Monday, 21 July 2014

Will Gidman: The best all rounder since Hadlee. Fact.

How good is Will Gidman? This is probably a question a fair few division 1 teams will be asking themselves at the end of the season as they contemplate team building for 2015.

Having only played in division 2 it is hard to know exactly how highly to rate Gidman II. Could he make the step up in class to division 1? Could he make it at a level even higher than that? The Jessop tavern secretly hopes that we won't know the answer to either of these, though you suspect next season will be Gidman's best chance if he does harbour international dreams. You would suspect a winter tour will be his at the end of this year, and from there who knows? His brother was once in a similar position, and was even selected as England lions captain only for injury to deny him the chance to stake his claim. It never came again.

An interesting article appeared in the Gloucestershire Echo last week. If statistics tell the truth then it looks like England have been missing out on the best all rounder since Richard Hadlee. It has to be said that Mike Procter never got to have a go in division 2.

Still, it's a fun article.

Welcome back Craig Miles

Day 1: Worcestershire 299 - 7 v Gloucestershire.

Ah, Cheltenham. The Jessop Tavern View went away for a while, gorging itself on summer football. When we came back we rocked up at Cheltenham last week and stared with disbelief as Benny Howell was handed the new ball. Injuries have ravaged the Gloucestershire bowling unit this season but surely Benny Howell should never be opening the bowling. Where is Ben Gannon when you need him?! Benny, typically, bowled all right, only for the batsmen to let everyone down by collapsing in the second innings and handing victory to Derbyshire.

Disappointing defeat to Surrey was followed by Chris Dent finally finding the middle of the bat against Essex that proved that t20 at Cheltenham is far more fun when it isn't played on sticky, sub-standard pitch.
The Jessop Tavern View turned up early on Sunday afternoon and sat nursing its pint of Tribute in front of the nets. Some gangly, young blond kid was doing some bowling in a Gloucester shirt. He looked remarkably like Craig Miles. The Jessop Tavern took its pint and went and found some shade, deciding that it had clearly had too much sun for one day.

Yet lo and behold, here we are today and we can finally comment on whether Miles had the ability to follow up his wicket-laden first season with more of the same. The answer appears to be yes. Typically a young bowler's second season is usually pretty trying. Teams have had the chance to look at the film and batsmen suddenly have plans of where to score against them. Miles cleverly decided to avoid this typical second season syndrome by being crocked for most of the season. Coming back today it is fair to say Worcestershire coach Steve Rhodes was probably regretting his decision to record over those tapes of Miles' bowling with Emmerdale omnibus'.

Miles tore through the Worcestershire top order to take 4 for 53 from 17 overs. Most importantly, he was able to walk off the field at the end of play. Tom Smith also decided to chip in with 3 wickets to leave this match very evenly poised after day 1.

Miles' return from injury has almost certainly come a month too late to salvage Gloucestershire's championship season. Still, it will provide King John and the board with more ammunition to talk ruefully about what could have been this season before then failing to invest in the squad over the winter.
In a slightly more bizarre aside, Sunday's net session saw the Jessop Tavern witness 20 minutes of watching former Gloucestershire legend Ravi Bopara bat left handed. In fairness Ravi could still find the middle of the bat, and maybe he will prove us wrong by resurrecting his test career as the next David Gower. Still, it was a somewhat bizarre spectacle. With that sort of commitment to practice is it any wonder that Bopara remains a wasted talent.

Highlights from Day 1 are available via the official site here

Monday, 7 July 2014

Mid-season lethargy

The Jessop Tavern View has been busy. Busy grafting at the day job, working for the man and putting our noses to the grindstone for the past 3 weeks. Hence the lack of posts. We make no apologies for devoting ourselves to paying the bills and putting food on the table for ourselves....

