Thursday, 21 July 2011

Midseason report - Bowling

Apologies for the delay in to the second part of our mid season review. Some unexpected hill walking opportunities in the Scottish Highlands were to blame.

So, the bowlers.

This was the one area that Gloucestershire fans thought we would really struggle. Losing quality performers such as Steve Kirby and Gemaal Hussain and jokers such as Anthony Ireland left us Glos fans scratching our heads, wondering where the wickets would come from. With the Sperm donor not getting any younger and Ian Saxelby missing most of 2010 we were told that a bunch of academy kids would fill the 100 odd wickets that Kirby et al had taken last year. Our back-up seamers over the last decade reads like a who's-who of shit county cricket players. Whether we ever fielded an attack that included Carl Greenidge, Mark Hardinges and Will Rudge we are uncertain, but just the thought sends the coldest of shivers down our spine.

So who were these academy kids? Well first to declare himself was Liam Norwell who took 6 for 46 in the first innings of his first class debut. Sadly for the 19 year old paceman he has been denied the chance to really build on this due to a stress fracture in his back. However, 12 wickets in his first 3 matches was more than enough to ease the fears of the Gloucestershire faithful. David Payne's impact was similarly explosive, taking 5 for 76 in the second innings of the opening round win against Derbyshire. Payne has perhaps not quite lived up to this beginning, but 17 wickets at 39 is a solid enough showing from a teenager. It is to be hoped that both these kids can develop into the bowlers Gloucestershire need.

The Sperm donor continues to roll along, perhaps not quite as destructive as he used to be, but his skills are still more than enough for this standard of cricket and his experience is vital to bringing the kids through.

The two real stand-outs from the first half of the season have been Ian Saxelby and Will Gidman. Saxelby showed lots of promise in 2009 before being ruled out of most of the 2010 season with a shoulder injury. This season he has simply picked up on all the promise he showed 2 years ago, taking 35 wickets at 25. 'The other' Gidman has filled the roll of the allrounder that is so vital to a balanced side. His 27 wickets have come at an average of 22.

The discovery of Will Gidman as a genuine allrounder would allow Gloucestershire the luxury of playing a spinner without altering the make-up of the team to much. Sadly Glos do have a spinner really worthy of the name. Thankfully, Vikram Banerjee seems to have been cast into the long grass and will probably be next seen again playing in that wonderful 'development' side the Unicorns. The spinners role seems to now be a straight fight between two more youngsters, Ed Young and Jack Taylor. Young was given the first opportunity at Grace Road, but the sight of Kane Williamson bowling 20 odd overs on the final day as Young twiddled his thumbs in the outfield summed up his contribution. Jack Taylor was given his chance to stake a claim in the previous championship match against Middlesex and had a starring role in the t20 win against Somerset. Both of these kids can bat, but whether one of them can turn themselves into a genuine, top quality spinner remains to be seen.

An honourable mention should also be made to Craig Miles who, at 16 years of age, made a very respectable start to his first class career as a late injury replacement for Liam Norwell.

There have been very few sightings of 'reputedly quick' New Zealander James Fuller, or Lance Corporal David Wade who must be wondering whether a second tour of Afghanistan was all that bad an idea having now sampled the delights of the second XI county circuit.

All in all the bowling department has been a resounding success. There seems to be a little bit of competition for places, and the youngsters who have come in have genuinely looked quite handy. If one of either Ed Young or Jack Taylor could make a strong case to be the recognised spin option over the second half of the season then the Jessop Tavern View would declare itself chuffed to bits with the bowling department.

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