Cricket: Box-office Walsh

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The Independent Online
Gloucestershire 291 and 484

Yorkshire 247 and 154-5

IT WAS a bit like a visit to an old-time cinema: first the 'B' movie and then the main feature. And there was no doubting the attraction playing here. The audience duly feasted on modern-day fast food at this splendid open-air theatre, patiently awaiting the appearance of the star.

Gloucestershire may in general be a bit-part production, but with Courtney Walsh in the lead role they are pure box-office. Hence another hefty crowd yesterday at the College ground and the response shown by the county's supporting cast underlined by a first century of the season from Mark Alleyne.

Walsh, though, was the man they had paid to see. On Friday, for example, the West Indian had not disappointed with the ball in hand, his quickfire four for 24 in 28 deliveries ripping the heart out of the Yorkshire innings. Yesterday, the visitors saw another side of Walsh. As Gloucestershire plundered on to a lead of 528 - it seemed superfluous to say Yorkshire were set a target of 529 - Walsh appeared with the bat and everyone promptly sat up. Michael Vaughan, meanwhile, just threw his hands in the air, the Tyke's gentle off-breaks lifted for three towering sixes from our old friend Tall Tower.

Nor did it end there, Walsh including four other boundaries in his innings before being left stranded a couple short of a half-century.

Call it overkill, but Walsh and company were left with four sessions in which to account for Yorkshire, who in any event were carrying injuries. Most notably, Martyn Moxon, the captain, was suffering from a knee problem which may require surgery, sooner rather than later, and said he would bat only in an emergency.

After Alleyne had made the only three-figure contribution of the match and Walsh had had his fun, the alarm bells were soon ringing in the Yorkshire dressing-room, because, back doing what he does best, Walsh whistled out Vaughan and David Byas.

'All I've ever wanted is to captain my island, captain my country and captain my county,' Walsh said. In all three cases, he is a shining example to his team-mates and by the time the curtain came down on yesterday's show, Yorkshire were five down and staring at defeat.

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