INSIDE THE PAVILION: Early hiccup but then Gloucestershire in cruise control at Kent
TWO whacking county wins and a joyous day at Fairford, with the weather defeated on every occasion. make the last week the best of the season so far.
It did not start like that. After 45 minutes, the four-day game at Kent looked lost already. Gloucestershire were put into bat and were 23-3. Chris Dent, captain Klinger and Alex Gidman were back in the pavilion.
The prophets of doom were in full voice. The ultimate winning margin of 290 runs looked as unlikely as me winning a prize at the annual Cooper's Hill cheese rolling contest.
However, Hamish Marshall dug in, wicket keeper Gareth Roderick took the attack to Kent and 252 was the ultimate total. An hour was left to play; could we grab a wicket or two? We did more – we took six! Kent closed on 26-6, on a wicket passed very good by pitch inspector David Capel. Of course, Kent rallied the next day but super Glos were always in cruise control.
Positive second-innings batting meant Kent were set a target of 571. There were some who were critical of Klinger for choosing to bat on so long. Surely he should have declared sooner was an often-expressed view. It was not mine. In recent years we have been abject in defending a last-day total.
At Cheltenham last year, Kent amassed a total of over 400 to win the game. A big total was needed.
Never give a sucker an even break is a good mantra for professional sport and Kent were truly subject to the might and determination of a powerful Gloucestershire side. With such a lead attacking fields could be set and by lunch on the fourth day the game was over. The bowling unit, working as a team drove the final nails home.
Next came Middlesex in the T20 Blast. Wet weather for most of the day put the match in doubt but everyone worked hard and a full game resulted. Again our bowlers did the trick (special mention for Fuller, Norwell and McCarter) and the modest Middlesex total of 111 was reached in the 17th over.
It was a match of few fireworks, the Bristol pitch again being too slow for exciting strokeplay. We shall see the best of the T20 Blast at Bristol only if the wicket is quickened up, because at the moment it is possible to win by doing little more than nudge and nurdle.
There is yet another injury! Wicket keeper Gareth Roderick has again fractured his finger. He scored attractive runs in both innings against Kent, and until injured had taken five catches. The county have done well to recruit former Test player Geraint Jones to replace him.
Geraint has a Kentish smallholding and a number of domestic animals. He had been seeking a loan all season but the problem was finding someone to care for his livestock. This has now been done!
Ten primary schools took part in the Chance to Shine tournament at Fairford. St Lawrence ‘A’ from Lechlade were the winners with Southrop runners-up.
David Taylor of the Fairford club and his team organised the day perfectly, but the real stars were those taking part.
The competition rules enable everyone to have a real chance with both bat and ball and each chance was taken. There was no rancour or recrimination, just the joy of taking part in the greatest of games. That is exactly what the Fairford club offers in its season’s programme. All ages and sexes are catered for at the Park Street club, which deserves every plaudit.
Poor weather is affecting local cricket with all county league fixtures cancelled last weekend, Cirencester with three wins in the bag are in a very healthy position.
The town's bowls club has also suffered from the weather but I hear exciting news from the Champion of Champions national competition.
Liz Higgs has just beaten the Cheltenham club champion and is through to the next round. Liz, who is the epitome of elegance on and off the bowling green, tells me the contest was played in wretched weather. Good luck in the next round Liz.
The phrase ‘flighted filth’ occurred in a cricket report last week, referring to the bowling of Phil James of South Cerney. I am flattered. Those words were mine.
I am now off to the South Cerney Duck race where I am sure I shall find Phil. He will no doubt be pleased to tell me of his dismissal of Andrew Parffrey, ‘mine host’ at Jesse Smith’s Bistro. Andrew may be more reluctant to mention the matter.