleted batting faces an uphill struggle to save this game.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Preview: Gloucestershire v Northants. County Championship.

Another week, another top of the table clash at Nevil road as Gloucestershire welcome Northants collection of journeymen. We hate to be overly negative so early in a preview but reading through Northants' teams this season really is a depressing statement on division 2 county cricket. Mal Loye, Stephen Peters, David Sales, Andrew Hall are the well known journeymen, but these are complimented by people like Jack Brooks, James Middbrook and Lee Daggert. Journeymen one and all. If county cricket is suppose to be a breeding ground for the England team (and the huge amount of money that the ECB gives to the counties surely justifies this argument) then exactly what do a team like Northants contribute? Alex Wakely. That is it. Now we are well aware that this is an argument that could very easily have been levied against Gloucestershire over the last 10 years. But this year is different with our youthful outlook, and we will use this moral leverage to shout our argument against sides such as Northants loud and proud.

Northants currently sit 2nd in the table, only 9 points ahead of Gloucestershire. Their two victories have both, bizarrely, come against Kent with draws against Surrey and Essex. They might be the second divisions most boring team but they also appear to be one of the divisions most balanced sides. A strong top order. Explosive middle order. Wiley seam attack. Only the spin department lets them down. Join the club.

This promises to be another tough test for the young Gloucestershire side, especially given O'Mish's absence with a broken hand. Fortunately 'the kid' has had an injection in his knee and will hopefully be able to continue his fine early season form. We would expect young Coughtrie to step up and open with Cockbain, like in the early season fixtures. Presumably Williamson will then bat 3. The intriguing point will be over where the skipper chooses to bat this time. We are predicting that he will walk out at number 9 and seek to relaunch his career as a medium pacer. With another injury to a batsmen this match will place the onus particularly on Williamson, the captain and Mr Batty. Whether these 3 can provide some runs will go along way to determining the result.

We predict that the bowling will be boosted to a four pronged seam attack with Norwell, Payne, Saxelby and the Sperm Donor. Worryingly David Payne has "a couple of niggles". This could mean either young Jack Taylor or even younger Craig Miles making stepping in.

At the start of the season you would have said injuries would be the major problem for a threadbare squad. Well here we are. So far players such as Cockbain and Coughtrie have put their hands up and got stuck in to the challenge. This week it would be nice to see a couple of the more senior players similarly get their hands dirty.

www. northantscricket.com - Having slagged off their team we are feeling a little guilty so will look to redress the balance a little bit with a few positive words about their website. Stepping around the fact that on the eve of the match they have no squad news or match preview at all, the website does have good squad information and, as a nice touch, has some sort of basic blog by a fan with a few contributions from the chief executive. How about it Tom?

Heroes of the Jessop Tavern: The original Monte. Monte Lynch

I know what you're thinking. How can a man who made 3 England one day appearances, long before he joined Gloucestershire to wind down his career, count as a hero. Well, quite simply, because, in a nutshell, Monte Lynch summed up Gloucestershire in the mid 1990's. A player signed with no pretensions of developing. A  man signed to do a job for a couple of years, happy to steer a steady course through the mediocrity that was the bottom of half of the county championship.

But we loved Monte Lynch, a man who won England caps because when captain Mike Gatting was asked what he thought of Lynch, he thought that they had said lunch and thus gave a hearty, 'yes'!

Monte Lynch joined Gloucestershire the same year that I became a member for the first time, 1995. One of my first memories of going down to Nevil road was of Monte wandering around the boundary boards during the interval of a one day game and asking me and and some of mates to give him a couple of chuck downs. It wouldn't happen these days, although if captain Gidders is reading this, I am available to chuck down a few with a windball if he wants to get some confidence back.

His record for Gloucestershire was mediocre to say the least. 2000 runs, at 32, over 3 seasons. Good enough for many of the current team, granted, but for a man who spent most of his career scoring a thousand runs a season at Surrey, pretty poor.

