Sunday, 3 May 2015

Glos out-do their doppelgangers

Gloucestershire 77 for 0 (Dent 42*, Tavare 32*) trail Essex 159 (Mickleburgh 42, Norwell 4-32) by 82 runs

Everyone once in a while you encounter a side very similar to your own. Essex may well be that side. Captained by former England wicketkeepers, both sides feature talented young number 3 batsmen, portly Kiwi allrounders, ageing Southern Hemisphere batsmen masquerading as EU players, young left arm seamers who have regressed a bit after promising starts, plus a smattering of handy young Englishmen. Oh, and England's Ravi Bopara has represented both counties, although with varying degrees of success.

One other similarity is both counties' love of the batting collapse. Considering the level of talent available in the Essex batting lineup, they have had a tremendous number of comic batting collapses in recent year. Not least the hilarious 20 all out against Lancashire referenced in Cricinfo's write up of today's play. Thus it was no great surprise when, having been put in after losing the toss on a rain-delayed first day, Essex failed to capitalise on a solid opening partnership of 61. Liam Norwell decided to bowl fewer four balls than usual and benefited to the tune of 4 for 2 in two overs as Essex struggled to 106-8. David Payne also got into the act, taking 3 wickets of his own, although at a more typical economy rate of almost 5 an over.

A final connection between the two sides is the Malik family link. Essex have signed the younger brother of former Pakistan captain and Glos overseas player, Shoaib 'double top' Malik on a short-term contract. A good job too, as the 29 year old struck a valuable 25 coming in at number 9 to help Essex from a truly awful first innings total to one which is merely bad.

Still, 159 all out was put into perspective as Dent and Tavare set about a decent opening partnership of their own, reaching 77 without loss at the close under sunny skies. The Jessop Tavern View is by no means as optimistic as Cricinfo's Tim Wigmore, who signed off by saying Gloucestershire may be envisaging their first win at Chelmsford since 1930. We would simply be happy if the boys manage to avoid a repeat performance of Essex's batting performance tomorrow.

Video highlights from Day 1 below:

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