A new season and a familiar refrain to regular readers of the blog. Why do Gloucestershire's batsmen consistently fail to produce the goods after making a start, thus putting our (in this match hugely inexperienced) bowling attack under pressure?
Let's cut to the chase. Gloucestershire don't have a very good championship bowling attack these days. After the departure of James Fuller, you would think the best 4 bowlers are Miles, Payne Norwell and Jack Taylor. Miles and Payne were both unfit to play in this match, which left us with debutants Josh Shaw and Tom Hampton (4 f/c wickets between them coming in) alongside Norwell. Former Sussex seamer Chris Liddle didn't make the XI, but you would think he would be in contention most weeks, unless Dawson is thinking of him as most a white ball option.
Benny and Gourmet Burger can fill in with overs of seam, but you wouldn't ideally want to have to play them both, simply to add up to one functioning all rounder. Especially given that Essex have a strong and deep batting lineup with the likes of Graham Napier coming in at 9.
All this is to emphasise the critical importance of the batsmen scoring first innings runs. You could argue that 262 was about par for the first game of the season away to a stronger side. However, if you look at the card lots of people got starts without going on. Roderick anchored the innings with an unbeaten 88. He is exempt from our criticism for sure. Chris Dent lived up to our expectations by looking great in scoring 27, before dragging on chasing a wide half volley. Ian Cockbain also looked in good nick, hitting 5 boundaries in his 24, before being well held by Cook at first slip off Porter.
O'Mish remains a favourite culprit. Despite his advancing years, the Irishman is clearly capable of scoring quantities of runs in D2. He managed a handy 51 in this game, before departing to a trademark loose shot which was snapped up by a diving Jesse Ryder at backward point. Howell departed second ball and Gourmet -Burger rarely looks of championship quality as a batsman- although admittedly it took another great team catch at slip to dismiss him for 5.
This left Jack Taylor and the skipper to try and rebuild. Jack knuckled down and managed a handy 39 before being bowled by Napier, who then dismissed Shaw and Norwell in consecutive balls. Ultimately this left the skipper stranded 12 short of a deserved ton.
We were treated to more of the same in the second innings, having bowled really well to restrict Essex to 385 from 224-2 at one stage. Cameron Bancroft and Cockbain departed caught behind in Porter's first over, bringing Roderick in at 0-2. An inability to construct meaningful partnerships seems a feature of Glos' batting, with only 45 between Roderick and Howell and 65 between the skipper and Taylor worthy of mention. Taylor hit out with freedom after Roderick's dismissal, ending on 74 with 5 sixes as he chased runs alongside 9-10-Jack who contributed 1 between them.
This left Essex the simple task of chasing 93 to win, which they did without fuss or loss of a wicket on the fourth morning. There is no shame in losing away to as strong a side as Essex, especially given that the England skipper scored a hundred for them. We bowled and fielded well (as is usually the case), although Essex definitely out-caught us if you watch the videos below.
We don't want to get too downhearted after one game where the side was missing key performers- at least with the ball. The worry is we simply don't have enough batting depth. You can add in Will Tavare and later, Klinger but what else do we have in reserve? Bancroft will doubtless improve (he was apparently sawn off in the second innings) and you would hope Dent and Cockbain can produce big runs reasonably consistently. But if not, it looks like a long, hard championship season is in prospect.
It's not all bad, mind. Glos welcome Derbyshire to Bristol for our first home game on Sunday. They're not all that good and there's no Martin Guptill to butcher us this year. Sid Payne is back in an otherwise unchanged squad. Fingers crossed for some improvement in front of the home faithful at Nevill Road.
Day 1 highlights
Day 2 highlights
Day 3 highlights
Day 4 highlights