Monday, 17 April 2017

Gloucestershire's 2017 campaign is up and running with convincing win over hopeless Leicestershire

Gloucestershire 466 for 8 dec ( Tavare 101, Van Buuren 79) beat Leicestershire 259 (Norwell 5 for 66) and 201 (Norwell 5 for 33)
After a fairly disastorous start to the 2017 championship for both teams the Easter matchup between Glos and perennial bottom dwellers Leicesterrshire was an early season test as to what supports can expect this summer. Whilst Glos fans will now be, if not filled, then certainly contemplating enthusiam. Leicestershire fans on the other hand, well to be fair, they've seen this horror show a few times over recent years.
An inspired Liam Norwell took home a match haul of 10 for 99 and a gritty effort from Will Tavare were the backbones of an allround excellent performance from Glos.
This is something that the Jessop Tavern has come to appreciate about this generation of Gloucerstershire cricketers, and is certainly a hallmark of the Richard Dawson era. Whilst the quality might not necessarily always be there, the heart and soul of the cricketerers he coaches cannot be doubted. Rubbish one week has nearly always been followed up by a much improved performance the following week. As a fan it is all we can really ask for. Grumble one week. Filled with the joys the next week.
An abject batting collapse (all out for 61 is about as bad as it gets) against Kent was cast aside as Gloucestershire racked up 466 runs in their only innings. Will Tavare batted until the middle of August in making 101 runs from 277 balls. Modern cricket it wasn't, but exactly what Glos needed it most certainly was. Around him were more enterprising cameos from Graeme Van Buuren (79), The Colonel (72) and Jack Taylor (60). Even David Payne had some fun in hitting 54 from 51 balls. Its hard to think of a negative. It would be nice for Cameron Bancroft to make a score to get him off and running, and we presume that young George Hankins is keeping Gareth Rodericks place warm whilst he recovers from illness. Other than that, it was a magnificent response to the performance at Kent.
The bol
wers then continued where they left off in the first game (lets forget, the bolwers restricted Kent in both innings). Payne and Norwell look sharp with the new ball, taking early wickets and always seeming to pose a threat. Craig Miles hasn't quite hit his straps yet, but we know this will come, and it was nice to see Jack Taylor be thrown the ball ahead of Van Buuren and perform economically. Last week the Jessop Tavern voiced concerns about Taylor's position within this bowling attack. He answered that in just the right way. Obviously Glos were chasing wickets when the spinner was called for. Whether Glos see Taylor as the attacking threat and Van Buuren as the leg stump dart thrower we will see.
But this game was all about Norwell. This was his second career 10 wicket haul, and included his 200th first class wicket. That has come in 58 matches and at an average of just over 28. For a player who has had a slightly injury plagued start to his career these are excellent stats. The less said about the ginger hipster beard the better.
So there we go. Gloucestershire's campaign is up and running. In a very competitive division 2 this year it was a vital win if Glos wish to maintain an interest in the championship this summer. It's a tough ask to expect this squad to be fighting for promotion, but being loosely in the mix would be nice.
It would be interesting to know how far this squad could go if given a bit of investment. Norwell, Payne and Miles have developed into a very useful seam attack. Taylor is a game changer, and Glos are hardly alone in not posessing a high quality spin option. Dent is established as one of the divisions better players. Van Buuren is a very handy pickup. Roderick, Tavare and Bancroft should all be capable of 1,000 runs. The Colonel is a bit of added experience. But wouldn't it be nice to see some additional quality added, to strength and deepen the squad. The selection of Chris Liddle probably highlights this more than anyone else. here is a journeyman cricketer, who for large parts of his career has been a one day specialists. His figures so far this season are 2-46, 1-44, 0-41 and 0-65. Perhaps he is being selected to provide an old pro's experience surrounding the relative youth of the 3 main seam options. But wouldn't it be nice if Glos had invested a little bit more in this position. We are not talking a world beater, just a solid pro. In our first match Kent rolled out James Harris (on loan from Middlesex) and Will Gidman (a new signing for 2017). Those sort of guys. The Jessop Tavern suspects it will return to this theme a few times in 2017.
Next up for Glos are a visit from bankrupt Durham on Friday. A good test for the batting revival against Mark Wood, Graham Onions and Chris Rushworth. However, Norwell, Payne et al (not Chris Liddle) may well be licking their lips at that Durham batting lineup. In the boardroom Glos and Durham exec's will kick back and contemplate the usefullness of chasing international cricket......

