van Buuren & Charlesworth edge Gloucestershire closer to promotion
25 September 2019
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."