Tuesday, 30 July 2013

The Cheltenham 'bunsen' gives Gloucestershire another t20 headache

So, as if Gloucestershire are not rubbish enough at t20 cricket, the ECB has seen fit to deduct Glos 2 points from the start of next seasons campaign.

"After considering the pitch reports of the Umpires and after interviewing the Umpires, the captain and coach of both teams and both the Cheltenham and the Gloucestershire CCC head groundsmen, the Pitch Panel upheld the umpires’ decision that the pitch had demonstrated excessive turn and should therefore be rated “poor”."

So Gloucestershire are penalised for producing an absolute bunsen to the detriment of their own batsmen. In a match that was played on a pitch with excessive turn, spinners accounted for 8 of the 14 wickets to fall with each spinner going for less than 5 runs an over, but more than 4. Condemning evidence? We're not sure.

Kaiser Tom was quoted as saying,  “We are very disappointed by this decision, but have no course other than to accept it.” Reading between the lines, Tom thinks its b******ks, but also knows what side his bread is buttered.

The Jessop Tavern View wasn't at the game, but given that this season has seen a low scoring, spin friendly t20 competition played during some of the hottest weather for many years, we can only presume that the pitch prepared at Cheltenham was turning not just square, but was actually turning more than 90 degrees.

With group table that are always very tight in this competition, the 2 point deduction for next season is a massive blow to Gloucestershire. Well, we say this, but if the boys play like they have done this season then the 2 point penalty won't make a blind bit of difference.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013


Cheltenham cricket festival streaker Daniel Butcher has stirred up something of a controversy following his highly amusing late afternoon streak during the third day of Gloucestershires recent victory over Worcestershire. Allegations have emerged that the Jessop Tavern Views hero, Alex Gidman, challenged Mr Butcher to streak with the grand sum of a £100 bet. County cricket doesn't get juicier than this.

Emerging from one of the marquees, Mr Butcher made a slightly undignified naked clamber over the advertising hoardings before embarking on a rather serene jog to the middle of the old college ground. Some what bemused, Mr Butcher had time to have a look round and take it all in before security made a belated appearance and chased him off to the pavilion.

Unbeknownst to those watching his naked antics was that Mr Butcher gave Alex Gidman a sly little wink as he trotted passed the slip cordon. Presumably the rest of the Gloucestershire boys thought this was pretty normal. Gidman did after all go to Wycliffe College where passing the soap in the showers is not only a hobby but an actual subject. As it turns out Mr Butcher also attended Wycliffe at the same time as Gidders and this is where they became "firm friends", to quote Butcher, or where "I have no recollection of ever meeting Mr Butcher", according to Gidman.

The Gloucestershire Echo decided to run a comedy piece at the weekend detailing how Gidders had apparently bet his old school friend £100 that he wouldn't streaker during the festival. In a fitting end to the story Mr Butcher revealed how he has given the money to a cancer charity in support of his Dad who is fighting the illness. All very heart warming.

But no. Enter big bad Kaiser Tom Richardson to quash any such fun. "Alex Gidman categorically states that he made no such suggestion to his old mucker Daniel Butcher about carrying out a streak" lambasted Richardson, who was evidently so angered by the possibility that such a story might inject a bit of character back into county cricket that he put a gun to Gidman's head and made him also issue an official statement 'categorically' denying the allegation. "The only thing myself and Mr Butcher have in common is a similar waist line and a love of pies", Gidman thoughtfully didn't add.

So there we go. Never before have Gloucestershire been moved to issue so many statements during one Cheltenham festival. A week previously Kaiser Tom was on his soapbox, round the back of the ice cream van at the chapel end preaching an apology about the state of the t20 pitch for the match against Warwickshire (no similar apology was issued for an identical pitch and scorecard for the following weeks game against Glamorgan which Glos managed to win) Now Tom is ranting about a charity streak. It is unconfirmed as yet, that when Mr Butcher was being led away Kaiser Tom was seen offering him a discount on a flat in Bristol.

Monday, 22 July 2013

T20 cricket- It's easy when you know how

Gloucestershire 99 for 0 (Dent 63*) beat Glamorgan 98 for 9 (Payne 3-17, Young 3-21) by 10 wickets

This half of the Jessop Tavern View hasn't seen Gloucestershire play live for quite a while now, so it was a rare treat to witness the boys play at at a sold-out Cheltenham yesterday. We have fond memories of endless summer days spent at the best festival outground watching former Glos legends like Matt 'Steamy' Windows and Shaun Young put county opposition to the sword under cloudless skies.

Yesterday was no different, as an efficient Gloucestershire performance saw off Glamorgan with the minimum of fuss. The only difference between Cheltenham festivals of yore was that we were playing T20 and the Jessop Tavern View was this time enjoying a cold beer to help stave off the heat of the merciless sun.

Glamorgan have previously been one of the season's best T20 outfits. We we feeling a little apprehensive when they won the toss and elected to bat on the usually batsman-friendly Cheltenham deck. 6 overs in and the the powerplay overs ended with Glamorgan teetering at a comic 31-5. Two or three top order batsmen perished to leading edges and veteran Murray Goodwin played a horrid walking slap straight to Christian at point. The pitched seemed slow and somewhat two-paced, but it was hard to tell whether it was good bowling and fielding or merely terrible batting which was more responsible.

Glamorgan did rebuild somewhat through useless former Glos overseas, Marcus North and Nick James. They put on 37, before North showed why even the hapless Aussies tourists won't be looking his way this summer, by reverse sweeping Young straight to the increasingly immobile figure of Gidders at backward point.

Glamorgan limped through the remainder of their 20 overs, capping the innings with a tame run out off the last ball to end of 98-9. That was pretty much game over, as Corporal Klinger and Chris Dent showed that the pitch held no demons by knocking off the runs with 7.1 overs to spare. Dent was particularly impressive in scoring 63* with shots all around the wicket. Having never seen Dent bat in the flesh, this was an opportunity to witness his full range of shots, albeit under minimal pressure against a deflated opposition. We were particularly impressed with his deft back cuts and nimble footwork against spin.

So, what to make of about the shortest and most comprehensive T20 victory we've ever witnessed? It's perhaps best to defer to this half of Jessop Tavern View's wife, who was enjoying her first ever game of cricket, despite 7 years living in Australia. Her verdict was along the lines of 'that wasn't as bad or as long as I had feared, I quite liked it.' She's now been officially adopted as a good luck charm and the aim is to 'encourage' her to attend many more matches in future, to help guarantee easy Glos victories. Watch this space to read how well that works out for us...

Professional and patient. Young Gloucestershire look like the real deal.

Gloucestershire beat Worcestershire by 6 wickets.

Living at the other end of the country leaves the Jessop Tavern View with few opportunities to watch the Shire, particularly in the 4 day game. Thus a period of glorious weather and a couple of cheap flights took the Jessop Tavern View down to Cheltenham for the weekend to stake its claim as genuine cricket watchers, rather than grumpy old men who moan about performances analysed through dodgy video clips and cricinfo scorecards.

What the Jessop Tavern View saw was very impressive.

On a dry, flat pitch and under the baking sun Gloucestershires young bowling attack stuck patiently to their task of taking advantage of the 150 run lead they had built up from the innings.

Only 53 runs came before lunch as Gloucestershires seamers stuck manfully to their task of building pressure by drying up the runs. This eventually came to fruition either side of the lunch break as 4 quick wickets fell to a combination of tight bowling and excellent fielding. O'Mish took a very alert catch at short leg to get rid of Moeen Ali, whilst James Fuller produced an excellent piece of ground fielding to run out Alex Kervezee.

Sri Lankan Thilan Samaraweera then demonstrated why he has a test average of almost 50 by helping himself to some elegant shots all round the ground. Any man who presumably spent a considerable portion of his career facing Murali in the nets was unlikely to be troubled by 18 year old Miles Hammond and Samaraweera was particularly harsh on the young off-spinner. Despite a 5th wicket partnership of 109 Glos stuck to their task, bided their time, made sure that the scoring rate never got away from them and then struck with the second new ball. Will Gidman, Craig Miles and James Fuller all bowled wicket taking spells at the end of a long hot day in the field to leave Gloucestershire in a strong position at the end of day 3. Tom Smith then polished Worcestershire's resistance off quickly on the fourth morning leaving Captain Klinger to knock off the 194 runs required for victory with a brisk 92. 194 is potentially a niggly sort of total to chase, but Klinger and Dent got Glos off to the perfect start with an opening stand of 95. These two in particular have enjoyed a bountiful festival opening the batting. Chris Dent was seen with a spade attempting to dig up the Cheltenham square so that he could take it with him.

So, having now seen the boys up close this season what does the Jessop Tavern View make of it all?

In a word, excellent.

Chatting to a wise old sage during yesterdays t20 match it was observed that this Gloucestershire team now look very much like a John Bracewell team. Bracewell is a typical kiwi in that he is very good at making the best of what he has and pulling together a team that it is greater than the sum of its parts. It was a skill that was obviously enormously successful during Bracewell's first stint at the club. Whether he can bring the same sort of silverware to Nevil road during this tenure is unlikely. That side of the late 90's early 00's contained more players of genuine class than this incarnation. However, considering what he has been given to work with, and the enormous financial restraints imposed, King John deserves tremendous credit.

Take for example Middlesex loanee Tom Smith during last weeks match against Worcestershire. Smith is a 25 year old slow left armer who before coming to Gloucestershire had 12 first class wickets at an average of 81 in 5 seasons. Admittedly he approaches the crease looking more like a medium pacer than a spinner, and this may explain his lack of success. Last week Smith took career best figures of 4 for 91 in Worcestershires second innings. Did he spin us to victory? Hardly. But as much as we would love to have a match winning spinner who could turn it square and run through sides it is unlikely that you pick up these sort of bowlers in a mid season loan deal. What Smith did do was bowl tightly and get enough turn to take 4 key wickets. This is pretty much all you can ask your spinner to do during a second innings on a crumbling wicket. It's a very Bracewell induced performance we suspect. Similarly Will Gidman is another player, unwanted at Durham, who has become a very useful performer under King John.

What struck the Jessop Tavern View most all though was the intelligence of the cricket being played by these young bowlers. They all realised the situation and bowled accordingly. Not one of the seamers got frustrated and tried to bowl 'magic' balls. They all ground away knowing that chances would come.

We'll admit we were a little surprise to see this, but surprised in a very good way.

Gloucestershire are quickly approaching a very important August placed 4th in the championship table with fixtures against all 3 of the teams above them (Lancashire, Northants and Essex) remaining. Couple this with crucial YB40 matches against Somerset and all is still very much to play for over the closing couple of months of the season.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Fuller joins the party

Day 1: Worcs 182 v Glos 83 - 0.

The Cheltenham groundsmen continue to sit in their little tent chuckling to themselves. So far this festival has produced an absolute road against Kent in the championship followed by a sticky bunsen in the first t20 match which moved Kaiser Tom to apologise for the state of the pitch. We then had an almost 400 run pitch for the second t20. Thus it was anyone's guess as to what we were going to get for this crucial championship match against third placed Worcestershire.

Gloucestershire's selection suggested they fancied another run friendly match, dropping Dan Housego and bringing in young Miles Hammond to bolster the spin bowling department.

Apparently there was a 'nice green tinge' to the pitch at the toss but this wasn't enough to persuade Worcestershire to contemplate anything other than to bat first. Few would then have expected that by lunch they would be trying to claw there way back from being reduced to 22 for 6.

James Fuller took his first ever hat trick, removing Pardoe, division 2's leading run scorer Moeen Ali, and Alex Kervezee and then Craig Miles took two in two balls to take perfect advantage of the early seam friendly conditions.

You might think that the Jessop Tavern View would be full of praise for such a wonderful start to a vital match. You'd be wrong. With plans in place and flights booked the Jessop Tavern View has plans for catching a bit of days 3 and 4. Thus we cheered every run that Joe Leach and Gareth Andrew scored as they put on 120 for the seventh wicket. From 22 for 6 Glos will probably be a little bit disappointed to let Worcestershire to vaguely recover to 182 all out. Any disappointment was quickly put to bed as Captain Klinger and Chris Dent put on 83 untroubled runs before the close.

James Fuller took a seasons best 5 for 43. Fuller now has 13 wickets at an average of 40 over 6 matches this season. Whilst niggling injuries haven't helped but we really hope that '38' can use this to kick on for the rest of the season. Fuller finished last seasons championship with 24 wickets at 27 and made several 'headline' generating performances in limited overs games. This seemed to mark a watershed for Fuller and the Jessop Tavern View had high hopes that this would be the season that he emerged as a real strike bowler for Gloucestershire. King John has shown good faith with Fuller during his slightly tumultuous time at Nevil road. Injuries haven't helped; we'll cede this point. But now is the time for Fuller to reward this faith.

We're now hoping that Glos can bat through tomorrow leaving the Jessop Tavern View to rock up at Cheltenham on Friday morning, buying themselves an ice cream and then sit back and watch the boys have a slog for the first hour before rolling over Worcestershire in the afternoon.

Enjoy Fuller's hat-trick below:

Monday, 15 July 2013

Unfair pitch confines Glos to t20 also rans

t20: Warwickshire beat Glos by 6 wickets.

"It's not fair. It's not fair. Mummy it's not fair. The bad men prepared a slow, spinning pitch and we were unable to adapt to it because we were promised it would be hard and bouncy and it's not fair mummy. It's not fair."

Gloucestershires abject t20 form continued this season with a comprehensive pumping from Warwickshire than now pretty much confines the Shire to 5 meaningless games with little hope of progressing into the quarter finals.

In a bizarre step Kaiser Tom felt the need to issue an apology for the pitch. Gloucestershire were obviously expecting something similar to the marble slab they had been using in the championship game. Instead they got a slow bunsen. The Jessop Tavern View wasn't at the match, but we presume that both sides had to use the same track? Thus why Glos felt the need to moan about heaven knows. T20 cricket is all about adapting very quickly to situations and blatantly Gloucestershire failed to adjust to being confronted with a pitch which wasn't what they were expecting. As professional cricketers you'd like to think that they could suss out the pitch pretty quickly and react accordingly. Clearly not.

So why did Kaiser Tom apologise. We guess that since this was the first t20 match at Cheltenham Glos had been hoping to really cash in on bumper crowds. However, we reckon they aren't really going to have too much trouble selling out all of the t20 matches this week so that isn't really a concern. Just because a pitch isn't 100% batsman friendly doesn't mean you can't have an exciting game of cricket. Last weeks test match at Trent Bridge proved that. If anything the Kaiser should be apologising for a poor performance from Gloucestershire who were bowled out for just 96. Dastardly Warwickshire, who had a chance to weigh up how to bat on the pitch, knocked the runs off with almost 3 overs to spare.

After the good 'white ball' cricket Glos had been playing in the YB40 its very disappointing that this years t20 campaign hasn't ever got off the ground. And speaking of not getting off the ground. We've criticised the Gloucestershire on numerous occasions (rightly so) for being the worst website on the county circuit. However, with their fancy new facelift they also seem to have got a bit ballsy!

"Overseas signing Dan Christian, yet to make a meaningful contribution since arriving from Australia, suffered another failure"

A fair assessment, but shouldn't it be us who are saying that. Shouldn't the official site be getting behind the boys! Professional website design; still amateur content. Although amusingly amateur content.

C'est la vie

Day 4: Kent  beat Glos by 2 wickets.

We guess that some you win, and some you lose. Having benefit from a contrived declaration in the recent game against Hampshire Gloucestershire fell foul of trying to manufacturing a result on a ground that is almost impossible to stifle runs on.

At least captain Klingers declaration was eminently sensible and few Gloucester fans can really grumble about setting a side 411 to win on the final day. Sadly for Gloucestershire they came up against a former test player in fine touch as "West Indian" Brendan Nash made a match winning 199 before dramatically retiring ill from heat exhaustion with the winning line in sight. The irony of a "West Indian" not being able to take the heat wasn't lost on us. Some how you couldn't have imagined Clive Lloyd or Viv retiring on 199 from a bit of sun.

