Friday, 29 April 2011

A season's worth of wins in just three games. Surely promotion beckons?

Gloucestershire 206 and 292 beat Kent 208 and 245 by 45 runs
Gloucestershire wrapped up a good win over Kent today and now find themselves second in the table behind leaders Middlesex. A target of 291 was always going to be a stiff ask for a Kent side with two injured players, although both Robbie Joseph and Joe Denly did eventually bat. You know it is your day when the gentle medium pace of Hamish Marshall nets you two wickets for one run in his first two overs! His bowling was described by Alex Gidman as 'very handy when the ball is swinging' and it certainly never hurts when your opening batsman ambles up and removes two of their middle order for bugger all.

The only scare came when Azhar Mahmood put on 70 with Simon Cook, but Gidders the younger put an end to that partnership and cleaning up the rest of the tail to finish with 3-37. Jon Batty finished with 7 more catches to take his tally for the season to 17 in just 3 games. He might not be able to bat for toffee at the moment, but he certainly hoovers up the nicks, even without last year's seam attack to generate them.

This was a good away win for the boys. Even though Kent's batting was pretty woeful and they suffered from the injury to key batsman Denly, Gidman should take credit for the way we performed after getting a stuffing from Glamorgan in the previous Championship match. The bowling attack performed well throughout, with Saxelby taking wickets despite being expensive and David Payne adding some control to his wickets. Will Gidman managed to break some key partnerships and also showed some fight with the bat. At the moment he looks a good acquisition.

More good news come in the form of Kiwi starlet Kane Williamson, who finally arrived from New Zealand today after his visa processing saga came to a happy end. After his introductory shifts in the club gym tomorrow and Sunday, he is expected to make his debut against the Unicorns on Monday. We're looking forward to seeing how he gets on.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Solid Gloucestershire poised for victory over Kent

Kent 208 and 52 for 2 need 239 runs v Gloucestershire 206 and 292

Another good day's play has left Glos in a great position to win the match tomorrow. Kent needed to score 291 to win and at 52 for 2 with Joe Denly out of the match with a fractured thumb, the 'Shire would appear favourites unless it pours with rain or we suffer an implosion and bowl a load of dross. The dismissal of Sam Northeast, who took 10 off Jon Lewis' opening over, with the last ball of the day before the rain came was a big bonus. The pressure will be on the comedy backlift of Van Jaarsveld and 'old iron gloves' Geraint Jones in the morning with the ball still only 19 overs old.

We're not sure what to say about the Glos batting performance. It wasn't exactly a surprise to see us continue to lose wickets in clusters. Nor were we shocked to see Gidders make a start, then depart caught for 20, after a shot described by Cricinfo as an 'ugly smear' at Arsenal's Adam Ball. The club website led with the headline 'Saxelby shows his all-round qualities' which just goes to show that you can gloss over the lack of top order runs in a wide variety of ways. Will Gidman appears to have more appetite for sticking around than his brother, as he managed to bat for 79 balls for his 34. Perhaps we could swap them in the order if the skipper continues to throw his wicket away when basically set?

This kind of innings is fairly typical for the 'Shire and us hard-bitten supporters take a perverse pleasure in the boys making it harder then really necessary to get the win. It would almost be disappointing for us to rack up a huge total and then skittle the opposition for an easy win.

Roll on the second victory of the season!

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Encouraging lead for Glos after positive Day 2 performance

Day 2: Gloucestershire (292) and (40 for 1) lead Kent (208) by 124 runs

Is it over the top to say that we should win this match from here? A great day's cricket from Glos put the boys in a very strong position and in complete control of this match. A consistent bowling performance gave the 'Shire a first innings lead of 84, which was extended to 124 for the loss of Ian Cockbain by the close of play. It was good to see youngster David Payne rein in the four balls enough to take 3-55 at an economy rate of 3.43. Glos benefited from Joe Denly's fractured thumb, but compensated by allowing debutant Adam Ball, an aptly-named former Arsenal trainee, to score 46. As a graduate from the Arsene Wenger school, it was not recorded whether he greeted his dismissal with a violent kick to a nearby water bottle before remarking that he did not see the incident in question.

We were again provided with rich entertainment by the Times' rolling county cricket updates (paywall), which featured a gem from Mark Baldwin. He compared the picturesque scenes at Lords to those 'at Canterbury, where Ivo Tennant is clearly close to writing a very strong letter to The Times about the state of Kent's re-development of the historic St Lawrence Ground'. Great stuff and indicative of the dark mood in the Canterbury press box, where the malfunctioning scoreboards caused further annoyance to the assembled hacks.

Our friends over at Glos la la la think 250 in our second innings will be enough to win the match. We are far more pessimistic and would like to make them chase at least 400. Either way, the 'Shire are in the driving seat in this match. A thumping victory would be most enjoyable.

Heroes of the Jessop Tavern: Harv

The second in our series of 'heroes' posts focuses on one of the Shire's most popular overseas players. Ian 'Harv' Harvey. An awesome talent. A man who played the game with an insouciant flair. A one day legend. A deadly death bowler with 9 different slower balls and a dangerous hitter in any position. Also a man who thoroughly enjoyed a beer (sometimes several).

One of my favourite memories of Harv came in the first season of domestic Twenty20, back in 2003. The Shire were playing a group match against Somerset at Taunton on a glorious June day. Set 120 to win on the car park, Harv opened up with the Spear and began a ferocious assault on the cidermen's attack. He struck 10 fours and 4 sixes in an unbeaten 75, Glos reaching the target off just 10.2 overs. It was a violent assault and hugely enjoyable for the tv viewer. Bear in mind this was before years of Twenty20 has accustomed us to such feats on a regular basis. A hilarious aside came in the post-match interview (I forget if it was with Harv or the Spear). When quizzed about the rate of scoring, he quipped that as it was such a lovely day, they had planned a trip to Bristol Zoo later on and wanted to get there in good time!