Monday, 10 April 2017

Glos begin 2017 campaign with a spectacular collapse against Kent

Kent 298 (Denly 62, Stevens 50) and 246 (Denly 59, Gidman 51, Tredwell 47*, Norwell 5-59) beat Gloucestershire 149 (Dent 67, Claydon 4-35) and 61 (Stevens 6-22) by 334 runs
Scorecard
It's an inauspicious start. At 2pm on a warm Sunday afternoon one half of the Jessop Tavern View texted the other, "396 runs in a day and a half. Plenty of time". The other half of the text read, "Or it'll be all over tonight". Neither was correct. It was actually all over that afternoon. Night wasn't even close to setting in.

Having spent two and a bit days with the bowlers holding their own against a fairly strong Kent batting lineup the batsmen proceeded to give it away. Spectacularly. Having chuckled to ourselves the previous night that at least the Shire wouldn't be as bad as Glamorgan look this year, the lads proceeded to make a mockery of this thought. It could be a long season.

To place this result in context. Glos began 2016 with an equal pumping from Essex. The main difference that that defeat didin't contain the comic collapse to being bowled out for 61. Incredibly, 61 all out represented a sort of triumph. In reality Glos should have been skittle for less. Liam Norwell and Chris Liddle adding 24 for the final wicket. To rub salt into the wounds, then man running through Glos was soon to turn 41 years old Darren Stevens.

On to the positives. Liam Norwell. 3 for 46 in the first innings. 5 for 59 in the second. Ably supported by wickets scattered around to David Payne, Craig Miles, Chris Liddle and cheap wickets to Jack Taylor. You could argue that allowing Kent to get to 298 in the first innings was probably 50 runs too many. But restricting a decent batting lineup to less than 300 runs both times around should at least get you in the game. Glos were never in this game.

Skittled for 149 in the first innings was bad. Only Chris Dent demonstrating the necessary application and quality on what was described as a 'sporting' pitch. Second time around the Shire just fell away. We started the season with large concerns over the quality of this batting lineup minus Maxy Klinger and O'Mish. Those concerns have now grown. But it is only one game. And the first game of the season at that. So lets not be too harsh at this early stage.

One curiosity that we reckon presents a real dilemma for Glos is how to use Jack Taylor in 4 day cricket. In Kent's first innings Taylor bowled 5 overs that went for almost 6 an over. In their second innings he bowled 3 overs at 8 runs an over, effectively buying his 2 wickets. In both innings Graeme Van Buuren was brought on earlier. Van Buuren bowled 14 overs in the first innings. Then 11 in the second innings. Van Buuren is clearly the preferred spinner when it comes to offer control and holding up an end in order to let the seamers get a rest.

The question is then what to do with Taylor. He batted at 7 in both innings, contributing little, although he was hardly along in this regard. Can you continue to carry a guy who biffs away at 7 but doesn't bowl? Can he be considered an all rounder? You suspect that Richard Dawson desperately wants him to be consider as such, however, at the moment he seems to be struggling to offer enough with the ball to justify viewing him as such.

Admittedly, it is April. Hardly a spinner's paradise. It is just slightly concerning to see how little trust Glos have in his capacity to control a game. His batting last year showcased the possibility that this becomes his strongest suit. Yet when charged with playing solely as a batsman during his bowling ban Taylor struggled to continue the explosive form of earlier in the campaign. Almost as if the sudden weight of expectation of being relied on for runs restricted his decision making. It's much easier to play with freedom when you come in down the order and you view your primary role as being in the side as the spin option. Don't get us wrong. We like Taylor. He has a lot of talent, particularly with the bat. Plus he's a game changer. How Glos decide to utilise him, and likewise how Taylor manages to develop, could be a key to Gloucestershire's development as a side in 2017.

Next up for Glos are Leicestershire, on Good Friday. Leicestershire are fresh off their own hiding to Nottinghamshire, being bowled out for 81 in their second innings. Whoever is planning a nice Easter Sunday trip to the cricket may wish to start making other plans.

Video 'highlights' from the game:

Day 1


Day 2


Day 3




Thursday, 6 April 2017

Kent v Gloucestershire - Match preview

Gloucestershire begin their 2017 championship campaign with an awkward away fixture against last seasons second placed team, Kent.

The difference between the two teams can probably be best reflected in the new names that appear in the two squads. Kent name Glos old boy Will Gidman, who returns after his loan spell in 2016, and Middlesex loanee James Harris amongst their bowlers. Gloucestershire on the other hand name 33 year old journeyman Chris Liddle and 20 year old Oliver Currill as their additional bowlers. Glos fans would be forgiven for sharing inquisitive looks at one another. Liddle was brought in as a one day specialist last year, only for him to disappear without a trace. Currill made his first class debut in the pre-season game against Durham Uni.

Gloucestershire will also be without their skipper, Gareth Roderick, who is ill. Colonel Mustard captains the team. Presuming that neither Liddle or Currill are favoured over and above Miles, Norwell, Payne and Taylor, this leaves the batting to pick itself. A top order of Dent, Bancroft, Tavare, Van Buuren, Cockbain with Mustard and Taylor at 7 and 8. Compare that to Kent who have Sam Northeast, Daniel Bell-Drummond and Joe Denly and Glos definitely look the weaker team on paper.

Still, if the Shire have proved anything over the last few years it is that the sum of their parts frequently adds up to more than it should. We'd also take our seam attack on a nice April green top.
All that remains is to wish the boys luck for tomorrow and for the season ahead. We'll try to hold back the moaning until May. We promise. Benny's Twitter tirade last year hurt. We love you Benny.

2017 Predictions

The big moment is here. Expectations are at fever pitch. The night before a big event is always so exciting and, like kids around the Christmas tree, the Jessop Tavern View is going to attempt to rattle a couple of boxes and hope against hope that our wishes come true.

Chris Dent to average more than 50 over the course of the championship.The time is now for Dent to really stamp his mark on the county circuit. Years of promise, but always as part of the supporting cast to those bigger names, is now rolled away and Dent is the main man. Potentially the only man. But certainly the man who needs to deliver big runs in 2017. 2016 is his benchmark. We reckon Dent will push on in 2017. 1,500 runs. 5 hundreds. An average over 50. Easy. Otherwise we'll start with the Alex Gidman parallels.

Craig Miles to finish as division 2's leading wicket taker.Can he stay fit? If the answer is yes then we don't think this is as unlikely as it may seem. Miles has always taken wickets. 170 in just 44 matches, but doing consistently all summer has been his challenge. If he can stay fit then we predict a big summer, and a move down the road to Taunton to inevitably follow.

Ian Cockbain to top 1,000 championship runs.We love Cockbain. We don't know why. We just do. It defies logic. 2016 was his year in the T20 Blast, sadly condemning himself to being consider even more a mere one day player. But we think he still has the potential to translate that T20 maturity into championship runs. Plus, we have no one else to score any runs. We reckon coming in at 6 and being given the opportunity to use his one day skills to change games might just free him up. But then we are biased.

Alfred the Gorilla to retain his T20 finals day race crown.It was the great, unmentioned, cricket controversy from 2016. Despite being comprehensively out-gassed for the duration, the controversial no spinning round the final pole gave Alfred the Gorilla (yes, the Shire's mascot really is a gorilla) a surge across the final strait to then impressively dive across the finish line to win the mascots race at T20 finals day. Gloucestershire's only silverware in 2016 quite possible remains their best hope of silverware in 2017.

Can Glos live up to these predictions? Does anyone have any further ideas? Feel free to let us know!
Finally the big one. We reckon a respectable 4th place finish with the Shire still in the mix come September.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

'Handcroft' causes overseas confusion

The Jessop Tavern View can never be accused of not doing its homework. Actually, hold that thought- if we are talking school then the opposite is a more truthful assessment for this half of the double act.

Still, homework is difficult when you don't have the information readily available. So, when we heard that Gloucestershire had secured the return of a recent Australian overseas player for the 2017 season we immediately thought 'brilliant, we've got Handscomb, what a coup'.

Peter Handscomb, for those of you who have forgotten, played 6 championship matches for Gloucestershire in the 2015 season, before captain Klinger arrived. He scored 401 runs at 44, despite not scoring a hundred. He went on to called up to the national squad, before being picked for Australia last year and has now played 8 tests, scoring 2 tons while averaging 54. He still has a dodgy-looking 'sit on the crease' technique, but he looks like he can score runs and bat for long periods, as evidenced in India these past couple of months.

However, on closer examination of the Gloucestershire website, it turns out we've signed Cameron Bancroft, AKA the other young Australian batting talent. The Jessop Tavern View must confess that it took both of us a few guesses to recall his name, despite the fact that young Cam played 5 championship games for us last season. Those of you with long memories will remember that he unfortunately wasn't very good and averaged 21, with just the one 50 in 9 innings.

He had a reasonable 2016-17 season Down Under, with a couple of first class hundreds (albeit at an average of just 28) and was ok in white ball stuff, averaging 44 in 50 over cricket. However, he featured only once during the Scorchers' winning Big Bash campaign. Not massively encouraging, although it must be said that the Scorchers have a strong squad, plus there aren't exactly reams of articles online assessing his Australian domestic season performances. We know, because we've looked and there aren't many. See what we meant about the lack of information out there about random Division 2 county cricketers.

Let's continue in the positive spirit of yesterday's Championship preview and say that there's no reason why he can't go on to become a success like Handscomb. He's only 24 years old, has often been tipped for national recognition and has actually played a solitary T20 international for Australia back in January 2016. He didn't face a ball, but did keep wicket and take a catch in a defeat to India.

The other factor to consider is the appeal (or lack of it) in playing Division 2 cricket for Gloucestershire. It's probably fair to say that Bancroft is about as good an overseas signing as we could have hoped for. He's youngish, has potential and a decent track record, plus he surely has a point to prove after failing to make a success of opening in early season English conditions last year. Opening on green pitches in April and May is not easy, especially for an Australian raised on at the WACA in Perth. Let's cross our fingers that this time around Bancroft adapts to the conditions and proves a good foil for Chris Dent.

2017 County Championship Season Preview: What constitutes success for a county like Gloucestershire?

It's early April, so all cricket fans now know that its the time of year that they suddenly wonder how 3 rounds of the championship and 2 Royal London One Day cup games some how get crammed into the month of April. As a Gloucestershire fan writing a season preview there is the ominous thought that before the sun even starts to melt our Easter eggs our season could be done.

But spring is a time of optimism, and whilst the Jessop Tavern View has perhaps struggled to sustain this optimism through the summer, the 2016 season held enough positives to suggest that 2017 should at least be a fun season.

It has been the case for a while now that 4 day cricket isn't the priority in Bristol. Whilst the Jessop Tavern will always cling to hope that a crop of genuinely exciting and high quality youngsters will force this to be changed, we can also recongnise that concentrating on one day cricket is a wise business decision. It won't stop us moaning though. Our love of 4 day stuff runs confusingly deep.

So what can Gloucestershire fans expect in 2017?

Batting

Glos had a mixed closed season in terms of off-season squad management. It was already known that O'Mish was retiring, and that Maxy Klinger would only being coming back for a bit of limited overs slap and tickle. This represented Gloucestershire's two principal totems of experience in the top order.

In replacement up step Cameron Bancroft and Colonel 'Phil' Mustard. Bancroft had a taster for big woolly jumper cricket in 2016 (192 runs at an average of 21, with only one fifty) and is coming off a fairly average looking Sheffield Shield campaign down-under (536 runs at an average of 28, with two centuries). The Colonel batted his way into a contract at the end of last season with 447 runs at 55 (with 1 hundred and 3 fifties) in 6 games. A career first class average of 30 with 7 hundreds is probably more inline with what we can expect from the 35 year old looking to add a few extra years to his career in the cosy world of division 2. Clearly the two guys stepping in have big shoes to fill.

Maxy has been our best batter since joining the club, and O'Mish, whilst maddeningly inconsistent, was always good for his career average of 36 (incidentally, O'Mish did manage to retire with his Test average greater than his first class one. Always the sign of a very good player!) So the batting looks flimsy. Bancroft will presumably open with Dent, and how these two go will determine much on how Gloucestershire's batting takes shape. Dent is coming of the back of a career best year of 1200 runs at 47. Converting more of his fifties into hundreds would be nice, but ultimately he will need to produce this sort of form again in 2017. Graeme Van Buuren came from out of nowhere to look like a solid county pro. If he can average his 2016 figure of 45 over the course of a full season then the Jessop Tavern View will enjoy rolling out its bottomless pit of Jacques Kallis jokes.

Where will the rest of the runs come from? Can Captain Roderick settle into a more consistent run scorer? 725 runs averaging 32 in 2016 was respectable for a first time skipper. 6 fifties but only one hundred demonstrates that hitting 1,000 runs shouldn't be beyond him. The other 'batsman' to contribute significantly in 2016 was Jack Taylor. Of his 860 runs (average of 35, with 2 hundreds) the majority of these came as a biffer batting at 7 or 8. The experiment of playing him as a batsman during his bowling suspension seemed to confuse Taylor and inhibit his explosiveness. Gloucestershire will need him to continue his development as a batsman to add a game-changing dimension to our lower order.

Finally, Glos will almost certainly need the bowlers to continue their fine 2016 form with the bat. David Payne and Chris Miles averaged 27 and 25 respectively. Liam Norwell averaged 18 whilst also scoring a memorable hundred as night watchman. All 3 of these will need to continue these contributions as that top order looks shaky to say the least.

Who else looks likely to breakthrough in 2017? George Hankins is the young hope. He stuttered his way through 9 games in 2016, but a hundred late in the season against Northants suggested he was finding his feet. Other than Hankins the other two options are perennial Jessop Tavern View favourite Ian Cockbain, and Will Tavare. Neither fills you with hope, although our blindness to Cockbain's awful first class record means we are always willing to give him another chance to biff people around like he does in one day cricket.

A likely lineup for the batting seems to be; 1. Dent 2. Bancroft 3. Van Buuren 4. Roderick 5. Mustard 6. Hankins 7. Taylor

The problem piece from this lineup is the lack of depth. Colonel Mustard at 5?! This will leave coach Richard Dawson debating whether one of the 'allrounders' is needed. Benny and Kieran Gourmet-Burger again appear the only two options and neither really have the quality with bat or ball in 4 day cricket. This said, 2017 is still full of optimism at this point!

Bowling

Is this Gloucestershire's strength in 2017? The core attack of Miles, Payne and Norwell has been a group for a number of years now and, if they can remain fit, all are good quality division 2 seamers. 2016 brought 52 wickets for Miles, 43 for Payne and 39 for Norwell. Good enough for all 3 to be placed in the top 15 of division 2 wicket takers. Yorkshire loanee Josh Shaw also contributed 32 scalps in 2016 and it will be hoped that his wickets can be picked up by young Matt Taylor.

The spin department again looks fairly worrying. Jack Taylor took 22 wickets at 45, with a bowling action-related suspension thrown in for good measure. Tom Smith appears to have become entirely a one day cricketer. Graeme Van Buuren looked like he could get through a few overs, but essentially the seam attack will need to carry the burden in 2017. Is there much depth behind those mentioned? It doesn't appear so, a fact fairly worrying considering Miles, Payne and Norwell have all had their injury problems.

What constitutes success?

Promotion from division 2 is now harder than ever, particularly with Durham joining the mix for 2017. Realistically it would be nice to see competitive cricket and with Glos still in the mix come September. Possibly not mixing it right at the top, but entering September knowing that a run of victories would make things lots of fun. We presume that the lack of activity in signing more players to broaden the squad (surely 1 bowler was an option?!) means that there are a few young guys ready to go. It would be nice to start to see the next group of bowlers starting to come through to support Miles, Payne and Norwell.

2017 looks more like a fingers crossed campaign, but with enough genuine hope to make us  not feel that Glos have completely given up on 4 day cricket.



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
Scorecard

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


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