Gloucestershire v Worcestershire
Specsavers County Championship -
9 July 2017
Gloucestershire drew with Worcestershire
Venue: Cheltenham College Ground
Chris Dent’s second Championship century of the season and a burst of early wickets for David Payne and Liam Norwell wasn’t enough for Gloucestershire to seal victory over Worcestershire on the final day of their Championship match at the College Ground.
Dent made 135 not out, and added 189 for the third wicket with Roderick (81), as Worcestershire were set a teasing target of 370 to win in 51 overs.
Two wickets in the first three overs, both to Payne, and another soon after for Norwell had Worcestershire at 5-3, and when he bowled Rhodes in the second over after tea the scoreboard read 47-4. From there, however, an unbeaten 93 from the in-form Joe Clarke saw Worcestershire to safety and the teams shook hands with Worcestershire 155-5 and only nine overs left to bowl.
Listen to Chris Dent’s thoughts on the final day here :
With so much of Tuesday’s play lost to the weather, the prospects for the final day surrounded how the pitch would behave given the substantial amount of rain which had fallen in the previous 24 hours. Gloucestershire’s lead was a modest 145, and they could ill afford to lose a clutch of wickets in the first session.
John Hastings and Josh Tongue were certainly a lively opening pair, Tongue bowling a shorter length and testing but not tempting Chris Dent to hook or cut. Hastings, who had bowled from the Chapel end throughout the play that was possible on the third day, at one stage had six slips after Will Tavare played and missed twice in the same over. His eventual departure for 23, lbw to Barnard, brought a swift trip to the College balcony for sight of an action replay and a lot of muttering as he returned to the dressing room.
There was no evidence however of any excess moisture in the wicket and slowly Dent showed a little more enterprise, punching Barnard pleasantly off the back foot to take the lead past 200 in Brett D’Oliveira’s first over.
Only 35 minutes remained until lunch when the leg spinner and George Rhodes’ off spin were introduced and it wasn’t until that stage that the shackles were released. Dent reached his fifty off 143 balls and at the interval the advantage was 271 with Gloucestershire’s third wicket pair having added 68 runs in the previous 11 overs.
The game was still a genuine contest but Worcestershire’s perseverance with their slow bowlers at the resumption hinted at a desire to generate a declaration. Dent swept Rhodes to the square leg boundary to complete his second hundred of the season, the second fifty taking only 43 deliveries, and Roderick’s use of his feet was pleasing in striking five boundaries in a 77 ball half century.
When an over from Rhodes cost 21, Gloucestershire’s lead was 338 and Phil Mustard had seen enough shortly after Roderick was bowled for 81 when Tongue returned to the attack. Dent, having batted for over four and a quarter hours, finished 135 not out and Gloucestershire had given themselves 51 overs to bowl Worcestershire out with a 369 run cushion.
Any chance of a win hinged on wickets in the first hour, as all the quicker bowlers had said there was little in the pitch for them once the ball went soft. David Payne and Liam Norwell answered that challenge with excellent opening spells, Payne trapping D’Oliveira and Fell lbw on the crease and Norwell bowling the experienced Daryl Mitchell.
Joe Clarke had already cracked a couple of handsome drives through the gaps in the off side field before tea, and Rhodes’ departure in the second over after the resumption left him as the key man Gloucestershire needed to dislodge. However from a shaky position of 47-4, the England Lions batsmen went to the cusp of a third Championship century in his last five innings, standing tall to strike 15 stylish boundaries.
His control was in contrast to the rest of Worcestershire’s top order, and even in a stand of 63 with Cox for the fifth wicket, the ‘keeper’s share was only 21 when he played no shot to Noema-Barnett and was adjudged lbw.
24 overs still remained at that stage, and with Clarke well set it was Ross Whiteley who found the composure to stay with him and secure Worcestershire a draw.
Day 3 :
Barely an hour’s cricket was possible on the third day of Gloucestershire’s Championship match with Worcestershire at the Cheltenham Festival, with limited progress towards a positive result on the final day.
Overnight pair Cameron Bancroft and Chris Dent added 13 runs before Bancroft was caught at slip by Whiteley off Hastings for 22, and when the players left the field in the 16th over of the day for bad light, Gloucestershire had reached 62-1 in their second innings, an overall lead of 145. No further play was possible before the umpires called off play for the day in mid afternoon.
With a poor forecast for the day, a small crowd had gathered when Joe Leach saw Bancroft drive him to the cover boundary in the first over. Thereafter Leach was miserly, conceding only a single in his next four overs until Tavare mirrored Bancroft’s earlier stroke towards the Members stand.
Dent, who was seven not out overnight, played out two maidens from Hastings before he faced Leach for the first time, and his only scoring shot of the day from 42 balls faced was a steer to third man as Gloucestershire opted for caution against some accurate bowling.
Bancroft’s dismissal came with the score at 33, as he edged a ball from Hastings towards the slips. Wicketkeeper Ben Cox couldn’t take it cleanly, but his deflection took it into the path of Ross Whiteley, whose name will forever appear on the scorecard as the catcher.
It was Cox who held a fine catch to dismiss Tavare in the first innings, but here Tavare gave no such opportunity even though Hastings at one stage was bowling with five slips. As a result, Tavare collected four boundaries in the resultant gaps in the covers until bad light forced the players off shortly after midday.
Umpires Ian Blackwell and Russell Evans decided the players should take an early lunch but when play was due to resume the rain had started and the covers had to be replaced. A short window when the rain did stop was insufficient to allow the ground staff enough time to make a difference to playing conditions and it was raining again when play was abandoned at 3.20pm.
Due to the number of overs bowled, spectators with tickets for Tuesday’s play can claim a 50% refund on the cost of their ticket (less an administration fee). To do this, please post your details, along with your ticket to the club office at the Brightside Ground, Nevil Road, Bristol, BS& 9EJ.
Day 2 :
A fifth wicket stand of 141 between Worcestershire’s fifth wicket pair of wicketkeeper Ben Cox and George Rhodes – son of Director of Cricket Steve – ensured the Championship match at the College Ground was fascinatingly poised with two days remaining.
From a precarious 69-4, they regained some initiative in the match for the visitors either side of tea and after Rhodes (52) gave Miles his second wicket, Cox kept his concentration to make a career best 124.
A late crumble, as Noema-Barnett (4-31) nipped out three batsmen in four balls persuaded Worcestershire skipper Joe Leach to declare 83 runs behind at 300-9 and leave Gloucestershire an awkward eight overs to negotiate. At stumps, they were 20 without loss in their 2nd innings, 103 runs in front.
Listen to captain Phil Mustard’s reaction to the day here :
Gloucestershire’s Monday motivation – a term which has become common on social media – would have been to try and take maximum batting points for the first time this season and then take advantage in the field of the overcast conditions.
The batting equation demanded 57 runs in 14 overs, but it didn’t count on David Payne playing down the wrong line to Tongue’s third ball of the day. Liam Norwell announced his arrival with a text book cover drive which secured the fourth batting point, and thereafter Jack Taylor flayed the bowling for 20 minutes until, on 143, he hoisted Tongue to wide mid on and Leach ended the fun with a well judged catch.
With 383 on the board, Norwell and David Payne had plenty of credit in the bank with which to attack, and early indications were that batting was more awkward against the new ball than 24 hours earlier. Payne had already trapped Mitchell lbw for 6 before Norwell forced D’Oliveira to play and miss four times in the same over.
Fell’s edge to Noema-Barnett at fourth slip was no less than Norwell deserved, and although Miles was expensive before lunch he induced an error from D’Oliveira (25) who holed out to Norwell at deep square leg. It had been Gloucestershire’s morning and within three overs of the resumption Worcestershire were well on the back foot at 69-4 as Clarke (23) was bowled by Noema-Barnett without playing a shot.
By reputation, Worcestershire’s cricket this season had been attractive to watch, and after a circumspect start Cox and Rhodes embelleshed it with a sensible stand and a series of compact strokes. Cox used his feet to drive more securely against Noema-Barnett, who bowled economically from the Chapel end, while Rhodes looked most comfortable punching Payne and Norwell through the covers.
Rhodes appeared the more likely to take tea with a half century to his name, but needing only a single Cox raced past him with three boundaries in an over off Will Tavare. It was a precursor for what was to follow as, having seen Rhodes complete his fifty from 118 balls with seven fours and then clip a gentle catch to Tavare off Miles, Cox went through the gears to reach his first century for two seasons, and only the third of his career. His second fifty took only 45 deliveries, and the drive off Norwell which took him to three figures was his 17th boundary in all.
Supported by Ed Barnard, another strong cover driver, fifty runs came in 11 overs until Kieran Noema-Barnett’s most inflential spell of summer accounted for Cox – out for a career best 124 – Barnard (30) and Hastings within four deliveries. Worcestershire captain Joe Leach saw no benefit in facing the new ball with one wicket left and so gambled on a breakthrough in the final eight overs of the day having secured a third batting point at 300-9.
His declaration saw no profit, Gloucestershire closing at 20-0, but it maintained the pace of a match which still has a lot to offer with two days remaining.
An unbeaten century by Jack Taylor on the ground where made his career best score two years ago was the spine of Gloucestershire’s innings after they were put into bat by Worcestershire in their Championship match at the Cheltenham Festival.
Chris Dent’s departure for 65 saw Taylor join Phil Mustard at 129-5 and after adding 96 with his skipper, who made 50, Taylor went on to complete his first hundred of the season with 14 fours and a six.
Craig Miles (39) then played with increasing confidence to support Taylor in an eighth wicket stand of 89, and by stumps Gloucestershire has reached 343-8, Taylor taking the warm applause of a healthy crowd as he walked off 118 not out.
Listen to Jack Taylor’s reaction to the day here :
Head coach Richard Dawson opted to name the same side which had beaten Glamorgan in two days, and on this occasion Worcestershire captain Joe Leach didn’t hesitate to take up the option of bowling first.
Leach already has more than 40 Championship wickets coming into the match and in two short bursts with the new ball he added two further names to his tally. Cameron Bancroft’s only delivery was the first one of the match – the Australian was given out lbw playing back – and Will Tavare had made 21 when Cox took a fine one handed catch behind the stumps.
Tavare had earlier been dropped in the slips by Mitchell in Josh Tongue’s first over, and the young bowler was out of luck later too as Joe Clarke juggled and spilled an edge from Jack Taylor at third slip. It was an expensive miss.
A fast outfield contributed to a brisk scoring rate in the first hour, with 53 runs already on the board when Tavare departed. Both Tavare and Chris Dent had collected boundaries through the covers with little more than a firm defensive push off Hastings, and Dent also profited in one of his favourite areas, steering the ball to the boundary behind point.
Barnard looked lively from the College Lawn end and made amends for fumbling a run out opportunity when Dent called for a sharp single by taking one of two wickets in the last 40 minutes before lunch, Roderick (11) miscuing a pull and giving an easy catch to Hastings in the gully. When van Buuren edged off spinner Rhodes’ third ball to keeper Cox, Dent and skipper Mustard knew application was essential as they took lunch at 85-4.
The tactics of the two left handers saw a steady accumulation of runs in the early afternoon sunshine, Dent steering Barnard to third man to bring up his fifty from 103 balls with six fours. Worcestershire would still have been content with their decision to bowl at that point and the skiddy Barnard had two lbw appeals turned down by umpire Evans before he answered the third by giving Dent out deep in his crease. In truth, he almost walked without waiting for the decision.
Taylor’s innings had begun with an edge past third slip and on another day Clarke’s catch, when he had made 16, would have been taken. Buoyed by his good fortune, Taylor struck a straight six and two boundaries in an over from Rhodes and never looked back, playing the role of the aggressor in a stand of contrasts with Mustard. His half century came at almost a run a ball and with both men content to let the ball come to them and play off the back foot, the balance of the day had been readdressed by tea with Gloucestershire 221-5.
Mustard’s share of the 92 runs the pair had added to that point was only 30, but he did complete a patient half century before being bowled through the gate by Barnard in the same over. Any thoughts Worcestershire might have had about batting before the day was out were then dispelled by Taylor and Craig Miles who, after Noema-Barnett went for a duck, took Gloucestershire well beyond a third batting point.
Initially against the old ball, Miles had to fend off some short deliveries from Tongue, even managing to register an all run four off a rare half volley while Taylor was by now driving freely, picking off boundaries against Barnard – who bowled well – and Hastings, who has had happier days. When Leach was despatched first behind square and then straight, Taylor had swiftly negotiated the nineties and reached three figures from 122 balls with 14 fours and one six.
Nine overs remained on the day when Miles brought up the 300 on the board, and he hit Hastings into the Members stand before Barnard’s persistence brought him a fourth wicket, courtesy of Cox’s fourth catch. Miles had made 39, and added 89 with Taylor in 21 overs. David Payne kept the hero of the hour company until the close at 343-8, Gloucestershire having tipped the scales their way on a typically fluctuating Cheltenham day.
Worcestershire elected to bowl.
Christopher Dent | Cameron Bancroft | William Tavare | Gareth Roderick | Graeme van Buuren | Phil Mustard | Jack Taylor | Kieran Noema-Barnett | David Payne | Craig Miles | Liam Norwell |
Daryl Mitchell | Brett D'Oliveira | Thomas Fell | Joseph Clarke | George Rhodes | Oliver Cox | Ross Whiteley | Edward Barnard | Joseph Leach | John Hastings | Joshua Tongue |