Friday, 21 August 2015

50 over recap: The good, the bad and the irrelevant

The Royal London Cup has surprised a few people so far this season. Very much the third domestic trophy, it traditionally takes place towards the end of the season when more than half the counties have basically given up the ghost and are merely playing for pride.

Previous incarnations saw a slightly weird qualifying system used where two groups went straight to the semi finals, which meant that early losses soon proved terminal for even the best limited over sides. Thankfully we're now settled back into an international standard 50 over format, with a quarter final stage to further help separate the wheat from the county chaff.

Even more pleasingly, Gloucestershire have proven themselves a passable side in the format thus far. The shire finished their group stage matches with a home quarter final birth secured after five wins from eight with a no result v Yorkshire. We'll discount the fact that the home draw was in fact secured following bad weather which ensured Yorkshire's match at Scarborough was abandoned without a ball being bowled.

So to a brief recap of the completed matches so far. We'll skip the Yorkshire game which we were in a great position to win until bad weather intervened.

The Good

July 29
Gloucestershire 205 for 4 (Roderick 54) beat Derbyshire 274 for 5 (Rutherford 110, Madsen 106*) by six wickets - D/L 

First up was a wild game at Nevil Road, which was secured when Benny and Jack Taylor struck an outrageous 69 from the final four overs to secure a fortunate D/L victory. Having fielded poorly in conceding two individual tons to Hamish Rutherford and Wayne Madsen, we were always going to be up against it.

Rain altered the target to 284 from 48 and again to 204 from 35 overs and at 136-3 we looked dead and buried. However, Taylor came in and immediately set about the bowling, hitting leggie Critchley for 3 sixes in an over to begin the carnage which concluded with Taylor being caught off the final delivery off which 6 were needed. Miraculously a no ball was called, for too many fielders on the leg side of all things, and a single was taken to add to the two extras, Benny Howell then smashed the final delivery for a four to complete a unlikely victory

Video highlights

July 31
Gloucestershire 315 for 6 (Roderick 104, Jones 87, Klinger 50) beat Leicestershire 314 (Aadil 84, Burgess 49, Taylor 42*, Smith 3-45) by one run

Another interesting contest and an unexpectedly tight one, given the opposition and match situation. Gareth Roderick's maiden List A hundred and Geraint Jones' career high 87 (a bit worrying when you score that in your final season, at the age of 39?) saw the boys post over 300 and we then reduced Leics to 128/5 in response.

However, a couple of fine partnerships; 96 between Aadil Ali and Burgess and then 44 from Clint McKay and Rob Taylor (in just 4.4 overs) left McKay needing 3 from the final ball to complete an unlikely victory. Luckily enough, Glos' excellent fielding came to the rescue as captain Maxi Klinger made a diving stop before running out the Aussie to restrict Leics to a single run.

A tight victory was thus secured, although the worrying James Fuller no ball beamer problem returned, seeing him withdrawn from the attack for the second time this season. Not ideal to lose one of your strike bowlers at a key moment and hopefully the Kiwi can get this under control from now on. When firing he's a fine bowler and a handy batsman, to boot.

Video highlights

August 2
Gloucestershire 247 for 7 (Klinger 107, Groenewald 3-53) beat Somerset 244 for 7 (Hildreth 85*, Gregory 62) by three wickets

The next match, against West Country rivals Somerset, saw a sight as familiar as a pint of cider in the hand of supporters on either side, Maxi Klinger acknowledging the crowd's applause for another fine hundred. The man's form this season has been nothing short of remarkable- he's averaging over 100 in this competition as well as over 80 in T20 and 46 in the championship. One could argue that if the travelling Australian circus wanted to add another performer to the troupe then they could do a lot worse than calling on our skipper.

