Gloucestershire can still win some silverware
WE WERE waiting for a ferry on Lake Garda last week. A middle-aged man noted my Gloucestershire sun hat and spoke. “Bracewell – tough man, fair man, good man.” He then vanished into the crowd. He said just seven words, but needed no more. He had got it right.
Italy was splendid. Football could be watched if we wished and cricket news eventually filtered through. Mrs Light likes Italy, thinking it to be a land of high culture and fine food. I have had to correct her. I could find no evidence of the works of Adge Cutler or Johnny Coppin and lardy cake is totally unobtainable!
There was good news from Bristol on Friday. A tight t20 game was won by Gloucestershire. Murali and Ian Saxelby bowled their overs tightly and squeezed the Northants batting. Captain Hamish Marshall had ordered two sessions of fielding practice following a sloppy display at Worcester and the results were there for all to see.
It was interesting to hear Saxelby talking after the game. He likes batting power players because opposing batsmen take risks and he regards these power plays as a chance to take wickets, as he did so successfully on Friday.
Perhaps the best news, however, was concerning the rained-off T20 game with Somerset. A £50,000 gate was anticipated and a loss of that amount would have been crippling. Strategic insurance has almost covered the expected gate money! This is a considerable relief.
T20 is important. It pays the bills. We all love the County Championship but without the T20, 16 championship matches would not be possible. T20 benefits must be maximised. This is not happening. This year Gloucestershire have just five home fixtures. They are played on Wednesday (two), Monday, Thursday and Friday – all at Bristol with a 5.30pm start. This is haphazard scheduling. How can a cricket watcher plan for that, let alone beat the Bristol rush hour traffic?
There should be a longer T20 programme with most matches played on Sunday afternoons. They could then be planned events, not hidden away evening fixtures. A longer programme could mean cricket at Gloucester and perhaps Swindon. It worked there before, until weed killer was poured on the wicket.
The purists may wince, but without a cash-earning T20 competition, playing real cricket is impossible. It is not impossible for Gloucestershire to win something this year. The CB40 is wide open.
Three home matches at Cheltenham are to come, followed by a trip to Amsterdam for a potential group decider against the Netherlands. Plenty of Cotswold cheers for these three games at Cheltenham, please.
Happily, two are on Sundays (July 15 v Essex and July 22 v Middlesex). Hopefully, Chris Dent will be back by then. He has the bravado and the range of strokes to play match-winning innings.
The first thing I did on returning home was to collect back copies of this newspaper. What had I missed? So good is local sports coverage that the answer was plenty! Reading the cricket reports I was able to see that two larger than life club chairmen had mixed experiences on the field.
David Dunn of Poulton had ‘bowled with guile’ and taken part in a match-winning partnership. Mr Lechlade, Paul Rowley, had been bowled first ball.
Neither of these gentlemen are in the first flush of youth, but how good it is to see them playing. Whatever their feats on the field nothing can match the heights to which they are taking their clubs.
They know that cricket is about opportunity at all ages and levels, and for both sexes. They have done so much to establish that. Yes, others are doing the same in their clubs, but I offer Poulton and Lechlade as examples to follow, perhaps Fairford also.
The weather has meant Light has been in rather than out, but a rewarding visit was paid to the Royal Agricultural College on Saturday morning.
This was the third day of the Forest Green Rovers Junior Trials. It was splendidly organised by Scott Bartlett, once of this parish.
Teams from U7s to U16s will train and play their games at the splendid facilities of the RAC.
Parents were impressed by the all round organisation as were Mrs Light and myself. Everyone had experienced a fair chance and a sensitive letter explained selection policy. Scott asked players at the end, not ‘did you win?’, not ‘how many goals did you score?’, but ‘did you enjoy yourself?’ I was proud to be a FGR supporter.
Enjoyment was also the key word when youngsters from the Cirencester Gymnastics Club gave a display during the Jubilee celebrations in the Abbey Grounds. It was impressive in every way and one of the day’s highlights. Plaudits to all concerned.