Sunday, 19 April 2015

Gritty Chris Dents Tavern Pessimism

Northamptonshire 333 (Rossington 95, Willey 62, Miles 6-63) and 416 for 8 dec (Willey 104*, Keogh 81, Cobb 58) drew with Gloucestershire 296 (Jones 80, Roderick 56, Willey 4-72) and 267 for 2 (Dent 104*, Tavare 66, Roderick 52) 

The good thing about writing a little-read blog about county cricket is that when you're wrong, only about 20 people have read your doom-laden predictions from previous posts. Thus you can change your tune and rely on the fact that few people are going to slate you on Twitter as they simply won't have read what you said a couple of day's ago.

So, it fills us with pleasure to be able to report that Gloucestershire managed to comfortably bat out the final day at Wantage Road to secure a draw in our first Championship fixture of 2015. Chris Dent batted throughout the day to score his 6th first class century- amazingly his first in the Championship since August 2013. Dent was well-supported by first Will Tavare (66), second Gareth Roderick (scoring his 2nd 50 of the match) and finally Peter Handscomb on a day when only two wickets fell.

We are pleased that Dent seems to finally be knuckling down and attempting to fulfil his potential. At the age of 24 and after 68 first class matches, he should be looking to boost his first class average beyond 34. Scoring a match-salvaging unbeaten hundred is a good way to start. Let's hope this year is the one where Chris scores a KP-equalling load of Division 2 runs to prove himself a really good batsman.

What else to take away from our first game of the season, then? It would appear that the new coaching team has already managed to instil a certain grit in the side, as evidenced by our willingness to knuckle down and bat out day 4 for a draw. This is especially encouraging after the amount of tap the bowlers took from Willey and others on Day 3, when the prospect of being able to win the match was taken away from us rather quickly. It would have been easy to roll over in the face of a huge target, but we navigated the final day with ease. Let's hope we continue to see more of this as the season wears on, it's something we will undoubtedly need, especially in away fixtures against stronger sides.

We do need to work on our fielding though. The 'shire dropped a number of catches in the game, 5 in the first innings alone and Dent subsequently shelled another on the 4th morning. This is something which can be worked on and fixed relatively easily. The bowlers also need to stop bowling endless four balls when under pressure. Easier said than down, but it was worrying to listen to the radio commentary on Day 4 and listen to Fuller get taken apart to the tune of 6-a-over by Willey et al.

Anyway, we should end on a positive note for a chance- a good away draw, against decent opposition and Derbyshire to come in our our home opener next week, Onwards and upwards!

Video highlights from Day 4 are below:

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

We repeat....

Day 3: Northants 333 and 416 for 8 dec v Glos 296 and 35 for 0

Yesterday the Jessop Tavern View wrote about Gloucestershire's love of getting into promising positions only to throw them away. What we also didn't add was that Glos also had the uncanny ability to turn potentially winning situations into not just losing ones, but to turn them into positions of comprehensive defeats.

Today the Shire did just that. The first session was always going to be key. The first hour doubly so. Gloucestershire's still raw seam attack got stuck in and performed wonderfully taking 3 key wickets. And then the wheels came off. 100 for 5 became 418 for 8 off the back of some belligerent hitting from David Willey. Willey isn't exactly the first bowler to register his maiden first class ton against the Shire, but the way in which he dismissed James Fuller in particular will be a worry moving forward.

Cricket is always about recognising key passages of play and then finding the extra gear to seize these moments. Gloucestershire clearly talked about this today. Recognised that the first hour was crucial. Then set about their task fantastically well. Sadly no one had told them to keep their foot on the oppositions throat once the moment was seized.

If King John were still here he would tell us all about how this is a young team still learning their trade. Since he isn't around it was left to new coach Richard Dawson to be quoted after the day's play as saying "Myself and Ian Harvey were sat there thinking why would this happen?" Perhaps a read of the Jessop Tavern View back catalogue will provide him with at least some context.

The Shire didn't help themselves with several shelled catches at crucial moments however and the pre-season concerns over the bowling unit were very evidently highlighted today. Let's hope the boys can turn it around else it could be a long season. With 418 to score in a day it would take something pretty remarkable tomorrow for this match to be turned around.

Video highlights from Day 3 are below:

Wily Willey goes through shaky lower order to leave Glos in trouble

Day 2: Northants 333 and 68 for 2 v Glos 296.

The return of the county championship every year is always like the return of a lost friend to your life. The comfortable, warm feeling of familiarity has an immediately relaxing impact, only to fairly shortly be replaced by the realisation that nothing much has changed.

