Saturday, 6 August 2016

Critical game for the Shire sees promotion bid stall

Leicestershire 218 (Robson 62, Payne 5-36) and 181 for 4 (Horton 73, Cosgrove 56) beat Gloucestershire 183 (Taylor 51, Raine 4-57) and 215 (Klinger 54, McKay 3-43) by six wickets

Big games in the championship tend to be decided by experienced players. This was emphatically the case in the final Championship game at Cheltenham, where Leicestershire's senior pros guided them to a potentially tricky 3rd day chase without undue alarm.

We have previously written about how well Leicestershire recruited over the winter, bringing in Mark Pettini from Essex, Paul Horton from Lancashire and Neil Dexter from Middlesex.

Glos were put in under bowler-friendly skies on Day 1 and were dismissed for a disappointing 183, with only a battling Jack Taylor passing 50. By the close Leics were 122-5, only 61 behind with opener Angus Robson 49*. Leics reached 218 all out on Day 2, with David Payne finishing with an excellent 5-36. The lead of 45 proved important as the game progressed rapidly on the second day, with only Michael Klinger looking like batting for an extended period was possible. He ended the day 33* and a lead of 250 would surely have been hard work for Leicestershire to chase down against a strong Glos bowling lineup.

However, Glos slumped to 161-8 in the first session of Day 3 and only an unlikely partnership of 48 for the last wicket between Josh Shaw and Benny the Frenchman enabled us to set a target over 150. In the end, 181 proved inadequate, as despite losing Dexter and Robson early, the experienced Aussie duo of Horton and Cosgrove broke the back of the chase with a stand of 108 for the third wicket. Both departed before the end, but thew hard work was done despite a good performance in the field from the boys. Glos had bowled Essex out for 151 the previous week, but against a strong and experienced batting side you really need to set a target of at least 200 to have a chance, especially in a game which concluded with 15 overs remaining on Day 3.

A disappointing result to end the Championship portion of the Cheltenham festival, but onwards and upwards with 6 championship fixtures still to play, plus a T20 quarter final next Wednesday against Durham.

Day 1 highlights

Day 2 highlights

Day 3 highlights

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Glos book themselves a home quarter final in the T20 Blast

T20 Blast: Glos beat Essex by 9 wickets.

Essex will beat a hasty retreat from Cheltenham after a weekend of being mauled by a young and hungry Gloucestershire team playing some fantastic cricket.

Another T20 match brought more runs for Maxy Klinger (again the competition's leading run scorer - 517 runs at 57). More runs for Ian Cockbain (the competitions second highest run scorer - 457 runs at 65). More wickets for Benny the bowler (the competition's leading wicket taker - 20 wickets at 15). And most importantly, this particular win brings a guaranteed home quarter final at the start of August.

Batting first Glos got away to a good start with O'Mish delivering 43 runs from 28 balls to set a platform for Maxy and Cockbain to go to work. The impressive thing about these two has not only been the consistency, but the composure and ease they have with their own games. We have witnessed this throughout Maxy's time with the Shire. He has absolutely confidence in his own game to just ease up through the gears and to press the accelerate when needed, and not before.

This influence has very clearly rubbed off on Ian Cockbain. Cockbain is a player who until this season clearly saw himself as a bit of a biffer. A guy who hit a long ball. This season he has been the complete number 3, playing a variety of different styles of innings depending on what the game called for. His evolution has been extremely impressive and the Jessop Tavern is delighted for a player they have long been fans of.

Posting their highest total of the season, 212 for 1, Gloucestershire's bowlers then squeezed the life out of the Essex reply, taking important wickets at the right time, and never allowing the Essex run chase to even get started. Matt Taylor continued his fine form with 2 for 25. Benny the bowler continued his economic wicket taking with 3 for 27, and that was about that.

Gloucestershire are now 4 points top of the group with only one game remaining and are assured of a home quarter final. The Jessop Tavern is already looking into travel to Edgbaston.

Video highlights:

Glos launch improbable promotion bid

County Championship Div 2: Glos beat Essex by 61 runs.

Gloucestershire's remarkable season continued last week in the county championship as the Shire bagged a third win of the season to take them to within spitting distance of the summit of division 2. With a game in hand. In a year when only one team gets promoted, surely Glos aren't serious contenders? Well, on recent form, you wouldn't back against them.

Despite stuttering with the bat on day 1 to be bowled out for 255, and then collapsing on day 3, losing their last 6 wickets for only 62 runs, the young Glos pace bowlers ran through Essex to bowl them out for 151, claim a famous and improbably win, and allow the hospitality tents an afternoon of drinking without having the cricket to distract them. Win win.

Much like the entire season, Glos were indebted to crucial performances at crucial times. On day 1, Cragi Miles' 56 runs, alongside contributions from David Payne and Liam Norwell, dragged Glos from 140 for 7 up to a total that at least got them in the game. An important 4 for 72 from returning loanee Josh Shaw helped restrict Essex to a first innings lead of 78. Roderick and Dent then knocked off this lead with their opening stand in the second innings before Maxi Klinger prevented a complete disintegration with 53 not out as the tail fell away. Gloucestershire then finally saw the very best of Miles, Norwell and Payne bowling as a unit as they finished with 3 for 26, 4 for 65 and 3 for 40 respectively. Norwell, Payne and Miles have been Gloucestershire's leading seamers for a few years now, but it is difficult to think of another match in which they have collective worked together to run through a team. If we can keep them all fit then Glos will fancy their chances against most batting units.

Liam Norwell now has 30 wickets at 25. Craig Miles has 27 wickets at 30. David Payne has 20 wickets at 40. Fitness has always been the issue with all 3 of these guys, but Norwell is still only 24. Payne is 25. Craig Miles is just about to turn 22. The Shire have the making of a decent seam attack for quite a few years to come. At the start of the season the Jessop Tavern did ponder whether we might regret not attempting to sign a consistent, more mature fast bowler to provide a steady spine to the bowling. Yet again, another astute observation from the Jessop Tavern that has been rammed down its throat.

One observation that we are standing by is that we are still not convinced by Gareth Roderick opening the batting. This said Roderick is steadily working his way towards a very solid season. Coming off the back of his first hundred of the season he now has 638 runs at an average of 42. This also includes 6 fifties. This is a welcome return to the early promise he showed when first breaking into the team and averaging 44 and then 55 in his first two seasons. Last year's average of 32 looks to have been no more than a blip, and quite possibly the move to the top of the order has helped rejuvenate him.

However, the Jessop Tavern grew up in the era of Alec Stewart, and thus we refuse to break with the belief that opening, keeping and captaining is possible. Especially long term. However, as Roderick doesn't spend half his time at the crease twiddling his bat or walking into drives outside off stump and nicking-off it is possible that this was the real drain on Stewart's energies.

So, Gloucestershire now sit third in division 2. 11 points behind leaders Essex, and with a game in hand against Leicestershire. Can Glos continue this improbable charge to promotion? Can they continue to fight on both the 4 day, 50 over and 20 over front? Will injuries catch up with them at some point? Is promotion even a good thing? All this and more, in the next exciting few weeks.

Video highlights:
Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Which way to Finals Day??

T20 Blast: Glos beat Glamorgan by 9 wickets

It is the mark of a very good side if they re able to shrug off disappointment and use defeat as the motivation to put in a performance that banishes any lingering disappointment. Glos did that, and then some, bouncing back from a close loss to Kent with their finest T20 victory of the season against table-topping Glamorgan on Sunday. Aided by a slightly strange decision by Glamorgan to bat first on a sluggish pitch.