Despite this the Jessop Tavern View has come to realise, in its slightly older age, that Monte represented the glory years of county cricket. The 1980's. The years when the very best players in the world played week in, week out on the county circuit. The years when Desmond Haynes could be heard bantering through the dressing room wall that he was going to give Malcolm Marshall "some drives, boy". Only for Marshall to chunter back that he had better bring a step ladder. These were the glorious years that the jessop Tavern View never got to see. Yet our memories of Monte scoring a quickfire 50 at Cheltenham batting on one leg, refusing to run, makes us realise that this was what it was like in the 80's. Great characters. Great cricket. Great fun.

For giving us a taste of this, Monte is our hero.

The Butcher of Bangalore to lend his savagery to Glos

You can't help but feel that this signing is as much a marketing ploy as a genuine attempt to boost Gloucestershires one day chances. In fact it's not an attempt to boost our young squad development at all. It is entirely a marketing ploy. Someone at Nevil road clearly decided that signing Murali had not sent our ticket sales through the roof and concluded that another marquee signing was needed. Someone to put on the posters. Having failed to land a county contract Kevin O'Brien, the destroy of England in this years world cup, has been signed.

We are sorry to be so negative, but we fail to see where this signing sits within our investment in youth. Clearly we view the championship as being where the youngsters can learn their trade where as the one day game must give the supporters something to cheer. The Jessop Tavern View disagrees with this. Strongly.

Ask yourselves this. Why, despite his world cup heroics, did O'Brien not have a county contract at the start of the season? He could hardly have put himself more in the shop window than to score a match winning, 50 ball century against England in a world cup. So why no contract? We suspect 2 reasons.

Firstly, O'Brien has limited first class experience. He played a bit for Nottinghamshire in 2009. Not county championship cricket, but pro 40 and T20 cricket. And not very well. His 8 Pro 40 games yielded 79 runs and 1 wicket. His 5 T20 appearances, 31 runs and 2 wickets. Admittedly this was in a fairly poor Notts one day team. But not exactly pant wetting.

Secondly, money. We are going to imagine that O'Brien has made sure he has cashed in on his 5 minutes of fame and made sure he held out for as long as possible before signing as lucrative a contract as he could land his hands just as the T20 competition starts to loom on the horizon.

The official Glos press release spells it out. “We are delighted to have signed Kevin O’Brien to our squad with particular reference to his one day skills.  Given his heroics in the World Cup the Gladiators have a genuine lion slayer in their midst", says Bracewell, through gritted teeth, as the marketing guy holds a gun to his bollocks.

O'Brien himself. ''I am very excited to have the opportunity to play for Gloucestershire, and work under one of the most successful coaches in domestic one day history. I am looking forward to getting over there and hopefully helping the team to achieve its goals in all forms of the game, but especially t20 and one day cricket."

We clearly won't be seeing much of Mr O'Brien in a white shirt.

I guess we shouldn't be so hard on Gloucestershire for this signing. We all know the financial situation. One day cricket, and in particular T20 represents the counties only real chance to make money from cricket. Thus we find ourselves forced to make these sort of signings in a vain attempt to drum up some interest in the notoriously uninterested Bristol public. It might work. It probably won't.

O'Brien's place on the teamsheet will come at the expense of a young cricketer. An Ed Young, Jack Taylor, James Fuller or David Payne. The young players we have been trying to develop. Young players who will learn very little from a guy such as O'Brien.

Then again, maybe we'll be treated to more of the carnage we witnessed in Bangalore....

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Glos suffer heavy defeat at hands of local rivals

Somerset 219-2 beat Gloucestershire 213 by 8 wickets

Gloucestershire slumped to a big defeat after failing to score enough to challenge the powerful batting line up of the Sabres. A total of 213 all out was always unlikely to be enough to contain a side containing the big bats of Trescothick, Kieswetter, Trego, Jos Buttler and various others who weren't even required to bat.

Having lost the toss and been put in to bat, the early departure of Ian Cockbain brought Kane Williamson to the crease. We have high hopes for the Kiwi youngster and he and Gidders senior put on 117 in 24 overs, before Kane was caught behind for 47. Gidman made 66 (he can bat after all) and the only other scores of note came from Richard Dawson (a nine ball 23, having come in at number 4 was at least better than his bowling) and Jon Batty with 30 not out as the tail capitulated to young Lewis Gregory.

The total never looked like enough and Tres and Kieswetter soon got stuck in to our bowling attack. The South African-born Englishman is a merciless butcher of mediocre seam bowling and he enjoyed himself today as he scored his second CB40 ton of the season and took his tally to 308 in four innings. Trescothick hit a composed 51, before the shame of a dismissal LBW to bowling coach Dawson and Nick Compton put on 84 with Kieswetter to get Somerset over the line with six overs still remaining.

The Jessop Tavern View feels we shouldn't be too harsh on a Glos side who only yesterday drew with Middlesex in the Championship, plus are suffering from injuries to Chris Dent and Hamish Marshall. The CB40 is a long and grinding tournament (some would add pointless) which uses a 40 over format not played at international level. We're not overly concerned at losing to last year's runners up away from home. After all, there are another 41 group games before the semi finals are played (disclaimer: our maths may not be entirely accurate here).

Next up for the boys, Northants at Bristol on Wednesday. A far more important game and one which we should focus on winning.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Shire emerge with creditable draw with table toppers Middlesex

Gloucestershire 358 and 347 drew with Middlesex 406 and 123 for 4

Heading into this game against a Middlesex side, who had won 3 from 3 matches and already forced both Surrey and Essex to follow on, The Jessop Tavern View was not full of optimism that we could get a result. When we lost 3 wickets (including first innings centurion Taylor) in the first 13 overs, with the lead only 215, we feared the worst, a Rogers-inspired chase against a team he has enjoyed punishing in the past.

Thankfully this didn't come to pass. Will Gidman is now officially the better brother. He added 75 with Liam Norwell and accelerated after passing 50 to make 93, his best score in first class cricket. It would have been nice for him to complete a good match with a hundred, but he mistimed a drive and was caught by Scott Newman. O'Mish then emerged, despite his fractured thumb, and helped extend the lead to 300.

The chase was always going to be a stiff ask for Middlesex and once the Sperm Donor had removed Rogers and Scott Newman, the only question was whether we could get another 8 wickets in the time remaining. This wasn't to be, as bad light brought an early end to proceedings, despite the boys managing another two wickets with only 123 runs scored.

On balance, Gloucestershire had the better of this match. The fight shown by both Taylor and Will Gidman in both innings, the 8 wickets for Lewis and a career-best 72 for Ian Cockbain in the second innings were all good efforts. The general level of backbone shown by the whole side was very encouraging in a match where the dubious selection of only three frontline bowlers threatened to hand the initiative to an in-form Middlesex side.

There are worries, not least the injury to O'Mish (another crocked opener) and the continuing poor form with the bat from the skipper. Let's hope Gidders can settle on a consistent spot in the batting order and knuckle down and score some much-needed runs. However, two wins and a draw from 4 Championship games is pretty good considering what people were saying at the start of the season. Bring on Somerset in the CB40 tomorrow. Jon Lewis takes a well-deserved rest and The Child will have a fitness test on his knee. Marshall is obviously out, so Ed Young and James Fuller return to the squad for a match that could well be weather affected.

Friday, 6 May 2011

'The kid' bravely pulls Glos back into contention

Day 3: Gloucestershire 358 and 218 - 5 v Middlesex 406

How nice it is to be able to sit here and write about Gloucestershire being involved in a thoroughly absorbing game of good quality cricket. Gloucestershire fans can not complain about a lack of exciting games in recent seasons, but these have always been exciting for the wrong reasons. Bowling a side out for 40 in the first innings and then still losing might be an incredible game, but not exactly a good game of cricket.

Gloucestershire find themselves going into the fourth day with a genuine chance of not only saving a game that looked lost this afternoon, but perhaps of forcing a victory on a rapidly wearing Bristol pitch.