This would obviously be bad news for the 'Shire, as Klinger runs again turned a tight game in our favour. A lowish chase of 245 proved tricky, with Dent falling early to Groenewald and Roderick also departing cheaply. Klinger however anchored the innings superbly, scoring his 107 off 133 balls with nine boundaries including 4 sixes. The game was still in the balanced when he fell with 43 still needed and when Gourmet-Burger departed with the score on 213 there was work to do. Luckily Jack Taylor was at the crease and he put on a useful partnership with James Fuller. Taylor then struck two sixes in the penultimate over from Groenewald and the victory was secured with two balls remaining. A good win.

Video highlights

August 4
Gloucestershire 289 for 7 (Klinger 135*, Jones 54) beat Durham 214 (Hastings 46, Payne 5-40, Miles 2-29) by 71 runs D/L

There doesn't appear to be a match report available on Cricinfo for this game, so we'll stick to the facts. A dominant batting performance saw Glos post an excellent 289 from just 41 rain-affected overs. The demon Klinger carried his bat for another hundred, his highest score of the summer so far, despite an injury requiring a runner towards the end. Geraint Jones continued his streaky run of form with 54 and Benny Howell chipped in with a quickfire 45 from 24 balls towards the end.

Durham were never really in the contest, losing wickets throughout, before a late flurry from John Hastings saw them limped past 200, before being dismissed for 214 in the final over. Sid Payne took an excellent 5-40, including most of the lower order and Miles also bowled economically in what has been a fine season in all formats for the 21 year old.

Video highlights

August 5
Gloucestershire 265 for 6 (Tavare 61, Jones 58, Roderick 56) beat Worcestershire 264 for 8 (Clark 131*) by four wickets (D/L method)

Glos secured a quarter final place with their 5th consecutive win against bottom side Worcs who lost their 5th straight Royal London fixture. The boys performed well without the injured titan Klinger, who missed out with a hamstring strain. Worcester actually posted a decent total, based around a superb 131* from 19 year old Joe Clarke. The 'Shire bowling was relatively expensive in this game, with only the wicketless James Fuller keeping the economy rate below 4 an over.

Glos managed a tricky chase well, with all of the top 4 chipping in. The recalled Will Tavare, hitherto fairly useless in white ball cricket, hit 61 and Roderick and Geraint also hit 50s. Even Chris Dent, who had slumped into a terrible rut recently, managed 43 in an opening stand of 106 with Tavare. Despite losing late wickets we got over the line comfortably and booked a quarter final place early with two fixtures yet to play.

Video highlights

The Bad

August 17
Northamptonshire 217 for 6 (Cobb 58, Taylor 3-45) beat Gloucestershire 215 (Howell 80, Roderick 57, Crook 4-37, Stone 3-34) by four wickets 

This game wasn't that important for the 'Shire and it showed. We're running out of steam on these recaps, so we'll stick to saying that Glos underperformed with the bat and did ok to reach 200 plus in the end. Northants were always looking favourites after an opening partnership of 80 took a large chunk out of the chase. Despite losing a few middle order wickets along the way, a calm 31* from skipper Alex Wakely got them over the line with 9 overs still to bowl.

Video highlights

The Irrelevant

August 18
Surrey 291 for 8 (Burns 95, Fuller 3-26) beat Gloucestershire 279 (Howell 60, T Curran 4-65) by 12 runs 

This game proved to be a complete dead rubber once Yorkshire's fixture against Northants was rained off in mid-afternoon. Good job too, as Glos again failed to chase down a Surrey target anchored by
Rory Burns' List A-best of 95. James Fuller returned 3-26 and Benny Howell continued his all round form with 2-54 from 9 tidy overs.

Glos struggled with a challenging chase, although the Frenchman again batted solidly for a team-high 60 and put on 90 in 15.4 overs with Fuller, who scored his one day high of 45. Chris Dent managed an attractive 49 before getting out as his first List A 50 of the year seemed on the cards.

It ended up mattering little as the weather allowed Glos the luxury of a home quarter against Hampshire on August 26th.

Video highlights

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