Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Championship roundup: The slump is on after consecutive abject defeats

Gloucestershire's early season momentum is well and truly gone after two heavy Championship defeats in a week. Both efforts were pretty pathetic, but the innings defeat to Surrey was one of the low points of the season so far. We may be accused of trademark negativity here, but how else do you describe an innings and 180 run defeat inside three days, while failing to top 160 on either occasion. That was our 5th Championship loss of the season and it's hard to see us getting any better with the overall lack of quality in the squad and consequent absence of competition for places.

Essex 319 (ten Doeschate 73, Foster 63) and 117 for 5 (Westley 65*) beat Gloucestershire 116 (Napier 4-27) and 316 (Klinger 103) by five wickets

The Essex game actually started out reasonably well, with an even first day which saw Essex fight back from 169-5 to post 319 after Ryan Ten Doeschate's 73. Watching the video however, you can see the signs of things not going well, as stand-in keeper Geraint Jones shells an easy chance to dismiss Nick Browne off the bowling of Fuller. Gareth Roderick played in this match as a batsman only due to his damaged hand and let's hope it recovers soon. You can see why Jones has basically retired from keeping these days when you look at him shelling simple chances like this.

It all went downhill fairly rapidly from there though, as we were skittled for a meagre 116 on first innings (in 39 overs!) with Graham Napier taking 4-27. Best not to dwell on this other than the fact that this led to the inevitable follow on, with Glos ending the day still 77 behind at 126-3 on second innings. Day 3 saw one bright spot, as Michael Klinger completed his second championship century of the season, before we were bowled out for 316, leaving Essex 117 for victory.

They knocked these off without too many scares, despite losing Cook first ball and sent Glos to our 4th home Championship defeat in as many games. Not good to lose so heavily to a side like Essex who had struggled earlier in the season and who we beat comfortably by 9 wickets down at Chelmsford. That said, it only got worse below.

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Surrey 448 (Foakes 118, Elgar 98, Ansari 64, Batty 50, Norwell 5-112) beat Gloucestershire 113 (Curran 7-20) and 155 (Tavare 58, Ansari 6-30) by an innings and 180 runs

We are not going to waste too much time on this, as the performance was fairly shambolic from start to finish. Once Surrey posted over 400 we were already predicting the follow on and it duly followed with yet another sub-150 total. A tenuous bright spot for 'Shire fans came as (son of sadly departed former Glos all-rounder Kevin) Tom Curran took a career-best 7-20 as he ripped through a wafer-thin Glos lineup stuffed with players either out of form or essentially un-droppable, due to lack of alternatives.

Predictably we were asked to follow on and this time it was the slow left arm of Zafar Ansari that did the damage. Despite a battling 58 from Will Tavare, his 6-30 hastened the second innings to a rapid close with Glos still 180 shy of making Surrey bat again. All in all a really bad performance and not one that bodes well for this week's T20 game against the same opponents at the Oval.

Both halves of the Jessop Tavern will actually be at the game, so heatstroke notwithstanding, readers will be able to read a surprisingly accurate recap (by our standards) later in the week.

Video highlights from 3 days of misery for 'Shire fans below.

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Monday, 29 June 2015

T20 roundup MKII: Glos campaign stalls after Cidermen win derby and Luke Wright heist

Somerset 166 for 5 (Myburgh 63, Smith 2-23) beat Gloucestershire 165 for 8 (Klinger 44) by five wickets

It says something about Gloucestershire's marketing efforts, that when this half of the Jessop Tavern View called his Dad last Friday, to ask if he was going to use his T20 membership to go and watch the derby game, the response was, 'I forgot it was on'.

This is despite Freddie Wilde's assertion that 'it is hard to walk around Bristol and not see something about the NatWest T20 Blast.' Admittedly my Dad doesn't live all that near Bristol, but as a T20 member yet to attend a match this season, you would think Glos would have been ramming this fixture down his throat via all available mediums.

This was another important fixture for a 'shire side whose early season momentum seems to be grinding to a halt at the moment. It was even on TV, a rare occurrence for a team usually relegated to the outer reaches of the BBC Sport app and Cricinfo.