Hang on a minute, we have just noticed that the previous post date is Wednesday, June 11th. The day before the World cup began. Could this possibly explain the radio silence over the last few weeks? We're going to hold our hands up and admit it- yes we've been distracted by FIFA's quadrennial football-fest. Couple this with simultaneously becoming disillusioned by Gloucestershire's lacklustre form in both forms of the game at the moment and there's our excuse covered.

So, what's been happening in our absence? Let's start with the good stuff.

Gloucestershire 112 (Dunn 4-37) and 506 for 6 (Cockbain 151*, Klinger 120) drew with Surrey 626 for 6 dec. (Burns 199, Solanki 143, Roy 121*)

Despite our prediction of defeat after Day 3 of this game, a great rearguard action saw us hang on for a miraculous draw. Ian Cockbain's career-best 151*, compiled over almost 9 painstaking hours and Tom Smith's unlikely 80 meant we lost only 1 wicket on the final day.

Essex 163 for 2 (Bopara 66*, Westley 55*) beat Gloucestershire 162 for 6 (Marshall 74, Masters 2-17) by eight wickets 
Hampshire 180 for 6 (Adams 69*) beat Gloucestershire 178 for 8 (Howell 50, Smith 3-26) by two runs

We then lost back to back t20 matches in different fashion. First, we were stuffed by a Ravi Bopara-inspired Essex. Then we were very unlucky not to chase down 181 for victory against Hampshire. We suffered a trademark batting collapse after Maxi and Gidders (A.) got us off to a flyer, but some late fireworks from Benny the Frenchman took us close, but no cigar.

Gloucestershire 391 (Marshall 109, Tavare 77, Cockbain 51, Hogan 4-57) and 165 for 5 (Gidman 47*) drew with Glamorgan 615 for 7 (Wright 123, Rudolph 139, Smith 57*, Allenby 57, Cooke 52)

Back to the Championship and another draw snatched from the jaws of defeat, this time courtesy of a gritty Will Tavare knock of 41, which ate up over 3 hours in a style his uncle Chris would doubtless have approved of. Skipper Klinger missed the match with a broken toe and stand-in skipper O'Mish struck his second ton of the year in our first innings. The game also featured yet another injury to a keeper, with Cam Herring's finger this time causing the issue, necessitating a debut for 17 year old Patrick Grieshaber from the Glos Academy.

Back to the t20, for another two matches against Middlesex (no result, rain) and Kent (thrilling final ball win). The most notable feature of these two games was the encouraging debut of loan keeper Adam Rouse, whose unbeaten 35 from 16 balls, including 3 fours in the last over, guided us to a tight victory against Kent.

Essex 541 (Bopara 147, Ryder 133, Westley 71, Browne 65, Taylor 4-125) and 10 for 0 beat Gloucestershire 224 (Topley 5-53, Masters 4-67) and 325 (Gidman 53, Rouse 49, Ryder 3-43) by 10 wickets

The less said about this next game, the better. Quick summary, bat first, under perform. Concede a stack of runs, again to Bopara and also Jesse Ryder. Again fight hard in second dig, but inevitably get bowled out and they knock off the 10 needed for a crushing win.

Gloucestershire 138 for 7 (Cockbain 52) beat Sussex 125 (Taylor 3-12) by 13 runs

Finally, another t20 win versus Sussex, this time televised and thus one of the first times we've watched Glos live this season. Another good knock by Ian Cockbain (arguably one of our players of the season so far) saw us post 138 after the match was reduced to 15 overs per side. We bowled and fielded well in poor light to bowl out Sussex for 125 and keep our hopes of a QF place alive. Sadly, the 2 point penalty we incurred for last season's dodgy pitch seems like it could possibly cost us that place unless our remaining 4 matches in the group stage go to plan.

Right, that's it for now. It's time to focus on football for another week today's LVCC match v Hampshire at the Rose Bowl for the next few days, before a crucial t20 derby v Somerset on Fridfay, then the Cheltenham festival starts next week. Feeling fatigued yet?

