THE ground was full, corporate punters were feasting, full parking facilities were available, a jolly crowd was impeccably behaved, our bowling had restricted Somerset to a gettable 156 and a win looked probable.
Then we batted! On a slow Bristol wicket only Hamish Marshall played with the necessary judgment. Supported by the lower order (Howell and Fuller) he took us towards the Somerset total, but hired gun Dirk Nannes, fired out the tail. Gloucestershire ended 18 runs short.
Michael Klinger, Alex Gidman, Ian Cockbain and Chris Dent scored 30 runs between them. Look no further for a reason for our defeat. Twenty20 cricket is all about assessing the situation and taking responsibility. I look for our senior batsmen to do exactly that. As the crowd faded away the treasurer Tony Elgood said: “At least, I am smiling.”
I anticipate learning of record Bristol receipts, but we should have two points as well.
Two unfortunate circumstances have held our team back this season. The first concerns injuries, especially to bowlers. Craig Miles has yet to play; he has a bulging disc obtained while on England training duty. Ian Saxelby is again injured as is David Payne. Benny Howell has just returned to the team.
A rueful John Bracewell said: “At least we now know what the problem is with Craig.”
But he could not give a date for Craig’s return. His pace and penetration are certainly needed.
I am beginning to think the old players' view, epitomised by Trueman F S and Bedser A V is right. “We bowled 1,000 overs a season and kept going,” is a fair summary of their thinking. The young men of today work hard at their fitness, but how often are they fit to bowl?
The other cause for irritation is umpires and their reluctance to get play underway after rain. I have watched a good part of three county games this season and in each one the officials have erred on the side of caution, denying us spectators cricket and the players the opportunity to pick up points.
On the third day at the Oval only 17 deliveries were allowed. In my view at least 25 overs were possible. Overhead conditions were perfect for bowling and with Gloucestershire needing to take wickets they were denied the perfect opportunity. When play did resume on Wednesday batting conditions were perfect. Spectators and our players have been let down.
Despite the lack of cricket I enjoyed my Oval visit. What a fine cricket ground it is. In every room there is evidence of Surrey’s proud history. You enter via the Hobbs Gate, you can drink in the Bedser Lounge. You can not fail to be impressed by the atmosphere. What an example it is for us to follow at Bristol with our handsome new facilities.
Former Glos batsman Chris Taylor is the fielding coach at Surrey and the son of all-rounder Kevin Curran is on the Surrey staff. They have abandoned the futile policy of buying in players and are now developing their own home grown youngsters. Someone at The Oval must read this column!
Hospitality was as good as usual, the cheese board was memorable as was the tea-time fruit cake.
Cirencester CC had another fine win on Saturday, beating a strong Cinderford side but there is sad news from the town club. Veteran Richard Tugwell had to retire with a broken nose. He is having an Indian summer of a season and I hope he's soon back. Will his injury keep him from the golf course, I wonder.
I make no apology for mentioning football. Readers will know of my admiration for former Forest Green striker Reece Styche. Reece has now signed a two-year contract with Kidderminster Harriers. He will be missed at The New Lawn. Like fast bowler Steve Kirby he is a tiger on the pitch and a teddy bear off it. When he returns to play at FGR he deserves a fine reception.
My long Saturday morning walks are making me much fitter but they may be coming to an end. Mrs Light is becoming more familiar with the layout of her favourite supermarket and the distance I have to push the shopping trolley is diminishing. The novel fitness training of the last few weeks has been so successful I must recommend it to the county bowling attack.