Cricket: Alleyne beds in after Russell's raid

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The Independent Online
Gloucestershire v Somerset

IF SOMERSET could put a spoke in their neighbours' wheel in a year in which Gloucestershire are riding for a Championship, they would raise a few glasses in Taunton. Peter Bowler, seeing that the pitch had been used for Tuesday's day-night match and knowing of the Gloucestershire reputation for erratic batting, played on nerves and sent them in first on a glorious Summer morning.

Nerves? The nearer Gloucestershire get to the line, the steelier is their play. After this match they are home to Northamptonshire and away to Middlesex and Nottinghamshires, not the stiffest of finishes. The pennant would be a proper celebration of W.G. Grace's 150th anniversary.

If Gloucestershire were surprised at being asked to bat, they were confounded when Andy Caddick's first ball took the edge of Rob Cunliffe's bat for Rob Turner to take the catch at first slip's feet. They riposted by sending in Jack Russell at No 3.

For half an hour he played and missed at an increasingly frustrated Caddick. Tim Hancock loosed two cover drives, and another through mid-on, that glittered and Gloucestershire had reached a healthy 65 before Caddick ended Russell's impertinence with a yorker.

Mark Alleyne was mostly content to watch Hancock as Bowler rotated his attack, the break coming immediately after lunch. Andre van Troost, in his latest manifestation, takes a shorter run and bowls straighter. He may be less entertaining but Hancock will testify to his efficacy, despatched by a thunderbolt.

Matt Windows passed his 1,000 runs for the season before being deceived by Adrian Pierson, his captain following him past the mark soon after tea by which time Somerset were showing signs of running out of steam and inspiration. They had sorely missed Mushtaq.

Alleyne was 27 short of his 1,000 when he did offer a chance to long- off, driving at Pierson, where a shorter, nimbler man than van Troost might have dived for the catch. The selectors should also note Alleyne has 23 wickets at an average of 29 and has taken 16 slip catches, mostly off Courtney Walsh.