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The Electronic Telegraph Gloucestershire v Indians, Match Report
11-13 May 1996

Day 1: Indians exploit weak seams
By Scyld Berry

If India are sent in to bat in the Test series, and post 200 by tea for the loss of a single wicket, it will make for a cracking game. At Bristol, against Gloucestershire, it did not.

Gloucestershire had no seamers of any experience to follow up the decision of their acting captain, Mark Alleyne. They fielded hardly any experienced cricketers at all for that matter, apart from Monte Lynch, who will no doubt be complaining soon to the European Court of Human Rights.

He was fined for going absent without leave in pre-season; now he was punished a second time for the same offence by being made to play yesterday and to stand at slip in the chilliest of winds.

Swathed in sweaters, the Indian batsmen helped themselves, especially their Punjabi opening pair. But David Graveney, Gloucestershire's former left-arm spinner, was back on his old stumping ground to observe as a selector and to note the pair's failing of not getting their head and weight well forward in their front-foot play.

Vikram Rathore followed his scores of 165 and 72 against Worcestershire with 63 to ink himself in for his Test debut at Edgbaston.

Some of his 12 fours were fine back-foot cuts and forces, before he chipped to square leg. where the debutant, Dominic Hewson, leapt to his left, like a former winner of the Daily Telegraph fielding prize should. But Jack Russell, before he went off to watch the football, saw how Rathore always hooked in the air.

Navjot Sidhu, receiving far less than his share of the strike, could not quite average one run an over before lunch but as soon as spin was offered he opened up and went down the pitch to loft Richard Davis's second ball straight for four, as if he had been John Emburey.

When Sidhu pulled, he kept the ball down; but if the ball should outswing and dart back, he, like Rathore, will be a can- didate for a leg before wicket.

Sidhu hooked two consecutive fours when Kamran Sheeraz dropped short to record his fifty and had raised a few cheers from a smattering of Indian supporters huddled in one of the less exposed areas. Having reached 93 by tea, he went to his first hundred of the tour in 285 minutes but from only 203 balls immediately after seeing Sanjay Manjrekar caught and bowled in the drive.

On flat dry pitches, such as England offered to Australia in 1993, none of India's main deficiencies will show up

Manjrekar, No 3 for the Tests, does get his head and weight well forward in his front-foot play and has to have a major series if he is to protect his strokemakers, Mohammed Azharuddin and Sachin Tendulkar, from a too-new ball.

On flat dry pitches, such as England offered to Australia in 1993, none of India's main deficiencies will show up; their opening batsmen can happily carve away, their spinners will come into their own. On damp green surfaces, however, they may also struggle to dismiss England as well as make their runs.

Today, the hospitality tents should be full to watch Javagal Srinath on his return to his old county where he took 87 wick- ets last season. Yesterday only a third of the tents were full with lunchers and revellers. It is possible, of course, that the other tents were full too, but that their inhabitants pre- ferred to keep the flaps down.

These tourist matches have come to be in considerable need of re-animation. Tetley enlivened them for a while by offering their prize money but that novelty has worn off and the games have lapsed into their traditional slumber, a reward of #7,500 for victory not worth the effort.

Last year the West Indians won four of their 13 matches against the counties. In 1994 both the New Zealanders and the South Africans won a single game. Only the 1992 Pakis- tanis won the jackpot which used to be on offer, thanks to Wasim Akram, who bowled the season through and took more wickets than any touring bowler since 1964.

A way to revive them would be to adapt an idea from the mid- 1960s and restrict the first innings for both sides to 60 overs. Spectators would then be sure of seeing the two teams bat on the opening day at brisk pace; on the second too, as 20 overs of the second team's first innings would remain. For the rest of the game 180 overs would still have to be bowled - enough for a result in most instances.

Day 3: Symonds stays quiet as Gloucs hold out
By Mike Beddow

Indians (406 & 144-6 dec) drew with Gloucestershire (251-4 dec & 158-8)

Two issues were unresolved at Nevil Road yesterday. India failed to force a first victory over county opposition and Andrew Sy- monds avoided questions seeking affirmation of his commitment to play for England.

The answer, according to Philip August, Gloucestershire's chief executive, should be beyond doubt by now. Symonds - born in Birmingham but brought up in Australia - will be available if selected, a statement that was apparently reinforced by the player himself in an interview with an Indian journalist, but not to the English media.

Whatever the reason for this lapse in the line of direct communication, the subject is likely to remain an irritation un- til he is again asked to play for an English representative team. All that mattered here was that India were unable to take two wickets in the last 27 overs and that Symonds was #300 richer after earning the man of the match award.

This was for his first-innings century rather than a lower key score of 28 after the county side, needing 300 to win, had lost three wickets within four overs from Javagal Srinath and Venkatesh Prasad.

Srinath, well versed in the ways of English cricket after taking 87 championship wickets for Gloucestershire last season, put his knowledge into practice as the new ball moved around, and the less experienced Prasad eased some of the doubts about the depth of India's pace bowling.

India used the morning to set up a declaration and for the first time in two county matches, their batsmen had to ac- celerate beyond the pace of leisurely practice.

Symonds batted for 67 minutes until he was leg before to the third seamer, Saurav Kanguly, and much-weakened Gloucestershire ultimately relied on the competitive instincts of Richard Davis, Jonathan Lewis and Kamran Sheeraz to secure their survival.

India used the morning to set up a declaration and for the first time in two county matches, their batsmen had to ac- celerate beyond the pace of leisurely practice.

Vikram Rathore's lavish drive, taken overhead by Tim Hancock at cover, laid down the ground rules. These were quickly fol- lowed by Navjot Sidhu, well held by Davis at slip, Rahul Dravid, stumped immediately after a pick up for six, and Mohammad Azharuddin, driving back to Davis.

The one exception, though not with any loss of ambition, was the Bengal all-rounder, Ganguly, with 11 fours and a straight six off Davis in an unbeaten 64 from 80 balls.

``It is our clear understanding that, if selected, he will play for England,'' August said. ``He understands the ramifications of the contract he has signed. I am convinced Andrew has commit- ted himself to English cricket and Gloucestershire cricket.''

Last September Symonds, 20, rejected England's invitation to join the A tour of Pakistan. Instead, he returned to Queensland to play Sheffield Shield cricket.

Symonds is now back at Gloucestershire as an Englandqualified player, having signed a contract saying he is available for the country of his birth.

Source: The Electronic Telegraph
Editorial comments can be sent to The Electronic Telegraph at et@telegraph.co.uk