You'd like to know what the Glamorgan lads thought when they rocked up in Cardiff to see that their groundsman had prepared an absolutely pudding for their 3 out and out quick bowlers to toil away on. A little bit like the groundsman at the Oval who prepared that absolute bunsen for Murali to bowl on all those years ago, Tait, Hogan and Van der Gutgen must have been wondered what the heck was going on.

Gloucestershire's attack duly licked their lips and set about applying their mixture of slower balls on a sticky pitch to utterly smother Glamorgan's batsmen. 'Jacques' van Buuren took 3 for 19. Tom Smith took 2 for 13. Benny took 1 for 13. All demonstrating that pace off the ball was the way to go. Thus potentially the performance of the day was Liam Norwell's 0 for 21 from 4 overs, demonstrating once again that Norwell is maturing into a very useful bowler in various formats.

Only Graham Wagg's 32 from 23 balls, including 18 from AJ Tye's final over got Glamorgan into triple figures. Whilst conditions may have favoured Gloucestershire's attack, it is hard to find any fault with such a fine bowling performance.

In reply O'Mish was out early which simply brought Maxi and Ian Cockbain together. 97 runs later Klinger and Cockbain walked off. Job done.

Maxi and Cockbain now sit first and second in the T20 run charts for 2016. They may have played a couple of games more than Joe Denly and Ross Taylor who sit third and fourth, but then again second placed Cockbain's 388 runs is over 50 runs more than Denly. Maxi incidentally has 422 runs. Maxy does what Maxy does. Both have identical strike rates of 128 runs per 100 balls. Phenomenal performances from both.

The superlatives for Maxy in this format ran out a while ago. For Cockbain this is new territory of consistency and quality. The Jessop Tavern have always rated Cockbain. Every year we wonder if he'll get a fair chance and every year he does, only for him to then average 25, usually with a hundred tucked away somewhere to tempt us with what he can do.

This year has been different. Given the responsibility of batting at 3 he has looked at ease with the position. A player reaching maturity and understanding how his game fits into the rest of the team and the position of the match. This season he has played biffing innings, taking the attack to the opposition. He has also played second fiddle, ticking over a polite 30 odd at a run a ball whilst O'Mish or Maxy run amok at the other end. He has also seen things through. 11 innings. 4 not outs. Batting at 3 that is an excellent return.

Gloucestershire now head to Cheltenham full of confidence. Top of the table with only two games remaining. A home T20 quarter final looks very possible, and from there anything is possible.

Monday, 11 July 2016

The art of the red inker

Leicestershire 334 (Dexter 136, McKay 55, Cosgrove 54, Norwell 4-72) drew with Gloucestershire 403 for 2 dec (Dent 165, van Buuren 121*)

In a game against a division rival in good form and where the best part of two days are lost to rain, the trick is to try to secure maximum bonus points. This Gloucestershire achieved comfortably on the 4th day, as the previously tricky pitch flattened out and only 2 wickets fell while 334 runs were scored. Chris Dent scored a fine 165, taking his tally to 805 championship runs at almost 58, with three hundreds to go with his two white ball tons in the Royal London Cup (remember that one?). 

Sadly this was not good enough form to get him into the England Lions squad, despite the fact that their game versus Pakistan A takes place during the Cheltenham Festival at a ground Dent knows very well. As we moaned in a recent tweet, could it be evidence of some mild selectorial bias against smaller Division 2 counties?

Another beneficiary of the benign batting conditions on the final day was Graeme 'Jacques' van Buuren, who emulated his illustrious compatriot Mr Kallis with a classic 4th innings 'red inker'. GvB has now struck a healthy 403 runs in just 6 championship innings and is averaging 100. He has also managed to score two unbeaten hundreds in those innings, hence the tasty average reminiscent of the great Jacques. To be more generous to GvB, he looks an attractive strokemaker (from the limited video highlights we've seen). He certainly takes a fierce toll on anything pitched too short and credit must go to the Glos management for identifying him as a potential signing given his recently-issued British passport.

Credit should also be given to the bowling attack, especially Liam Norwell who toiled away manfully in taking 4-72 from 32 over of hard graft against handy players like Neil Dexter and former Aussie (Kolpak?) Mark Cosgrove. Dexter struck 136 in a season which has revived his career after leaving Middlesex last season and along with Mark Pettini and Paul Horton has proved an excellent signing for Leicestershire who have been performing miles better this year than in recent seasons.

To conclude, a job well done in a game curtailed by bad weather which led in nicely to a series of 4 T20 games, 3 of which we've already recapped.

Day 4 highlights

Day 2 highlights

Day 1 highlights

Saturday, 9 July 2016

T20 roundup: Glos in a strong position after two wins from three

Three T20 fixtures since our last post saw Glos claim two wins to briefly go top of the South Group, before a close loss against Kent left the 'shire second with a crucial fixture against the Welsh county to come on Sunday.

July 1st
Gloucestershire 168 for 3 (Klinger 101, Overton 3-33) beat Somerset 167 for 7 (Jayawardene 41, Taylor 3-16) by seven wickets 

Michael Klinger reinforced his credentials as arguably the best three format batsman in county cricket with his 6th career T20 hundred (& 5th for the shire) as Glos completed the 'cider double' over local rivals Somerset.

Maxy's 101 from 71 balls was a typically chanceless innings and helped Glos overhaul Somerset's 167 with ease. Glos bowled really well to restrict a Gayle-less side to an underpar score for the Taunton road, with Benny Howell again impressing with 1-23 from his spell.

Klinger struck 4 sixes and 10 fours and his partnership of 107 with Ian Cockbain was enough to break the back of the chase after O'Mish fell cheaply at the start. A convincing win for the boys against a Somerset side who have been disappointing in T20 this season.

Video highlights:

July 6th
Gloucestershire 152 for 4 (Cockbain 73*, Dent 39) beat Surrey 151 for 9 (Sibley 32, Finch 31, Tye 3-16) by six wickets 

Glos again triumphed comfortably in a game weirdly lacking a Cricinfo write-up, despite being televised live on Sky. This was the 'Shire's 5th T20 win in a row and left them temporarily top of the South group ahead of Glamorgan.

Another fine bowling and fielding effort restricted a dangerous Surrey batting lineup to 151, with Tye taking a Glos-best 3-16 from 4 overs. It was noticeable that Glos managed to prevent the Surrey batsmen from hitting boundaries after the departures of Aaron Finch, Chris Morris and Sibley and it was only a later flourish from the Curran brothers which saw Surrey even pass 150.

The target proved no problem for an in-form Glos batting side, with Ian Cockbain looking especially good as he hit an unbeaten 73 from number three. O'Mish and Klinger (to a great catch by Finch) departed relatively cheaply after getting starts, but the Liverpudlian hit the ball well throughout. His stand of 78 with Chris Dent was sufficient to see us most of the way to another deserved victory.

Video highlights:

Kent 148 for 7 (Denly 51, Howell 3-29) beat Gloucestershire 145 for 8 (Klinger 42, Howell 37) by three runs 

A disappointing result in a tight game with Kent brought the boys back to earth after consecutive wins. This loss sets up a decisive game with Glamorgan in Cardiff on Sunday, with the winner securing a quarter final place and likely going a long way to winning the South Group with only 2 fixtures remaining after the Glamorgan game.