Anyway, it didn't go all that well, with Glos struggling to 165 for 8 on what was apparently a tricky pitch to bat on. 37-1 from the Powerplay tells a story of a batting side,  Klinger aside, lacking real fire power and the ability to really dominate a bowling attack. Once the big wicket of Klinger (44) was taken, we quickly slumped to 118-6 after Kieran Gourmet-Burger departed in the 16th over.

Some late scrambling from the lower order saw 42 taken from the last 18 deliveries, but 165 was surely under par, even for a Somerset side lacking the big enormous bat of the Caribbean Premier League-bound Chris Gayle. However, the bowlers managed to claw things back after Somerset got away and reached 59-1 after the Powerplay, with Aussie Jim Allenby hitting a rapid 27.

Spinners Tom Smith and Jack Taylor bowled tightly to help increase the run rate from overs 11 through 18, when Johan Myburgh departed for a solid 63. Things then went pear-shaped as Dutch-Aussie Tom Cooper struck two sixes helped get the cidermen over the line. It's always good to have a number of Kolpak and EU signings to be able to fall back on when you're missing the likes of Gayle and the rested Tres.

In a worrying portent of things to come below, James Fuller again proved unreliable when bowling a crucial over at the death, managing to let slip two wides when only 4 runs were needed for victory. Surely experience has proven that he's simply not reliable enough to bowl at the death in limited overs matches?

A disappointing loss and one which left the boys really needing a victory in a tough match versus Sussex the following Friday.

Jack Taylor's thoughts on the match below:

Sussex 188 for 7 (Wright 111*) beat Gloucestershire 185 for 4 (Klinger 61, Marshall 37) by 3 wickets 

Another Friday nightmare for Glos as (another) disastrous James Fuller bowling performance led to a defeat snatched from the stomach of victory. This was a match in which we did almost everything right until the end. We batted strongly to score an excellent 185, then bowled and fielded well to leave Sussex (basically in the form of Luke Wright) needing 43 from the final two overs.

The wheels then came off in spectacular fashion. Fuller was withdrawn from the attack after having bowled two no ball full tosses and having been struck for 3 sixes and a four by Wright. Craig Miles stepped up to bowl the final ball, which was also deposited for six by a fired-up Wright, who progressed to his hundred with the blow. 34 runs from the over and suddenly Sussex needed just 9 to win, a feat they achieved off Jack Taylor's final over with some ease.

Klinger was obviously distressed with the defeat and his comments in Cricinfo's match report seems to reveal some frustration with Fuller's inability to bowl death overs:

"It was a crushing defeat for us in the circumstances, but all the credit must go to Luke Wright for a fantastic innings. James Fuller had a plan for bowling to him in the penultimate over and simply couldn't execute it."

Freddie Wilde again hit the nail on the head in his synopsis, pointing out that Glos' lack of international experience compared to other counties is likely to continue to cost them matches in this competition

"However, they arguably lost this match, and may lose similar matches in the future, because they lack an international quality, standout player, be that with bat or ball, but especially ball. Of their starting XI, only Hamish Marshall and Geraint Jones have played international cricket, and neither have done so for almost a decade. The likes of James Fuller can't be relied upon to close out matches."

This rings true when you look at our side. Klinger could arguably be said to be of international calibre- albeit untested at that level until now. The rest of the side is either old like Jones and Marshall, young like Miles and Taylor or simply mediocre like Fuller, Noema-Barnett, Howell and others.

Not good enough and the defeat leaves us with a lot of work to do to make the quarter finals, beginning with an away game at fellow T20 strugglers Surrey at the Oval on Weds 1st July. Both halves of The Jessop Tavern View will actually be at this game, so we'll be well-placed to report back on what could be another tale of woe come Thursday morning.

Monday, 15 June 2015

T20 roundup: Maxi(mum) Klinger and not much else = top of the league

The Jessop Tavern View is going to argue that this T20 recap has been justifiably delayed by the Shire's trademark inconsistency in the tournament so far. That or laziness. A great start against Middlesex was followed by a narrow loss to Sussex before a comfortable win against Essex made it two wins out of three.

Since then we've played four more games, winning two, leaving the boys handily placed at the top of the south group after 7 games. This hides a slightly concerning over-reliance on Maxy Klinger, whose remarkable run of T20 batting form reached new heights with a 69 not out, followed by back-to-back hundreds on consecutive days. Sadly both of these came in losing causes, against Essex away then Glamorgan at home, but still took him to the ludicrous tally of 403 runs without dismissal in this year's competition. A failure yesterday against Middlesex finally enabled him to achieve a tasty average of 413 in just 5 matches, with three hundreds already.

