Oh Glos. What are you doing to us. For the first time in about 5 years the Jessop Tavern was full of praise mid-season. Almost gushing were we in our praise of some of the cricket we had seen in the last month. Full of optimism we were for the month ahead of one day cricket. Then Sunday happened. Live TV. Somerset. Jamie Overton and Tim Groenewald. 65 for the last wicket.
Yet it all looked so good. Despite glorious sunshine the Jessop Tavern lingered indoors, risking icy stares from the girlfriend for wasting an entire Sunday. But it was worth it. Chris Dent showed his class on national TV before the young Gloucestershire bowlers strangled the life out of Somerset's response. The classic Gloucester squeeze meant that 166 for 3 soon became 198 for 9 and needing a further 63 to win, and with numbers 10 and 11 at the crease, the Jessop Tavern started to pack up the disposable barbecue for an evening in the park. An hour later and those sausages didn't taste half as good.
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Somerset's last wicket win was the fact that it was numbers 10 and 11 inflicting the pain. Usually these sort of last wicket wins are conducted by a guy well set and then a number 11 holding up an end with nervous play and misses, and streaky boundaries between his legs to third man. So for 10 and 11 to do the biffing was truly galling. Combine that with the fact that Groenewald and Overton simply stood still and hit in the arc between mid-on and mid-off as the Gloucester attack kept putting it in the slot time and time again made it even more incredible!
We won't even mention Gareth Roderick's schoolboy missed run out. letting the ball through your legs can happen to the best of us, and not a single person who has played a bit of Sunday cricket wouldn't have smiled at the sight of a professional doing something that is so familiar to them. Instead the Jessop Tavern will simply offer up its congratulations to Somerset. We could criticise the bowlers for not mixing things up more. But against 10 and 11 we always criticise bowlers who try to be too clever. Bowl straight and eventually the tailenders will make a mistake. With 63 runs to play with it was a fairly decent strategy. It just wasn't to be.
The following night Glos never really seemed to get going against Glamorgan, as if they were still struggling to shake off the effects of the night before. Understandable really. Batting first Glamorgan managed just below 300 and despite some late innings bashing from Benny the batsman it wasn't enough to get Gloucestershire anywhere near Glamorgan's total.
A couple of nights later and even the sanctuary of the Brightside Ground wasn't enough to rejuvenate Glos. A below par score score of 254 with only Roderick and O'Mish making contributions was never really enough against a strong Middlesex batting lineup. Even with the rain forcing a revised total Middlesex cruised home with plenty left in the tank. Craig Miles proved expensive for a third game in a row and Paul Stirling's hundred in only 87 balls was the difference between the sides.
Gloucestershire chose to drop Jack Taylor for this match, preferring instead to have the extra bowling option of Gourmet-Burger. Moving forward this will continue to be a question for Glos. Can they find a way to include Taylor's match turning batting despite the lack of his bowling? It will be interesting to see how Glos handle this.
After the match, coach Dawson made the salient point that last season Glos always found contributions from 7 or 8 players. The campaign this year has only had 2 or 3 players put their hands up in each match. Hard to argue with such wise words. We also haven't had a bloke opening the batting who scored a hundred everytime he walked to the wicket. It was quite handy that last year.