Kent looked to have been restricted to a moderate total, with only Joe Denly with 51 really getting to grips with a parsimonious Glos bowling attack. However, Glos lost wickets with regularity while chasing and only Klinger and Howell really managed any sense of permanence in scoring 42 and 37 respectively. The middle order played some poor shots to get themselves out (Gourmet-Burger in particular slogging brainlessly with Howell well set) and Howell and the tail were left a stiff task at the end.

Benny will doubtless be annoyed at failing to get us over the line in the final over- he was run out attempting to sneak two (after being caught) off a Mitchell Claydon no ball which saw him removed from the attack. This left Griffiths to bowl a free hit dot ball and then complete the over, leaving Kent the winners by just 3 runs. Frustrating not to win after another excellent job in the field, but qualification still remains in our hands.

Video highlights:

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

A view outside the Shire: Tymal Mills

Everyone knows that the good people of the West Country are parochial folk. We don't like venturing too far from home. We aren't often concerned about the goings on any further than the end of our road. But the Jessop Tavern is about breaking boundaries, forging ahead into untried territories, so for the first time in 6 years, a piece about something outside the Shire.

Tymal Mills. Congenital back condition. 90mph speed merchant. T20 only. England call up.

At the start of the month Tymal Mills was given his first call up to the England T20 squad. Mills had been touted for England before. Before the last ashes tour he was mentioned as the English equivalent of Mitchell Johnson, despite having only played a handful of first class matches. Such is the desire for fast bowlers who can top 90 mph consistently. Last year Mills had to call time on his first class career at the tender age of 23 due to his back condition. Since then he has set his sights on forging a career in T20 cricket, with a doctor's note tucked firmly in his pocket should Andrew Strauss start tutting once again.

Mills has essentially become cricket's Ledley King. He plays one T20 a week and bowls a few 5 over spells in the nets. If bowling is all about rhythm and getting overs in you then Mills is a very modern anti-tradition practitioner. How workable this is as a way of managing his body could have interesting implications for the old boy coaching manuals.

So it was with interest that the Jessop Tavern took its seat at Arundel and watched Mills get to work. Over the years we have seen plenty of young tearaway quicks. The Jessop Tavern has fond memories of an entertaining West Indies A game at Cheltenham many moons ago that featured a small, fiery kid called Tino Best. Tino roared in, had a follow through that ended past the stumps at the batsman's end and literally terrorised every Gloucestershire batsman who faced him. Tim Hancock took to 'giving himself room' outside leg stump every ball. Quite a long way outside leg stump as well.

So how quick was Mills? Well, disappointingly slow if we are honest. Even on a sluggish wicket you would expect him to still generate enough pace through the air to get the crowd oohhing and aahhhing. Not really. Mills did seem to have a steady diet of slower balls, bowled in a few different ways. All of which the Jessop Tavern was picking from its seat at backward square leg. There were wides. There were byes. There was Benny launching him over the hospitality tents. Twice.

In short the Jessop Tavern was left slightly disappointed by England's latest T20 discovery. Less Mitchell Johnson, a bit more Jade Dernbach, but with less hair.

The Jessop Tavern is now heading back indoors having taken its first foray into looking at the outside world. Deep breaths. It'll be fine.

Monday, 27 June 2016

O'Mish inspires impressive win against Sussex

The Tavern getting to know the locals
T20 Blast: Glos beat Sussex by 11 runs.

After the previous day's wash-out against Hampshire Glos travelled along the south coast to beautiful Arundel to take on flashy Sussex-by-the-sea.

As 6,000 people discovered that one entrance to a cricket ground isn't the greatest idea, the Jessop Tavern took the time to have a catch-up with Sid the Shark and discuss the game ahead. The pace of Tymal Mills versus the superhuman run scoring of Michael Klinger? Sid gave a giant thumbs up to the idea that Klinger would fancy Mills' extra pace.

Sussex won the toss and soon had the big breakthrough. Ajmal Shazad, came back from the unknown, to trap Maxy Klinger LBW in only the second over. It was Sussex's only success for the next 13 overs as O'Mish and Ian Cockbain put together a magnificent 120 partnership for the second wicket. It was magnificent in lots of ways, primarily for the fact that the pitch appeared to not be the easiest to get started on, and took every batsman a little while to get the boundaries flowing. 

O'Mish was imperious, and his 90 from 55 balls was an exhibition in clean, clinical T20 hitting. Not obviously destructive, but working the ball intelligently and knowing which balls were his to hit. Cockbain intelligently played second fiddle. Giving O'Mish as much strike as possible.

After both were out the Glos innings then stuttered as the boundaries dried up as the new men found it harder to get going. That is until Benny the batsman strode to the wicket. At this point the Shire were in danger of posting a total that would fall short of the 180-190 that looked necessary. Benny is not a man who worries too much about getting his eye in and he launched several towering sixes to make sure that Glos posted a competitive total.

The bowling unit were soon under the cosh as Luke Wright helped himself to some typically lusty leg side blows. Wright looked a million dollars for his 71 from 47 balls, and as wickets continued falling at the other end he very quickly became the key to victory for Sussex. Fortunately Wright has made a career of looking a million dollars in only very short patches and on 71 he again swung agriculturally and found Andrew Tye at cow-corner off Benny the bowler. After Wright departed Sussex never really looked like pulling off the chase.

So Glos now have 3 victories in a row and are joint top of the South group for the T20 Blast (technically second on net average) The most pleasing thing is that they are now fully revived from their one day cup-induced slump. The team looks well balanced. Graeme Van Buuren was brought in to add additional spin options. Matt Taylor and David Payne have become very intelligent one day bowlers. Andrew Tye looks a tidy overseas signing. Benny and Gournet-Burger have brought variety. All of the bowlers look like they know exactly what their role is in the side and these roles are very clearly matching up with their skill-sets. A lot of credit goes to the coaching staff.

There is still a lot of cricket left in this season, but Glos are well placed now to be competitive for the rest of the year.

Video highlights:

Thursday, 23 June 2016

In praise of.....Benny the bowler

French cricketers. There aren't too many of them. That technique of standing square on to the bowler, feet glued together using a tennis racket to flick your little sister's underarm deliveries has never been an ideal breeding ground for high class county cricketers. Benny Howell is the exception.

In the T20 Blast Benny currently sits second in the bowling tables for wickets taken, with only Worcestershire's Joe Leach ahead of him. Benny has 12 wickets with an economy of 7 runs an over. That is really good. Leach in comparison has 14 wickets that cost 9 runs an over. Dale Steyn has 9 wickets that cost 6.5 runs an over. Michael Hogan has the same. Admittedly these last two have played a couple of games less than Benny.

Nor is this a fluke. In 2013 he took 10 wickets. In 2014, 15. In 2015 he struck out 17 batsmen. That is a year on year increase that has reflected his increasing importance to Gloucestershire's one day side. In none of those seasons has he ever gone for more than 7.25 runs an over. He has also scored some useful runs in the lower order. 

In last season's 50 Royal London one day cup Benny took 15 wickets at a strike rate of a wicket every 34 balls and an economy rate of just below 5 runs an over.

From being very much a bits-and-pieces cricketer, Benny has become a vital cog in the Gloucestershire attack and a man who has become trusted to always perform at the crucial point. He has managed this whilst trundling in off about 10 paces and rolling down deliveries at a very innocuous pace. A shrewd cricketing brain combined with a fine repertoire of slower balls and cutters has not only saved him from being savaged, but has proved that all types of bowlers can prosper in the T20 format.

Keep up the good work Benny, and feel free to tweet this post!!

A little bit of cider revenge

Glos (160 for 6) beat Somerset (158- ) by 4 wickets

Two salient points from last Friday's nail biting final over victory over cider rivals Somerset.

One. If city franchise T20 cricket in England does end up being the future then this is exactly the sort of contest that will be hovered up by 'Franchise Bristol' (presumably). No local rivalry. No added spice and West Country bragging rights. No 11,000 record crowd on a Friday night under the lights at the Brightside Ground. Glos v Somerset is the perfect counterweight to the argument that city based franchises are needed in order to propel the T20 Blast up alongside it's more illustrious T20 competition cousins in other more exotic parts of the world.

Two. Glos required 30 from the final 3 overs. Then 14 from the final over with 4 wickets remaining. At both of these points Glos remained favourites to win. Only just favourites, the games was very definitely in the balance, but definitely favourites. Such is the modern game. It seems like a while ago that if a bowling side got to the final over of a one day game and the batting team needed anything more than a run a ball then the bowlers were seen as being in the driving seat.

The game itself got off to an entertaining start, all be it not in the fashion that you might expect. The 11,000 excited punters were treated to the sight of The Universe Boss/The Six Machine/The Gayle Force (all trademarked) blocking out a maiden over from Matt Taylor. In fairness, Gayle probably hasn't seen much of Matt Taylor, but still, you presume Taylor himself was the most confused person in the ground. Taylor has bowled well this year, however he isn't someone accustomed to being treated to much respect from division 2 batsmen, much less the worlds most fearsome batsman.

Gayle did finally get things moving, but his dismal to a fine catch by Maxi Klinger resulted in Somerset never really getting their innings moving. Benny Howell looked the pick of the bowlers with 2 for 29 from his 4 overs. Benny the bowler has become a very handy one day performer for Glos this season.

Set 159 to win Glos managed to get off to the worst possible start with O'Mish being bowled first ball. However, Maxi did what Maxi always does, and accumulated 60 vital runs to make sure that the run chase never got into serious difficulty. Only when Klinger finally perished did things start getting interesting and suddenly Glos found themselves requiring 30 from the final 3 overs with Andrew Tye and Gareth Roderick at the crease. The tension was eased by Tye's giant six from the first ball of the final over, and from that point it was left to Gareth Roderick to clip the winning runs through mid wicket.

So Glos continue their momentum after their blip that began with the calamitous defeat to Somerset in the one day cup. The Shire are now up to 4th in the table in their T20 Southern group, level on points with 2nd and 3rd placed Surrey and Sussex and only a point behind table topping Galmorgan. There are 8 games still to be played over the next month and a half, so it is difficult to really assess where Glos stand at this point. But they are positioned nicely. The boys now head down to the South coast this weekend for games against Hampshire and Sussex in the T20, before Monday sees them resuming their championship campaign prior to the return T20 match against Somerset next Friday. Ideal scheduling.

Video highlights below

Friday, 17 June 2016

Glos' T20 bandwagon stalls, then fires again

Glamorgan 172 for 4 (Ingram 64*, Donald 48*) beat Gloucestershire 168 for 8 (Noema-Barnett 37, Cockbain 37) by six wickets

The Jessop Tavern View wrote a couple of weeks back that Gloucestershire were in danger of becoming a very good side. We were basing this on some handy Championship form, plus 3 good T20 performances (2 away wins and an unlucky home D/L loss) in our first three games.

This was of course before our Royal London One Day Cup defence got underway with three losses in a row. We didn't play well in any of these matches and, in particular, we didn't bat well enough to set or chase challenging targets.

This poor batting again proved to be an issue in last Friday's match against Glamorgan at Bristol. We batted first and managed to turn a poor start (30-3 after losing Klinger, O'Mish and Dent early) into a reasonable 168 for 8, with Gourmet-Burger and Cockbain top scoring with 37 apiece.

The total appeared under par given the short boundaries at the Brightside and this proved to be the case as Colin Ingram took full advantage in striking a match-winning 64. The South African launched several blows over the short leg side boundary off Norwell and Gourmet-Burger, plus consecutive maximums off Dent (one a a switch hit) when he was forced to complete Andrew Tye's over, following two full toss no-balls which led to his removal from the Glos attack.

Aneurin Donald provided able support with an unbeaten 48 as Glamorgan cruised to victory with 7 balls remaining. Losing both of our opening two home games has certainly put pressure on the boys to deliver the against Essex the following Thursday.

Gloucestershire 154 for 2 (Klinger 78, Marshall 42) beat Essex 153 for 8 (Westley 45) by eight wickets 

Gloucestershire had never previously won a T20 game at Chelmsford, but the presence of the Sky cameras last night was a good omen as the boys seem to enjoy the spotlight and the chance to showcase their skills to a wider audience than those who are prepared to scour YouTube for the videos we try to post below.

Last night was no exception as an excellent all-round performance from the boys saw us secure a third away T20 win of the campaign. Michael Klinger again looked in magnificent nick with the bat in making 78 from 49 balls in an opening stand of 126 with O'Mish, Maxy took a particular liking to Essex's band of right arm seamers, striking 4 sixes including two glorious straight drives off Masters and youngster Matt Quinn which had Atherton and Butcher purring in the sky commentary box.

Klinger stands noticeably still at the crease and his wide range of shot allows him to score easily off the majority of bowlers in all formats. He plays very straight and his striking in the arc between cover and wide mid-on is impressively clean. Andrew Tye joined commentary for a stint and expressed amazement that he had yet to play international cricket given his form over a prolonged period of time. The great man has now scored 308 T20 runs versus Essex for once dismissed.

O'Mish provided able support despite much less strike- 42 from 35 was all that was needed given the dominance of the man at the other end. Despite both falling in the space of an over, there wasn't much left to do and Cockbain and Dent steered us to a comprehensive victory.

The Glos bowling and fielding effort was also notable for its excellent use of slower balls and cutters- something the Essex bowlers clearly failed to pick up on as they mainly bowled line and length. Chris Dent swooped from mid off to run out the dangerous Ryan ten Doeschate and Matt Taylor, Benny Howell and Gourmet-Burger all bowled tidily. Andrew Tye was more expensive, but he looked a handful, especially the lovely slower ball which cleaned up the big-hitting Ashar Zaidi at a crucial time.

This was a clinical performance and stand us in good stead for the cider derby down at Bristol later. Let's hope the late finish and later return to Bristol hasn't taken too much out of the boys as we prepare to meet a Gayle-force tonight.

Video highlights below:



Wednesday, 15 June 2016

What to do about a problem like Jack Taylor

Yesterday, Gloucestershire once again went into their one day match deciding to go with the all-round (literally, all 'round') skills of the Gourmet-Burger instead of Jack Taylor who has been banned from bowling due to his suspect action. The decision has been based on balancing the side with the Burger's ability to bowl with a straight arm deemed more in-need than Taylor's explosiveness with the bat. It is hard to fault this thinking, particularly given that Gourmet-Burger has bowled well since Glos took this approach.

In the immediate aftermath of Taylor being banned, coach Dawson appeared keen to keep his batting in the side. However, the slump in form over the last few weeks has clearly seen a rethink.

The Jessop Tavern agrees with Dawson's decision and understands the need for the balance, and to have options with the ball. Long term we just wonder how Dawson will go about trying to include Taylor. It would be interesting to know whether Glos believe that Taylor could forge a career as a middle order batsman. Perhaps this current spurt in one day games isn't the time to judge. Bizarrely, given his explosiveness, Taylor has a poor one day and T20 batting record. He only has one 50 across both formats. It is in the championship that Taylor's batting has really matured. Two hundreds last year. Two hundreds already this year, and 500 plus runs at an average of over 50. That is better than almost our entire top order.

