Late wickets rebalance day decorated by Lace
11 April 2019
Unbroken sunshine blessed the first day of Gloucestershire's Championship season, and two wickets in the last half hour redressed the balance of power as visitors Derbyshire closed on 256-7 from 96 overs.
The dismissal of Matt Critchley for 39 broke a sixth wicket stand of 71 with Harvey Hosein, who four balls later was clean bowled for 41. Their partnership, coupled with a stylish 83 from Middlesex loanee Tom Lace, had taken Derbyshire to 255-5 before Josh Shaw and Benny Howell gave the day a sting in the tail.
Watch Chris Dent's close of play interview here:
Gloucestershire made just one change from the team selected to play Oxford MCCU last week, with loan signing Josh Shaw bolstering a bowling attack which included 19 year Harry Hankins in a Championship game for the first time.
All rounder Jack Taylor was the player to make way, and at the toss Derbyshire captain Billy Godelman opted not to exercise his right to ask Gloucestershire to bat. Chris Dent called correctly, and invited the visitors to take first use of a pitch with enough green in it to suggest the new ball might be awkward to play.
Matt Taylor and Ryan Higgins opened up, Higgins knocking out Godelman's off stump in the sixth over as he attempted a push through the covers. Left hander Luis Reece, who had whipped Taylor to the square leg boundary twice early on, also cut Harry Hankins past point as Derbyshire scored more heavily from the bowlers at the Ashley Down Road end - Higgins opening seven over spell from the Pavilion end cost only eight runs.
Taylor's return, however, brought an immediate breakthrough as Wayne Madsen (15) was caught in his crease and trapped lbw. Lace, who still has a University degree in London to complete, was quickly into his stride, reaching 20 not out by lunch and showed a liking for anything around his pads which he could work square or through mid wicket, the two areas which produced the bulk of his sixteen boundaries.
Both sides would have been reasonably content with the scoreboard showing 72-2 at lunch, and as tends to be the case at Bristol, it looked likely that the fielding side would have to chip away steadily at the opposition's batting order rather than spark a collapse. The movement off the pitch had not been prodigious, but it was enough for Josh Shaw, also fresh into a new spell, to remove Reece for 37, aided by a tidy catch from 'keeper Gareth Roderick.
Lace, on 31, might have been run out earlier in the same over if Hammond's throw to the bowler's end had been gathered cleanly, and a rare boundary off Higgins took him closer to an 89 ball fifty with ten fours.
Two more from successive deleiveries by Harry Hankins showed the loanee's growing confidence having scored 61 in the win over Durham last week, and despite the Gloucestershire bowlers serving up little that could be driven down the ground Lace's partnership with Alex Hughes was worth 73 when another bowling change saw Matt Taylor draw Lace forward and Roderick held a tumbling catch.
Wicket keeper Harvey Hosein stayed with Hughes until tea, and Hosein and leg spinner Matt Critchley batted responsibly together once Higgins, in his first over after the resumption, tempted Hughes (26) with a ball outside off stump that was edged to Howell at first slip.
At 184-5 and with more than 30 overs left on the day, the balance could have tilted either way, and for much of it the visitors looked to gradually squeeze out an advantage with some common sense work from their last two recognised batsmen.
They had added 30 together when the second new ball was due, and a crisp drive from Critchley brought up the fifty partnership with ten overs remaining before a double bowling change did the trick for Gloucestershire captain Chris Dent.
The willing Josh Shaw removed Critchley lbw for 39, before Howell bowled Hosein through the gate for 41. Dal and van Beek survived until stumps to leave honours, with Derbyshire 256-7, just about even.