Sunday, 24 April 2016

Flat track + minimal bowling x dreary opposition = draw

Derbyshire 444 (Madsen 150, Hughes 96, Poynton 53, Taylor 4-61, Norwell 4-104) and 260 for 2 (Hughes 137*, Rutherford 78) 8 pts drew with Gloucestershire 563 (Dent 180, Norwell 102, Marshall 72, Noema-Barnett 58) 12 pts

We've decided to summarise days 2-4 of this match in a single post. After Derbyshire extended their first innings through the majority of Day 2, with Wayne Madsen hitting 150, we knew our first day recap predictions were coming true. Glos closed Day 2 on 110-1 and when your number 11 makes it comfortably to the close as nightwatchman you never know what might happen.

The next day he moved smoothly to a maiden first class (and apparently career) ton from 154 balls with 14 fours and a six, as the flat pitch and an unthreatening Derbyshire bowling attack was put to the sword. After Norwell departed, Chris Dent went on to score a classy 180 and there were also brisk runs for O'Mish, Gourmet Burger and Benny Howell, who blasted 4 sixes in a 30 ball 41. We ended with a lead of 119 which was great going having conceded almost 450 in the first innings.

However, nothing much happened on the final day once Norwell continued his good run by running out Slater backing up in his follow throw from a drive by Hughes. That was basically the end of the excitement, as Hughes made up for getting out for 96 in the first innings by scoring an unbeaten 137. He was well supported by Hamish Rutherford, who hit a chancy 78 before being caught by a diving Dent off Jack Taylor. That was it for the day and the match, which wasn't a great advert for a contest, with 1267 runs scored for the loss of just 22 wickets over the 4 days of the match.

Let's hope Sunday's home clash with Worcestershire brings a more lively surface and match, because this was pretty dreary fare.

Day 2 highlights

Day 3 highlights

Day 4 highlights

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Lack of bowling depth starting to look like a real issue

Gloucestershire v Derbyshire, County Championship Div 2.
Derbyshire won the toss and elected to bat.
Day 1: Derbyshire 242 - 3. (Norwell 2 for 55)

The World T20 excitement feels a long time ago after a fairly turgid day of attritional cricket at the Brightside. Gloucestershire's inexperienced attack bowled tightly. Derbyshire's batsmen, in their first knock of the season, weren't to be lulled in and quickly realised that tight line and length is less of a threat without wicket-taking deliveries.

Liam Norwell, continuing to lead the attack, was the most threatening, and ended the day with two hard-earned wickets.  Payne, Shaw, Gourmet-Burger and Taylor all kept control of things and the plan will be that early wickets on day 2 will allow Glos to restrict Derbyshire to around 300. Having managed a similar escape against Essex this isn't completely beyond the realms of possibility.

The Shire's squad continues to be a point of major concern. Benny batting at 6 always makes the batting look a shade too thin, particularly when Klinger isn't one of the men ahead of him. The bowling also looks strained with young Josh Shaw as first change with only Benny, Gourmet and Jack Taylor to pick up the strain. Any team turning up to play a Gloucestershire side containing both Benny and Gourmet-Burger must surely be licking its lips.

Benny made a very definite step forward last season and we continue to enjoy his angry Twitter posts aimed at both us and various other people who dare to voice an opinion questioning the club's decisions. However, Gourmet-Burger is still to show us anything that suggests he isn't doing anything other than filling Mark Hardinges' much missed demonstrations of what village cricketers look like when placed into first class matches.

Glos still have Craig Miles to walk back into the side when fully fit. Beyond that there is very little else and in essence Glos have entered the 2016 season with a bowling attack that has to play every game. Over the last 2 years this bowling squad has lost Will Gidman and James Fuller without seemingly replacing them. Admittedly the club will argue that Norwell, Payne and Miles are now able to take on the extra responsibility.

But this isn't the concern. We like all 3 of these guys and think they all can do a very good job in division 2. The concern is that there is no one backing them up and thus we are reliant on them staying fully fit. And not of them have good fitness records. Maybe Josh Shaw will have a real breakthrough season whilst on loan with us. Maybe Gourmet will take 30 plus wickets. Maybe. We will see. It would be handy if they started tomorrow.