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Back in the habit of mediocrity

Day 2; Glos 112 v Surrey 626 - 6.

The Jessop Tavern View has always been more comfortable with abject failure. Both from a personal perspective when on a cricket field and while supporting Gloucestershire for over two decades; it's fair to say we have had a fair few of these sort of days. Thus it is with some relish that we can empty out our half full glass and enjoy the comfortable feeling of, well, being Gloucestershire we guess.

When Isaac Newton wrote about momentum he didn't really have county cricket in mind. Still, had Newton ever had to watch Gloucestershire he might have ripped up his laws of physics and decided what's the point. Mass x Velocity means nothing to the Shire. Despite a phenomenal performance against Leicestershire being backed up with some very good cricket in the t20 Glos have produced an absolutely humdinger of a stinker in this match to bring us all crashing back down to earth.

It is now fairly safe to say that the Bristol pitch really wasn't a 112 all out in the first innings sort of pitch. With a team missing Will Tavare's enormous experience (7 proper first class matches) and Chris Dent's runs (224 at an average of 20) Gloucestershire's batsmen ripped up the form book and collapsed in our themselves in impressive fashion. It would have been one thing to have been blown away by a rejuvenated Chris Tremlett giving the middle of the pitch a thorough test. Or by Jade Dernbach bamboozling us with an assortment of back of the hand deliveries- with batsmen surprised that Dernbach actually even knows he is supposed to be bowling at the three sticks at the other end. But no. Gloucestershire managed to allow Jason Roy to blitz them. Admittedly, the Shire were already in the mire by the point Roy was thrown the ball, but still. Jason Roy had 6 first class wickets before yesterday. Gloucestershire allowed him to end up with figures of 3 for 9. Shameful.

At the start of the season, even with Saxelby, Miles, Fuller and Payne, Gloucestershire's bowling looked a little bit pop gun. Now shorn of all 4 of those players due to injury, the boys struggled to even muster the venom of a pop gun in response to being bowled out for 112.

By all accounts the boys actually bowled alright on a placid pitch, and certainly no one's figures are too disgraceful. In further defence of the bowlers they have also held up reasonably well this season. The Jessop Tavern certainly feared that days like today might be more frequent than they have been. So let's just put this match to one side and move on. Arguably the best thing the boys could do would be to roll over tomorrow and have a day off on Thursday.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

No Styris, no problem!

Gloucestershire 189 for 6 (Cockbain 84, Arafat 3-38) beat Sussex 185 (Hamilton-Brown 49, McCarter 5-35) by four runs

The last time Glos ran into Sussex in a t20 match, we were infected by a virus. Courtesy of Scott 'the rus' Styris, the symptoms were particularly severe on fellow Kiwi, James Fuller, who served up a tasty 38 run over as Styris bludgeoned his way to the 3rd fastest domestic t20 ton.

Luckily Styris now plays t20 for Leicestershire and despite a late scare, Glos were able to claim our second group stage win after posting a competitive 189-6 after batting first. The Glos win was bookended by performances from two players we have virtually forgotten existed, Ian Cockburn and Dan Housego. Cockbain, a player we have always rated, struck an excellent 84 from 51 and put on 101 with skipper Klinger. Housego took 3 catches at long off in Graeme McCarter's final over, which began with Sussex needing 10 to win with 3 wickets in hand.

Cockbain has often demonstrated his limited overs abilities and we wonder why he doesn't get more opportunities in the 4 day side. We haven't seen the Scouser get much cricket since last season's musings about alleged improper conduct with King John's wife. It seems he has become pigeon-holed as primarily a limited overs specialist, despite decent form when given an opportunity in the 4 day side over the past few years. Still, with knocks like these, who needs the 4 day grind.

Housego has been an even rarer sighting of late, having seemingly been superseded in the batting pecking order by Will Tavare and others. He batted below both Benny and Geraint Jones in this match, which doesn't exactly imply confidence in his ball-striking abilities. We will take the 3 catches though, which saw the boys over the line despite Will Beer's late knock of 37 from 14.