For 2015, it appears not so much has changed yet for Gloucstershire under the new coaching regime. Glos get themselves into a good position. Glos allow the opposition off the hook. Glos fight back and get themselves into a good position. Glos collapse. Glos fight back. Glos crumble. It's a well-worn pattern that leads to 7th place in division 2 and the occasional excitement of a quarter final in a one day cup.

We won't get too down on the boys (we'll save that till July) but yesterday was a disappointing day. After a promising start from the top three who all got themselves in, Gloucestershire then lost a clatter of wickets to find themselves struggling on 185 for 5. Captain Jones led the recovery, to get Glos right back in the mix at 296 for 7 only for David Willey to take 3 of the final 4 wickets without a run being sored to leave Gloucestershire trailing by 37 runs. Craig Miles then took two quick wickets to give the Shire a sniff of a chance, only for Alex Wakely to shut the door and leave Northants a comfortable looking lead of 105. The first session on Tuesday will be vital.

On paper Gloucestershire's batting is very definitely the strength of this team, however a slight suspicion remains as to whether there might be a few too many dashers in the current line-up. Will Tavare aside, the rest of the top 7 all look like players happy to swish around for a bit before departing for a slightly unsatisfying 20 or 30. Yes, we are looking at you Hamish O'Marshall!

Hopefully several of them will run into form and negate this observation with a summer of highly entertaining cricket where the sound of leather thudding into boundary boards follows Gloucestershire around the county circuit. And not just when we are bowling.

So, a crucial first session for Glos today. We will make no mention of the fact that we told you that lower order looked shaky yesterday!

Video highlights from Day are below:

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Miles eases his way into a bucket load of wickets

Day 1: Northants 333 all out v Glos 18 - 0

On the opening day of the 2015 county championship, new Gloucestershire captain Geraint Jones decided to get an early look at exactly what sort of bowling attack he had to work with over the coming months. At the end of the day, he probably had a fair idea.

Craig Miles tore up the Northants batting for career best figures of 6-63, whilst the rest ran in manfully without quite so much penetration. If Miles can stay fit this summer then he will end the season with a bucket load of wickets now that Will Gidman is no longer around. Miles has been a top prospect for the last couple of years, yet injury problems have stopped him being inevitably snaffled by Somerset, meaning Glos fans should get at least one more good year from the young seamer. In order to get out of division 2 it is all about taking 20 wickets and the big question Glos will face this year is whether Miles can stay fit, and whether others can support him and take their share of wickets. Can '38' Fuller take 30 odd wickets? Can Norwell? Maybe Kieran Gourmet-Burger will be that man after taking 3 for 48 on a very handy debut.

It was also encouraging to see another perennial Gloucestershire injury concern, Gareth Roderick, take a club record-equalling 6 catches in an innings whilst not managing to break any fingers! A very encouraging start for another key Glos player this year.

Having reduced Northants to 162 for 6 you would imagine Gloucestershire's new hierarchy would be slightly disappointed at the end of day 1. However, bat well over the next couple of days, and Glos can set themselves up for a solid start to the season. How the new-look Glos batting line-up fares will be interesting to see. Is James Fuller really good enough to bat at 8?

On a side note. The Jessop Tavern View definitely raised a smile at seeing old boy Alex Gidman trapped lbw to Tim Bresnan for not many on his Worcestershire debut. Fans at New Road should get themselves ready for a lot more of watching that leaden front foot planted and the ball cannoning into it!

For video highlights from Day 1, click the link below:

Update- Northants have finally put the Day 1 highlights up on YouTube:

Saturday, 11 April 2015

That time of year again: The 2015 season preview

There's something about the county cricket season that always takes the Jessop Tavern View by surprise. Some of this must be due to the relentless treadmill that world cricket seems to have become these days. There's the fact that the seemingly endless World Cup has only just finished. There's also the latest edition of the IPL, which kicked off this week, replete with the usual glitz, glamour and sponsored everything (do Citi moments of success still exist?)

There's certainly also a shadow cast by the sad news of Richie Benaud's passing, plus the distraction of events in the Caribbean, where England are beginning their tour amid news that Paul Downton has just been relieved of his duties as ECB managing director. Basically, there's just a lot going on in the cricket world.

However, the most likely reason we can think of for our surprise is simply that 2014 didn't end all that well for Gloucestershire and thus we've been burying our heads in the sand to some extent over the winter. Let's recap events as best we recall.

Last season
Championship: 7th Div 2; NatWest Blast: 8th South group; Royal London Cup: quarter-final

None of the above was very good. Neither was it all that surprising, but the end result was that John Bracewell's second spell as director of cricket ended rather ignominiously. The county have since appointed an interest double act to replace him; former Glos (and England) off spinner Richard 'Michael' Dawson is head coach and legendary Australian all-rounder Ian Harvey (batting, bowling and drinking all specialities) is his assistant. Dawson is still only 34, but is highly-regarded and had been coaching at Yorkshire after leaving Nevil Road a season or so ago. He and Harv played together at Yorkshire from 2004-2005 and it will be interesting to see how the new coaching setup works out. As Alex Winter's Cricinfo preview headline states, hopefully the new regime can freshen up Gloucestershire.

The coaching appointments come against a backdrop of the loss of two key players and stalwarts of the county, the Gidman brothers. Will Gidman will surely be the bigger loss to the 'shire. The bowling all rounder is at the peak of his powers and it's understandable that he wanted to test his skills in Division 1. He led the attack with aplomb since joining from Durham in 2011 and he will undoubtedly trouble many a Division 1 batsmen as well as contributing handy runs in the late middle order.

Over the last 13 seasons Alex had been a great servant to the county and was in good form at the end of 2014. Gidders posted back to back 1000 run seasons in the last two years after giving up the captaincy. However, at pushing 34 he's probably not going to get much better. It's a shame he has departed to local rivals Worcestershire, but again the prospect of playing in Division 1 was surely too tempting for him to pass up, especially with Gloucestershire in a state of flux after Bracewell's departure was announced last year.

So, where does all this leave us? Well, we still have a bit of a mess where the captaincy is concerned. Michael Klinger will not arrive until June, meaning that Geraint Jones will captain the championship side until then, after signing on purely as a batsman. This is no bad thing, as a) he isn't a very good gloveman and b) we have no shortage of keepers, with Gareth Roderick, Cameron Herring, Peter Handscomb (see below) and possibly even youngster Patrick Grieshaber(?) all seemingly on the books for 2015.

We have also picked up Australian Peter Handscomb, who we confess to having never seen play. Bizarrely he and Klinger struck the only two Big Bash hundreds last season. Considering we've struggled mightily in t20 over the past few seasons, his addition looks a sensible one, especially with t20 pioneer Harv around to pass on some knowledge. He's also conveniently a non-overseas player, courtesy of a British passport found in a drawer somewhere. Plus he can also keep wicket. It seems that Gareth Roderick's fragile fingers will be the least of our problems in 2015.

The rest of the batting is a mix of the old (O'Mish), the new (Will Tavare, who had a very promising debut season) and the in-between (Chris Dent, Ian Cockbain, Benny Howell, etc). We also landed another British passport holder in Kiwi all-rounder Kieran Noema- Barnett. 'KN-B' is sponsored by Kiwi burger chain Gourmet Burger Kitchen and judging by the picture on the official site, he certainly knows his way around a beef pattie.

We still seem to have a handy-looking bowling attack. Craig Miles is finally fit and has always taken wickets when playing regularly. The 20 year old will likwly lead the attack if he can stay off the physio's table. James Fuller is still around, as are Liam Norwell and David Payne. All three have the potential to take wickets in Division 2. They are also capable of going around the park on any given day (hi, KP). We don't really have a spinner worthy of the name, but Jack Taylor and Tom Smith are both functional players who won't let you down, nor bowl you out all that often.


We've ended this preview feeling a lot more enthusiastic than when we started. The side is maturing and we do still have some talent despite losing the Gidmans. The Jessop Tavern View is too cynical to be dreaming of promotion though. We're inclined to agree with the folks at Deep Extra Cover, whose preview states 'If only because of the presence of big guns Surrey and Lancashire in the second division of the Championship this season it is very hard to imagine that Gloucestershire will win promotion to the first division for the first time since 2003'

That said, is it too much to ask for Dawson's boys to maintain a semblance of a title challenge, while improving on our woeful t20 performances and continuing to mount a challenge in the Royal London 50 over cup?

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Curtains for the shire as defeat to Derbyshire means an away quarter final...

Derbyshire 271 for 7 (Godleman 96, Madsen 57) beat Gloucestershire 218 (Dent 70, Wainwright 3-45) by 53 runs

The Jessop Tavern View has never been known for our efficiency. So, typically we're writing this blog post about the Royal London Cup group game which took place on Thursday. Yesterday saw the domestic t20 competition finish with one of the most exciting finals in it's 11 year history. And we're about to write a gloomy recap of a group game which didn't actually affect us qualifying for the quarter finals of the competition. We realise this post is probably catering to a niche audience. But hey, you're here anyway, so why not read on?

