Cricket: Milestone for Bailey

Northamptonshire 341 & 84-3 Gloucestershire 260 Match drawn
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The Independent Online
THE IDEA that the prospect of a two-division County Championship would eliminate days of empty, meaningless cricket took some swallowing here yesterday. Far from battling it out for the win that would have eased them up the table, and done no harm for morale, Northamptonshire and Gloucestershire settled grimly for what they had.

Apart from a couple of personal milestones for Rob Bailey (20,000 first- class runs for Northamptonshire) and his colleague, the left-arm spinner Michael Davies (a career-best 6 for 65), it was a day to be instantly forgotten.

The pitch, despite its lowish bounce and occasional turn, did not seem one on which a side could have been easily bowled out. So what was wrong with Gloucestershire accepting some sort of a challenge and then shutting up shop if things went awry?

Maybe they felt that even on this pitch the risks in making runs against the clock outweighed the possible rewards. Or maybe they are just focused on one-day cricket this year.

Either way it was a pity. It could have been an interesting contest against Northamptonshire's two young spin bowlers of whom Davies confirmed earlier good impressions. Among his victims was Rob Cunliffe who, having made few errors in reaching his first Championship hundred from 216 balls, could do nothing about one which spun sharply past his bat.

Bailey, who had found himself out of the side despite a Championship average of more than 37, joined a small but illustrious band of Northamptonshire warriors headed by Dennis Brookes and also including Wayne Larkins, Allan Lamb, Geoff Cook and Jack Timms.

Despite a number of trademark strokes off his legs, Bailey actually did it with the aid of a couple of overthrows. But then, it was that kind of day.