We note (thanks to the excellent Cricket Archive) that these tons take him into equal third on the all time domestic T20 hundreds list, alongside David Warner on 5 and behind only Brendon McCullum and the great Chris Gayle (a surely unbeatable 15!)

These are outstanding figures and it's a testament to the form shown by a man who also scored a hundred in one of his two championship matches since arriving from Australia. The benefits of an extended off-season after the Australian domestic season are clear for all to see.

Gloucestershire 157 for 1 (Klinger 69*, Cockbain 54*) beat Kent 156 for 6 (Bell-Drummond 31, Howell 3-18) by nine wickets

First up were Kent at run-friendly out ground Beckenham. Kent were restricted to 156 by a parsimonious spell from Benny the Frenchman, including dismissing in-form Sam Northeast for just 14. The result was never really in doubt once Klinger and O'Mish got cracking, putting on 60 for the first wicket, before Hamish was bowled having struck a six the previous delivery. This brought Ian Cockbain to the wicket and an unbeaten partnership of 97 allowed the boys to cruise to an easy victory with Klinger ending 69*.

Video highlights below:

Essex 181 (Pettini 68, Smith 3-26) beat Gloucestershire 163 for 7 (Klinger 104*, Napier 3-30) by 18 runs

The return fixture against Essex didn't go so well. The bowlers restricted a fast-improving Essex side to 181 all out, having been 98 for 1 after 10 overs. Tom Smith took 3-26 and got rid of dangermen Tom Westley and Bopara, while Fuller and Payne chipped in with two wickets each in economical spells. The problems started while batting, as a series of failures left Klinger the last man standing. Aside from Klinger, only James Fuller passed 20 and the fact that their 8th wicket stand of 71 was comfortably the highest of our innings tells the story. Klinger completed his second consecutive T20 hundred against Essex with a six off Shaun Tait, but truth be told we were never close to reaching our target. A disappointing loss, this. 181 was not a huge target at Chelmsford and the batsmen let down a decent bowling effort.

Video high lowlights of the Glos innings below

Glamorgan 191 for 3 (Rudolph 101*, Howell 2-24) beat Gloucestershire 172 for 6 (Klinger 104*) by 19 runs 

Another day, another unbeaten hundred for the skipper, but another bloody defeat for the 'Shire. Not a lot to write about this, other than this time we let Glamorgan score a healthy 191 which was always going to prove a challenging chase in increasingly dark and wet conditions down at Nevil Road. Jacques Rudolph carried his bat for the first T20 hundred of his career and his dominance was shown by the next highest score being Colin Ingram's 28.

Glamorgan then executed an exemplary bowling and fielding effort, with only Klinger able to make batting look easy. We were never really in the contest after slumping to 90 for 4 in the 13th over and changing the batting order to bring in the sloggers early didn't really help matters. That said, Klinger stuck around while continuing to blast the ball to all parts and you can't help but think the chase would have been easier had anyone else been able to keep him company for more than a few overs at a time.

Gloucestershire 214 for 4 (Cockbain 75, Howell 57) beat Middlesex 171 (Simpson 74, Payne 5-24) by 43 runs

So, to yesterday's match at Old Deer Park in Richmond. Luckily Middlesex aren't very good at T20 and have actually not beaten the 'Shire in 8 attempts. This proud record continued, as the rest of the boys finally realised that Klinger can't continue to score almost 60% of the side's runs and upped their game accordingly. Ian Cockbain returned to some T20 nick with a commanding 75, including 6 sixes, and Monsieur Benny managed a T20-best 57. Cymbals even had an enjoyable thrash at the end in making an unbeaten 34, as Glos ran up an excellent total of 214 for 5.

As with so many T20 matches, losing early wickets when chasing a big target quickly signifies 'game over man'. Once Miles dismissed Paul Stirling for 13, it was left to David Payne to clean up with an excellent 5-24. His haul included John Simpson, one of the few Middlesex batsmen to show signs of life with 74, and were the best so far in this season's NatWest Blast.

Friday, 12 June 2015

Good, solid, Championship defeat for Glos

Lancashire (275 and 253, Craig Miles 5 for 60 and 5 for 61) beat Gloucestershire (277 and 160) by 91 runs.

If you can have a good defeat then this definitely can count as one. Glos took on the league leading Lancashire earlier this week and more than held their own. They actually bowled themselves into a winning position, let it slip, and then came up short. Which the Jessop Tavern reckons will also be our end of season review.

Craig Miles roared back to his wicket taking best after a spell of mysteriously hiding from new ball duties. Thrown the new cherry in both innings Miles responded with a stunning match hall of 10 for 123. Against a table topping team of division 1 calibre players this was a fantastic, and very welcome return to form for a young bowler who continues to progress and develop nicely. His ten wicket haul was the first of his young career, and included his 100th first class wicket.

The batting more than held its end up in the first innings. Yet more runs from Maxi Klinger and this time support from the unlikely source of skipper symbols the clown, who finally chipped in with a much needed 88. Jones has struggled for runs this year, averaging a slightly stodgy 28. This shouldn’t really be too much of a surprise. Symbols hasn't scored more than 700 runs in a season since 2010. In fairness he has played as a keeper for much of this time, but as someone now picked purely as a batsman the question is can you really afford to have a middle order player who at 39 has only gone passed 1000 runs in a season twice in his career. In reality, he currently represents the weak link in the team. From afar it is difficult for us to attain his captaincy. We’ll credit him though with marshalling a young team to a very respectable first half of the season.

Klinger continues to return to the man we saw in 2013. That year, there was even talk of him being called up mid-ashes tour by an Aussie team in partial disarray. Those days seem a long way back now, and how England would like similar talk of Maxi playing a few tests this summer. However, for Glos, Klinger is enjoying a wonderful summer since stepping off the plane from Oz a few weeks back. Could Klinger be inline for a Shaun Young style test appearance? England will hope so. Gloucestershire won't.

Glos now fall to 6th in the second division, but only 12 points behind 3rd placed Glamorgan with a gap now appearing to the promotion spots currently occupied by Surrey and Lancashire. Next up in the championship are bottom placed Essex, back at Nevil Road, where Glos will hope to get back to winning ways.

Before that, it's back to t20 fun as the Shire look to consolidate their very encouraging start to this competition. 

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Klinger off the plane and into the stratosphere

Gloucestershire 199 for 4 (Klinger 126*) beat Essex 165 (Westley 67*, Smith 5-39) by 34 runs

Sometimes players make professional cricket look rather easy. Fly in from Australia on Thursday, barely sleep between then and Sunday's game, then open the batting and hit a T20 career-best 126* including 8 sixes! Admittedly Klinger was dropped 3 times (including off consecutive deliveries) and Essex missed a straightforward run-out chance, but this was still a seriously impressive effort from the returning skipper.

His 68 ball knock came after being put in after losing the toss. Klinger and O'Mish opened up and the Irishman was typically the aggressor until he holed out for 29. Is there some kind of theme here with him getting out after making a good start...?

Ian Cockbain joined Klinger, who seems to have already had his best T20 form for the season. He made only 24 before departing to Reece Topley. This partnership did see Klinger dropped twice of consecutive Topley deliveries, before Topley had him dropped for a third time in the over after Cockbain's dismissal. Good to see the village cricketing spirit alive and well in the Essex fielding effort.

These let offs clearly inspired Klinger, who then opened up for the remainder of the innings and reserved some ferocious tap for Graham Napier in particular (6 sixes from his final two overs!) He finished on a career-best 126 not out in a total of 199-4.

The Essex innings never really got going after the early loss of the dangerous Jesse Ryder and Mark Pettini in Payne's first over. Westley and Bopara put on 62, before Ravi departed just as the partnership was looking promising. (Again, is there some kind of theme here?).

The ever-dangerous Ryan Ten Doeschate came in and struck 54 and James Fuller was removed from the attack for taking too much punishment two deliveries over waist height in an over. However, there was still a way to go and the door was firmly shut by Tom Smith's hat-trick in the next over. Essex were eventually finished off for 165 for a 34 run win.

Two wins from three to start our T20 campaign is a great improvement from recent years. The addition of Klinger obviously strengthens the batting and it's surely only a matter of time before Peter Hanscomb finds his T20 feet and starts butchering some county trundlers. Encouraging times down at Nevil Road.

Video interview with Maxi Klinger: