Gloucestershire v Derbyshire
Specsavers County Championship -
25 September 2017
Derbyshire won by by 157 runs
Venue: The Brightside Ground, Bristol
Day 4 :
Gloucestershire’s unbeaten record in the Championship at the Brightside Ground in 2017 was ended on the final day by Derbyshire’s veteran leg spinner Imran Tahir.
Bowling with all the exuberance which has been the hallmark of his career, he took 5-76 and the visitors dismissed for 223 in pursuit of a victory target of 381 in 80 overs.
The match, which had seen more than a day lost to rain and bad light, was set up by captains Phil Mustard and Gary Wilson after declared on their overnight first innings score of 224-2. Derbyshire, facing Mustard and Chris Dent, scored 144 runs in 40 minutes to leave an equation which meant the remainder of the final day would have meaningful play, Derbyshire picking up their third win of the season by 157 runs with 20.3 overs in hand.
Listen to head coach Richard Dawson’s reflections at the close here :
Around the country other matches were heading towards positive finishes, and with a decent weather forecast it seemed a shame for this one to drift towards a draw with neither side’s final position in the table under threat. The options on the devised target and Phil Mustard’s immediate declaration with Gloucestershire 236 runs in arrears on first innings game a clear indication of a long chase to the finish line.
That stance was understandable from a Derbyshire viewpoint, given only 12 wickets had fallen across the 172.1 overs bowled on the first three days. A short chase would have significantly favoured Gloucestershire batting last, so Ben Slater and Luis Reece walked to the wicket knowing quick runs were available to fast forward the match.
In the end, they batted for less than an hour, peppering the boundary boards off the unlikely opening attack of Phil Mustard and Chris Dent. 28 boundaries quickly ticked up, and when Dent bowled a wide in the 14th over, Slater (74*) and Reece (61*) headed for the pavilion, leaving Gloucestershire to score 381 in 80 overs to win the game.
Facing such a large total the start was circumspect, especially after Benny Howell was well caught by ‘keeper Harvey Hosein in Harry Podmore’s second over for five. Hardus Viljoen used the yorker against both Chris Dent and James Bracey but both were equal to it, the latter getting off the mark with a lovely off drive.
The pair had almost reached lunch when Podmore, after switching ends, induced an edge from Dent (19) and Hosein picked up his second catch. It left Bracey and George Hankins in almost a parallel position to the first innings with both openers gone and some rebuilding to do.
From 54-2 at the resumption they again showed creditable composure, especially against Imran Tahir who had bowled the last over of the morning session. Shot selection was important, and both played a lot towards the straight boundaries, which were shorter than usual because of the temporary stands still being in place following the ODI.
Hankins drove from his crease, both down the ground and over mid off, while Bracey’s footwork enabled him to strike a straight six towards the pavilion. The pair had added 70 in 15 overs when Tahir’s persistence was rewarded as Bracey, on 44, was teased to try and go over mid wicket and Will Davis made ground to take the catch.
With the Pakistan born spinner wheeling away at one end Derbyshire could explore their options at the other, Wayne Madsen bowling a few overs of off spin before Viljoen returned for a second spell. It went unrewarded, but Tahir continued to chip away at the Gloucestershire middle order, taking a smart return catch to remove Hankins for 48 and then trapping Jack Taylor lbw for 7.
It left Gloucestershire 147-5 with half their allocated overs gone, although attacking fields meant skipper Phil Mustard and Kieran Noema-Barnett knew quick runs were still possible. We’ll never know what might have happened had their stand flourished after tea as just before it Derbyshire got a bonus sixth wicket. Noema-Barnett, having clubbed six boundaries off only 19 balls, tried to Madsen over long off, only to find the safe hands of Davis at deep cover from the outside half of the bat.
His departure for 30 left Derbyshire needing only four wickets in the final session, and their path towards victory was accelerated by the introduction of their second leg spinner Matt Critchley.
Bowling for the first time in the match, he removed Mustard for 37 – seemingly off a bottom edge – and had David Payne caught at slip within his first four overs. Tahir, after a brief breather, bamboozled Josh Shaw and when Matt Taylor was adjudged lbw, Derbyshire had taken Gloucestershire’s last seven wickets for 88 in 24 overs to wrap up victory.
Two twenty year old batsmen – one of whom isn’t yet a fully fledged professional – showed a balance between patience and progressive stroke play on the penultimate day of the season at the Brightside Ground.
George Hankins and James Bracey put together an unbroken third wicket stand of 170 in 45 overs to crush any hopes Derbyshire had of forcing the follow-on after Harry Podmore bowled Benny Howell for 36 in the third over of the day.
When rain forced the players off an hour after lunch, Gloucestershire had reached 224-2 in reply to Derbyshire’s 460 all out, with Bracey 82 not out and Hankins unbeaten on 79, his highest score in the Championship this summer.
Gloucestershire began the third day knowing they realistically needed to bat for two sessions to avoid the follow-on, and with the first hour being Derbyshire’s best chance of a crop of wickets on a docile Bristol pitch.
One arrived almost immediately, as Benny Howell chopped a bottom edge into his stumps in Harry Podmore’s second over of the day. George Hankins then walked in to join James Bracey, who finishes his summer’s cricket this week before heading back to complete his degree at Loughborough University. Their combined age is less than that of Durham’s Paul Collingwood who has again made more than 1,000 Championship runs this season, and their diligence in this stand had all the hallmarks of the former England all rounder.
Their styles are different, and not just because Bracey is a left hander. On the evidence of his recent run in the team, Bracey’s approach is more studious. He’s prepared to repeatedly leave deliveries if necessary but when playing through the offside there is a stylish flourish to some of his shots. Hankins stands taller, and soon here he was playing some forcing strokes off the back foot square with the wicket.
Derbyshire’s third wicket pair both made centuries on the second day, and 24 on, their bowlers found little to encourage them, Hankins disdainfully playing a short arm pull to mid wicket off Viljoen, and when veteran leg spinner Imran Tahir was introduced Hankins lifted him for six towards the Pavilion in his first over.
Tahir bowled an unchanged 11 over spell up to lunch which included the one genuine chance Derbyshire missed. Hankins, who had also played an excellent square drive to the point boundary off Will Davis, miscued a straighter effort to Slater at extra cover, only to see the ball spin into and out of the fielder’s hands.
Both batsmen went on to complete their half centuries before the break, by which time they had added 118 in 31 overs. Hankins despatched a straight drive off Davis for his ninth four to bring up his fifty from only 57 balls, while Bracey, content to bat at his own pace, took nearly twice as many (110) striking seven boundaries.
At the resumption Derbyshire brought back opening bowlers Viljoen and Podmore for another burst and Bracey almost edged Viljoen to Hughes at slip in the second over, only for the ball to fall short.
Hankins briefly got in a tangle against Podmore but when his spell ended, the Gloucestershire pair’s progress became as comfortable as before, Bracey turning Davis to fine leg to bring up the 200. The 150 partnership soon followed, only for rain to halt a well compiled stand in mid-afternoon with Gloucestershire 224-2, 86 runs shy of the follow-on target and with two home grown youngsters now aiming to complete centuries on the season’s final day.
Day 2 :
A first century of the season for Wayne Madsen and a career best 142 from Alex Hughes gave the Gloucestershire bowlers a day of hard graft on a feather bed of a pitch at the Brightside Ground.
Resuming on 104-2, and having batted for nine overs on the first day, Derbyshire’s third wicket pair took their stand to 233 in 67 overs before Madsen was caught down the leg side by James Bracey off Josh Shaw for 121.
Benny Howell also removed Matt Critchley for 19 before tea as the second new ball brought some belated reward, and the departure of Gary Wilson to Matt Taylor shortly after the resumption meant that Gloucestershire had taken three wickets in an hour.
When Hughes was finally out for 142, Harvey Hosein and Harry Podmore secured maximum batting points before a clatter of wickets and some lusty hitting saw Derbyshire all out for 460, having lost their last six wickets for 114 after tea.
It left Gloucestershire 12 overs to bat until stumps, during which time Viljoen trapped Chris Dent lbw for 4. When bad light ended play three overs early, Gloucestershire were 47-1, still 413 runs behind.
Listen to Tom Smith’s reflections on the day here :
Gloucestershire began the second day looking to make early inroads into the Derbyshire batting having missed a couple of chances within the 26 overs that were possible on Monday afternoon. Wayne Madsen did well to dig out an early yorker from David Payne, who opened from the Ashley Down Road end, having earlier cut Shaw to the point boundary from the Pavilion end. It was an area that proved consistently fruitful for Derbyshire in the first two sessions.
A statistical “wagon wheel” of where runs were scored showed that nearly 50% had come either square with or behind the wicket, emphasizing the time Madsen and Hughes had to assess or adjust their shots. A change of ball was required after a punched drive by Madsen off Shaw, but there was no further assistance from the replacement until Noema-Barnett induced an edge from Madsen that dropped short of Dent at second slip.
Madsen brought up his half century by steering Matt Taylor past point for a single and although Hughes took an additional 40 balls to reach the same stage, he was equally unfussy in his approach as both men steadily accumulated their runs, sweeping and cutting Tom Smith when the spinner was introduced half an hour before lunch.
Despite an economical spell from Kieran Noema-Barnett Derbyshire’s third wicket pair had added 89 in the morning session, and with twenty overs until the second new ball when the afternoon’s play began Madsen and Hughes had every chance to build a sizeable total.
In almost processional fashion Madsen passed his highest score of the season and then the milestone of 10,000 first class runs in his career before a leg glance off Matt Taylor saw the long serving South African reach three figures from 175 deliveries with 17 fours.
The pair had added more than 200 by the time Gloucestershire were able to take the second new ball, and Hughes’ fifteenth boundary – albeit a thick edge over the slips – brought up his hundred from 205 balls. It was Josh Shaw who finally ended 66 barren overs as James Bracey took a tumbling catch down the leg side to remove Madsen for 121.
Benny Howell, in the attack for the first time, bowled a lovely leg cutter to splay Matt Critchley’s stumps for 19 ahead of the tea interval, and Derbyshire needed just 54 runs from 17 overs when the final session resumed for maximum batting points.
Hughes nearly steered them all the way, only to skew a ball from Noema Barnett to Chris Dent at cover for a career best 142. By that point Wilson had gone cheaply to Matt Taylor, but Podmore and Hosein added 70 in nine overs to ram home the position created for them. Tom Smith picked up three of the last four wickets which fell for only ten runs, and Gloucestershire were left to face a Derbyshire total of 460 with a dozen awkward overs to see out before the close.
The deficit had been reduced by 14 runs when Chris Dent was lbw to Hardus Viljoen, and in indifferent light Benny Howell took advantage of Madsen’s gentle off spin to clear the rope three times before bad light ended play with Gloucestershire 47-1 and still needing to bat responsibly on the third day to avoid the follow-on.
Day 1 :
A combination of rain and poor light saw only 26 overs play on the first day of Gloucestershire’s final home Championship match of the season with Derbyshire at the Brightside Ground.
After four inspections, play finally started at 2 o’clock with Derbyshire giving up their option to field first, losing the toss and being asked to bat by Gloucestershire captain Phil Mustard.
The scheduled afternoon session was cut short by 15 minutes because of bad light, and things did not improve when umpires Ben Debenham and Neil Bainton returned with their light meters after the tea interval. Rain soon followed, and play was eventually called off for the day at 5.15 with Derbyshire 104-2 in their first innings.
Listen to Phil Mustard’s thoughts on the day here :
As had been expected, Liam Norwell was unable to take his place in the attack after a hamstring injury curtailed his involvement at Cardiff last week.
Tom Smith’s inclusion in place of Norwell was not a surprise, but when the captains handed over their team sheets to the umpires at 1.30pm after a damp morning delayed the start, Derbyshire’s Gary Wilson became the first (and last) visiting skipper this summer to ask for the batting side be decided by spinning a coin. Wilson’s call was incorrect, and his opposite number Phil Mustard immediately decided it was a day to bowl.
On a pitch which had produced over 600 runs in the ODI between England and the West Indies 24 hours earlier, Luis Reece and in particular Ben Slater weren’t afraid to go for their shots, Slater working the ball to the mid wicket boundary twice in Payne’s second over.
A third boundary came off a thick outside edge before Payne twice thought he had Reece caught close to the wicket. Neither appeal was upheld and even after changing ends Payne remained two wickets short of 200 in first class cricket.
Josh Shaw had shared the new ball with Payne – also without any joy – and it was Matt Taylor who dismissed both openers after an expensive opening over in which Slater played a cover drive which would have graced any text book. He’d made 45 out of 74 when his middle stump was knocked back by Taylor, who nine runs earlier had trapped Reece lbw for 13.
Taylor also had a big appeal for lbw against Alex Hughes turned down as Derbyshire, despite the slow outfield, found the boundary 16 times against attacking field settings which could have brought more than two wickets.
Hughes edged his second ball between wicket keeper Bracey and Noema-Barnett at first slip, and Madsen’s boundary which pushed the Derbyshire score to exactly 100 in what turned out to be the last over of the day dropped just short of George Hankins at third slip.
Derbyshire’s approach with the bat had been refreshingly positive, but play was halted just short of the scheduled tea interval and Gloucestershire will hope to make more of the chances they create on the second day.
Gloucestershire won the toss and elected to bowl.
Christopher Dent | Benny Howell | James Bracey | George Hankins | Phil Mustard | Jack Taylor | Kieran Noema-Barnett | Tom Smith | David Payne | Joshua Shaw | Matthew Taylor |
Benjamin Slater | Luis Reece | Gary Wilson | Wayne Madsen | Alex Hughes | Matthew Critchley | Harvey Hosein | Harry Podmore | G Viljoen | William Davis | Mohammad Tahir |