Will Glos be able to find space for him in the championship side? You suspect it will become easier to find room for him in 4 day cricket where specialist roles are more in demand that those of bits and pieces cricketers. But where they choose to bat him could be very interesting. Could he bat 6? The Jessop Tavern sort of hopes that Glos use this bowling ban to tell Taylor to go out and prove himself as a top order batsman.

Having seen him bowl over the last few years few observers would say anything other than his action has always been 'curious'. Even when he came back from the first ban. It could be that Taylor never manages to remodel his action sufficiently to prevent this being a recurring problem. We hope not, but there could be some fun if it meant we get to see more of him batting!

New wheels found for Gloucestershire bandwagon

Royal London One Day Cup: Gloucestershire beat Hampshire by 10 runs

In what essentially was a must-win game for the defending one day cup holders, the Shire managed to rediscover their mojo with an impressive return to form to defeat Hampshire at the Brightside ground.

We don't need to look too much further than the opening stand of 242 in 37 overs to understand where Gloucestershire's victory was engineered. Chris Dent continued his wonderful boom or bust season with 142 runs off only 116 balls. Dent has been in tremendous form all year, and now has 2 hundreds in the one day cup to go along with the same number of championship runs. The Jessop Tavern would love to see Dent go on and actually 'finish off' a season, and not let such a strong opening half of the campaign fade away.

At the other end Maxy Klinger did what Maxy Klinger does. 166 from 150 balls. Allowing Dent to dominate the opening stand and then making sure he was there to carry on the momentum. He also carried his bat. Of course he did. His 166* was the highest one day score of his career and Klinger now has a list A average of 49 across his career. For a man shortly about to celebrate his 36th birthday that is a fine achievement.

In reply Gloucestershire's bowlers did just enough, taking regular wickets whenever Hampshire threatened to really give the run chase a serious crack. Norwell, Miles, Benny the bowler and the Gourmet-Burger all took 2 wickets and went at just 6 runs an over. Miles actually proved the least expensive of the Gloucestershire bowlers, a welcome return to form after his recent pummelling in white ball cricket.

So Gloucestershire's cup defence is off and running. Is it too little, too late? With only 4 games remaining Glos sit 8th in the table, although only 4 points off top placed Glamorgan. You would have to figure that the Shire will need at the very least 3 wins from 4 matches to have any chance of finishing in the top 4.

Brilliantly, we now have a month off from the Royal London Cup before it returns at the end of July. It is back to a steady diet of T20 and Championship cricket for Glos.

Video highlights are available on the Sky Sports site

Friday, 10 June 2016

O'Mish to retire for a life back on the Guinness

Ireland and Gloucestershire's favourite son, Hamish O'Marshall has announced that he will not be returning to Gloucestershire next season and instead he will be pursuing the mysterious "too good to turn down opportunity" that his press release indicated. The Jessop Tavern presumes this is a specialist perming/sheep shearing salon back in his native New Zealand

O'Mish leaves the Shire after 11 years filled with the constant thought of what could have been. Arriving as our overseas player in 2006 his 1200 runs, 5 hundreds and average of 60 promised a man who could dominate division 2 attacks and be the mainstay of the middle order. Instead O'Mish never again quite hit the heights of that first season.

His change to becoming an Irish international meant that he became the Tony Cascarino of the cricket world. Not quite as good a player as he could have been, and not actually Irish. Rather remarkably, O'Mish only passed 1,000 championship runs in a season one more time after that first season (1007 runs in 2013) For a man with Test match hundreds against the Aussies of Warne and McGrath  there will always be a feeling of what he could have been when we think about his time with Gloucestershire.

All that said, he has been a model pro and has continued with a ludicrous haircut right up to the age of 37, and for that we salute a man of rare courage.

Glos launch defence of Royal London One Day Cup with 3 defeats

Glos lost to Somerset/Glamorgan/Middlesex by ever increasing margins.

Oh Glos. What are you doing to us. For the first time in about 5 years the Jessop Tavern was full of praise mid-season. Almost gushing were we in our praise of some of the cricket we had seen in the last month. Full of optimism we were for the month ahead of one day cricket. Then Sunday happened. Live TV. Somerset. Jamie Overton and Tim Groenewald. 65 for the last wicket.

Yet it all looked so good. Despite glorious sunshine the Jessop Tavern lingered indoors, risking icy stares from the girlfriend for wasting an entire Sunday. But it was worth it. Chris Dent showed his class on national TV before the young Gloucestershire bowlers strangled the life out of Somerset's response. The classic Gloucester squeeze meant that 166 for 3 soon became 198 for 9 and needing a further 63 to win, and with numbers 10 and 11 at the crease, the Jessop Tavern started to pack up the disposable barbecue for an evening in the park. An hour later and those sausages didn't taste half as good.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Somerset's last wicket win was the fact that it was numbers 10 and 11 inflicting the pain. Usually these sort of last wicket wins are conducted by a guy well set and then a number 11 holding up an end with nervous play and misses, and streaky boundaries between his legs to third man. So for 10 and 11 to do the biffing was truly galling. Combine that with the fact that Groenewald and Overton simply stood still and hit in the arc between mid-on and mid-off as the Gloucester attack kept putting it in the slot time and time again made it even more incredible!

We won't even mention Gareth Roderick's schoolboy missed run out. letting the ball through your legs can happen to the best of us, and not a single person who has played a bit of Sunday cricket wouldn't have smiled at the sight of a professional doing something that is so familiar to them. Instead the Jessop Tavern will simply offer up its congratulations to Somerset. We could criticise the bowlers for not mixing things up more. But against 10 and 11 we always criticise bowlers who try to be too clever. Bowl straight and eventually the tailenders will make a mistake. With 63 runs to play with it was a fairly decent strategy. It just wasn't to be.

The following night Glos never really seemed to get going against Glamorgan, as if they were still struggling to shake off the effects of the night before. Understandable really. Batting first Glamorgan managed just below 300 and despite some late innings bashing from Benny the batsman it wasn't enough to get Gloucestershire anywhere near Glamorgan's total.

A couple of nights later and even the sanctuary of the Brightside Ground wasn't enough to rejuvenate Glos. A below par score score of 254 with only Roderick and O'Mish making contributions was never really enough against a strong Middlesex batting lineup. Even with the rain forcing a revised total Middlesex cruised home with plenty left in the tank. Craig Miles proved expensive for a third game in a row and Paul Stirling's hundred in only 87 balls was the difference between the sides.

Gloucestershire chose to drop Jack Taylor for this match, preferring instead to have the extra bowling option of Gourmet-Burger. Moving forward this will continue to be a question for Glos. Can they find a way to include Taylor's match turning batting despite the lack of his bowling? It will be interesting to see how Glos handle this.

After the match, coach Dawson made the salient point that last season Glos always found contributions from 7 or 8 players. The campaign this year has only had 2 or 3 players put their hands up in each match. Hard to argue with such wise words. We also haven't had a bloke opening the batting who scored a hundred everytime he walked to the wicket. It was quite handy that last year.

Video highlights below:

Somerset v Glos

Glos v Middlesex

Gloucestershire 2016: In danger of becoming a very good side?

T20 Blast: 
Glos beat Middlesex by 4 wickets
Glos beat Kent by 7 wickets

Following quickly of the back of their T20 style championship victory over Worcestershire, Glos moved seamless back into the T20 groove with two fine victories in the South East. Given the structure of the competition, and after an opening match defeat against Sussex, Glos knew they had little room for too much error in their two back-to-back games against Middlesex and Kent.