Today's third day see-sawed one way and then the other. First, Norwell and the ever reliable Sperm donor took the early wickets Gloucestershire had desperately needed. Then Ollie Raynor fought back with a crucial, quickfire fifty to swing momentum back towards the London side. Then Gloucestershire knocked off the first innings deficit without losing a wicket before crumbling to 128 for 5 with a lead of only 80. 'The kid' then hobbled out to join 'the better' Gidders and proceeded where he had left off in the first innings, batting Gloucestershire right back into the match. Speaking of Taylor and his bruises, the picture posted on Twitter by Scott Newman of his bruised knee was a cracker. One of the good things about cricket embracing the social new media revolution is that you get to enjoy snippets like this from inside the dressing room. Not always that insightful, but amusing to see that the pros get injuries through stupidity as well!

As early season top of the table clashes go this has been a wonderful advert for division 2 county cricket. A good honest, hard fought contest between what are two pretty average sides if we are being honest. From a Gloucestershire fan's point of view we're delighted with average.

It's an obvious point but whoever wins the first session tomorrow will have the best opportunity of victory. If Gloucestershire can bat till lunch we shouldn't be able to lose (although we would have found a way if the vintage of '08-'10 were playing) If Middlesex dismiss us with the lead around 200 then they should be able to get home.

The boys at Glos la la la have got a bit heavy this evening on debutant Kane Williamson and 'the other', captain, Gidders. It's a bit harsh to criticise Williamson. Bristol is a notoriously difficult place to bat, and whilst this pitch is not one of Nevil Road's worst, it is a bit early to criticise the man. Anyone can get out cheaply before they become set. Captain Gidders on the other hand seems to be really struggling. So overcome with positivity were we in the first innings that we let it slide that the skipper had hidden himself even further down the order at number 6. Gidman seems to be have a real crisis of identity as a batsman at the moment. Unsure as to whether he is a dominant, classy top order player. Or a man who eeks out dirty runs in the middle order. Hiding away at number 6 isn't the way to go. If O'Mish's injury is as bad as feared and he does miss several weeks, or even months, then Gidman really will have to step up to be counted and put himself in the firing line of that new ball again!

So tomorrow promises to be a fascinating day's cricket. The Jessop Tavern View is off early to bed in anticipation.

Strange selection begins to backfire on Glos

Day 2: Gloucestershire 358 v Middlesex 296 - 4

A bit of reality was brought to Gloucestershire's young bowling attack today as it struggled to make inroads into Middlesex's top order. The choice to go into this game with only 3 front line bowlers has yielded predictable results and only a strong showing from the batsmen in the second innings can prevent this match from being viewed as an error of selection.

Middlesex will resume 62 runs behind Gloucestershire and will fancy their chances of forging a match winning first innings total. Gloucestershire's bowlers will need to learn their lessons from yesterday and strive to pitch the ball up more consistently. Captain Gidders will have the morning session with which to take early wickets but if by lunch no significant damage has been done then we will get the opportunity to see whether Norwell and Payne have the ability to adapt their games to one of containment.

It's hard to be too critically of any of the bowlers yesterday on what appears a pretty flat track. It does, however, emphasise what a curious team selection this was. To play only 3 bowlers when 2 of them are youngsters seems a little over confident to say the least.

Worryingly Chris Taylor was taken to hospital with a swollen knee and question marks remain over whether he will be able to bat in the second innings.

Gloucestershire would hate to be batting just after tea tonight with 4 sessions left in the game and a deficit of over 150.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Gloucestershire fight back well...who'd have thought we would ever say that!

Gloucestershire 302-6 v Middlesex at Bristol

The Jessop Tavern View thought they were joking the other day when they tried to make a slightly lame topical joke about the death of Osama Bin Laden and the lack of reviews of Gloucestershires victory against the Unicorns that had occurred later the same day. But it is now 10pm and there are still no ECB highlights of today's first day action against Middlesex, nor have Glos la la la posted a review of the days play. Perhaps Osama was a secret Gloucestershire fan, whiling away his hours not creating jihad against the West but bemoaning on the Internet yet another horrific Kadeer Ali innings. It would certainly explain why he was living in a cave. Being a Gloucestershire fan since roughly 2001 has frequently made us want to hide from the world.

