Specsavers County Championship - 23 September 2019

Match Drawn

Venue: Bristol County Ground

Gloucestershire v Northamptonshire

Day 4

Gloucestershire and Northamptonshire both clinched promotion to Division One of the Specsavers County Championship without even taking to the field on the final day of the match at Bristol.

Their elevation was confirmed when news broke that play had been abandoned for the day in the match between Durham and fourth-placed Glamorgan at Chester-le-Street, denying the Welsh county the victory they needed if they were to retain any hope of overhauling either of their rivals.

Umpires Mike Burns and David Millns then took the decision to abandon play for the day at the Bristol County Ground after heavy overnight rain again left the outfield under water. 

Northants claimed seven points from a drawn match to finish second behind Lancashire, one place ahead of Gloucestershire, who took six points. And players from both sides then celebrated together in the dressing rooms.

"I've never seen anything like this in my career," revealed Northants batsman Alex Wakeley. "We get on really well with the Gloucestershire boys and for us both to be promoted on the same day while playing one another is a great feeling.

"There was no hesitation. Even before we knew our game was off, we went into their dressing room to congratulate them on being promoted. Once our game was also abandoned, we all mixed together and shared a few beers. 

"It's a great atmosphere in there, something really special, because we're two teams that nobody really expected to do this well."

Having finally lead Gloucestershire to Division One after five years in charge, head coach Richard Dawson admitted: "This has been my aim all along, since I first arrived here from Yorkshire.

"I remember playing just half the season when Yorkshire won the Championship in 2001 and I remember how difficult that was. To be able to put it together on a consistent basis over the course of an entire season is something else, and that's the message I've had to try and get across to the players here.

"They were playing well for a session or two, then having a poor session and wondering why they were losing games. You need to be at it all of the time, you cannot afford to drop off for even a single session if you want to win games.

"They now know just how much work needs to go into winning a four-day game. The big difference this year, is that they have been able to maintain the levels required for much longer."

He added: "Nobody outside of Gloucestershire gave us a chance of doing this at the start of the season. It's a special kind of achievement and I make no apology for finishing third and going up. 

"You have to play the hand that is given you and it's the top three that go up this season. We'll take it.

"I've not allowed myself to think too much about Division One, in case it brought us bad luck. But I'm now looking forward to the challenge and I know the players are excited about that.

"We've played the best sides in one-day cricket and matched them and that will now be our aim in four-day cricket. It's about having the ability to play good cricket day in and day out."

Gloucestershire won four of their last six games to advance from a mid-table position at the start of July, while Northants surged into second place courtesy of four straight wins in August and September.

Experienced batsman Wakeley paid tribute to Northants captain Adam Rossington, saying: "He's brought us all together and given us the confidence to win matches and believe in ourselves.

"When you're on a losing run, you tend to over-analyse things and it's hard to snap out of it. But when you're winning, you just rock up to the next game and keep doing the same things.

"We were unable to turn good situations into wins during the early part of the season, but then it just clicked for us. I think it was a confidence thing. All of a sudden, we went into games believing we could win them, and that's made the difference."

Gloucestershire all-rounder Ben Charlesworth was left high and dry on 77 not out as the game was abandoned with the home side on 220-7 in their first innings. Despite needing just one more run to establish a new career-best score, he was philosophical, saying: "It's about the team, not me. We're delighted to have got the job done."

Persistent rain meant only 73 overs were possible in a match which saw two complete days washed out. 

Put into bat in damp conditions on the opening day, Gloucestershire collapsed to 80-6, Ben Sanderson taking two wickets to advance his tally for the season to 60.

Any nerves were dispelled when Charlesworth and Graeme van Buuren (93) joined forces in a seventh-wicket stand of 151 on the third day to carry Gloucestershire to the very brink of promotion..

Day 3

Graeme van Buuren and Ben Charlesworth staged a superb seventh wicket stand of 151 as Gloucestershire took a major step towards securing promotion on the third day of the Specsavers County Championship Division Two match against Northamptonshire at Bristol.

Teenage all-rounder Charlesworth registered a career-best-equalling 77 not out, while van Buuren scored a season's best 93 as Gloucestershire, who resumed their first innings on 80-6, reached the close on 220-7.

Second-placed Northants were left to reflect on a slightly lacklustre performance with the ball, but their promotion to the First Division will nevertheless be confirmed should they secure a draw on the final day.

Only fourth-placed Glamorgan can now spoil the party planned for Bristol later today. But their prospects of taking the 12 wickets and scoring the 400 runs they need to secure a maximum-points victory over Durham are surely at an end after a second successive day's play was lost to rain at Chester-le-Street.

Northants are all but promoted and third-placed Gloucestershire will be sure to join them if they can bank three further bonus points and claim a draw.

They still had a good deal of work to do when they finally resumed their first innings at 3pm on a day when 60 overs were lost to a damp outfield and rain showers.

Despite the precarious nature of their position, the hosts suffered none of the anxiety that characterised their batting on Monday, Charlesworth and van Buuren meeting the demands of the day in assured fashion.

Charlesworth survived a vehement lbw appeal from off spinner Rob Keogh, while van Buuren played and missed at Ben Sanderson on a couple of occasions early on. Otherwise, Gloucestershire's seventh wicket pair appeared largely untroubled as they chalked up a series of milestones.

Charlesworth was first to realise 50, reaching that landmark for the first time this season via 98 balls, with seven fours. More aggressive in his approach, van Buuren needed 16 balls fewer to register a half century that included eight boundaries.

Both had achieved their highest scores of the season by the time they raised the hundred partnership. Gloucestershire's main objective was achieved shortly before the close, Charlesworth and van Buuren bringing up 200 to secure an all-important batting bonus point for their side.

There was still time for 18-year-old Charlesworth to match his previous highest first-class score of 77 not out, made against Middlesex on this ground a year earlier. 

If his flowing off-drives caught the eye, his ability to leave the ball was still more impressive on a day when Gloucestershire required him to bat with a maturity beyond his years.

Full of vim and vigour, van Buuren out-scored his young partner, helping himself to 13 fours in a progressive innings that spanned 155 balls. Caught behind off the bowling of Gareth Berg three overs from the end of the day, he missed out on a hundred that had appeared to be his for the taking. 

Gloucestershire all-rounder Graeme van Buuren said: "We'd have taken this position had it been offered at the start of the day. Our main objective was to get past 200 and bank a batting bonus point. But 80-6 was a tricky situation and we just set out our stall to bat for a long time. They still caused us problems when they bowled straight, but it became easier the longer we stayed out there. In the end, the runs seemed to come quite quickly and we enjoyed ourselves. It was fun. Of course, I'm disappointed not to go on and make a hundred, but it's about the team and we're now in a good position.

"Ben Charlesworth is already a very good player despite being just 18. He stands tall and his cover drives really flow. He also knows when to leave the ball alone and his showed sound temperament today. We're a lot closer to being promoted now, but there is still work to be done and we need to stay humble. We have to come back in the morning and play like we would normally."

Day 2

No play was possible on day two of the Specsavers County Championship match between Second Division promotion rivals Gloucestershire and Northamptonshire at Bristol.

Umpires Mike Burns and David Millns staged three inspections before deciding the outfield was unfit, finally abandoning play for the day at 3.35pm.

Gloucestershire will hope to resume their first innings on 80-6 in the morning, with Ben Charlesworth and Graeme van Buuren unbeaten on 35 and five respectively. Northants require a further two points to guarantee promotion to Division One.

Day 1

Gloucestershire found the going tough on the opening day of their match against Second Division promotion rivals Northamptonshire at Bristol as steady afternoon rain caused 66.4 overs to be lost.

Ben Charlesworth did his best to keep Gloucestershire's first innings afloat, the teenage all-rounder contributing a defiant 35 not out on a day when conditions militated against batting fluency. The Shire finishing the day on 80/6.

A draw will, in all likelihood, be enough to see both sides promoted ahead of Glamorgan, who must achieve a convincing win at Durham if they are to supplant either in the top three. That being the case, third-placed Gloucestershire will not be entirely unhappy with a weather forecast which raises serious doubt over prospects for play from here-on in. Certainly, they were the ones breathing a collective sigh of relief when umpires Mike Burns and David Millns called a halt to proceedings in the first over after lunch.

Intent upon seeing off strike bowlers Sanderson and Brett Hutton and taking the shine off the new ball, openers James Bracey and Chris Dent fulfilled their obligations during the first 10 overs, waiting patiently for the bad ball and advancing the score to 27 without loss.

Bracey then departed from the script on eight, driving at a Sanderson delivery that pitched outside off stump and offering a catch behind to Adam Rossington via a thin edge.

Northants struck again in the very next over, Gareth Berg locating Miles Hammond's outside edge and Hutton taking a smart catch low to his left.

Taken by surprise when called for a quick single by new batsman Gareth Roderick, Dent was slow to set off and comprehensively run out for 15 by Luke Procter's throw and direct hit from cover point in the 14th over.

Roderick then compounded his error, pushing tentatively forward to a length ball from Sanderson and departing lbw for two later in the same over, at which point the home side had lost four wickets for the addition of five runs in the space of 23 balls. 

George Hankins helped advance the score to 54 before suffering outrageous misfortune, run out in the act of backing up when Doug Bracewell deflected a straight drive from Charlesworth onto the stumps. And Ryan Higgins followed him back to the pavilion soon afterwards, attempting to pull Bracewell and chipping to short square leg for one with the score on 67.

Charlesworth did his utmost to retrieve a parlous situation, posting an unbeaten 35 in alliance with Graeme van Buuren, who is five not out. Much to Gloucestershire's relief, just two balls were bowled after lunch before the anticipated rain arrived from the South West. 

Charlesworth's defiance has so far spanned 58 balls and an hour and 10 minutes and his team will require more of the same from him if and when play resumes on day two.

Charlesworth said:

"It's been difficult for us batting first at Bristol this season, but this is essentially a good wicket. It's not an 80-6 wicket and it's fair to say we haven't had a lot of luck. The two run outs were unfortunate and served to set us back. We're on the back foot, but there is still plenty of batting left and our first target has to be to try and pass 200. David Payne and Josh Shaw have scored runs on a regular basis this summer and there is no reason why we cannot get to a challenging total once the weather relents.

The rain is frustrating, especially when you have one eye on what is happening in other games and cannot get out in the middle yourself. It's important we don't focus on what is going on at Durham to the detriment of our own performance. We know what we need in terms of points and we have to be very single-minded in that respect. We'll dust ourselves down and come back fighting."



Scorecard

Northamptonshire elected to bowl.


Gloucestershire
James Bracey | Christopher Dent | Miles Hammond | Gareth Roderick | Graeme van Buuren | Ryan Higgins | George Hankins | Ben Charlesworth | Joshua Shaw | David Payne | Shannon Gabriel |


Northamptonshire
Benjamin Curran | Emilio Gay | Alex Wakely | Robert Keogh | Richard Levi | Adam Rossington | Luke Procter | Gareth Berg | Doug Bracewell | Brett Hutton | Ben Sanderson |


Match Drawn
 

Gloucestershire First Innings How out Runs Minutes Balls 4s 6s
James Bracey Caught Adam Rossington Bowled Ben Sanderson 8 36 30 1 0
Chris Dent Run Out Luke Procter 15 50 30 3 0
Miles Hammond Caught Brett Hutton Bowled Gareth Berg 1 6 5 0 0
Gareth Roderick Caught Adam Rossington Bowled Ben Sanderson 2 14 11 0 0
Ben Charlesworth Not Out 77 230 173 9 0
George Hankins Run Out Doug Bracewell 4 39 24 0 0
Ryan Higgins Caught Emilio Gay Bowled Doug Bracewell 1 10 6 0 0
Graeme van Buuren Caught Adam Rossington Bowled Gareth Berg 93 172 155 13 0
David Payne Not Out 1 6 7 0 0
Josh Shaw
Shannon Gabriel
Extras 0b 12lb 6nb 0p 0w 18
Total 220

Fall of wickets

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
27 28 30 32 56 67 218

Bowlers

Overs Maidens Runs Wickets
Brett Hutton 14 4 42 0
Ben Sanderson 14 3 33 2
Gareth Berg 13 3 35 2
Doug Bracewell 9 0 42 1
Luke Procter 7 1 17 0
Rob Keogh 16 4 39 0