County Cricket: Broad barrier blocks Yorkshire's advance: Gloucestershire draw encouragement

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The Independent Online
Yorkshire 445; Gloucestershire 241 and 235-3 dec. Match drawn

NOT entirely to their surprise, Yorkshire could not chisel out Gloucestershire for a second time at Abbeydale Park yesterday. Indeed, on a pitch where nothing happened quickly enough to unsettle batsmen mainly content to lie doggo, they picked up only three second-innings wickets before the game drifted to a draw.

As often happens in these circumstances, it was the side digging themselves out of a mess who emerged with most credit. It was vital that Gloucestershire somehow avoided a fifth Championship defeat in six games and low-key though this performance had to be, it might just be a valuable turning point for them.

Their younger, less experienced players (four are uncapped) will have been relieved to learn that you can step off the treadmill of defeat even if the hardest part - learning how to win - may remain elusive for some time.

Though Gloucestershire were soon following on 204 behind, the ease with which their last-wicket pair had held on for 18 overs suggested that for them batting, like love, might be better the second time around provided Chris Broad and Dean Hodgson prevented any inroads with the new ball.

This was duly achieved, though Paul Jarvis hustled up one or two deliveries to trouble as good a player of pace as Broad, who was also in luck at 28 when a ball from Richard Stemp flicked his pad and brushed his off bail.

Hodgson played so straight and sensibly in support that it was a surprise when on the stroke of lunch he played only half forward to Stemp and was leg before. But once Broad and Mark Alleyne had overcome the inevitable post-lunch salvo, the door was firmly closed in Yorkshire's face.

Broad's inability to deliver a big innings on his return to home pastures may be one pointer to Gloucestershire's struggle. Until he was caught behind hooking, he batted as freely as the context of the game allowed and it took him to his highest Championship score of 87, while Alleyne, Gloucestershire's only century-maker so far, contributed his second highly responsible and disciplined innings of the game.