The victory finally moves the 'shire into positive territory in the South Group, although you would have to think that qualification looks unlikely after 4 games completed. Next up, surprise package Glamorgan at Bristol this Sunday.

It's been interesting to note that Middlesex appear even more terrible at t20 than we have been in recent years. They slumped to a 6th straight defeat v Kent last night, despite worst-ever Glos overseas signing, Dan Christian's remarkable 129 from just 57 balls. If only the Aussie could've motivated himself to do a bit more of that for us last season, where he averaged just 14 with a top score of 25 in 10 matches.

Anyway, onwards and upwards!

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Geraint Jones offers inspiration but Glos fail to back him up

Day 2: Leicestershire 269 and 12 -0 v Gloucestershire 260.

Gloucestershire will now face a 2 day, one innings shoot-out against Leicestershire to keep their season on track. Leicestershire will have emerged from day 2 as by far the happier of the two sides as Gloucestershire wasted a cavalier knock of 93 from just 75 balls from former England clown keeper, Geraint Jones. The Jessop Tavern used to like Jones a lot as an international cricketer. Despite slightly limiting ability he always struck us as someone who was trying to influence the game either with dashing counter attacking batting or comedic dropped catches. He was never a man to let the game drift.

Yesterday he brought some of this to the Shire. Already a batsman short thanks to Will Tavare’s knee injury on day 1, Jones found himself with Will Gidman in a bit of a hole at 88 for 4. He then proceeded to dismantle the pop-gun Leicestershire attack, shorn of Charlie Shreck waylaid with a bad back, with 16 boundaries including 3 maximums. It should have been a real match turning innings, particularly considering that Leicestershire also lost seamer Alex Wyatt to injury in the afternoon. Instead Glos proceeded to waste the opportunity and rolled over to concede a first innings lead of 9 runs. In fairness Leicestershire responded to adversity with far more bottle than they have managed over the past few seasons. Rob Taylor and Nathan Buck took 9 wickets between them to run through Glos’ lower order.

This match is now intriguingly poised with one high class innings or inspired spell of bowling likely to settle matters. Either that or the rain will come along and ruin everyone’s fun.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

One man band enough for Leicestershire

Day 1: Leicestershire 269 v Glos 12 - 0. 

Gloucestershire decided that, having given Leicestershire a pumping both home and away last season, they would be fine going into their match at Grace road with only one recognised bowler. With Saxelby, Miles and David Payne all injured, the bowling attack consisted of Liam Norwell and Matt Taylor giving away all the runs that Will Gidman had dried up at the other end.

Gidman again excelled, finishing with figures of 5 for 46 including bowling Greg Smith with the very first ball of the match. He now has 30 wickets for the season, and it is still only the start of June. At this stage Gidman must now be being seriously considered for Jon Lewis’ old job of carrying the drinks at test match venues around the land.

Liam Norwell apparently bowled with decent pace to take 3 for 76. Norwell is another young seamer who has struggled with injuries since emerging a few years ago. It would be nice to see him string a few games together as he has always seemed like a genuine wicket taker.

It will now be up to Dent and Klinger to finally score some runs this season. Having both excelled last term it has been a major disappointment to see neither of these two able to lay any sort of platform for the middle order to build upon. Dent has 210 runs at 21. Klinger has 176 runs at 17.

With a slightly dubious weather forecast around for the next few days Glos will have to bat positively if they want to push for victory. With the weather eliminating any chance of a result against Derbyshire last week it is vital that Glos take full advantage of playing one of the lesser sides in the division if they are serious about staying in the promotion mix. With both Worcestershire and Hampshire making a break for freedom at the top to lose out on the opportunity to claim victories against the two bottom placed teams would mean the Shire would be doing things the hard way.

Highlights from Day 1: