Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Back in the habit of mediocrity

Day 2; Glos 112 v Surrey 626 - 6.

The Jessop Tavern View has always been more comfortable with abject failure. Both from a personal perspective when on a cricket field and while supporting Gloucestershire for over two decades; it's fair to say we have had a fair few of these sort of days. Thus it is with some relish that we can empty out our half full glass and enjoy the comfortable feeling of, well, being Gloucestershire we guess.

When Isaac Newton wrote about momentum he didn't really have county cricket in mind. Still, had Newton ever had to watch Gloucestershire he might have ripped up his laws of physics and decided what's the point. Mass x Velocity means nothing to the Shire. Despite a phenomenal performance against Leicestershire being backed up with some very good cricket in the t20 Glos have produced an absolutely humdinger of a stinker in this match to bring us all crashing back down to earth.

It is now fairly safe to say that the Bristol pitch really wasn't a 112 all out in the first innings sort of pitch. With a team missing Will Tavare's enormous experience (7 proper first class matches) and Chris Dent's runs (224 at an average of 20) Gloucestershire's batsmen ripped up the form book and collapsed in our themselves in impressive fashion. It would have been one thing to have been blown away by a rejuvenated Chris Tremlett giving the middle of the pitch a thorough test. Or by Jade Dernbach bamboozling us with an assortment of back of the hand deliveries- with batsmen surprised that Dernbach actually even knows he is supposed to be bowling at the three sticks at the other end. But no. Gloucestershire managed to allow Jason Roy to blitz them. Admittedly, the Shire were already in the mire by the point Roy was thrown the ball, but still. Jason Roy had 6 first class wickets before yesterday. Gloucestershire allowed him to end up with figures of 3 for 9. Shameful.

At the start of the season, even with Saxelby, Miles, Fuller and Payne, Gloucestershire's bowling looked a little bit pop gun. Now shorn of all 4 of those players due to injury, the boys struggled to even muster the venom of a pop gun in response to being bowled out for 112.

By all accounts the boys actually bowled alright on a placid pitch, and certainly no one's figures are too disgraceful. In further defence of the bowlers they have also held up reasonably well this season. The Jessop Tavern certainly feared that days like today might be more frequent than they have been. So let's just put this match to one side and move on. Arguably the best thing the boys could do would be to roll over tomorrow and have a day off on Thursday.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

No Styris, no problem!

Gloucestershire 189 for 6 (Cockbain 84, Arafat 3-38) beat Sussex 185 (Hamilton-Brown 49, McCarter 5-35) by four runs

The last time Glos ran into Sussex in a t20 match, we were infected by a virus. Courtesy of Scott 'the rus' Styris, the symptoms were particularly severe on fellow Kiwi, James Fuller, who served up a tasty 38 run over as Styris bludgeoned his way to the 3rd fastest domestic t20 ton.

Luckily Styris now plays t20 for Leicestershire and despite a late scare, Glos were able to claim our second group stage win after posting a competitive 189-6 after batting first. The Glos win was bookended by performances from two players we have virtually forgotten existed, Ian Cockburn and Dan Housego. Cockbain, a player we have always rated, struck an excellent 84 from 51 and put on 101 with skipper Klinger. Housego took 3 catches at long off in Graeme McCarter's final over, which began with Sussex needing 10 to win with 3 wickets in hand.

Cockbain has often demonstrated his limited overs abilities and we wonder why he doesn't get more opportunities in the 4 day side. We haven't seen the Scouser get much cricket since last season's musings about alleged improper conduct with King John's wife. It seems he has become pigeon-holed as primarily a limited overs specialist, despite decent form when given an opportunity in the 4 day side over the past few years. Still, with knocks like these, who needs the 4 day grind.

Housego has been an even rarer sighting of late, having seemingly been superseded in the batting pecking order by Will Tavare and others. He batted below both Benny and Geraint Jones in this match, which doesn't exactly imply confidence in his ball-striking abilities. We will take the 3 catches though, which saw the boys over the line despite Will Beer's late knock of 37 from 14.

The victory finally moves the 'shire into positive territory in the South Group, although you would have to think that qualification looks unlikely after 4 games completed. Next up, surprise package Glamorgan at Bristol this Sunday.

It's been interesting to note that Middlesex appear even more terrible at t20 than we have been in recent years. They slumped to a 6th straight defeat v Kent last night, despite worst-ever Glos overseas signing, Dan Christian's remarkable 129 from just 57 balls. If only the Aussie could've motivated himself to do a bit more of that for us last season, where he averaged just 14 with a top score of 25 in 10 matches.

Anyway, onwards and upwards!

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Geraint Jones offers inspiration but Glos fail to back him up

Day 2: Leicestershire 269 and 12 -0 v Gloucestershire 260.

Gloucestershire will now face a 2 day, one innings shoot-out against Leicestershire to keep their season on track. Leicestershire will have emerged from day 2 as by far the happier of the two sides as Gloucestershire wasted a cavalier knock of 93 from just 75 balls from former England clown keeper, Geraint Jones. The Jessop Tavern used to like Jones a lot as an international cricketer. Despite slightly limited ability he always struck us as someone who was trying to influence the game either with dashing counter-attacking batting or comic dropped catches. He was never a man to let the game drift.

Yesterday he brought some of this to the Shire. Already a batsman short thanks to Will Tavare’s knee injury on day 1, Jones found himself with Will Gidman in a bit of a hole at 88 for 4. He then proceeded to dismantle the pop-gun Leicestershire attack, shorn of Charlie Shreck waylaid with a bad back, with 16 boundaries including 3 maximums. It should have been a real match turning innings, particularly considering that Leicestershire also lost seamer Alex Wyatt to injury in the afternoon. Instead Glos proceeded to waste the opportunity and rolled over to concede a first innings lead of 9 runs. In fairness Leicestershire responded to adversity with far more bottle than they have managed over the past few seasons. Rob Taylor and Nathan Buck took 9 wickets between them to run through Glos’ lower order.

This match is now intriguingly poised with one high class innings or inspired spell of bowling likely to settle matters. Either that or the rain will come along and ruin everyone’s fun.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

One man band enough for Leicestershire

Day 1: Leicestershire 269 v Glos 12 - 0. 

Gloucestershire decided that, having given Leicestershire a pumping both home and away last season, they would be fine going into their match at Grace road with only one recognised bowler. With Saxelby, Miles and David Payne all injured, the bowling attack consisted of Liam Norwell and Matt Taylor giving away all the runs that Will Gidman had dried up at the other end.

Gidman again excelled, finishing with figures of 5 for 46 including bowling Greg Smith with the very first ball of the match. He now has 30 wickets for the season, and it is still only the start of June. At this stage Gidman must now be being seriously considered for Jon Lewis’ old job of carrying the drinks at test match venues around the land.

Liam Norwell apparently bowled with decent pace to take 3 for 76. Norwell is another young seamer who has struggled with injuries since emerging a few years ago. It would be nice to see him string a few games together as he has always seemed like a genuine wicket taker.

It will now be up to Dent and Klinger to finally score some runs this season. Having both excelled last term it has been a major disappointment to see neither of these two able to lay any sort of platform for the middle order to build upon. Dent has 210 runs at 21. Klinger has 176 runs at 17.

With a slightly dubious weather forecast around for the next few days Glos will have to bat positively if they want to push for victory. With the weather eliminating any chance of a result against Derbyshire last week it is vital that Glos take full advantage of playing one of the lesser sides in the division if they are serious about staying in the promotion mix. With both Worcestershire and Hampshire making a break for freedom at the top to lose out on the opportunity to claim victories against the two bottom placed teams would mean the Shire would be doing things the hard way.

Highlights from Day 1: