Monday, 1 May 2017

Super Cockbain and Benny salvage the Shires one day campaign

Glamorgan 277-7 (Liddle 2-51, Howell 2-54) beat Glos 232 -8 (Klinger 78, Van Buuren 51, J Taylor 51) by 18 runs on D/L
Glos 257 - 5 (Cockbain 108*, Howell 86*) beat Middlesex 256 - 9 (Norwell 5-36) by 5 wickets.
This season the Royal London One Day Cup has very sensibly been allocated a 3 week block in which to play through the entire group stage. Players will have the opportunity to concentrate on one set of skills and fans will have a chance to engage in the competition without constantly switching back and forth to championship and T20 matches.

It's hardly the work of scheduling genius, but given this is the ECB we are talking about we shouldn't be surprised that such a move has taken over 50 years to be put in place. (If one day cricket has ever been allocated 'blocks of time' in the championship schedule then we are happy to be corrected here - potentially the RLODC now resembles the old Benson & Hedges? But we are pretty sure that old tournament still used to fit in around 4 day cricket).

The structure of the one day cup has had the flaw for a number of years that a couple of early defeats essentially end your interest in the competition before it is even up and running. With only 3 teams from each 9 team group progressing the need to get off to a winning start is imperative.

On Sunday afternoon Glos sat poised on the precipice. Ian Cockbain was joined at the crease in the 22 over by Benny Howell and both men stared up at the scoreboard, passed the rows of empty seats, and took deep breaths. 65 for 5. Klinger, gone. The explosive Jack Taylor, gone. In Thursday's opening match loss to Glamorgan Cockbain had made a 5 ball duck. Benny faced only 8 balls for his 4 runs. Neither man had played a championship match. Both new that another loss would pretty much spell the end of the Shire's involvement in the competition. It was a time for heroes. And in the spirit of true heroes of the Jessop Tavern, they delivered.

Our love of Cockbain has already been discussed. It defies logic. His hundred yesterday was his first white ball hundred. He's supposedly a white ball specialist. No logic. Our love for Benny is more born out of fear. His open tirade against us on twitter a few years ago still hurts. Since then he has become the countries most feared T20 bowler. We like to think we played a small part in this rise. We love him for this. And the fact he is French. Not enough French cricketers.

Looking back over the first two games the situation probably should be even better for Glos. Despite losing early wickets in pursuit of Glamorgan's 277, captain Klinger and Van Buuren rebuilt and then were casually accelerating towards their total when the rain and bad light came. By the time they resumed and D/L had got involved the game had changed. Both Klinger and Van Buuren fell straight after the resumption and this essentially ended Gloucestershire's chances, despite some lusty hitting from Jack Taylor at the death. Had the rain not intervened the game may have had a different complexion.

Heading to division 1's title winning team, and the home of cricket, wasn't the most straight forward assignment for a must-win match. Liam Norwell did his best, tearing in from the Pavilion end for 10 straight overs to take 5 for 36 and reduce Middlesex to 97 for 5. Although the home side recovered to 256, it was a total Klinger and Co would definitely have fancied. However, at 65 for 5 the game looked up but for the Jessop Tavern's heroes.

Cockbain in particular really has developed into a very fine, mature, one day cricketer with an astute one day brain. He very much mirrors a lot of what Michael Klinger does so well. He can play multiple types of innings and backs himself that if he bats for time he will have scored at the appropriate rate. This was noticeable in the T20 Blast last year where he finished as the third highest run scorer, and with an average above 50. He can be a blaster, but his game has many more parts than that now.

Glos will next travel to Essex and Hampshire later this week as their one day campaign picks up pace. This Glos team again looks well set up for one day success, although a few less top order slumps will be needed moving forward. Klinger continues where he has been for the last few years. A class apart at this level. If Cockbain and Dent can contribute in the middle order, then Benny and Jack Taylor's explosiveness should provide a match winning lower order twist.

The bowling is nicely balanced, although it would be nice to see Matt Taylor find his feet again. 0-74 was not a strong argument for him to being the man to oust Chris Liddle. Speaking of which, his 2 for 51 against Glamorgan was respectful enough, although he sat out the Middlesex win with a 'tweaked' muscle. Gloucestershire refused to comment on which 'muscle' it was.

Video highlights from the Middlesex game below:


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