Cricket: Deja vu grips Gloucestershire

Mike Carey reports from Old Trafford Gloucs 157-5 v Lancashire
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The Independent Online
A week can seem a long time in county cricket, especially when it is spent at the same venue. Thus Gloucestershire, embarking on the second phase of their seven-day stint here, probably had a dreadful feeling of deja vu when their batting threatened to disintegrate again yesterday.

As Lady Bracknell might put it, it is one thing to throw wickets away in a limited-over contest; it is quite another to do so in the Championship, especially when winning the toss had given Gloucestershire valuable first use of the pitch recently used for the Texaco Trophy.

That meant it was already two days old. It seemed to have two paces - slow and even slower - and, needing to occupy it for as long as possible, Gloucestershire could have done without the catalogue of errors that launched their innings after 37 overs had been lost to overnight rain.

On a more humid day than most this season, the pitch might also have greened up a shade under the covers, too. With the new ball in his hand and the breeze behind him, Glen Chapple bowled testingly well, even if his lbw decision against Tony Wright looked marginal to the distant eye.

Encouraged by that, he bowled Robert Cunliffe off an inside edge, helped by the batsman's minimal footwork. When Nick Trainor was caught behind trying not to play and Tim Hancock mistimed the speculative first ball of Peter Martin's second spell to cover, Gloucestershire found themselves at 35 for 4.

It could have been worse. Martin, conceding just nine runs from 10 overs, bowled around off-stump and beyond, thought he had Andrew Symonds caught behind from a rare legside delivery.

Then, before he had reached 30, Mark Alleyne was almost spectacularly caught off the meat of the bat at short leg by John Crawley, then missed in the slips. By then, half-volleys had started to materialise and both batsmen dealt severely with them.

All was comparatively well until Symonds chased a short, wide ball from Chapple and was athletically caught, one-handed, by Warren Hegg. Symonds is still searching for his first Championship half-century of the season.