Second memory. The 2003 C&G Trophy final at Lords. A hugely enjoyable match and the first of our back-to-back victories over Worcestershire in the C&G final. Worcestershire had suffered a comical collapse from 64 for no wicket to 149 all out. Harv bowled his usual miserly spell, taking 2-37 from his 10 overs, including the prized wicket of the despised 'flat track bully' Hick for a duck.

Glos began the chase at a good lick and after the Spear departed, I was delighted to see Harv stride out at number three. He proceeded to launch a brutal assault on the hapless Worcs attack, scoring 61 from just 36 balls, including 12 boundaries. His clean-hitting was a joy to watch and most of the fours were powerfully struck through the off side, including as memory serves, 5 fours in an over off then-England hopeful Gareth Batty. Harv actually managed to find time to be dismissed with a few runs still needed, all the better for him to depart to thunderous applause from the 'Shire faithful. Our seven wicket win was achieved off just 20 overs!

Finally, a Harv moment that I wasn't there for, but which was relayed to me by an awe-struck Dad who had gone up to Edgbaston to watch. It was a C&G Quarter Final, also in 2003, against Warwickshire at Edgbaston and a young man named Ian Ronald Bell was at the crease. He struck two early boundaries, but was then brilliantly run out by  Harv. As Dad and his friends pondered the superb piece of fielding, they realised that Harv had performed it left-handed! Considering I can barely throw the ball a yard with my weaker hand, his nickname of 'Freak' was fully justified by this moment of magic.

It was a great shame to see Harv depart for Yorkshire following the 2003 season and he was not quite the force of old on his return for a season in 2006. A sad irony was that his application for British citizenship, in order to play for Derbyshire as a non-overseas player, was derailed due to a past drink-driving conviction.

Thanks for the memories, Harv.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Honours even after late wickets spoil good start for Glos

Gloucestershire 292-9 v Kent

Gloucestershire spoiled a promising start by losing 9 wickets in the last two sessions, having seen a rare century opening partnership to begin the day. We were delighted to find that the Times, despite living behind a paywall, had sent a correspondent to Canterbury and spent the day enjoying their updates from the ground. Their man focused on the terrible state of the famous St Lawrence ground as the county attempt to redevelop, despite barely having a pot to piss in. They certainly don't have the pots of cash generated by the mighty Nevil Road gym to fund expensive Twenty20 signings like Murali.

We preferred to focus on how Hamish Marshall was performing on his Championship return from an epic wedding-fest in New Zealand. Having predicted a breezy 40 in our last post, we were delighted to see him move past that score and progress to a fluent 72. Less pleasing was his usual dismissal when well set, LBW playing slightly across the line to an Azhar Mahmood delivery. By this point Azhar had also removed Ian Cockbain for 34 and bowled Richard Coughtrie for a duck as he tried to leave the ball. Chris 'the Child' Taylor also managed a 50, scoring 71 before failing to see out the day after being bowled by Cook with the second ball of a new spell. The Gidman brothers failed, along with Jon Batty and we were again indebted to budding all rounder Jon Lewis who again batted in bucolic fashion for 26 before being caught behind off Cook. Ian Saxelby also batted well for 28, although we don't really want to see such a reliance on the lower middle order to shore up the innings after more recognised batsmen have disappointed.

It sounded a fairly grinding day's play, with both the slow rate of scoring and the builder's tools making a contribution. It would be nice to sneak above 300 tomorrow, but more important will be for the seam attack to make early inroads. We're not as disappointed as the reliably negative Glos la la la blog, but a better effort is needed tomorrow.

Glos begin CB40 season with 3 wicket win over Glamorgan

Gloucestershire 198 for 7 (Gidman 63, Harris 3-39) beat Glamorgan 197 for 8 (Walters 79, Lewis 4-41) by three wickets
Gloucestershire secured a relatively comfortable win over Glamorgan to get their CB40 campaign off to a solid start. Having bowled well to restrict Glamorgan to 198-7, Glos were always favourites after the skipper and O'Mish put on 117 for the second wicket. Gidman scored 63 and Marshall 55, before both perished to shots that Gidman described as ones 'Hamish and I will not want to remember', which led to the traditional mini-collapse to 146-5. However, young spinning all-rounder Ed Young guided the boys to victory with a composed 32 not out.

The successful chase followed a tight bowling performance, with Lewis and tearaway Kiwi paceman James Fuller reducing Glamorgan to 21-3, before Surrey reject Stuart Walters, along with Ben Wright and keeper Mark Wallace, helped drag the Dragons up to a reasonable total. Ed Young also bowled well, taking 1-24 from his 8 overs of slow left arm. Richard Dawson bowled 4 overs for 20, but that's to be expected from a man more used to putting the cones out at training these days.

This has already been pointed out by the Glos la la la blog, but it is worth emphasising- Glamorgan have not generally been a factor in this competition in recent years and this was a game Glos needed to win. Better teams will need to be overcome to get through Group C into the semi finals. The competition format, which sees only the three group winners, plus the best runner up qualifiying, means that consistent results are needed, otherwise your campaign can be over long before the interminable group matches are finished. Come to think of it, it sounds exactly like what the domestic Twenty20 competition has become.

Gloucestershire travel to Canterbury today to play Kent in the Championship. An important game having suffered a hiding from Glamorgan in our last CC match in Cardiff. No significant changes expected, with O'Mish stepping in to replace the injured Chris Dent. The Jessop Tavern View predicts a flashy 40, before a loose shot leads to his downfall. We're happy for you to prove us wrong, Hamish...

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Glos v Glamorgan: CB40 match preview

Gloucestershire open their CB40 campaign this afternoon with a home tie against Glamorgan in Bristol. The official site reveals that we were unlucky not to make the semi finals last year, having won 9 out of our 12 group games. There are 12 group games in this competition? Bloody hell, if it goes wrong early, that can make for some meaningless fixtures later in the group stage. We looked at the fixture list and crazily enough, the group stage of this competition doesn't end until August 24th! Could this competition be any more drawn out?

Thanks to the Glamorgan CCC website, we have discovered the remarkable fact that Glamorgan last beat us at Bristol in May 2004. They have however won 7 of 14 one dayers played at Bristol in this competition, so this match looks hard to call, although Glamorgan's one day form in recent seasons has been pretty woeful.

In overseas news, the Kane Williamson saga/fiasco continues. The club had booked Kane a flight to the UK last Friday, but he was unable to take it because his passport (apparently containing his new visa- which has at least been approved) had not returned in time from the processing centre in the Philippines. Now, we don't mean to cast aspersions on the organisational abilities of the club, but having had recent experience with the UK visa processing procedures, you would have imagined they would have planned things better. Williamson finished his World Cup involvement at the start of April, yet he is still not here. I sympathise with the problems faced by New Zealand Cricket following the Christchurch earthquake, but seriously, this smacks of piss poor planning by all parties.

On to team news then. Hamish Marshall managed to overcome his crippling jetlag/hangover and is available for selection, having helped himself to a big hundred against Cardiff MCCU last week. He will replace Chris Dent, who remains out injured. Ed Young has taken advantage of the uni Easter break to rejoin the squad and bowling coach/former England off spinner Richard Dawson is also in the 13 for the match. The other seamers available are speed merchant James Fuller, Lewis, David Payne and Liam Norwell. It will be interesting to see if our inexperienced seamers are able to keep it tight in the limited overs game, having apparently bowled quite a few loose deliveries in the two Championship games so far.

Glamorgan team news is limited to the squad published on the Glamorgan site, which reveals that former Glos 'all-rounder' David Brown is in the 13. Let's hope his form continues in the Gloucestershire vein if he plays. Jim Allenby misses out, having reported soreness after minor surgery in the off season.

C'mon the boys!

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Top Secret news: Our Overseas player.

Scouring the internet for news about what had happened to our overseas player the Jessop Tavern View is able to announce that Kane Williamson is set to arrive at the club this weekend. He won't arrive in time to play in the 40 over match against Glamorgan but should be starting work at the club gym first thing on Monday morning. Presumably he will also be available for Tuesday's championship match against Kent. His arrival, coupled with the return of O'Mish, provide Glos with a welcome boost to their batting having just been bowled out for less than 200 in both innings against Glamorgan.

Needless to say this news has not been announced on the official club website yet. Whether the club itself knows he is going to arrive at the weekend is anyone's guess. You certainly wouldn't put it past Gloucestershire to overlook the arrival of their overseas player. The Jessop Tavern View is considering a whip round to pay for a taxi to at least collect him from the airport.

It's official. James Fuller is reputed to be genuinely quick.

We can't quite bring ourselves to write a preview of a match against a university side. We just can't make ourselves do it. We'd feel like a cheap county pro whose highest score is against the universities.

Instead we can reveal exciting news. The match starting this morning against Cardiff MCCU will feature James Fuller our newest Kiwi.

As mentioned once or twice before on this blog, being a county cricket fan involves scraping around for any information regarding team selection and new signings. Anything to get a feel for what is going on behind the scenes. Since announcing the signing of kiwi paceman Fuller last August news has been thin on the ground. You know you are in trouble if not even cricinfo has any information about a player beyond the fact he has played 2 first class matches with little success. It was therefore with great excitement that the Gloucestershire website ran as its headline the fact that Fuller would be in the squad for today's game. As the Jessop Tavern View eagerly read the accompanying article we were slightly concerned to read our official club source describe Fuller as 'reputed to be genuinely quick'. Do we not know? Have the club not actually seen him bowl yet? Have they seen him bowl and just didn't rate him? Did they think he looked a bit Carl Greenidge? You have to love this such a bungled way of spreading information. Can you imagine Man Utd unveiling their latest striker with Fergie giving a shrug of his shoulders and proclaiming that he is reputed to be a top finisher!

Anyway, it will be interesting to see how Fuller goes. Also in the squad are young off spinning allrounder Jack Taylor (who played a couple of bizarre games at the end of last season, doing very little in either) and Lance Corporal David Wade, the Irish Brett Lee, Graeme McCarter, and 16 year old Craig Miles, crikes!

Despite our reluctance to fully acknowledge this game as being proper cricket, with such a young team this game represents a genuine opportunity for many of these youngsters to show us what they are all about....and for O'Mish to score a cheap hundred on his return!

Monday, 18 April 2011

Heroes of the Jessop Tavern: The Spear

There is no greater way to gauge a fan's true perspective on their team than by talking about their heroes. These aren't necessarily the best players. They aren't always any good at all. But they are the players you come to love. Players define a certain time, a certain match, a certain something about the club that you treasure.

Throughout the season the Jessop Tavern will present its Gloucestershire heroes of the last 20 years. In keeping with the theme of this blog this is intended purely as a personal indulgence. Rather than rolling out the usual big names it is our intention to honour some of the other heroes. The great, the good and the particularly ugly who rather than being genuine heroes are players that came to define Gloucestershire county cricket club at various points over the last 20 years. So, without further ado I give you our first hero. The Spear. Craig Spearman.

The story of Spearman being signed by John Bracewell after he arrived in the UK to begin a career in banking is well known. As a fan I remember somewhat sceptically looking at his largely unsuccessful international career and contemplate that yet another mercenary was being brought into the county game. How little did I know.

What we loved about the Spear was the way he played the game. You knew that, regardless of the situation, he would never die wondering. Now usually this is the one thing liable to drive you to distraction, yet somehow with the Spear it never did. A first class average of almost 38 is respectable enough. A return of 30 centuries in 201 matches is a tidy number. But none of these statistics tell the story.

What was you favourite innings by the Spear? Perhaps his 140 n.o against Somerset when chasing down 291? Those reverse sweeps that so riled the members (who had seen him perish playing the same shot in a recent game) didn't look so bad when he guided the boys to victory. Or his WG Grace beating 341 at Gloucester when you could visibly see the smile on his face when he realised exactly how tiny those boundaries were! Or what about his 86 against Lancashire on 20-20 finals day, a knock so brutal that my mate's dad started offering the Lancashire fans directions to a short cut he knew to get to the M6. My personal favourite innings comes from a game at New Road during the Spear's glorious 2006. I'd never been to New Road before and very soon I was delighted to find the Spear walking out to bat after Lewis had blown Worcester away. 5 minutes later my hero was gone for just 15 from about 5 balls, two 4's and an enormous 6 via his trademark pick-up over square leg. I left shortly afterwards, not disappointed, but ecstatic at having seen a proper Spearman knock.

But to be a hero you need more than just great performances. You need to ingrain yourself on a fan's memory with stories that travel beyond the boundary. I remember rocking up at Cheltenham one year only to be disappointed when the Spear ended up back in the hutch early doors. Nevermind, I thought. It's a beautiful day and I'll go and cheer myself up with an ice cream. Lumbering round to the ice cream van who should I find in the queue in front of me but the Spear, already changed and ready for some Mr Whippy. It ranks alongside the time I turned up early at Cheltenham one time to see Ian Harvey asleep by a wheelie bin. Priceless memories you just don't get if you're only interested in premier league football.

So here is to our first hero, the Spear. Thanks for some wonderful memories.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

We hate to say we told you so

Day 4: Glamorgan 202 & 370 for 9 dec beat Gloucestershire 183 and 195 by 189 runs.

Points: Glamorgan 20, Glos 3.

Well, we did say that batting 4 sessions to save a match would be difficult....

It's hard to know exactly what to make of this defeat. Obviously it is extremely disappointing to have got ourselves into a position this morning from which we probably should have got the draw. However, there isn't too much shame in being blown away by the second new ball and some very sharp fielding from Glamorgan (the run out of Coughtrie, backing up too far at the non strikers end, was brilliant work). Then again we did lose our final 6 wickets for 31. But the top order did show some fight and we were handicapped by having one of our batsmen unable to bat. But the pitch was pretty lifeless and Glamorgan's Charlie Wagg was pretty much unable to bowl in the entire match. You see what I mean. It is hard to know exactly what to make of this particular loss. Although, having said that, perhaps I am just comparing this defeat to that suffered in Cardiff last year.

Again we have seen enough from the youngsters (Saxelby's 5 for, Cockbain again showing genuine potential) to feel that the investment in youth this season could well be worth it. We need to make sure that we give these kids enough time and a consistent run in the team. We also need to factor in that, as much as the batting display here was inadequate, we do have O'Mish and Williamson to come in to this team and add quality to the batting. Just a cheeky question, but if Taylor continues his form from the second innings, what happens to the skipper when it comes to making room for the two kiwis? (sorry, Irishman and a kiwi)

The Jessop Tavern View therefore remains upbeat. The kids are alright, and heck, at least we're not Somerset!

Slow-mo highlights from the ECB!

Clearly the TV money from the world cup has begun to trickle in to the ECB coffers as we have now been treated to slow motion replays on two shots of the day's highlights today! The camera still stays rooted to the same spot, but hey, let's not rush progress. The whole thing feels like watching a classic match from the 1970s where the camera angle was from only one end and replays were just the normal action slowed down, but maybe retro style TV coverage will find its way back in! Who really needs that stupid camera flying above the pitch anyway? All the ECB needs now is to hire a man with a perm and a moustache to present the highlights.

It might be a small thing, but when you're a long distance county cricket fan a slow motion replay is the next best thing to being there.....well, almost!

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Uphill task for Gloucestershire to avoid defeat

Day 3: Gloucestershire 188 and 42 for 0 (Cockbain 33*, Coughtrie 7*) v Glamorgan 202 and 370 for 9 dec. (Rees 68, Allenby 63, Gidman 3-49)

I'm sure some of you reading this will think my headline unduly negative after a reasonable performance so far from the boys. I prefer to think of it as realistic. The equation is simple, bat for the whole day and save the game. The pitch is flat and the bowling attack not terrifying. However, as the Glos la la la blog points out, we failed miserably to do this last year and only just managed it the year before.

This is the kind of position where a good side will come away with a comfortable draw, or even a win if they have a Sehwag or a Spearman to create some fireworks. I fear that Richard Coughtrie is not that man. 7 not out from 69 balls faced reminds you of the little kid at school who had a good technique but was so weak he could barely get if off the square. At least he is still there. Encouraging signs though from Ian Cockbain, who showed some scouse grit to end the day 33 not out. Do we have enough batting? I fear not, especially with Dent injured. The ball is already 25 overs old however, and if the openers could bat through the majority of the first session then who knows?

The x-factor may well be vastly experienced left-arm spinner Dean Cosker. I can't see him being as toothless as Vikram Banerjee proved today. His 8 overs so far in the second innings have seen 7 maidens. He also managed 26 not out with the bat, which doesn't say much about the Glos bowling efforts, but the pitch is said to be pretty lifeless.

By the end of tomorrow we will have learnt quite a bit more about this Gloucestershire side. Regardless as to how flat the pitch, and to how straight forward the guys at Glos la la la seem to think it should be, batting out 4 sessions, with victory unlikely, is psychologically a difficult thing to do, especially with only 10 men. It will be another test of the character of this side. Just as encouraging as the various promising performances from the young guns has been the sign of some fight in the Gloucester ranks. The sort of fight that means that you don't just roll over and be bowled out for 162. The sort of fight that hasn't been seen in a Gloucestershire side in many a long year. It's the one thing that us fans can't stand. Losing is one thing. Going down without a fight is another thing altogther.

All to play for tomorrow then. Fingers crossed for some grit and application, as opposed to a flurry of strokes and all over by lunch.

The teletext roller coaster

Day 2: Glamorgan 202 & 185 - 3 v Gloucestershire 188

As somebody who does not work in front of a computer, or use a modern mobile phone, following the Shire during the week is all about taking whatever opportunities come your way to grab the latest score. I can usually rely on a few text messages throughout the day, more if we are winning or doing despicably badly. Other than that my main source of score updates is teletext. I'm sure we have all been there. Sat watching the screen update for hours on end to track how are team are doing. The tension as a close game reaches its conclusion is only heightened by watching the game on teletext. Yesterday's topsy turvy second day of play at Cardiff provided a roller coaster of emotions transmitted via the wonderful teletext.

With such a young team days like yesterday are going to be all too frequent. In fact days like yesterday and the day before. Winning positions will quickly be squandered. Fightbacks will be wastefully thrown away.

Yesterday's fightback saw the Sperm donor continued his late career charge into allrounder territory (hey, this is only division 2!) and Banerjee made a very handy contribution to get us back in the game. Glos la la la described Banerjee's knock as his 'second greatest first class innings' which begs the question of what the guys writing the blog get up to in their spare time. Do they really have a list of Vikram Banerjee's top ten first class knocks? Something tells me that there are county cricket supporters who might have.

Trailing by 14 runs we are now basically in a one innings game. Disappointingly the bowling was unable to fire and runs flowed to such an extent that by the end of the days play it seems that only a proper collapse can give Gloucestershire a chance. I wouldn't fancy us chasing more than 250 with 10 men. That said, the great thing about the low quality of county cricket is that collapses of this nature are almost common enough to be the norm!

We shouldn't get too down on Norwell and Saxelby. They will be well aware that they need to become more economical. That it is not always possible to bowl wicket taking deliveries and sometimes line and length and drying up the runs is what is needed. Translating this to the middle will be the difficult part, but lets give them time.

Meanwhile, it has been revealed that Chris Dent has had a double fracture and dislocation to his little finger. This raises the question of who will open the batting for the 6 weeks (minimum) that he will be out. Will Coughtrie be trusted? Could O'Mish or Williamson (when he is not instructing in the gym)? Or could, and take a deep breath everyone, Jon Batty return up the order? If this last scenario should occur it will again raise the question from last year as to whether Glos would be better off opening with only one batsman?

Alternatively, does anyone know Kadreary's number?

Alex Winter: Poet of the county circuit?

Just a quick post to direct people to Alex Winter's review of the first day's play at Cardiff.

The descriptive prose is just wonderful. Does this represent a new way of writing about cricket? Can we expect the same flowery detail to find its way onto the airwaves during commentary?

Let's hope the answer is yes to both.

I'm now off to dust off my thesaurus to alleviate some of my feelings of inadequacy.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Familiar batting frailties undermine Glos bowling effort

Day 1: Glamorgan 202 v Gloucestershire 76 - 5. Oh dear.

Fifteen wickets falling on the opening day of a County Championship match? Time to call in the ECB pitch inspectors? No, just crap batting on a typical first day of a match involving Gloucestershire.

Glamorgan had already won the toss and lost their first wicket by the time I fired up Glos Cricket Radio. It's always encouraging when the opposition win the toss and bat, then end up 26-4! We managed to reduce them to 54-6 and for a moment were looking like bowling them out for a double figure score. However, a partnership of 138 in 22 overs between Ben Wright and former 'Colombian marching powder' fan Graham Wagg put them back on track. We eventually bowled them out for 202, with Ian Saxelby's shoulder remaining in its socket for long enough for him to take a career-best 5-53. Jon Lewis also took 3-40, all LBW and was the only bowler to go at less than 3.5 per over.

This looked rather a good score as the Gloucestershire innings got under way and we were swiftly reduced to 49-4 by some good seam bowling from James Harris and Adam Shantry. Chris Dent has yet to bat, cue speculation in the comments of the Guardian County live blog that we were messing around with the batting order and not showing faith in Chris Dent, despite opening with him last week. It turned out that he dislocated his little finger on his right hand, plus has a double fracture to the finger and will be out for several weeks. This is a blow and we could well be following on tomorrow without his runs. The innings closed with the 'Shire in big trouble at 76-5 with Gidders MKII and Saxelby at the crease.

Hard work will be required tomorrow to avoid a sizeable first innings deficit and a likely pumping from a Glamorgan side out to avenge a stuffing from Leicestershire last week. The only plus point for my co-blogger, who enquired after the score earlier this evening, was that Crofty is not playing and thus cannot spin us to defeat in the second innings.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Preview: Glamorgan v Gloucestershire

County Championship Divison 2 April 14 - 17

With a fairly comprehensive victory first up, Gloucestershire's bunch of money savers head to Cardiff to face a Glamorgan team they haven't beaten in the county championship since 2005. The injection of young blood coupled with the winning start has the Jessop Tavern View in such a state of excitment that we've even been motivated enough to write a preview of the forthcoming match against Glamorgan and that t***** Robert Croft.

Despite our motivation, prematch information is pretty much limited to squad announcements. Our hope for a prematch interview or some expert analysis demonstrates that the level of detail we've grown accustomed to in the world of football has not yet left our system. Such is the life of a county cricket supporter. As a fan you are left scrounging for small morsels of information that might suggest how your team are looking to play.

Encouragingly Glos have not opted to draft Hamish O'Mish straight back into the side following his return from his brothers' weddings in New Zealand. O'Mish is to be given time to 'adjust to being back in England'. Richard Coughtrie retains his place despite appearing to have about as much ability to find the middle of the bat as Mark Hardinges had to resist another pie during lunch. The retention of young Coughtrie at least demonstrates a willingness to give the youngsters as much of a chance as possible. This can only be a good thing. As we have written before, if you make the move towards youth at least go through with it properly. Let's hope that a few negative results don't see us turn our back on the youngsters. Personally I think that Taylor and Marshall should be battling over one spot.

The young bowlers will face a much sterner test against a much stronger batting line-up this week and it will be interesting to see how Norwell, Payne and Saxelby go against a test quality batsman in the form of Alviro Petersen. Similar the batsmen face a slightly meaner looking attack this week. No number of google searches will produce information explaining why James Harris didn't start in Glamorgan's defeat to Leicestershire, but he is in their squad this week and presumably will play. We refuse to acknowledge anything to do with Robert Croft. Much like the bowlers, it will be interesting to see how the youngsters in the top order cope with the slight step up in class. It would be nice to see that Chris Dent has it in him to be an opening bat.

The murky world of scrounging for information about your county cricket team means we are non the wiser as to how Kane Williamson is getting on with his visa. Presumably the home office are still undecided about whether 'Gloucestershire batsman' is consider a legitimate job, or maybe the Glos HR guys are having to pencil him in as a gym instructor as this appears to be the only viable business registered at Nevil road. A word to whoever runs the Gloucestershire website, it would be nice to be kept informed about any developments!

I think a separate post will be needed to deal with my grumblings about the Gloucestershire website. However, in order to aid our grumbling, as well as previewing games the Jessop Tavern View will also provide a review of each opposing team's website with the aim being to find a county with a worse website than ours: - Despite the bizarre colour scheme, a fine site, with embedded youtube videos including interviews with the players. Swanky advert graphics are somewhat ruined by lame Welsh humour. 7/10.

All that is left is for us to wish the boys well for the next 4 days of high octane division 2 cricket. And boys, if you have to lose, don't let Crofty have anything to do with it this time!

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

New season, new questions

So, the first game of the season is out of the way and Gloucestershire came away with a resounding 7 wicket win. A few questions have already crossed my mind: Are our youngsters actually any good? How bad are Derbyshire? Does the county really make more money from gym memberships than hosting England one day internationals? And finally, how do you find out information about the county from sources other than the official site?

One of the problems in supporting county cricket from afar is the lack of decent information on your beloved county. This makes it rather difficult trying to write a preview for Thursday's match v Glamorgan when you have no idea of team news until the morning of the match. The Guardian's County Cricket live blog has been a resounding success this season and last. Happily there even seemed to be a few Glos followers reading it during the first round of matches.

However, they understandably tend to send reporters only to Division 1 matches, or those involving Surrey or Middlesex (not a bias issue mind, more that their home matches are just down/up the road from their office). Gloucestershire's win didn't even warrant a full write up on the Guardian or Telegraph websites (we got a Day 3 report) and the match reports in the local press tend to be pretty generic. Cricinfo did one though.

The official site, while a useful source of information on random second team matches and much improved from recent years, is not exactly great. I'm left wondering if any Gloucestershire players are using social networking sites? I imagine they would be, as 20 and 30-somethings with plenty of free time on their hands. There seem to be a lot of other international and county cricketers active on Twitter, so presumably some of the Gloucestershire players use it as well.

One thing that would be interesting would be if we could get a guest post or two over the course of the season from some of the squad. Maybe even John Bracewell or Tom Richardson if they're at a loose end? If you read this and you're John Bracewell, one of the players, or even if you know one of the players, leave a comment and we'll get in touch.

Right, back to scouring the internet for an update on whether Kane Williamson's visa has been processed in time for him to make his debut at the SWALEC stadium on Thursday...


Day 4: Gloucestershire 343 & 146 - 3 beat hapless Derbyshire 157 & 331 by 7 wickets

Points: Glos 21, Useless Derby 3.

Who doubted the boys then? With the score very quickly 34 for 3 the boys at Glos cricket radio clearly feared the worst and decided that they would broadcast at a volume only a super sensitive dog would be able to hear! But captain Gidman managed to not be lbw early on and Ian 'the Scouser' Cockbain showed excellent application to see Glos to a comfortable victory. I never doubted it. Honest!

We shouldn't lose sight of the fact that this seems to be an even poorer Derbyshire than the one that finished bottom of division 2 last season. But for a team with 5 debutants this was an excellent result.

Unlike last season's collection of individuals who never gelled as a team, this was a fine team effort with contributions from practically everyone. Even more encouraging was the fact that at the critical points in the match somebody stood up to be counted. Gidman and Batty when the score was 65 for 5 in the first innings. Norwell, to take 6 first innings wickets. Payne to blow away the tail in the second innings and ensure that the boys weren't chasing a score closer to 200. And finally the captain and Cockbain for steadying the ship and then getting the job done in the second innings.

Norwell and Payne have wickets in them. It is clear that, like pratcically all young bowlers, they will also go for runs but this is kind of acceptable as long as they pose a threat. At least they look better than Carl Greenidge.

The batting looks a little bit more shaky and it will be interesting to see who is dropped when O'Mish and Williamson come into the side. My own opinion is that if you are going to go with youth then at least go with it properly. Taylor should be dropped first and Coughtrie second. But I reckon this will be the opposite way round. Presuming that neither O'Mish or Williamson are going to open then Dent and Cockbain should be given a chance to cement their places.

Glos la la la criticised captain Gidders for 'hiding' at number 5. I'm not so sure. I think 5 feels more like his natural position. A place where he can come in against a soft ball and play his shots. I don't think his technique is up to being exposed to the new ball. My guess is that O'Mish will bat 3 with Williamson at 4, thus they wanted to get Gidders settled in at 5.

So, it's been a very encouraging start. With such a young team there will inevitably be worse performances than this to come but at least we have seen signs that this trust in youth has been driven by talent as much as by money.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Day 3: Glos require 127 runs with 9 wickets remaining to beat Derbyshire. Easy!

The comparisons are too easy. Last year, set 125 to win, Glos came up short. Way short. Humiliatingly short. 55 runs short. But it won't happen again. Surely.

This is a vastly different Gloucestershire side with only 4 players from last years debacle in the current team. On paper it doesn't look an improved unit, but this team of 5 debutants has the chance to demonstrate something we haven't seen at Nevil Road for quite some time. Character.

Ok, chasing 146 to win a match shouldn't be anything to really shout about. But cricketing history tells us that scores in this region are always harder to chase than you would like. With such a young team I'm sure there will be plenty of butterflies tomorrow morning. It would be nice to see the boys show us a bit of character and comfortably knock off the runs by the middle of the afternoon. Where as Gloucestershire teams for the last few seasons have looked half decent on paper the thing lacking has been a bit of fighting spirit. Actually, a lot of fighting spirit. In fact, any fighting spirit.

