Cricket: Alleyne's lone fight

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The Independent Online
Durham. . . . . . . . . . 320

Gloucestershire. . . . .227-6

IT IS, they will tell you, early days yet, but in their sixth first-class game of the season Gloucestershire are still looking for their first victory. Towards the end of the third day of their rain-affected game against the holders of the Championship wooden spoon, they were no closer to putting an end to their poor start, in spite of a fine century by Mark Alleyne.

To be fair, they have been struggling to come to terms with the loss of some key players. Bill Athey has gone to Sussex while the injury sustained by David Lawrence in New Zealand last year looks likely to rule him out for the rest of the season and possibly for the rest of what was a promising career.

More crucially in the short term, though, Gloucestershire have been without their leading strike bowler Courtney Walsh until this their third Championship game of the season. Any hopes, however, that Walsh's return might bring their troubles to an end suffered a painful blow when the news that he had been to hospital the night before reached the ground yesterday morning. As it was the injury to his foot sustained while fielding on Friday turned out to be not a fracture but severe bruising.

However, Walsh is by no means the beginning and end of any problems that face the county this season. Their batting leaves much to be desired.

A steady start provided by Dean Hodgson and Chris Broad was brought to an end with the score on 33. The wickets of Richard Scott and Tony Wright followed shortly after lunch. Only Alleyne, scoring his first century of the season on the eve of his 27th birthday, offered any hope of overhauling Durham's first innings. His 184-ball century, which included 14 boundaries, was brought to an end after four hours when he was caught by Wayne Larkins at short midwicket from the bowling of Phil Bainbridge. Early evening rain then provided his county with a stay of execution.