By David Green at Bristol
First day of four: Glamorgan (204-7) v Gloucs
REIGNING champions Glamorgan, put into bat after sodden patches round the square had delayed the start until 2pm, faltered after a solid start and were grateful for Adrian Dale's determined unbeaten 59.
Jon Lewis was Gloucestershire's most successful bowler with three wickets but Courtney Walsh, Mike Smith and Mark Alleyne all needed watching. The value of Dale's innings, which has so far lasted almost three hours, could yet be considerable.
There was some debate among the pundits as to the wisdom of Alleyne's decision to field first. Most would have chosen to bat, if only to avoid death through exposure while fielding, but there was certainly something in the pitch.
The bounce was reasonable, considering the time the covers had been on during the recent foul weather, and Gloucestershire's seamers generally put the ball in the right place.
The retirement of Hugh Morris leaves a big gap in Glamorgan's batting but his replacement, 22-year-old Alun Evans, is highly rated. Short and neat in movement, he looked the part in a first-wicket stand of 64.
Walsh, who returned from the warmth of the Caribbean on Wednesday, bowled within himself but still pretty briskly while Smith was also on target. However, despite several appeals for lbw, Evans and Steve James looked well in control.
It was Alleyne who broke through, switching to round the wicket to have Evans, aiming to leg, caught at second slip. Next ball Lewis got one to leave James, who got a thin edge into Jack Russell's gloves.
Matthew Maynard played two sumptuous off-side strokes off the back foot, taking boundaries off Lewis and Walsh before the latter undid the Glamorgan captain with a cleverly disguised full-length slower ball which had him palpably lbw.
Alleyne had Tony Cottey lbw playing half forward but Dale stabilised the innings with Gary Butcher until the latter needlessly ran himself out.
Lewis caused Robert Croft to top-edge an injudicious pull to square leg and then had Adrian Shaw lbw through a defensive jab but a flurry of strokes from Dale and Darren Thomas just before the close regained some lost ground for the visitors.
Day 2: Watkin clicks back into action
By Peter Roebuck at Bristol
AFTER the songs and laughter of last September comes the chill-blained reality of another April as 18 combatants gather on the starting line, full of fine words, and full of expectation because everyone is going to score runs, everyone is going to take wickets and every team is going to succeed. Not until another September's sly return will the fate of these sides, the champion and the sometime chaser, be known.
Suffice to say that it has begun much as it ended, with Glamorgan bowling accurately and eagerly and Gloucestershire struggling for runs. Soon Steve Watkin was taking wickets with his clockwork action and late rip of the fingers. Soon it was 83 for five again in Bristol and Jack Russell was walking to the crease. Perhaps it is a matter of confidence. The Welsh had the air of the executioner about them and the local batsmen seemed to be walking to the gallows.
Until Watkin took three for nought in 10 balls the match had been closely contested. Resuming at 204 for seven, Glamorgan eked out a further 32 runs. Only Adrian Dale lasted long. Dale spent his winter selling houses in Cardiff, so batting in Bristol must have seemed a doddle. He is a chap for days like this, an awkward pitch, and so cold that the breaking Antarctic seemed already to have reached the Bristol Channel. This was a day of defensive strokes, playing and missing, and medium pace.
Dale's partners could not keep him company, Darren Thomas nibbling at a delivery curling away and Dean Cosker appearing shaky against Courtney Walsh. Abandoned, Dale marched out at Mike Smith and was dispatched by umpire Vanburn Holder.
Walsh flowed down the slope and occasionally summoned a fast one. Smith swung the ball away from groping bats and youngsters flung themselves around in the field.
Gloucestershire's batting is threadbare. Mark Alleyne has been retained as captain after a promising start, and Walsh's tireless work has been rewarded with another contract, and rightly so, though it will leave the team scratching for runs.
Rob Cunliffe and Nick Trainor are the new opening partnership, a pairing yet to trip off the tongue. Like most of the younger batsmen hereabouts, Cunliffe is compact, pugnacious and reputedly capable, and he kept his wicket intact for almost two hours before departing to a snorter from Thomas, whose bowling has improved markedly. Trainor had already fallen to Watkin, still as persistent and unflappable as a latter-day Statham. Nor had Tim Hancock's occupation been long as a skidder penetrated his backward defensive stroke and brought about a rueful departure.
Bobby Dawson soon followed as he worked across the line, whereupon Alleyne fell first ball, expertly taken at short leg as he failed to stifle a bumper. Watkin had broken through and it was left to Jack Russell to organise the resistance. Altogether it was a typical day's cricket, and not without its merits.
Day 3: Lewis charge no obstacle to Glamorgan
By David Green at Bristol
Third day of four: Glamorgan (236 & 138) bt Gloucestershire (144 & 89) by 141 runs
THIS was an extraordinary day's cricket, in which 19 wickets fell for 121 runs in 42.5 overs and county champions Glamorgan emerged with a convincing win to boost their hopes of another successful campaign.
Jon Lewis took a career-best six for 49 as Glamorgan lost their last nine wickets for 32 runs. Then Gloucestershire, chasing 231 for victory, were cut down for 89 in 29.3 overs, Glamorgan's seamers sharing the wickets.
The pitch could not be blamed. Umpires Nigel Plews and Vanburn Holder confirmed that it behaved as it had on the first two days, when the ball moved off the seam, though not excessively, and also swung.
It was one of those days bowlers delight in, when everything nicked or hit in the air goes to hand and when batsmen are struck with collective frailty of temperament and technique, their footwork non-existent and their judgment awry.
After a delayed 3pm start owing to wet run-ups at the Ashley Down end, Glamorgan, resuming at 106 for one and 198 runs ahead, lost Adrian Dale to the day's third ball, caught smartly at second slip.
Matthew Maynard nicked Lewis's outswinger to Jack Russell, then a beauty from the same bowler flicked Tony Cottey's right thumb on its way to slip. Next over Gary Butcher, having off-driven a boundary, perished trying a reprise next ball.
Robert Croft immediately edged into his stumps, and after Steve James, whose 151-ball 76 was largely untroubled, had edged Courtney Walsh low to slip, only Darren Thomas offered resistance as Glamorgan's nine outstanding wickets fell in only 13 overs.
Gloucestershire's target seemed far away and they certainly saw demons in the pitch, rapidly declining to 19 for four. Thomas took three of these as Rob Cunliffe played on and Tony Wright and Bobby Dawson were lbw, both with feet anchored.
Steve Watkin, who had caused Nick Trainor to give short-leg a tame catch, then had Tim Hancock caught at mid-off off a slower ball. Then, briefly, Mark Alleyne and Russell summoned some needed composure.
However, Russell chipped Butcher to mid-off to leave Gloucester on 46 for six. Alleyne played some handsome off-side strokes but when he was deftly caught behind aiming to cut Butcher the end was not long coming.