Monday, 10 April 2017

Glos begin 2017 campaign with a spectacular collapse against Kent

Kent 298 (Denly 62, Stevens 50) and 246 (Denly 59, Gidman 51, Tredwell 47*, Norwell 5-59) beat Gloucestershire 149 (Dent 67, Claydon 4-35) and 61 (Stevens 6-22) by 334 runs
It's an inauspicious start. At 2pm on a warm Sunday afternoon one half of the Jessop Tavern View texted the other, "396 runs in a day and a half. Plenty of time". The other half of the text read, "Or it'll be all over tonight". Neither was correct. It was actually all over that afternoon. Night wasn't even close to setting in.

Having spent two and a bit days with the bowlers holding their own against a fairly strong Kent batting lineup the batsmen proceeded to give it away. Spectacularly. Having chuckled to ourselves the previous night that at least the Shire wouldn't be as bad as Glamorgan look this year, the lads proceeded to make a mockery of this thought. It could be a long season.

To place this result in context. Glos began 2016 with an equal pumping from Essex. The main difference that that defeat didin't contain the comic collapse to being bowled out for 61. Incredibly, 61 all out represented a sort of triumph. In reality Glos should have been skittle for less. Liam Norwell and Chris Liddle adding 24 for the final wicket. To rub salt into the wounds, then man running through Glos was soon to turn 41 years old Darren Stevens.

On to the positives. Liam Norwell. 3 for 46 in the first innings. 5 for 59 in the second. Ably supported by wickets scattered around to David Payne, Craig Miles, Chris Liddle and cheap wickets to Jack Taylor. You could argue that allowing Kent to get to 298 in the first innings was probably 50 runs too many. But restricting a decent batting lineup to less than 300 runs both times around should at least get you in the game. Glos were never in this game.

Skittled for 149 in the first innings was bad. Only Chris Dent demonstrating the necessary application and quality on what was described as a 'sporting' pitch. Second time around the Shire just fell away. We started the season with large concerns over the quality of this batting lineup minus Maxy Klinger and O'Mish. Those concerns have now grown. But it is only one game. And the first game of the season at that. So lets not be too harsh at this early stage.

One curiosity that we reckon presents a real dilemma for Glos is how to use Jack Taylor in 4 day cricket. In Kent's first innings Taylor bowled 5 overs that went for almost 6 an over. In their second innings he bowled 3 overs at 8 runs an over, effectively buying his 2 wickets. In both innings Graeme Van Buuren was brought on earlier. Van Buuren bowled 14 overs in the first innings. Then 11 in the second innings. Van Buuren is clearly the preferred spinner when it comes to offer control and holding up an end in order to let the seamers get a rest.

The question is then what to do with Taylor. He batted at 7 in both innings, contributing little, although he was hardly along in this regard. Can you continue to carry a guy who biffs away at 7 but doesn't bowl? Can he be considered an all rounder? You suspect that Richard Dawson desperately wants him to be consider as such, however, at the moment he seems to be struggling to offer enough with the ball to justify viewing him as such.

Admittedly, it is April. Hardly a spinner's paradise. It is just slightly concerning to see how little trust Glos have in his capacity to control a game. His batting last year showcased the possibility that this becomes his strongest suit. Yet when charged with playing solely as a batsman during his bowling ban Taylor struggled to continue the explosive form of earlier in the campaign. Almost as if the sudden weight of expectation of being relied on for runs restricted his decision making. It's much easier to play with freedom when you come in down the order and you view your primary role as being in the side as the spin option. Don't get us wrong. We like Taylor. He has a lot of talent, particularly with the bat. Plus he's a game changer. How Glos decide to utilise him, and likewise how Taylor manages to develop, could be a key to Gloucestershire's development as a side in 2017.

Next up for Glos are Leicestershire, on Good Friday. Leicestershire are fresh off their own hiding to Nottinghamshire, being bowled out for 81 in their second innings. Whoever is planning a nice Easter Sunday trip to the cricket may wish to start making other plans.

Video 'highlights' from the game:

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

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