Fortunately the Jessop Tavern View had a slightly dubious 'work from home' day and spent most of it listening to a man from BBC London radio half reading emails before losing his Internet connection whilst trying to commentate on the cricket. Thus, for the first time this season, we feel we can report with some certainty that this was a good day for Gloucestershire. We won't know the true nature of the picture until both teams have batted on it, but we feel safe in saying that there is definitely a little bit there to interest the bowlers. Middlesex today seemed guilty of dropping short far too often, although in fairness it is hard to pitch the ball up to Chris Taylor who is only 3ft 2.

Despite not scoring many runs there was something about the way in which both Cockbain and Coughtrie sold their wickets dear that again proved they definitely have something about them. Typically the day was not without a batting collapse. At 99 for 2 at lunch Glos seemed well set. An hour later we were all over the shop at 138 for 5. Not for the first time this season the Jessop Tavern View rolled its eyes and prepared for the worst only to have its negativity thrown back in its face as 'the kid' Taylor and 'the better' Gidders put on 162 for the 7th wicket and put Gloucestershire in a very strong position at the close. It's an absolute pleasure to be writing about a Gloucestershire batting lineup that doesn't just fold like a pack of cards at even the suggestion of a breath of wind.

Taylor continued his fluency from his one day century against the Unicorns and his early season form alongside the potential shown by Cockbain in particular has been a welcome, if slightly unexpected, addition to Gloucestershire's batting. Many Glos fans felt that 'the Kid's' time was probably up this season but he has responded well to the competition from the youngsters.

Earlier both Gloucestershire and Middlesex produced unexpected teams from the bag. Gloucestershire selecting only 3 frontline bowlers, whilst Middlesex chose to rest Steve Finn. We can only presume that John Bracewell shared our concerns about the game being decided between Middlesex's bowlers against our batsmen. Time will tell if the right decision was made. You would feel that a first innings score in excess of 400 will be needed to really justify a pretty strange, and certainly lopsided, team selection. Alternatively, we must have enormous faith in 'the better' Gidders as a 4th bowler.

Tomorrow promises to offer an intriguing day's cricket as Glos press to get as close to 400 as possible before hoping to take early wickets and make inroads into that inexperienced Middlesex middle order.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Preview: Gloucestershire v Middlesex. County Championship

'Now Kane makes Championship debut', screams the headline from our favourite official Gloucestershire website, a statement that seems to suggest that we should somehow be grateful that our overseas player is to play his first proper cricket match almost a month into the season. Whatever the reasons for the delay in his visa his debut is definitely nicely timed as Gloucestershire go head to head with division leaders Middlesex.

Perhaps what is best about Kane Williamson's debut is that he steps into a side hopefully as the final-ish piece in this seasons jigsaw (we are well aware that this is a jigsaw that is guaranteed to have more than just several pieces missing when we finally look back at it in September). Williamson will provide a welcome boost to a batting line up that has thus far done just enough. With O'Mish and young Cockbain opening, and then Williamson, Taylor and the original Gidders our top order is beginning to look reasonably strong. It will be severely tested by a Middlesex side that has already made both Essex and Surrey follow on and can boast of a seam attack featuring up a fired up Steve Finn looking to force his way back into the test team.

Perhaps encouragingly Middlesex's top order has yet to really fire this season. Worryingly Chris Rogers has often taken a shine to the sight of Gloucestershire bowlers wobbling in against him and his wicket will be the key one. Get Rogers earlier and we can hopefully get at what is a fairly young and inexperienced middle order with the comically named Dan Housego and equally daft Dawid Malan both in their early 20's along with wicketkeeper batsman John Simpson.

Gloucestershire have obviously been paying attention to the guys at Glos la la la and drop Vikram Banerjee from the squad. An all seam attack featuring Norwell, Payne, Saxelby and the old Sperm donor will have to get the job done.

It promises to be an interesting match up that will almost certainly be decided by how are batsmen fare against their bowlers. In past seasons this was just the sort of scenario that Glos fans dreaded, but surprisingly the Jessop Tavern View has decided to be positive and thinks that our kiwi's (shit, sorry, kiwi and Irishman...we must remember) will see us to victory.

