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Gloucestershire v Middlesex
Clydesdale Bank 40 Group A
Chris Rogers returned to haunt Gloucestershire as Middlesex stole a crucial march in the race for a Clydesdale Bank 40 semi-final place.
Needing victory to take charge of Group A, the Gladiators instead suffered a crushing 10-wicket defeat on the final day of the Cheltenham Festival, a result which casts doubt over their ability to qualify for the knockout stages.
So often a thorn in Gloucestershire sides during four seasons spent with Derbyshire, the 34-year-old Western Australian dominated proceedings at the College Ground, clubbing his way to a consummate hundred and sharing in a match-winning opening stand of 218 with Dawid Malan as Middlesex chased down a victory target of 215 with 9.3 overs to spare to move above the Netherlands and assume leadership of the group.
None of Gloucestershire’s bowlers was spared as Rogers raised 122 runs from 102 balls to register his first one-day century for Middlesex, smashing 18 fours and a six in the process.
Malan proved equally uncompromising, cutting and pulling his way to a chanceless 89 from 81 deliveries with 7 fours and 4 sixes to put the Panthers in control of the group.
Rogers and Malan’s partnership was the highest for the first wicket in any one-day match for Middlesex, surpassing the 210 posted by Paul Weeks and Ed Smith against Northumberland at Jesmond in 2005.
Insufficient though it was, Gloucestershire’s total of 214-8 was built around Dan Housego’s enterprising innings of 68 from 67 balls.
Having spent four years on the staff at Middlesex without playing a single one-day game for the London county, the 23-year-old right-hander no doubt felt he had a point to prove.
His decision to leave Lord’s and return to Gloucestershire several years after graduating from their Academy, has at long last afforded him an opportunity to establish himself as a regular selection in all forms of the game.
Highly-motivated, Housego certainly enhanced his burgeoning reputation on a two-paced College Ground pitch, timing the ball impressively during stands of 67 in 14 overs with Benny Howell and 60 in seven overs with Alex Gidman for the third and fourth wickets respectively.
He helped Gloucestershire rebuild their innings following the early loss of New Zealanders Hamish Marshall and Rob Nicol and then accelerated on his way to a CB40-best score, aided by 7 fours and a huge six over extra cover off Irish leg break bowler Paul Stirling.
Gidman proved even more destructive, twice hoisting Neil Dexter over mid-wicket for big sixes in a whirlwind knock of 27 from 23 balls that had a 4,000-plus-strong audience on their feet.
But Gidman skied a catch to square leg off Gareth Berg, Housego departed soon afterwards, held at long-on in the act of driving Stirling with the score on 153-5 in the 30th over and Gloucestershire lost crucial momentum thereafter.
Ian Cockbain and Ed Young picked up the cudgels in a stand of 48 in six overs for the sixth wicket, but the home side’s progress again faltered in the face of some accurate and hostile bowling at the death from England star Steve Finn and fellow paceman Tony Roland-Jones.
Having accounted for overseas debutant Nicol with the new ball, Finn returned to clean bowl Young for 19, finishing with 2-27 from eight overs, while Roland-Jones dismissed Cockbain (31) and Jon Batty in similar fashion to return figures of 3-24 and outshine his more illustrious team-mate.
To check on the score click below.