First up was Middlesex and Brendan McCullum, in the gloom of a Thursday night. McCullum came and went with only one titanic six to satisfy those who had turned up to watch the former Kiwi superstar. England one day skipper Eoin Morgan was also soon on his way as Glos held Middlesex in check by taking early wickets. It was left to Middlesex's real Irishman, Paul Stirling, and Mr 'Test average of 95' Adam Voges to guide Middlesex up to a semi-competitive score of 159 for 9 from their 20 overs. All Gloucestershire bowlers played their part, with Benny the bowler continuing his excellent one day bowling form from last year by taking 2 for 23 in 4 overs. Benny may enjoy taking to Twitter to abuse the Jessop Tavern, but we like Benny and his 60mph dibbly dobblers.

Despite losing Maxy Klinger for a second ball duck, Glos found middle order contributions from Cockbain, Dent and Benny the batsman to leave Gareth Roderick to toy with Middlesex in the final over with a couple of dots before blazing a six to win the game.

Following a night in a motorway Travelodge the boys were off to Kent the following day in more miserable cold weather and fading light.

Kent batted first and never really got into their innings at all. The quality of Andrew Tye shone through as Glos' latest Aussie T20 import took an impressive 3 for 18 from his 4 overs. Benny the bowler again wobbled those balls down for only 6 an over and Tom Smith did likewise to help restrict Kent, whose big hitters Blake, Stevens and Cowdrey failed to fire, as they managed only 11 fours and no sixes in their 20 overs.

The Glos reply was anchored by the veteran O'Mish, who used all his experience to make 56 from just 42 balls, the only fifty of the game and a great effort in gloomy conditions with the ball not coming on. The game did again go to the final over, but Chris Dent hit the second ball for six to seal a second victory in a row.

So a good start and now on to a different format again as the the Royal London Cup kicks off with back to back games on Sunday versus Somerset and then Glamorgan on Monday.

Middlesex highlights below:

O'Mish post-match interview v Kent:

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Let's. Play. Darts.....again

As devoted Gloucestershire fans we are sure that you all picked up on our inability to hear the news that Jack Taylor had been banned from bowling at the end of last week. In fairness, we weren't alone. Even the official Glos Cricket website stated that Taylor had had "two quiet games" in the two T20 wins against Middlesex and Kent.

Sadly though Taylor has indeed been banned. having had his action reported a few weeks back the independent bowling analysis discovered his action to have greater than the permitted 15 degrees of flex. This is the second time this has happened in young Taylor's career and really couldn't have come at a worse time for a player who had become a cornerstone of Gloucestershire's team in all formats.

In 2013 when this occurred the Jessop Tavern was heard scoffing into its cup of tea that if he had an illegal action how come he wasn't giving it a comedy tweak. If you are going to be done for chucking you might as well be done whilst hilariously turning your doosra square. However, that was 2013. Taylor came back and bowled steadily in limited overs games all of last season. Admittedly with an 'unusual action', but one that clearly was good enough to get through a season.

So why has this occurred now, and who is to blame? Is it a coincidence that Taylor's sudden up turn in form, particularly in the championship where he has 14 wickets, has occurred at a time when his action has once again come under scrutiny? Having come through this once we presume that Jack is at least well accustomed to remodelling his action.

In the meantime it will be interesting to see what Gloucestershire choose to do. Taylor has been in prolific, match altering form with the bat and it is to be hoped that Glos and Taylor use this time to develop him into a batsman of significant substance. Didn't that Steve Smith bloke use to be primarily considered a bowler who could bat? Here is hoping that whilst working on that action Taylor continues to use that 15 degrees of flex to continue pumping second division bowling attacks around various county grounds.

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Is this T20 cricket?

The Jessop Tavern is sufficiently enthused about the current form of the Shire that they decided it would be childish to bitch and moan about the T20 Blast in match reports of us winning and looking good. So instead we will do it here.

Our thoughts on the T20 Blast have been fairly well known for sometime. We acknowledge that until city franchises are created the competition will never really take-off, but why oh why do the ECB seem to be so determined to do everything they can to make the competition as unattractive as possible. Thursday night cricket? If this were a TV game it might make sense. But nope. You have Brendan McCullum, one of the games biggest stars making his first appearance. Nothing. What about having England one day captain. Doesn't make a difference.

It might be a little bit of weak argument to complain about the weather, but given that both Gloucestershire's recent games were played in the cold and damp, and with the umpires wearing gloves, you have to wonder why we are playing these games at the start of the summer. The Jessop Tavern is well aware that July or August hardly guarantees good weather but at least in these months you could say you are just unlucky if it is a bad summer for the weather.

And so from T20 cricket Gloucestershire now see-saw back and forth between the T20 Blast and the Royal London Cup for the rest of June. That excellent championship form goes out of the window. That is fair enough. Ring fencing periods so that teams can solely play another format is absolutely fine. But why mix and match the two competitions? In the space of two weeks Glos will play Middlesex and Glamorgan twice. Once each in the T20 and once each in the Royal London Cup. Bizarre. Why coulnd't we just have one competition at a time? Allow that competition to conclude, and then stage the next one day competition later in the summer. Bang that T20 Blast tournament out in three weeks. Allow counties to have their big stars play the whole competition.

The Jessop Tavern was contemplating a trip to London and looked up some Surrey fixtures for when they are down in the big smoke. Great. A Friday night game against Somerset. Some Friday beers and some Gayle force lessons in chatting up women. Nope. Gayle won't be playing for Somerset at that point.  he is only contracted for 6 matches before he jets off to the Caribbean where the sun will definitely be shining on the Caribbean Premier League.

The Caribbean Premier League, by the way, has 6 franchises and runs for a smidge over a month. End of June till the first week of August. That means the IPL ends at the tail end of May, leaving a month in June before the CPL begins. Or alternatively, and preferably, the whole of August for the T20 Blast to position itself.

The Jessop tavern is pretty sure that it isn't actually that easy to redraw the T20 Blast competition. However, it would be nice to feel like something is being done instead of having championship matches lead into T20 then leading into Royal London cup fixtures. Oh, and no more Thursday night matches unless they fulfil part of a structured fixture list. Please.

Friday, 3 June 2016

Glos pick themselves up with a super win over Worcestershire

Gloucestershire (364-6 dec and 320-5) beat Worcestershire (439 and 239) by 5 wickets.

The crazy scheduling of English county cricket allowed Gloucestershire to warm up for their up and coming T20 games by blasting 320 from 57 overs in a little over two sessions. In particular, Maxy Klinger and Jack Taylor finished the job with a partnership of 179 in 24 overs. By itself that would be a fairly handy T20 score. Gloucestershire's run chase perfectly illustrated the wonderful cross-over of skills and mentality from T20 to 4 day cricket. Those who view the long and short forms of the game as separate entities should sit back and enjoy such matches.

A see-saw match eventually ended up going Gloucestershire's way after an impressively gutsy declaration from first year skipper Gareth Roderick. On day 1 Glos had actually reduced Worcestershire to 35 for 5 and the fact that Worcestershire then managed to add 400 for their final 5 wickets will be a concern to the coach Dawson. Miles and Shaw both proved expensive, with Miles in particular managing to get flogged for over 7 an over, a distinctly T20 figure that is less welcome in the longer format. Despite the late order butchering by the Worcestershire tail enders the Jessop tavern was encouraged to see a far more exciting and attacking bowling line-up take to the field. The impressive lower order batting of Jack taylor and Craig Miles, backed up by David Payne and Liam Norwell finally allowed Glos to have the confidence to ditch the bits and pieces role of Gourmet-Burger and Benny Howell. Instead Taylor was promoted to bat at 7 and Miles was given the important role of contributing runs at number 8. Both decisions would be fully vindicated.

In reply to Worcestershire's first innings total Glos put themselves into a strong position thanks mainly to a magnificent 172 from Graeme 'Jacques' Van Buuren in only his second match for the Shire. Having made a match winning contribution with the ball in his first game, the new Jacques looks like a very handy signing. He was also ably assisted by runs from the skipper at the top of the order, and then an unbroken stand of 134 with new number 8 Craig Miles. Miles making an important 60 not out to justify his promotion. This sudden maturity of the bowling unit into being a very handy lower order batting combination has been one of the real stand out finds for the Shire in 2016. Full praise to the guys and the coaching team for this transformation.

Poised at 364 for 6 at lunch on day 3 the game was still in the balance. Given that this is still only the second month of the season logic would dictate that Glos attempt to bat themselves into a position where only they could win. The Jessop Tavern certainly thought so. Get the scores level by tea. Then have a bit of a blast with what batting remains in the hope of building a lead of 50 plus. From that position you then hope you can run through the opposition setting up a short run chase late on the fourth day. Given the relative solid position in the table that is certainly the way you would have expected Glos to go at lunch on day 3. It is thus to their enormous credit that Roderick and the coaches decided to declare whilst still 75 runs behind. The declaration showed an enormous statement of confidence in the bowlers to get the job done and showcased that Gloucestershire are serious about pushing for promotion in the championship.

The plan worked magnificently. Craig Miles went from Jekyll to Hyde and ran in hard to take 5 for 54. Liam Norwell backed him up with 4 for 70 and Glos were suddenly chasing a fairly daunting 315 to win on a miserable overcast afternoon. Roderick and the new Jacques got the show on the road with enterprising knocks of 30 and 42 respectively, but when George Hankins was LBW with the scoreboard reading 141 for 5 Gloucestershire gutsy declaration looked poised to backfire. Again, logic would say that requiring another 174 runs, and with only the tail for support, Glos would look to shut up shop. Worcestershire would certainly have hoped so. Maxy Klinger and Jack Taylor thought otherwise. 179 runs and only 24 over later it was all done and dusted. Klinger blasted Brett D'Oliveria for another 6 and walked off undefeated on 102 from 141 balls. At the other end Jack Taylor presumably looked a bit disappointed that the fun had to end. Taylor ending up on 107 from only 72 balls. Such was the extent of the destruction that 10 overs were still left to be bowled.

It has been a fun last month for Gloucestershire fans. A dramatic late afternoon bowling display to beat Glamorgan was then followed by the disappointment of not being able to take 7 wickets to defeat Northants on the final day of play. And now this victory. In that time Glos have ditched the conservative and welcomed in an aggressive new lineup. They discovered the new Jacques Kallis as well as seen the second coming of Lock and Laker, with our spin twins tweaking Glos to victory against Glamorgan. Oh, and Maxy Klinger has returned, walking off the plane and strutting around like it is 2015 with back to back hundreds. In 3 innings Klinger has 250 runs at an average of 125.

Incredibly, as the T20 Blast ruins everyone's fun with another round of matches, Gloucestershire now sit second in the table. Is the fun just getting started?

Day 4 highlights:

Day 3 highlights:

Day 2 highlights:

Day 1 highlights:

Glos waste golden opportunity to build momentum

Glos (418 first innings) drew with Northants (176 and 399-8)

Gloucestershire wasted a glorious opportunity to put the pedal to the floor and really accelerate their division 2 challenge with a disappointing draw against a stubborn Northamptonshire at the Brightside ground.

After basically bowling Glamorgan out in a single session on day 4 to win their previous championship match, Glos would have fancied needing only 7 Northants wickets on the final day to take a second successive 4 day match. Instead the combined efforts of Payne, Miles, Shaw, Gourmet Burger and the reincarnation of Jim Laker and Tony Lock (that will be Van Buuren and Taylor) could only manage 5 wickets as the pitch flattened out and died and Northants dug in deep to salvage an impressive draw.

After bowling Northants out for 176 and then racking up 418 in their first innings this definitely goes down as a missed opportunity for Glos. Given a day and a bit to bowl a team out you would expect to win 9 times out 10. Given the spectacular win the bowlers produced from out of thin air against Glamorgan it would be petty to criticise too much.

Instead Glos fans can sit back and enjoy not only the second coming of Lock and Laker, but the return of Maxy Klinger. Such are the expectations on Klinger after last summer that despite a 6 week break from the game the official Glos website described his innings of 140 as not "hitting the heights".

The Jessop Tavern View were happy enough. At the top of the innings Chris Dent also consolidated his reputation as a feast or famine opener with a well constructed 93. Dent has now gone passed 500 runs for the summer. An opener's life will always be such that big scores will follow low scores. Such is life against the new ball.

Despite this missed opportunity, the future looks particularly rosy at the Brightside ground. Or bright, some might say.

Day 4 highlights:

Day 3 highlights:

Day 2 highlights:

Day 1 highlights:

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Glos lose opening match of a competition that seems to begger belief in its lack of any structure

T20 Blast: Sussex 242 for 5 (Taylor 93*) beat Gloucestershire 83 for 1 (Klinger 42*) by 1 run (D/L method) 
Gloucestershire were cruelly denied in their opening T20 Blast match against Sussex as rain brought to a halt a potentially thrilling run chase with Glos 1 run behind the Duckworth-Lewis target.

In fairness, after Sussex racked up 242 in their 20 overs, with Kiwi Ross Taylor butchering 93 from 48 deliveries, they were firm favourites to take the spoils. Chris Liddle marked his Glos debut with 2 uninspired overs that went for 35. David Payne also struggled going for 15 runs an over. Tom Smith and Jack Taylor kept some measure of control, but the tiny boundary on one side made boundary hitting only a mistimed, toe of the bat prod away.

The good news for Glos was that Michael Klinger looks to still be batting like it's 2015. His 42 runs came off only 24 balls and you suspect that with him still at the crease Sussex would have been delighted by the rain.

And so Glos get off to a losing start, albeit in entertaining and dynamic fashion.It is now back to 4 day cricket for the next few weeks. The less said about this the better.

Actually, no. What is the point of having a cricket blog if you can't moan about absurdities. The T20 Blast should be English cricket's premier way of attracting new fans to the domestic game, and in turn creating a strong grassroots infrastructure to feed into the national team. England have just enjoyed a fantastic last 12 months of one day cricket, culminating in a hugely exciting and newsworthy loss in the final of the World T20 just a few weeks ago.

So therefore why do we have the T20 Blast being launched during an England test match? In May. With only 1 England player from the World T20 final on display over the opening weekend. With the IPL still blazing away in India. And with many teams playing their opening match of the competition and then going immediately back to 4 day cricket for 2 weeks. How is any of this conducive to putting together an exciting competition that captures a little bit of the excitement of other far more successful competitions around the world?

The T20 Blast will likely never become as big an event as say the Big Blast until the bullet is finally bitten and city franchises are created. But couldn't we at least try? Why couldn't we ring fence a period in the summer for the competition? Why couldn't we do this in July and August when the weather is better and kids are on holiday, along with the IPL having finished.

Would it be too hard to make sure that the England boys are also partially available, particularly at the start of the competition in order to attract attention? The test team contains only 4 of the lads who played in the World T20 final. It always feels like such a wasted opportunity. Every year. Oh well.

Video highlights

New spin twins bring unlikely first victory to the Brightside Ground

Gloucestershire (21pts) 262 and 336 (Bancroft 70, Roderick 67, Marshall 58, Hogan 4-68) beat Glamorgan (6pts) 330 (Lloyd 99, Bragg 70, Wagg 55 ret hurt) and 143 (Taylor 4-16, van Buuren 3-15) by 125 runs

A rather incredible afternoon at the Brightside ground saw Gloucestershire's spinners (yes, you read that right, Gloucestershire spinners!) run through Glamorgan on a 4th day pitch to bring victory from what looked like impending defeat. So sure was the Jessop Tavern that defeat was on the way that they had begun their rain dance. Needing less than 200 in 60 odd overs, and with all wickets in hand, Glamorgan proceed to unravel when faced by Gloucestershire's latest spin twins, Jack Taylor and Graeme van Buuren.

So, 5 matches into the new season, and with their first win of the season under their belt, Gloucestershire sit 4th in Division 2, even on points with 3rd placed Leicestershire, and only 3 points behind 2nd place Kent.

The victory against Glamorgan was a true team effort. From the very first morning when Gloucestershire were reduced to 5 for 85 and then 8 for 169 the Shire were always second favourites. The fact that they even managed to stay in the game on the first day was testament to 19 year old George Hankins' first first class 50 and then a stand of 90 for the 9th wicket between Craig Miles and David Payne. Not for the first time this season did Gloucestershire's lower order come to their rescue and keep them in a game.

Some welcome wickets for Craig Miles, including the delivery that forced the unfortunate Graham Wagg to retire hurt, then allowed Glos to stay in the game by bowling Glamorgan out for a lead of just 70 odd. A borderline lead that gave Glos hope but put Glamorgan in the driving seat.

On the day that Michael Klinger arrived for the summer, stand-in Aussie Cameron Bancroft final found his feet with a well constructed 70. He was ably joined by the in form O'Mish and the gritty Gareth Roderick, who despite making 67 seemingly still seems to be searching for his best form. However, with Michael Hogan running in from one end Glamorgan were frequently taking wickets and by reducing Glos to 271 for 8 they really were in the driving seat.

Cue Craig Miles. Again. Miles made 39 not out whilst enabling Glos to add 65 for the final 2 wickets, crucial runs that pushed Glamorgan's run chase above 250. Miles, Payne and Centurion Norwell have all performed heroics with the bat for Gloucestershire this season and with the explosive Jack Taylor at number 8, Glos have the making of a very stout rearguard and full credit should go to the young bowling unit for developing their games to such a level.

In their run chase Glamorgan looked comfortable at 87 without loss, and although requiring 3 an over on a slightly sluggish pitch, a draw would really have been the best Glos could have hoped for midway through the afternoon.

Enter Graeme van Buuren, part-time left arm spinner, albeit with a first class bowling average of 25 (but with only 68 wickets in 53 games). In fact, van Buuren is a statistical curiosity. He averages 50 with the bat in his 53 games which makes him look like the second coming of Jacques Kallis. Presumably this says more about the standard of first class cricket in South Africa, although here's hoping he backs these stats up as Glos will have picked up a very handy player)

We digress. van Buuren, who had fired in leg stump darts in the first innings, removed Glamorgan's top 3 for just 11 runs being added. In his 10 overs he ended up with 3 for 15, before taking his cap and handing over to Jack Taylor to finish the job. Taylor duly obliged by running through Glamorgan's bottom order to win the match for the Shire. Glamorgan went from 87 without loss in the 22nd over, to 143 all out in the 48th. A collapse not uncommon at the Brightside Ground, but with Gloucestershire batsmen usually the ones walking back to the pavilion.

And so this most unlikely of wins suddenly sets Gloucestershire up quite nicely. The squad seems to be taking shape. Klinger is back. van Buuren could be an excellent signing. O'Mish has 2 hundreds and almost 500 runs to sit 4th in the division 2 run charts. Chris Dent isn't too far behind with 444 runs. Craig Miles has returned. The lower order can all score runs.

Most excitingly, Jack Taylor has developed into a very dynamic, match-changing, 4 day player to complement his already proven prowess in the shorter forms of the game. Taylor has 387 runs at an average of 48, and 12 wickets at an average of 28. All in the county championship. A far cry from the last few years when he has struggled with his action and not looked close to the 4 day team. The coaching team are clearly doing something right!

Now it is on to the T20 Blast. But only for Friday. Then back to 4 day cricket next week. Oh English cricket. Will the nonsense ever end.

Day 1 highlights

Day 2 highlights

Day 3 highlights

Day 4 highlights

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Taylor resilience epitomises Gloucestershire spirit

Photo from the Gloucestershire official site
Gloucestershire (10 pts) 337 (Marshall 112, Taylor 52) and 211 for 8 (Taylor 46*) drew with Kent (12pts) 478 for 8 dec (Northeast 189, Latham 90, Stevens 54)

Gloucestershire clearly aren't the most talented team in Division Two. We don't have a great bowling attack and our batting remains flaky at times. However, we're invariably a tight unit in the field, have great spirit in the squad and we routinely battle hard from less than promising situations.

The Kent game began in such a fashion, with a nightmare early start seeing us slip to 14-4 after 17 overs of parsimonious Kent seam bowling. In the past we could easily have subsided to 150 all out from here, but a gritty ton from O'Mish (his second in consecutive matches) rescued the innings and enabled us to recover to 296-9 at the close. The last wicket pair of Payne and Shaw extended this to 337 on the second day, a thoroughly respectable effort in the circumstances.

We also have some really talented younger players who are starting to deliver. Chris Dent has a quiet match after his previous good run of form, but Jack Taylor continued his good form with the bat with two important knocks in this match. After Kent racked up an imposing 478-5 in response to Glos' total, the boys were in a world of trouble on Day 4 as we slumped to 158-8 after Miles was bowled by the wily Darren Stevens. Taylor's response was not to shut up shopm in the hope of seeing us to the close, but to play his shots in trademark fashion. His unbeaten 46 saw us safely past Kent's total to the close. The innings even impressed the watching BBC commentary team who described it thus:

'Gloucestershire really do have a terrific young talent in Jack Taylor. Predominantly an off-spinner, the 24-year-old knows how to hold a bat as well as he launches Darren Stevens for six before hitting Mitch Claydon for three fours in an over.'
Well-deserved praise for Jack, who despite going for nearly 6 an over from his 16 overs with the ball, also  managed a handy fifty in the first innings in partnership with Marshall. While we clearly still lack the ability to bowl decent sides out we are gritty and hard to beat. The bowling attack will surely improve as Miles reaches match fitness and you can imagine a full strength seam attack with Norwell and Payne joining Miles as being capable of causing problems on more favourable surfaces.

Cameron Bancroft's poor form remains a concern however. He's averaging just 16.71 from 7 completed knocks with a high score of 41. The limited amount of footage we've seen on YouTube seems to show a mix of bad luck and poor shot selection. He's obviously new to county cricket and English early season pitches, but plenty of other people are scoring runs around the country and you really need your overseas player to make a difference in Division 2. So far he's not looked up to the job as an opener and the sooner that Klinger arrives the better.

Glamorgan up next at Bristol in the battle of two teams still looking for their first win.

Day 1 highlights

Day 2 highlights

Day 3 highlights

Day 4 highlights