Bracey sparkles as Gloucestershire strive for parity
12 April 2019
Left hander James Bracey's innings of 65 held Gloucestershire's top order together as they found themselves on the back foot against Derbyshire in their opening Championship fixture at the Bristol County Ground.
Resuming at 256-7, Derbyshire lost their last three wickets for 35 runs in the first hour as Gloucestershire wrapped up their full quota of bowling points and dismissed their visitors for 291.
In reply Miles Hammond was out before lunch, which was taken at 26-1, but after it Bracey scored briskly as Derbyshire at times lacked the accuracy in length and direction displayed by Gloucestershire earlier in the match.
His half century came off only 57 balls and contained ten fours, only for a well judged catch at point by Anuj Dal off Palladino to send him to the pavilion in the second over after tea.
Gloucestershire had lost two wickets in the afternoon session, and with Benny Howell the only other batsman out, Gareth Roderick and Ryan Higgins added 45 together for the sixth wicket until bad light forced the players off three overs early with Gloucestershire 202-5, 89 runs behind.
Watch James Bracey's close of play interview here:
Gloucestershire began the day looking to limit the impact on the scoreboard of the Derbyshire tail, and Ryan Higgins broke the overnight eighth wicket stand in the second over, Anul Dal being adjudged lbw to a ball that kept lower than he expected.
Derbyshire had to make 44 in 14 overs if they wanted another batting point, but it took until the ninth over for Logan van Beek to work Matt Taylor past cover for the first boundary. It was a positive stroke, but his judgement was flawed shortly afterwards as he left a ball from Taylor which knocked out his middle stump.
They still required 34 when Rampaul joined Palladino, but the last wicket pair added 25 until Benny Howell's introduction in the 110th over, Rampaul steering his second delivery into the hands of skipper Chris Dent at second slip.
Derbyshire's Director of Cricket David Houghton had pronounced 300 a par first innings score on Thursday evening, so with his side only nine runs short they appeared well in the game as Gloucestershire set out with 80 overs batting ahead of them on the day.
The initial target was to reach lunch with the openers still together, only for Miles Hammond to push as Luis Reece's second delivery and Wayne Madsen took a routine catch at slip.
Chris Dent had only ten runs to his name from an hour's batting when he and James Bracey resumed after lunch, and progress remained slow until a flurry of boundaries by Bracey off van Beek and Rampaul in quick succession, the latter conceding three in one over. Both bowlers offered width outside off stump, and having scored two centuries in pre season, the 21 year old left hander took full advantage to substantially raise the run rate.
Dent was the supporting partner in a second wicket stand of 84 until, after more than two hours graft, he dragged a ball from Hughes back onto his stumps with 33 against his name. Eight balls later, George Hankins lobbed a gentle catch to Lace off Reece, leaving wicket keeper Gareth Roderick and Bracey with some rebuilding to do under greying skies.
Gloucestershire still trailed by 181 as the day's final session started, so Bracey's dismissal almost immediately was a significant blow. The response however, was a counter attack from the middle order, anchored at one end by Roderick and driven from the other by Benny Howell and Ryan Higgins.
Howell made 25, twice despatching both van Beek and Hughes to the off side boundary before the New Zealand born seamer teased him again, Howell misjudging a drive which lobbed up gently to Critchley at cover. Higgins, however, showed similar verve in pulling van Beek for four to get off the mark and driving Anul Dal - the eighth Derbyshire bowler used - down the ground to bring up the Gloucestershire 200 shortly before the close.
He finished the day 33 not out, as did Roderick, who had batted five minutes longer than skipper Dent for the same score. It had been another day of ebb and flow, with the balance of affairs hinging on how Gloucestershire handle the second new ball on Saturday morning.