Cricket: Giddins' giddy heights

Gloucestershire 181 and 307 Warwickshire 187 and 44-2
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The Independent Online
ED GIDDINS yesterday recorded career-best figures of 11 for 164, an achievement that has helped to earn him a Warwickshire cap after just six first-class matches for his new club. But he takes the cause for his elevation to the national squad with a huge pinch of salt.

"The selectors are looking for continuity," he said yesterday morning, as the rain sluiced down over Bristol. "Chris Silverwood is bowling well, and he went to the West Indies. But it's nice to be reckoned somewhere in the pecking order."

This season has so far offered more for quick bowlers in the air than off the wicket, and Giddins's success on the Bristol track has indeed been lateral rather than vertical. But the bowler who was briskly sacked by Sussex in 1996, on receiving an 18-month suspension from the English Cricket Board when traces of cocaine were found in a routine test, reckons that he has also added a yard of pace during his enforced lay-off.

As well as a heaving Christmas trees around in his seasonal enterprise with Surrey's Nadeem Shahid he kept in trim with daily gym sessions, and has emerged from purdah as a much more complete bowler.

"I used to bowl too short sometimes," he admitted. "And I've worked on that. And I like taking the new ball now - at Sussex I preferred first change."

Giddins shrugs off the strange resurrection of an old and feeble charge - that he chucks his quicker ball. He has never been no-balled for this during his first-class career, but reference has recently been made to one call during a Sussex pre-season friendly years ago. "The umpire at square leg signalled it. I think he normally umpires for the Muppets. Next ball I did throw it, very wide, just to show him what throwing looks like."

When play finally began yesterday at 6pm Giddins soon ended the Gloucester second innings, persuading the captain, Mark Alleyne, to snick on to his wicket. But thanks to Alleyne's epic 137 - after five and a quarter hours at the crease - the home side, at one time facing the possibility of defeat within two days, were now able to ask Warwickshire to show an unlikely 302 to win.

Courtney Walsh, recovered from Friday's stomach upset, instantly hit an effective groove from the Pavilion End, removing Mike Powell and David Hemp to take his match tally to eight, and as the game stretched on into the evening Gloucester retained the control that Alleyne had so enterprisingly earned, Warwickshire struggling to finish on 44 for 2 at the close.