A rather incredible afternoon at the Brightside ground saw Gloucestershire's spinners (yes, you read that right, Gloucestershire spinners!) run through Glamorgan on a 4th day pitch to bring victory from what looked like impending defeat. So sure was the Jessop Tavern that defeat was on the way that they had begun their rain dance. Needing less than 200 in 60 odd overs, and with all wickets in hand, Glamorgan proceed to unravel when faced by Gloucestershire's latest spin twins, Jack Taylor and Graeme van Buuren.
So, 5 matches into the new season, and with their first win of the season under their belt, Gloucestershire sit 4th in Division 2, even on points with 3rd placed Leicestershire, and only 3 points behind 2nd place Kent.
The victory against Glamorgan was a true team effort. From the very first morning when Gloucestershire were reduced to 5 for 85 and then 8 for 169 the Shire were always second favourites. The fact that they even managed to stay in the game on the first day was testament to 19 year old George Hankins' first first class 50 and then a stand of 90 for the 9th wicket between Craig Miles and David Payne. Not for the first time this season did Gloucestershire's lower order come to their rescue and keep them in a game.
Some welcome wickets for Craig Miles, including the delivery that forced the unfortunate Graham Wagg to retire hurt, then allowed Glos to stay in the game by bowling Glamorgan out for a lead of just 70 odd. A borderline lead that gave Glos hope but put Glamorgan in the driving seat.
On the day that Michael Klinger arrived for the summer, stand-in Aussie Cameron Bancroft final found his feet with a well constructed 70. He was ably joined by the in form O'Mish and the gritty Gareth Roderick, who despite making 67 seemingly still seems to be searching for his best form. However, with Michael Hogan running in from one end Glamorgan were frequently taking wickets and by reducing Glos to 271 for 8 they really were in the driving seat.
Cue Craig Miles. Again. Miles made 39 not out whilst enabling Glos to add 65 for the final 2 wickets, crucial runs that pushed Glamorgan's run chase above 250. Miles, Payne and Centurion Norwell have all performed heroics with the bat for Gloucestershire this season and with the explosive Jack Taylor at number 8, Glos have the making of a very stout rearguard and full credit should go to the young bowling unit for developing their games to such a level.
In their run chase Glamorgan looked comfortable at 87 without loss, and although requiring 3 an over on a slightly sluggish pitch, a draw would really have been the best Glos could have hoped for midway through the afternoon.
Enter Graeme van Buuren, part-time left arm spinner, albeit with a first class bowling average of 25 (but with only 68 wickets in 53 games). In fact, van Buuren is a statistical curiosity. He averages 50 with the bat in his 53 games which makes him look like the second coming of Jacques Kallis. Presumably this says more about the standard of first class cricket in South Africa, although here's hoping he backs these stats up as Glos will have picked up a very handy player)
We digress. van Buuren, who had fired in leg stump darts in the first innings, removed Glamorgan's top 3 for just 11 runs being added. In his 10 overs he ended up with 3 for 15, before taking his cap and handing over to Jack Taylor to finish the job. Taylor duly obliged by running through Glamorgan's bottom order to win the match for the Shire. Glamorgan went from 87 without loss in the 22nd over, to 143 all out in the 48th. A collapse not uncommon at the Brightside Ground, but with Gloucestershire batsmen usually the ones walking back to the pavilion.
And so this most unlikely of wins suddenly sets Gloucestershire up quite nicely. The squad seems to be taking shape. Klinger is back. van Buuren could be an excellent signing. O'Mish has 2 hundreds and almost 500 runs to sit 4th in the division 2 run charts. Chris Dent isn't too far behind with 444 runs. Craig Miles has returned. The lower order can all score runs.
Most excitingly, Jack Taylor has developed into a very dynamic, match-changing, 4 day player to complement his already proven prowess in the shorter forms of the game. Taylor has 387 runs at an average of 48, and 12 wickets at an average of 28. All in the county championship. A far cry from the last few years when he has struggled with his action and not looked close to the 4 day team. The coaching team are clearly doing something right!
Now it is on to the T20 Blast. But only for Friday. Then back to 4 day cricket next week. Oh English cricket. Will the nonsense ever end.
Day 1 highlights
Day 2 highlights
Day 3 highlights
Day 4 highlights