ADAM Rouse became an instant hero with the Bristol faithful as he led Gloucestershire to a stunning win over Kent to re-invigorate their hopes of reaching the NatWest T20 Blast quarter-finals.
The wicketkeeper, making his first appearance at the County Ground after signing a one-month deal, struck an unbeaten 35 off just 16 balls, hitting the winning runs off Australia international Doug Bollinger from the last ball of the match to move Gloucestershire to within two points of fourth-placed Sussex, who they face in the South group at the County Ground on Friday.
Gloucestershire needed 62 off six overs to reach their target of 151 with five wickets left when Rouse came to the crease and when Will Gidman was bowled by James Tredwell for 22 in the 16th over with the score on 101 the game looked over.
Some clean hitting by Rouse and Jack Taylor kept them in contention, though, and a big six by the triallist over the leg side boundary off the last ball of the penultimate over, which had to be completed by Adam Ball after Dave Griffiths injured himself in the process of bowling Taylor (19), proved decisive. It left Gloucestershire requiring 12 to win off the last over.
Tom Smith (4no) scored three off the first two balls before Rouse struck consecutive fours to level the scores.
He could only hit a full toss straight back at Bollinger from the next ball, but when served up a similar delivery at the death he hit it over the fielders on the leg side for four.
Rouse’s innings made amends for dropping Sam Northeast on two before the Kent batsman went on to score 75 off 49 balls, including a second-wicket partnership of 65 with Daniel Bell-Drummond (32) in their total of 150-6.
However, Gloucestershire’s bowlers reined Kent in from what looked to be a dominant position, Graeme McCarter the pick of the bunch with 2-26.
Gloucestershire’s batsmen struggled to get going with Mitch Claydon (3-24) doing the most damage, removing openers Alex Gidman (8) and Chris Dent (8) within three balls of each other before returning to dismiss the dangerous Benny Howell (26), but that only succeeded in bringing Rouse to the crease and the rest is history.
GLOUCESTERSHIRE’S batsmen struggled on a difficult Lord’s pitch before rain caused their NatWest T20 Blast game against Middlesex to be abandoned.
After deciding to bat first, Gloucestershire made just 105-6 from their 20 overs against the only side below them in the South Group. The downpour that brought proceedings to a premature end at the halfway stage saved them from what appeared to be a likely defeat.
The visitors were reduced to 16-3 before Benny Howell (39) and Will Gidman (24no) steered them towards three figures, teenager Harry Podmore taking 3-13.