Middlesex CCC website - Is it possible that the team from the home of cricket can produce a website almost as bad as Gloucestershire's own? We reckon it is, especially with the over use of pink. The rather promising 'Match Summary' banner for the game against Glos leads through to a completely empty page although we were greeted with some pictures of cheerleaders so not all bad. Still, we expect technological ineptitude out in the Shire, the London boys should be able to do better than this pretty piss poor effort. 2/10.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Even more positives as Glos complete solid victory over the pointless Unicorns

Gloucestershire 195 - 6 beat Unicorns 171 - 9 by 24 runs.

With the death of Osama Bin Laden, the Jessop Tavern View's usual source of match day information seems to have dried up, with no highlights on offer, nor even the usually stoic Glos la la la uttering a single word on today's victory. Is there a connection between the death of the world's most wanted man and a lack of Gloucestershire match reports? We'll keep you posted. It is, therefore, hard to really pass too much comment on today's performance. But a lack of hard evidence has never stopped us from forming opinions before, so why start now?

Gloucestershire made it two wins from two in a competition that is a complete waste of everybody's time (unless you win it). 40 overs. Only the group winners and a single second place team progress from 3 groups of 7 teams leading to hundreds of dead rubbers. Really, who the hell thinks up these competitions. A small child can see the flaws in it. Anyway, a win is a win.

David Payne looks a wicket taker. Always a good quality in a young bowler. His 3 for 6 at the start of the Unicorns innings effectively settled the contest.

Chris Taylor finally turned his early season good form into a hundred and he has responded well to the possibility of his place coming under threat.

Kane Williamson played an intelligent knock, something that hasn't been seen at Nevil Road since.....?! Coming in at a crunch time after early wickets had fallen he shared a century partnership with 'the kid' Taylor that made sure that Gloucestershire's score managed to get up to a total always likely to be too much against a weak Unicorns side.

Will Gidman continues to look like the better brother and could perhaps fulfill the allround talents that older brother never did.

Ed Young apparently bowled very tidily which will please our friends at Glos la la la who wish to see him or Jack Taylor given a chance ahead of Vikram Banerjee. Presumably both Young and Taylor will be given the one day games in order to prepare them for the toil of championship cricket. Personally we agree with Glos la la la. If you are going with youth, let's go all the way.

The most encouraging thing from this game is that intelligent, heads up cricket seems to have returned to Gloucestershire. After early wickets we seemed to have settled on a score around 200 and then made sure we got there. We then applied early pressure in the field and hey presto, another victory.

Sounds a bit like a formula we've seen before round these parts.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Preview: Gloucestershire v Unicorns

Right, the Unicorns. Who exactly are they? Only in county cricket can you find yourself playing against a team where you don't really know how they came into existence. They have no fixed ground. They have a bizarre squad of youngsters and journeymen. They were originally called the 'ECB Recreation XI'. What is the point in them existing?

Ok, I realise that their rationale is to be a 'blend of youth and experience', 'providing young players who aspire to play first class cricket a shop window'. Now try these names for size. Jackson Thompson, Mark Hardinges, Carl Greenidge. I presume all Gloucestershire fans are shuddering at the thought of exactly what knowledge and experience these names can pass on to any youngsters. Here's another terrifying thought. All the players in the Unicorns squad had to audition to play. Can you imagine how bad some of the other auditionees must have been? Crikey. If a team is suppose to be giving youth a chance then surely it should be full of youngsters who haven't quite made it to first class level yet. Not a team full of people who got to first class level and clearly weren't good enough. It's hardly as if county cricket needs another team full of journeymen.

Even better, on the Unicorns website home page their title reads, 'Unicorns looking for players', with a link to an application form. I kid you not. I repeat. Only in county cricket.

Sadly the head-banded-one (son of Gordon) will not be playing for the Unicorns tomorrow, or the rest of the season. He quit the squad when he realised he wasn't going to get paid. Well Carl, good luck finding someone to pay you.

Tomorrow will also see Kane Williamson finally make his debut. Rumour has it that he will bat at 4 or 5 tomorrow and that the gym members were particularly impressed by a Pilates class he ran this afternoon.

So good luck to Kane from the Jessop Tavern View, and here is hoping that we are not sat here tomorrow eating our words via a violent Jackson Thompson assault.