Thursday, 11 May 2017

A new hero of the Jessop Tavern steps into the light

Glos, 275 for 8 (Klinger, 134) beat Kent, 264 for 9 (Liddle, 5 for 36) by 11 runs.
Glos gave themselves a fighting chance of at least making it interesting for the fans over the final round of matches in the RLODC with a tense 11 run victory at home to Kent. It was a fairly improbable victory, and one that coach Richard Dawson admitted himself that he didn't know how it had happened.

The victory was all about one man. No, not that man. Michael Klinger scoring one day hundreds for Gloucestershire are exactly the same as Chris Dent scoring pretty little 30s. Not particularly worthy of comment. This victory was about a new hero. A dashing, exciting new prospect, tearing in with his left arm medium plodders. This victory was about a 33 year old man showing its never too late in the day to put in match winning performances when everyone has given up on you. This was a victory about Chris Liddle.

The mighty Liddle. Brought in from Sussex last year as a one day specialist. A man who disappeared. A player we didn't even realise was still on the books until he appeared on the team sheet at the start of the year. An unlikely hero if ever there was one. In fairness, Liddle has been our most consistent one day bowler in the competition. He has 12 wickets in 4 matches at an average of 13 and an economy rate of below 5. That places him second in the wicket taker's table. One behind Durham's James Weighell (yep, we've never heard of him either)

After Klinger's fine innings of 134 was squandered by Glos' inability to push on in the final overs, the game looked done as the impressive Daniel Bell-Drummond looked as if he was coasting to his third hundred of the competition. Kent were sitting pretty on 200 for 2 from 39 overs when Liddle began his second spell. Cometh the hour, cometh the 33 year old journeyman. Liddle removed both Bell-Drummond and Sam Northeast to give the Shire hope, and then proceeded to remove Stevens and Blake to turn a hopeless situation into one that even Glos couldn't find a way to lose.

Liddle's story at Glos is slightly clouded in mystery. We aren't entirely sure what the problems were last year, but maybe he is now finding his feet again. The Jessop Tavern queried at the start of the season whether Gloucestershire should have tried to draft in an experienced campaigner to provide a bit more depth to the bowling, and a bit of experience. We weren't really thinking that Chris Liddle was this man. In fairness he may be 33, but has only played 29 first class and 67 list A games. Maybe Richard Dawson is a canny assessor of talent. Or maybe there was no one else.

Glos now find themselves in mid table in their South Group, 3 points behind third place Sussex, but with a game in hand. Admittedly Hampshire are between Glos and qualification, having played the same number of games, but the Shire have a fighting chance as they prepare for a must-win game against table topping Somerset on Friday. The Royal London Cup has finally captured our imagination prior to a trip to Lords being on the table!

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