Glos went into this game having already qualified for our first limited overs knock out stage since 2007 (thanks to Twitter follower @educatedleftfoot for that one). However, a win would have given us a chance of overtaking Essex and Yorkshire and secure a useful home quarter final slot. Plus this game was live on Sky, which at least afforded us a chance to watch the boys in action for one of the few times

Derbyshire batted first and were anchored by Billy Godleman's 96. Godleman is apparently out of contract at the end of the season and has previously flattered to deceive at both Essex and Middlesex. He's a decent player though and one wonders whether he might conceivably fill the opening vacancy which will surely open up once Klinger leaves us at the end of the season. (We're assuming he won't re-sign for another year, hat with the cut in playing budget next season). The dangerous Wayne Madsen also struck 57, and Tony Palladino thrashed a quick 28 to see Derbyshire to 271 from their 50 overs. It was no surprise to see former Glos overseas man Marcus North out relatively cheaply, we got used to it during his time with the county where he was feted more for his 'useful' offspin than his batting. It remains one of life's mysteries how North managed to play 21 tests for Australia, with 5 hundreds. Whenever we've seen him bat, he was rubbish.

The Glos chase got off to a disastrous start, when Maxi Klinger was struck by a brute of a Footitt delivery and departed with what turned out to be a season-ending broken arm. O'Mish also failed and it was left to Dent and Gidders (A) to provide some momentum after Roderick was snaffled by a diving Wes Durston at slip and Cockbain also departed cheaply. Dent has belatedly hit some form and was impressive in hitting 9 fours and 2 sixes, in his 70 before being defeated by an absolute jaffer from David Wainwright, a gripping and turning delivery from around the wicket which defeated Dent's defensive prod.

That was basically curtains for the 'shire, although young Jack Taylor provided some late fireworks with a cameo 53 which included 4 sixes- one a towering swipe into the car park at midwicket.

Ironically, the result proved academic, as Essex and Yorkshire secured home QF ties, leaving the boys with a tricky trip to Canterbury next Friday afternoon. We were tempted to make a trip down to the Garden of England, but realised it will be much easier (and cheaper) to simply watch us lose on Sky.

Match highlights, courtesy of the Derbyshire YouTube channel, below:

Monday, 18 August 2014

Wonders never cease as Glos storm to 3 day victory at New Road

Gloucestershire 378 (Gidman 146, Roderick 98) and 178 for 3 (Dent 51) beat Worcestershire 194 (Oliver 52, Miles 4-54) and 360 (Oliver 179, Norwell 4-69) by seven wickets

We're back for one of our monthly cricketing posts. This time we're tackling that rarest of beasts, the County Championship. Not only did the boys achieve a rare win on Sunday, it was in fact our first win at New Road since 1986. It seems hard to believe that this is out first Championship match since we were hammered in the reverse fixture at Cheltenham in late July, but that's the county cricket schedule for you.

Anyway, this time we have much better news. This time around the boys secured a convincing seven wicket win over Division 2 leaders Worcestershire inside 3 days. This was a superb performance, where we shook off the lack of an injured (and soon-to-depart) Will Gidman to dominate Worcs almost from start to finish.

There were encouraging performances all round, from stand-in skipper Gidders' dominant 146 in the first innings, to Gareth Roderick's impressive 98 batting at number 3 and on to Craig Miles, who again bowled well to take 4-54 in the first innings. Liam Norwell's excellent 4-69 in Worcs second knock polished off the tail in double quick fashion after Dent finally got rid of the dangerous Richard 'Bath' Oliver for a career-best 179. We then made short work of the 177 target, with Dent finding a semblance of form with a 50 and Gidders blasting a no pressure 45 to see us home with more than a day to spare.

What to make of this effort then? This is clearly an excellent win against a Worcestershire side who have dominated Division 2 so far this year. Miles did exceptionally well to dismiss the country's leading run scorer, Daryl Mitchell for just 4 runs in the match and the batting really fired when we needed it to in our first innings. Basically, a quality job which the boys should be proud of.

We lie 6th in the table, which is a decent, if not awe-inspiring return for the season. There are now just two Championship games left this season and they don't take place until September 9th. so, what's next for the boys?

Most pressingly, we have a crucial final Royal London group game away to Derbyshire on Thursday, a win in which would secure us a home quarter final next week. The semis follow the week after, before the final which splits the remaining two championship fixtures in September. Dare the Jessop Tavern View dream and risk booking Lord's tickets for September 20th? A home quarter would go some way to making the dream a reality, so let's cross our fingers for a convincing win on Thursday.