Day 1 highlights

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Deja vu all over again as Gloucestershire batting lets down bowling

Essex 385 (Westley 121, Cook 105, Shaw 4-118) and 94 for 0 (Browne 55*) beatGloucestershire 262 (Roderick 88*, Marshall 51, Porter 4-59) and 215 (Taylor 74, Roderick 58) by ten wickets 

A new season and a familiar refrain to regular readers of the blog. Why do Gloucestershire's batsmen consistently fail to produce the goods after making a start, thus putting our (in this match hugely inexperienced) bowling attack under pressure?

Let's cut to the chase. Gloucestershire don't have a very good championship bowling attack these days. After the departure of James Fuller, you would think the best 4 bowlers are Miles, Payne Norwell and Jack Taylor. Miles and Payne were both unfit to play in this match, which left us with debutants Josh Shaw and Tom Hampton (4 f/c wickets between them coming in) alongside Norwell. Former Sussex seamer Chris Liddle didn't make the XI, but you would think he would be in contention most weeks, unless Dawson is thinking of him as most a white ball option.

Benny and Gourmet Burger can fill in with overs of seam, but you wouldn't ideally want to have to play them both, simply to add up to one functioning all rounder. Especially given that Essex have a strong and deep batting lineup with the likes of Graham Napier coming in at 9.

All this is to emphasise the critical importance of the batsmen scoring first innings runs. You could argue that 262 was about par for the first game of the season away to a stronger side. However, if you look at the card lots of people got starts without going on. Roderick anchored the innings with an unbeaten 88. He is exempt from our criticism for sure. Chris Dent lived up to our expectations by looking great in scoring 27, before dragging on chasing a wide half volley. Ian Cockbain also looked in good nick, hitting 5 boundaries in his 24, before being well held by Cook at first slip off Porter.

O'Mish remains a favourite culprit. Despite his advancing years, the Irishman is clearly capable of scoring quantities of runs in D2. He managed a handy 51 in this game, before departing to a trademark loose shot which was snapped up by a diving Jesse Ryder at backward point. Howell departed second ball and Gourmet -Burger rarely looks of championship quality as a batsman- although admittedly it took another great team catch at slip to dismiss him for 5.

This left Jack Taylor and the skipper to try and rebuild. Jack knuckled down and managed a handy 39 before being bowled by Napier, who then dismissed Shaw and Norwell in consecutive balls. Ultimately this left the skipper stranded 12 short of a deserved ton.

We were treated to more of the same in the second innings, having bowled really well to restrict Essex to 385 from 224-2 at one stage. Cameron Bancroft and Cockbain departed caught behind in Porter's first over, bringing Roderick in at 0-2. An inability to construct meaningful partnerships seems a feature of Glos' batting, with only 45 between Roderick and Howell and 65 between the skipper and Taylor worthy of mention. Taylor hit out with freedom after Roderick's dismissal, ending on 74 with 5 sixes as he chased runs alongside 9-10-Jack who contributed 1 between them.

This left Essex the simple task of chasing 93 to win, which they did without fuss or loss of a wicket on the fourth morning. There is no shame in losing away to as strong a side as Essex, especially given that the England skipper scored a hundred for them. We bowled and fielded well (as is usually the case), although Essex definitely out-caught us if you watch the videos below.

We don't want to get too downhearted after one game where the side was missing key performers- at least with the ball. The worry is we simply don't have enough batting depth. You can add in Will Tavare and later, Klinger but what else do we have in reserve? Bancroft will doubtless improve (he was apparently sawn off in the second innings) and you would hope Dent and Cockbain can produce big runs reasonably consistently. But if not, it looks like a long, hard championship season is in prospect.

It's not all bad, mind. Glos welcome Derbyshire to Bristol for our first home game on Sunday. They're not all that good and there's no Martin Guptill to butcher us this year. Sid Payne is back in an otherwise unchanged squad. Fingers crossed for some improvement in front of the home faithful at Nevill Road.

Day 1 highlights

Day 2 highlights

Day 3 highlights

Day 4 highlights

Friday, 8 April 2016

The future is Bright (side) for Glos in 2016

It's early April. The whole cricketing world is still excited by a memorable T20 World Cup. English cricket fans are still reeling from Ben Stokes' decision to see whether Carlos Braithwaite could continually hit balls in the slot 90m over the fence. Capitalising on all of this is the start of the world's most exciting cricket competition. Pieterson, Kohli, the Universe Boss. None of these will be playing in the county championship. Yep, it is that time of year when all cricket fans scratch their heads at why we're starting the season when it is still cold and wet.

Step forward the 2016 English cricket season, and step forward cricket being played at The Brightside Ground. History be damned, this is is business. In a extra comic twist the 'Brightside' commercial partnership coincides with some spanking new neighbour irritants, otherwise known as floodlights and an outrageously bright yellow one day kit.

New floodlights. New one day kit. Exciting new ground name. None of these exactly points towards the club prioritising 4 day cricket for 2016. However, as traditionalists, the Jessop Tavern View has always held a deep love for the old competition. So what does 2016 have in store for Glos.

Batting will very definitely continue to be the key to any 4 day success for Gloucestershire. With Maxi Klinger not arriving until the end of May, young Aussie opening bat Cameron Bancroft will be seen wandering around with 3 jumpers scratching his head as another 60mph medium pacer loops balls down at him as he gropes around outside off stump wondering what his mates are doing back in Oz. Bancroft is a potentially very exciting signing having been good enough to get a test call up a few years ago. He is the sort of signing you can see being very successful, and it would be interesting to see if Glos try to develop him as a long term successor to Maxi.

Alongside Bancroft we are convinced that this is the year of The Chris Dent. 2,000 runs across all formats. 5 championship hundreds. We've no doubts. Potentially he will need to score the runs as poor Gareth Roderick appears to have been asked to be our keeper-captain. Clearly Roderick must have impressed everyone with his cricketing acumen, however you can't help but feel that the captaincy might impact his development as a cricketer at a fairly crucial stage of his career.

O'Mish will presumably bat like O'Mish, unless someone packed him off to some Mindfulness retreat to make him appreciate the enjoyment that can be felt from a good leave outside off stump and from scoring more than 30 before top edging to one of the 3 men back on the leg side. Complementing the top order will be Benny the bowler, Kieran Gourmet-Burger and presumably Ian Cockbain. We've always liked Cockbain so we'll back him to have a good 2016.

The bowling on the other hand continues to look paper thin. The addition of 32 year old Chris Liddle from Sussex looks like an attempt to fill James Fuller's shoes. Liddle has only 25 first class matches to his name and was seen as a one day specialist at Sussex. Whether he can replicate Fuller's ability to go all round the ground remains to be seen. The rest of the bowling remains. Miles will be backed to continue his remarkable progress and he will need support from David Payne and Liam Norwell. It would be nice if Jack Taylor could mature into an all-round cricketer to provide an alternative to Tom Smith.

However, that is about it. Scary really. Especially if you consider that none of the seamers have great fitness records. Aussie T20 player Andrew Tye will parachute himself in for the T20 Blast having impressed enough in the Big Bash earlier this year to have forced his way into the Aussie World T20 squad. You suspect that the T20 is very much where Glos see their bread being buttered.

2016 looks very much like a season for one day cricket at Gloucestershire. The club have clearly, and sensibly, identified this and based on the glorious success of last season it would be great to see the Shire build upon that. More pertinently, you cannot help but feel that the next few years will be very telling for the future of county cricket, and for clubs like Gloucestershire.

With city franchises looking more and more likely it is vital that Glos manage to create some sort of buzz around the club and start to attract the crowds to back this up. We now have what looks like a fairly sensible business strategy, new floodlights, new kit and some 2015 success. The club now just need to produce on the field to make Gloucestershire a relevant cricket club again. However, the club's decision to not invest more in the squad may yet scupper all the other careful planning. We hope not.

Good luck boys! Let's have some more great memories like last year.