GLOUCESTERSHIRE suffered their fourth defeat in five games at the Cheltenham Festival as they were comprehensively outplayed by Northamptonshire in their opening Royal London One-Day Cup clash, writes Rob Iles.

Although captain Michael Klinger returned to form with 98 Gloucestershire’s total of 240-9 looked below-par and so it proved as Northants cruised to a four-wicket victory with 49 balls to spare in Group A of the new 50-over competition.

After being put in, Gloucestershire scored 31 off the first 10 overs for the loss of Alex Gidman, who was bowled playing across the line to David Willey for 12 in the eighth over, and did not take full advantage of their batting powerplay after surprisingly deciding to take it in the 13th over, adding just 21 runs in five overs with no further wickets falling.

Klinger and Dent put on a 60-run partnership in 13 overs before the latter was run out by a direct hit from Mohammad Azharrullah having looked well set on 18, while Hamish Marshall (10) and Ian Cockbain (3) both fell to the spin of Graeme White (2-48) as Gloucestershire were reduced to 114-4.

Will Gidman (39) batted positively and added 73 for the fifth wicket in 15 overs with his skipper before he was removed by the returning Willey (4-33).

Willey also trapped Adam Rouse (4) and Tom Smith (1) lbw in a devastating spell after Klinger had been caught behind off Steven Crook two runs short of his century as Gloucestershire lost four wickets in 13 balls.

Batting with the tail, Benny Howell was unable to free his arms until the final over but scored 10 off the final two balls to finish on 30 not out.

David Payne (1-52) claimed the early wicket of captain Kyle Coetzer (0) and Northants could only manage eight runs off their first five overs before Richard Levi and Adam Rossington cut loose, plundering 46 off the next 30 balls to finish the powerplay on 54-1.

The visitors also took their batting powerplay early and again scored quicker than Gloucestershire as they added 33 runs but lost South Africa international Levi to Will Gidman (1-22) for 43 off 39 balls to bring an end to an 85-run partnership in 13 overs.

Other than an edge off Gidman that Rouse couldn’t gather when he was on 32, Rossington rarely looked in trouble and added 69 for the third wicket with Matthew Spriegel before falling for 82 off Dent (1-25) in the 28th over.

By this point though the required run rate was below four an over and although Spriegel (32) eventually fell to Howell (1-27) and Smith (2-55) returned to remove Crook (36) and Ben Duckett (1), Willey (26no) saw Northants over the line.

Gloucestershire take on Hampshire and Leicestershire at Bristol on Thursday and next Tuesday respectively in the One-Day Cup.