Overseas batsman Cameron Bancroft reached three figures for the first time for Gloucestershire on a largely sunny September day at the Brightside Ground.
The 24 year old from Western Australia started steadily against promotion chasing Kent in Gloucestershire’s penultimate home fixture but accelerated after chalking up his fourth half century in Division 2 this season to reach his hundred shortly before tea.
His opening partnership of 141 with Chris Dent, who made 59, was by some distance the highest of the season in the Championship, and the pair batted for more than half the allotted overs on the first day without being parted – foiling Kent’s attack after Sam Northeast decided to field first after an uncontested toss.
Aided by the second new ball, Kent fought back in the final session and when bad light ended play shortly before 5 o’clock, Gloucestershire had reached 242-5, with Bancroft 124 not out.
Listen to Cameron Bancroft’s thoughts on his hundred here :
Gloucestershire named the same eleven that won at Leicester last Friday, and with the pitch looking to have some moisture in it, Kent backed their seam bowlers and asked Gloucestershire to bat.
Early indications suggested it was a fair decision, as Darren Stevens had big lbw appeals turned down in each of his first two overs against both Dent and Bancroft but the threat gradually died away despite Stevens and Adam Milne bowling accurate opening spells.
Both offered little which could be driven and the first boundary didn’t arrive until Bancroft clipped Milne through mid wicket in the seventh over. Kent wicket keeper Sam Billings was soon standing up to Stevens with Bancroft batting well outside his crease, but a punched drive by the Australian through extra cover showed he was settling in and determined to convert a start into a big score.
What an innings from the Australian @cbancroft4
A lovely boundary brings up the 100! Well played pic.twitter.com/5xWqT2V0Uh
— Gloucestershire CCC (@Gloscricket) September 12, 2017
Bancroft had the lion’s share of the strike in the first hour, but partner Dent played one of the shots of the morning off Calum Haggett, driving elegantly through the covers and a cut past point, also off Haggett, brought up the fifty partnership in the 23rd over. By lunch Kent’s six bowlers had conceded 81 runs, and the fifth over of the afternoon session brought up the century stand as Bancroft punched Stevens past point shortly after completing his fifty, made from 125 balls.
Milne and Coles continued to toil unrewarded until Kent captain Sam Northeast turned to the occasional leg spin of Joe Denly, who had bowled only 44 overs in Championship cricket this summer. Dent’s patient accumulation had taken him to 49, and he reached a seventh fifty of the season from 132 deliveries by sending Denly over the rope towards the apartments at long off. A cut to point followed two balls later only for Denly to prove the stand breaker, trapping Dent lbw for 59 with the Gloucestershire total on 141.
It was to be the start of a long spell for Denly, who bowled 16 overs from the Ashley Down Road end either side of tea. He had one loud appeal for lbw against Bancroft rejected with the Gloucestershire opener on 81, but he also offered the odd loose delivery, Bancroft striking a flat, straight six and visibly enjoying the celebration of his first Gloucestershire hundred after working his 12th boundary to mid wicket. His innings had lasted 197 balls and had been the backbone of the total.
By tea – taken with Gloucestershire 186-2 – Bancroft’s partner was James Bracey, Gareth Roderick (10) having clipped Mitchell Claydon to Zak Crawley at square leg, but the left hander who returns to University at the end of the month departed in the first over after the resumption, lbw to Denly for 10 playing a paddle sweep.
It marked the start of a good session for Kent, who kept Gloucestershire’s scoring in check until the new ball was due and then took two quick wickets, Hankins getting his feet in a tangle and being trapped lbw Stevens for 16, and Mustard edging Milne to the safe hands of Stevens at slip.
Bancroft, however, was resolute and had occupied the crease for nearly five and a half hours when the umpires brought the players off for bad light 35 minutes before the scheduled close. He’ll start Wednesday’s play with 124 not out against his name, and with some aggressive lower order support available to try and build a big first innings total.