To infect myself with some of Glos cricket radio's enthusiasm for a moment, the result tomorrow should not blind us to what has been a largely encouraging start to the season, particularly from several of the youngsters. Wickets for Payne and Norwell. Runs for Gidman. But tomorrow does feel like it could go a long way to defining our season. Win, and this gamble on youth really will feel like a new beginning. Lose, and the stilted air from the last 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8....seasons risks intoxicating the young blood. This is probably a bit overdramatic. But being a sports fan is all about over dramatising things!

Good luck tomorrow boys. Stand up and be counted. Take charge. Finish the job. And don't mess up....please.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Day 2: Glos 343 v Derbyshire 157 & 28-0 (f/o)

Same old same old. Gloucestershire's powerful seam attack overcame some pretty feeble division 2 batting. A strapping ginger haired lad ran through the Derbyshire lower order and ended up with 6 for 46. Accept this wasn't the same old Gloucestershire attack. This was a new, feisty, young and dynamic attack...something emphasised by the fact that David Payne was reported to be bowling in sun glasses!

Judging from the highlights there was a large degree of fortune in some of the wickets and a lot of the bowling seems to have been youthful spraying. Quite how Chesney Hughes managed to hoick Ian Saxelby's leg side full toss loosener to mid off is anyones guess.

Obviously it is still very early days, and lets not foget that Derbyshire did finish bottom last year and have since lost their best player in Chris Rodgers. But Liam Norwell taking 6 wickets on debut at the age of 19 is not to be sneezed at and helps to ease some of the fears that these kids were being played because they are the cheapest option. There clearly is some talent there.

God bless Glos cricket radio who described Liam Norwell as being 'another one off the Gloucestershire conveyor belt'. Exactly what else has come of this conveyor belt in the last 10 years I'm not so sure. But hey, let's not dampen their enthusiasm. David Payne was also described as, 'having something of the Jimmy Anderson's about him'. I bet Jimmy has never bowled in sunglasses though.

Just as encouraging as the bowling was the fact that the tail wagged significantly and Payne and Norwell were involved in addin 76 for the final wicket.

So surely we can't lose from here. But we did lose against this lot at Bristol last year having bowled them out for 44 first time around (those of a nervous disposition don't click here). Lets just hope that we don't need to chase more than 70 in the final innings.

Day 2: Glos 343, Derbyshire 157 & 30-0: Debutant Norwell routs Derbyshire

This post follows on nicely from the theme established by Andy's Day 1 recap yesterday. Some days you are up and others you are down. Today was an up day! The match situation changed dramatically on Day 2, as Gloucestershire's last wicket put on a remarkable 76, with David Payne unbeaten on 46. The stand took Glos up to a creditable 343 all out after losing Saxelby in the second over and Jon Batty early in the day with the score on 263.

I have to say that sitting at home, listening to the boys at Glos Cricket Radio and checking Cricinfo while helping out in the garden, I was amazed at how easily the runs seemed to come for Glos. I'm not sure about the quality of the Derbyshire attack, but the fact that they used 8 bowlers to dismiss a side that were 65-5 on Day 1 does not bode well for the season ahead. Obviously as a Glos fan I was delighted though!

Once Derbyshire were in to bat, the question was whether our new look seam attack (read: cheap and cheerful) could take any wickets. Brilliantly for Glos, the answer was yes! Liam Norwell, in the words of Gloucestershire la la la, 'a big lad with broad shoulders... charged in and hit the deck hard.' In a hilarious capitulation, Derbyshire collapsed and were bowled out for 157! Checking Cricinfo on my phone as I dug over a border (another quirk of a long-distance supporter/saddo), I was delighted. The regular score updates I provided to my Dad were met with chukles of glee as we debated whether Derbyshire were even worse than us!

I have to admit I do take some issue with the optimistic view of the Glos Cricket Radio team though. They felt that Norwell's performance signalled the emergence of a new and decent seam bowling attack: 'Any fears that Gloucestershire had lost their brilliant bowling attack were allayed on day two at Bristol as a new crop came to the fore.'

While I admire their positivity, I have to say that my view is simply that Derbyshire are an awful batting side. The standard of play in Division 2 can be pretty woeful and Gloucestershire have had the fortune of encountering a poor Derbyshire side at home in their first game. Norwell, David Payne and Ian Saxelby both went for over 4 runs an over. In a game where wickets are not falling regularly, this could lead to a run-fest for better batting sides.

That said, the new players (5 debutants!) do seem to have performed well. I write this as Glos have reduced Derbyshire to 86-3 just before lunch on Day 3 and are pushing for victory with the visitors still 100 behind.

Come on the 'Shire!

Friday, 8 April 2011

Day 1: Glos 224-6 v Derbyshire: The split personalities necessary of a Gloucestershire fan

I was tempted to write this post earlier on this afternoon. The score had just become 65-5 and I had fired of the obligatory whining text to a fellow Glos fan that simply stated, All out for a 100? I thought I had seen it all before (in fairness I have seen it all before, and not just the once) I thought I knew what was coming next. The only difference this time was that last years bowling attack wasn't even there to offer us even a glimmer of a way out. This was terminal. All my worst fears being thrown in my face just after lunch on the first day of the season. I couldn't bear it anymore. I even stopped watching the Glos cricket radio webcam. Oh how little faith.

In some ways I wish I had written this post earlier. You might as well be made to eat your words early on in the season and make sure that, just in case anyone actually did value your opinion, they don't anymore. But I didn't write that post and so I can now write to congratulate the boys on putting up more of a fight with bat in hand than they did all of last season put together. As a fan it is all you can ask for. Even if you are rubbish, at least get stuck in. And that is exactly what they did.

Whoever Richard Coughtrie is might not be able to middle the ball, but at least he stuck it out.

According to Glos la la la Jon Batty played his best innings in a Gloucestershire shirt and has already scored about a seventh of the total number of runs he managed last year!

And Will Gidman managed to show enough to suggest that it might be Alex that ends up as the Edward Grace of the family (disappointingly there don't appear to be many cricketing examples of good brother, crap brother...unless you count the Hollioake's, but then which of them was good?)

