Cricket: Gloucestershire are made to suffer

Warwickshire 407-7 v Gloucestershire
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Whatever the rest of the season has to offer them, Warwickshire have clearly decided to see it out in a blaze of stroke-play. They did so in the first and final sessions yesterday and Neil Smith's robust hundred, supported by half-centuries from Nick Knight, David Hemp and Dougie Brown, enabled them to make the most of winning the toss.

The pitch, though having no great pace, was better than many seen here this season. But if the sun continues to shine it will be no surprise if Warwickshire prove to have had the best of it and, as ever, the extra pace of Allan Donald will be a crucial factor.

The news that Courtney Walsh will be returning to Gloucestershire next season emerged as Knight and Hemp were giving their current attack some rough handling during a pre-lunch session in which the rub of the green stubbornly refused to go the way of the fielding side.

Half-chances either failed to stick or did not quite go to hand. Among a number of frustrating episodes, the most vital probably came before Hemp had scored when Jonathan Lewis beat him with an excellent yorker but was denied an lbw decision because the ball pitched marginally outside leg stump.

After that Hemp showed there was no margin for error on this pitch; his fifty, from 53 balls, included 46 in boundaries. If much of Gloucestershire's efforts tended to reflect David Graveney's concern about the overall quality of English bowling, Hemp's innings suggested there is no shortage of batting talent.

Things changed later when a tight spell by Lewis induced a number of errors, Knight falling to a good catch by Dominic Hewson and Hemp to a ball angled across him and perhaps bouncing more than most.

Lewis and company bowled with great heart, as teams do when they are taking wickets, but the ball was growing old and the bowlers weary and Smith took them apart savagely, showing yet again his great strength when given room outside the off-stump. His century came from 112 balls with 17 fours and a six.