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Gloucestershire v Somerset

Reports from the Electronic Telegraph

27-30 August 1998

Day 1: Alleyne century keeps up tempo

By David Green at Bristol

First day of four: Gloucestershire 311-7 v Somerset

FOR one still twitching after Somerset's recent match against Derbyshire, in which a wicket fell every 20 minutes, it was good to see a more rational tempo maintained by Gloucestershire's batsmen against some well-controlled Somerset bowling.

Mark Alleyne, whose middle years as a cricketer are proving prosperous, provided the spine of the innings with an accomplished 116, his third century this season, after Tim Hancock's handsome 65 had given Gloucestershire some early impetus.

Somerset captain Peter Bowler's decision to field aroused considerable comment, but he probably felt that if the pitch was going to help the bowler at any time, it would do so on the first morning.

In the event, though Andrew Caddick's first ball - a well-pitched outswinger - found Rob Cunliffe's outside edge, bowlers had to work pretty hard on a dry surface which was already taking a little spin from the pavilion end.

Caddick, not for the first time this season, was Somerset's best bowler. At the start of this match he had bowled 502 overs - more than anyone else in the country - and yesterday he again bent his back willingly.

No one really mastered Caddick, who also dismissed Jack Russell, yorked after 95 minutes' resistance, and Tony Wright, caught at square leg. With 74 victims, he has overtaken Courtney Walsh as the country's leading wicket-taker.

Hancock, driving firmly either side of cover, hit 12 fours before Andre van Troost, showing improved control, yorked him. Alleyne was then joined by Matt Windows who, in an attractive fourth-wicket stand of 83, became the first Gloucestershire batsman to pass 1,000 runs for the season.

By the time Windows drove over one from Adrian Pierson, Alleyne was batting with real control, driving and cutting beautifully.

Alleyne, who reached his own 1,000 when he had made 87, fell late on flashing tiredly at van Troost, having hit 16 fours.

Day 2: Trescothick in defiant mood

By David Green at Bristol

Second day of four: Somerset (269-5) trail Gloucs (355) by 86 runs

THE hopes Gloucestershire had of carrying off their first championship since the 1870s were dimmed yesterday by Marcus Trescothick and Michael Burns who, assisted by Piran Holloway and Rob Turner, carried Somerset comfortably clear of the follow-on figure.

Somerset have not had the happiest of campaigns, illness and poor individual form affecting them, but yesterday they fought back determinedly from an unpromising position and are now well in contention in this match.

Gloucestershire's catching this season and, for some years past, has been generally reliable and at times brilliant, but they will be rueing lives given to Trescothick on 37 and Burns when he was nine.

Trescothick, engaged with Holloway in a gritty stand after Peter Bowler had edged Courtney Walsh to second slip, nicked the same bowler into and out of the hands of the anguished Tony Wright at third slip.

Later, with Somerset 136 for four and needing 70 more to avoid following on, Burns edged Mike Smith hard but straight to Bobby Dawson, also at third slip, and again the ball went to ground.

Trescothick, who had started uneasily, survived to play some fine strokes, his 92 containing 14 fours, five of them off the wayward John Lewis.

Despite the loss of Trescothick, Somerset moved up two gears as Burns reached 50 off 80 balls and finished unbeaten on a career-best 83.

Earlier Gloucestershire, 311 for seven overnight, had gained a fourth batting point, thanks principally to Martyn Ball's adventurous 58. Andrew Caddick took two more wickets to complete his sixth five-wicket haul in his last five matches.

Day 3: Caddick and friends annoy neighbours

By Rob Steen at Bristol

Gloucs 355 & 187-6 lead Somerset (396) by 146 runs

IN TERMS of Gloucestershire's pursuit of their first bona fide championship pennant, it mattered appreciably less than a jot. In the greater scheme of things, however, the disputed catch by Robert Cunliffe shortly after lunch yesterday re-enforced an unpalatable truth, that the breakdown in mutual trust between players and umpires has now reached such a pitch that further resistance to the technological ogre seems self-defeating.

Gloucestershire had endured a morning session of mounting frustration when Courtney Walsh loped in to Andy Caddick. Granted, the indefatigable Jamaican had bowled Michael Burns four short of a maiden century, and Martyn Ball's smart overhead slip-catch had disposed of the equally impressive Rob Turner, co-author of a sixth-wicket liaison worth 107.

Not for the first time Somerset, 269 for five overnight, had prospered through the vibrancy of their lower order, Graham Rose and Adrian Pierson both scoring in excess of 25 or more to ensure a first-innings lead, not to mention a full complement of batting points for the first time in two months. Nothing like a bit of local argy-bargy to stoke the juices.

Walsh had already hinted at impatience, firing successive bouncers at Caddick after the latter, no mean nightwatchman in his time at Test level, had had the gall to ease him for a brace of boundaries that would scarcely have disgraced his supposed superiors. Now came another short one, whereupon Caddick, ducking and flailing in the same movement, top-edged an attempted hook. As the ball looped behind square then descended like a dying swallow, Cunliffe sprinted fully 30 yards, hit the turf with a fearful thud and rolled over with both hands clasped around the object of his desire.

Cunliffe's colleagues dashed over to ascertain the legitimacy of the catch while Caddick, having jogged a single, stood his ground at the non-striker's end. The umpires conferred, Mark Alleyne, clearly satisfied that the innings was done and dusted, began to lead his Gloucestershire team from the field, only to be called back. Umpire Kevin Lyons, stationed some 15 yards from the scene of the crime at square leg, had decided there was sufficient doubt to reprieve Caddick and rightly so.

Ten runs later, Walsh's next delivery demolished Andre van Troost's stumps, minimising the damage. Nevertheless, as Lyons wended his way to the pavilion, he was harangued at some length by a ruddy-faced gent who had evidently wined not wisely but rather too well. ``You're too old,'' was merely the most principled of his admonishments. Lyons grinned and continued toward the dressing room, then openly admitted that he had not consulted Cunliffe at any stage.

The fact that Cunliffe later confessed that he himself had been less than 100 per cent certain was neither here nor there. That neither Lyons nor Caddick saw fit to ask him for his interpretation on the other hand, most certainly was. Time was when the fielder's word would have been sufficient.

The upshot of all this was a 41-run deficit for Gloucestershire and a tricky tactical poser for Alleyne. Given the bland, mostly benign nature of the pitch, let alone the unneighbourly mood of the opposition, achieving the victory that would keep his side in touch with Surrey and Leicestershire would require at least a soupcon of the imagination and aggression that have pushed Alleyne to the forefront of the candidates to lead England A in southern Africa this winter.

At first, orthodoxy reigned as Cunliffe and Tim Hancock, the regular openers, took their appointed places but when Cunliffe, possibly distracted, shouldered arms to Van Troost in the seventh over and had his off-stump clattered, Jack Russell moseyed in, the intention, presumably, to hurry things along.

In the event the plan founded as Russell, having scraped together three runs in nine overs, was taken at second slip fending off a rising delivery from Caddick, who thus overtook Walsh (77 to 76) in their private dual for the honour of being the summer's most prolific wicket-taker. Whether the selectors feel he has done enough to compensate for previous misdemeanours is another matter entirely. Whether fatherhood has any impact - his first child, a daughter, arrived last Monday - could prove even more intriguing.

Next came Alleyne himself, fresh from collecting his team's ninth century of the campaign - surely a damning statistic for any championship aspirant - but his residence proved even briefer, a cut off Rose arrowing to Peter Bowler at point. With the lead a flimsy dozen runs and Pierson's off-breaks beginning to bite, this particular Western was heading for the final reel with the Sioux circling the wagons and the cavalry nowhere in sight.

Day 4: Holloway's half-century wins the day

By David Green at Bristol

Somerset (396 & 164-5) bt Gloucs (355 & 204) by 5 wkts

PIRAN Holloway's unbeaten 58, an innings redolent of fortitude and determination, anchored Somerset's innings as they inched their way to the 164 runs they needed to defeat their neighbours and rivals yesterday.

Somerset's triumph has virtually eliminated Gloucestershire from the race for the championship while improving their own chances of the top-eight finish needed to gain entry into next season's Super Cup.

This result went very much against previous form as Somerset have been struggling for much of the season but over four fascinating days' cricket, there could be no doubt that they deserved their success.

Their batting showed great resilience in their first innings in which, having been at one time 116 for four, they recovered to pass Gloucestershire's solid total of 355 and even gained a valuable lead of 41 runs.

For this they had to thank Michael Burns and Marcus Trescothick, who narrowly missed centuries. Andrew Caddick, well supported by Graham Rose, then bowled particularly well and Gloucestershire's second innings barely crept past 200.

For all the great efforts of Courtney Walsh for Gloucestershire, Caddick was the game's outstanding bowler. His match figures of nine for 163, quality bowling on an unresponsive pitch, have taken his championship tally to 80 wickets.

During the second half of this season superb rhythm has underpinned Caddick's straightness and hostility. Awkward cove he may be, but on this form he surely cannot be left out of England's party to tour Australia.

Gloucestershire lost their way on Saturday, when some loose strokes saw them decline to 83 for five, a position from which they never really recovered, but they remained a combative outfit and Somerset had to fight all the way in the fourth innings.

When play began yesterday Gloucestershire, 46 runs on at 187 for six, needed another 60 or 70 runs to put real pressure on Somerset but they were swept aside in 32 minutes, adding only 17.

Tony Wright soon edged Caddick to first slip, John Lewis sliced Rose to second, Martyn Ball, attacking as he had throughout his brave innings, edged yet another slip catch and finally Walsh, heaving hugely across Rose's line, was leg before.

On such a surface a target of 164 seemed a formality but when Walsh had Peter Bowler and Trescothick lbw with successive balls and, five balls later, Mike Smith trapped Gregor Kennis, Somerset were 21 for three and wobbling.

Holloway and Keith Parsons stabilised the innings before Walsh again intervened, Parsons' forward defensive flying to second slip. Michael Burns played some confident strokes but then hoisted Ball to midwicket with 52 still needed.

Holloway had given one chance, a very sharp one to gully when 27, but that apart looked virtually impregnable. Well as Rob Turner played towards the end, Holloway, who endured for 277 minutes, was Somerset's key batsman.

Source: The Electronic Telegraph
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Date-stamped : 31 Aug1998 - 10:58