The end result is that Gloucestershire walk away with 6 points from the match. Had we settled for a draw we would have taken home a maximum of 11. Sacrificing 5 points in pursuit of a victory that would have kept us in the promotion chase seems a fair enough gamble to us. Glos are now 6th in division 2, 8 points adrift of 3rd placed Worcestershire who are next up at Cheltenham. The gap between 3rd place and the promotion places is now 38 points, although 2nd placed Northants have played a game more. A win next week and Glos are still right in this, as improbably as that seems.

King John is right to take positives from this performance. All of the top order appear bang in form, even Dan Housego was spoon-fed a second innings fifty. The bowlers toiled away and almost forced the victory had it not been for Nash.

Now it's twenty-twenty time at Cheltenham.....

Day 4 Highlights below:

Friday, 12 July 2013

In Praise of....Gidders!

Day 2: Glos 562 - 5 dec v Kent 165 - 2.

The Jessop Tavern View is running out of superlatives with which to describe Gidders. So long have we marvelled at his nimble footwork, his wonderful balance and the way that his head falls so far to the off side requiring him to so magnificently play around his front pad. He's always been a hero of ours. Even when scoring 528 runs in 2012. Even when scoring 679 runs in 2010. Even when scoring 481 runs in 2008. We knew he'd come good. We knew it was only the captaincy restricting his lumbering front foot from once more becoming planted and his broad bat swinging through the line on nice flat pitches.

Yesterday at Cheltenham Gidders helped himself to a glorious first double century of his career. So easy was it for Gidman that having compiled 211 runs he then found that the only way to let someone else pad their average was to run himself out.

Gidman now has 754 championship runs at 62 this season.

O'Mish, who also scored a relentless hundred yesterday, has 560 runs at 50.

Both have 3 centuries this season. Combine this with Captain Klinger's 3 hundreds and Gloucestershire's veteran top order batsmen have all done their bit to give the young bowlers something to bowl with.

Whether they can manage to find 20 wickets on a sun baked College ground pitch might be asking a bit too much in this game though.

Video Highlights from Day 2:

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Dent and Gidders help themselves against sorry Kent

Day 1: Gloucestershire 348 - 3 v Kent.

After all the build up and all the excitement over the passed several months today finally saw the talking stop and the cricket begin. It's time for Cheltenham.

God only knows what poor old Kent thought today. Even with the newly arrived Vernon Philander, Kent's bottom of the table bowling attack must have despaired when arriving at the sun baked College ground this morning and losing the toss. The only good thing at Cheltenham is that there are at least enough people watching to chuck the ball back from the boundary.

In ruthless, and un-Gloucestershire-like fashion, the boys sensed a side ripe for the pumping and duly cashed in all of their chips. Well, apart from Dan Housego. At the moment he probably wouldn't even know what to do if he were dealt a full house.

Chris Dent and Gidders didn't need asking twice, and once the new ball was safely negotiated, helped themselves to a stand of 267 for the third wicket.

Speaking after his career high 153 Chris Dent said how he "thought it was time he really knuckled down and scored some big first class runs". Considering how Dent is now midway through his 4th season of first team cricket we'd agree that it's 'about time'.

Gidders continued his fine season with an unbeaten 145. Gidman now has 688 runs at an average of  62 since relinquishing the captaincy. His best season saw him score 1244 runs at 49. We'd like to see him get somewhere near this in the final 7 games.

Dan Housego on the other hand started the season with 150 on the first day against Essex. Since then he has scored 250 runs in 13 innings at an average of 19. Ian Cockbain scored 224 'red ball' runs just down the road in a 2nd Xi match against, ahem, the MCC Combined Universities. Still, as they say, you've got to score them. Will we see 'Shagger' Cockbain batting at 3 any time soon? Unlikely. The feeling is that his strokeplay is probably more suited to slightly lower down the order and it is unlikely that Gloucestershire will tinker with a batting lineup that is starting the produce the goods.

Tomorrow should see Gloucestershire really grind Kent into the floor and post a big score of 500 plus. Then poor Craig Miles, James Fuller, Will Gidman and Tom Smith can have fun being hammered to all corners.

Still, if nothing else, todays run-fest should whet the appetite for the carnage that we could be in for when the t20 circus turns up at the world's most historic cricket festival.

Video highlights of Day 1: