Cricket: Gloucester take heart

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The Independent Online
Gloucs 501-7 dec and 14-0

Hampshire 393-6 dec

A LONG hot day confirmed that summer has at last arrived, bringing with it the traditional championship trappings of flat, white, wickets, 500-plus scores and last- day contrivances between the captains to arrive at an agreed target.

In these conditions, Parkinson's Law comes into effect in four-day cricket, making it look much like the old version.

This was inevitable once a slow but determined stand between the Hampshire captain, Mark Nicholas, and Kevan James had hoisted their team beyond 351 and the danger of following on. Nicholas went immediately afterwards for his highest score of the season.

At lunch Gloucester still had hopes of running through the visitors. An unbroken morning spell by the left-arm spinner Mark Davies, which continued to become a 54- over marathon, was their skipper Tony Wright's main weapon, trying to tease out turn from a bland track. The morning's batting was largely in the hands of the second XI stalwart Sean Morris, grasping one of those opportunities afforded by Robin Smith's absence. He moved confidently beyond his previous first-class best of 74, but was cheated of a century when Marcus Wight held a sharp slip catch off the rangy left-armer Martin Gerrard. Wight's uncle, Peter, remained dispassionate, as befits the senior umpire on the circuit.

Having dismissed the night watchman Shaun Udal, Morris and Paul Terry to have Hampshire five down and 116 short of saving the follow-on at lunch, Gloucester were consolidating the achievement of their batsmen. Whatever tomorrow's result, the table-propping county can take some heart from this game, and can only be strengthened by the availability of a fully fit Courtney Walsh. But Hampshire batted on, to allow a 15-minute dart at Gloucester, and the match comes down to Monday mathematics.