So all in all an encouraging day. If we remove the blinkers for a second then its clear that the top order lacks class, but with Williamson and O'Mish to presumably step in to that batting line up we shouldn't be too down on our showing before lunch. What disappointed so much last season was the continuously shoddy batting performance that showed a lack of anyone willing to apply themselves properly. Today we had two innings of great application. It's a start.

Exactly what sort of score we'll need is anyones guess as I haven't a clue what our attack is like! Anything above 300 should put us in the game.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Give youth its chance....but please let them at least be good enough!

As a Gloucestershire fan I feel as though I am teetering on the edge of the abyss, desperately clawing at air to prevent myself from falling into what will surely be a never ending descent into the black hole that is minor county cricket! Crippling financial pressure has seen us dispense with the services of several county grinders (Anthony Ireland, Will Porterfield) and great nearly men (Steve ‘Tango’ Kirby) amongst others. Looking at our squad for the forthcoming season is a bit like digging out your 6th form yearbook to realise that someone has given you the yearbook from the year below that contains a series of names you have vaguely heard of before, those you haven’t the foggiest about, and the odd face you do recognised from those people who had to stay behind and resit.

But should this be all doom and gloom. There can be barely an English cricket fan who hasn’t bemoaned the over population of county journeymen who clog up the  county rosters and prevent youth from being given a chance. As someone who watched Kadeer Ali open the batting for far too many seasons  I certainly have. I would much rather watch some kid make mistake after mistake at the top of the order rather than Jon Batty. There wouldn’t be much difference in output.

So is it hoorah for financial difficulties ushering in a new era of Gloucestershire as pioneers of a youthful, vibrant way of running county teams? Well, possibly. The problem is that no one has a clue who these kids are, or at least those people who don’t attend 2nd XI and academy team fixtures don’t have a clue (and those that do attend these matches, my hat is tipped to you) Are these kids actually considered good enough for first class cricket, or have they merely been fast tracked to provide an economical plug to the holes in the squad? I am more than happy for youth to be given its head but my greatest fear is that this policy has been adopted purely based on economics and not based on the actual skill base of these kids from the academy.

The case of Chris Dent from last season showcases all my concerns. The fact that he was thrown in last season I presume indicates that he was considered the cream of the crop. He ended his first season with an average of 25 with no hundreds and only 4 fifties. Admittedly he was batting in a team that failed to produce a 1,000 run season from anyone. Granted he was also a couple of better decisions away from scoring a couple of hundreds and probably going on to average in the mid 30’s. But compare him to James Taylor who at the same age finished his first season averaging 65 and cemented this in his second season. If Chris were the cream of an exceptionally rich crop then you would have hoped he would have made a little bit more of an impact last year.

Scratching around trying to find information from preseason is almost an impossible task. The recently completed friendly against Somerset has hardly been reassuring. Bowled out for 144 in the first innings and struggling to take wickets. Not the most encouraging signs.

But Kane Williamson seems like a good signing. Young, hungry, genuinely talented. Presumably his problems with his visa have been a result of him stating his new job as a ‘Gloucestershire batsman’ and the home office had no record of this being a real job!

Ian Saxelby had shown promise a couple of years ago. David Payne seemed to have a bit about him last year. If the Sperm Donor (Jon Lewis) can eek out one more 50 wickets plus season. If O’Mish can score the runs he did when he first joined the club. If, if, if.

But as Jon Lewis has commented, now is the time to get behind the boys. Let’s save the moaning at least until we get to Cheltenham. At least by that point we might have a bit more of an idea of who half these kids are! And in the meantime, let’s enjoy the ride. If we Gloucestershire fans were really interested in the glory then we’d all be watching the IPL on Friday instead of some obscure webcam highlights of our beloved Shire crumbling again! The Daily Telegraph have stated that if Gloucestershire were a celebrity we would be Silvio Berlusconi, “A charming old stager who seems to have been around for ages, but could be in trouble quite soon if their gamble of investing heavily in youth backfires.” If we really are on the edge of the abyss, at least Silvio has the right idea.

The hard life of a long distance Gloucestershire cricket fan

As another summer threatens to get under way and with England’s shambolic performance in the World Cup burying long ago the memories of the wonderful Ashes victory another season of county cricket stumbles upon us. Much like lunchtime football kick-offs, even the most die hard of county cricket fans surely struggle to pluck up much excitement at a start date of early April. But here we are again for another season of ups and downs and questions as to quite what is the point of the Clydesdale Axa equity Pro 50-40 divisional conference league is.

But isn’t this the fun of being a county cricket fan, particularly if you now live outside the county you support. You find yourself scrambling in the dark for information, reading match reports of no more than 200 words and frantically analysing cricinfo for any sign of a players form turning around. But things are better than they use to be. Us Gloucestershire fans have become familiar to the ever enthusiastic tones of Glos Cricket Radio and last season were even treated to a webcam from the commentary box. I spent an entire day of my life trying to tear myself away of a side on view of the square at Derby wondering quite what had become of my life. The ECB themselves have tried to help the fans out with a ‘highlights’ package put on their website at the end of each days play. The camera is a fixed one and is focused exclusively at the batsman at the crease. It doesn’t follow the ball. You end up feeling like someone secretly looking in via a peep hole (although it could be argued that this is the preferred way to watch the horror show of some of the performances last season!)

As a long distance fan I find myself relying on the excellent Gloucestershire la la la blog and the BBC cricket forum, a disgruntled bunch of misfits who clearly enjoy using the opportunity for personal humour amongst the different groups of friends who take the time to have a moan. Being a county cricket fan is a bits and pieces experience, especially when, like myself, you find yourself living further and further away from being able to see many of the games. When you compare this to the riches that football fans get indulged with in the modern age following a county cricket team for a season is to place yourself 20 years back in time. Before the internet. Before Sky. You scratch together what information you can and form your opinion from here. The only difference is that these opinions can find themselves on places such as this! And this is where we start. This blog is not intended as a particularly detailed assessment of Gloucestershire’s season as it unfolds. It is merely an attempt to detail the experiences of a long distance fan of county cricket and the trials and tribulations that this entails. It's going to be a long season.