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 sisters 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 Worcestershires 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 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 Gloucestershires 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 seasons 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 counter weight 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 Garteh 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 nex 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. Ideally scheduling.

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