Tuesday, 21 June 2011

APR Gidman: An apology

Day 3: Gloucestershire 261 and 161 - 5 beat Surrey 225 and 195 by 4 wickets.

Points: Gloucestershire 21, Surrey 4.

It wasn't meant to be like this. The Jessop Tavern View thought it was being all big and clever by reckoning the 30 odd extra runs Glos had given away cheaply on days 1 and 2 were going to be the difference. At 54 for 5 this afternoon, we thought that even when the boys crumbled to defeat, we could at least console ourselves by writing a smug post this evening. Instead we are going to have to eat some serious humble pie as a result of captain marvellous batting us practically single-handedly to an absolutely fantastic win.

Now it's fair to say that the Jessop Tavern View has not been too positive about our glorious skipper. 'Flat track bully', 'cowardly hiding down the order' and 'unfulfilled talent' have all been used to describe our born leader of men. Well hands up. Today Alex 'by far the better' Gidman proved us completely wrong. When the going got tough our skipper rolled up his sleeves and said, "don't worry lads, I'll sort this out". It's exactly the sort of innings not seen from a Gloucestershire batsman in quite some time.

Mark Church, of BBC London, described the pitch as a typical 1980's 3 day pitch. Gidman described it as a deliberate seamers wicket (something he ruefully admitted that Glos have often produced to their detriment). Whatever the state of the pitch, it has produced a fantastic game of cricket.

Gloucestershire decided to make the game even more interesting by bizarrely keeping Ian Saxelby out of the attack until 45 minutes into the day's play. By this point Surrey had battled to 179 for 5 and looked poised to set Gloucestershire something in excess of 200 to chase. Within about half an hour of being introduced into the attack Saxelby had blown through Surrey's tail and finished with career best figures of 6 for 69, and 10 for 142 in the match. The only slight criticism of Saxelby's performance is that he went at almost 5 an over. Splitting hairs really.

I don't think we were the only Glos supporters who looked at 160 to win and shuddered. So often in the recent past have the bowlers worked hard to set up this scenario only for the batsmen to throw it away. At 54 for 5 a few of the older heads in the dressing room must have been thinking 'here we go again'. But as we have seen all season, this young Gloucestershire side is made of tougher stuff and the main story of the season has been our refreshing ability to fight our way out of difficult situations. As brilliantly as captain marvel played, he couldn't have done it without the support of two of the young guns, as first Coughtrie and then Ed Young helped Gidders lead us to glory.

The boys are now third in the table after half the season. Next up in the championship we face second placed Middlesex. So the Jessop Tavern View does get a smug feeling after all. But smug because, for the first time in ages, we feel we are supporting a decent team. Oh, and Alex, if you happen to read this. We're sorry...but only if you go on and average 50 for the season!

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