Cricket: No surprise as Alleyne continues to sparkle

Gloucestershire 265-6 v Hampshire
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The Independent Online
THIS CITY is still reeling from a double shock: the county team, bottom of the table , has won the Super Cup; a county resident, a Mrs Parker Bowles, has taken a Mediterranean holiday. Whatever next?

Another big score from Mark Alleyne seemed likely. The Gloucestershire captain is in incredible form. He hit Yorkshire for 112 on Sunday, took 91 off Hampshire on Tuesday and he was defying them again yesterday in very different circumstances, rebuilding an innings that had slumped from 98 for 1 to 120 for 4. But fast or slow, hellfire or last-ditch, "Boo Boo" Alleyne makes most current England batsmen look like comatose crabs.

The nickname derives from the days he arrived here from north London so much in the shadow of David Lawrence that the pair were compared to Yogi Bear and his partner. Lawrence now owns a bar and commentates on radio, while Alleyne, skillfully guided by coach John Bracewell, is leading what may be Gloucestershire's best one-day side for a quarter-century.

Good captains are lucky captains. Alleyne had first use again of another good surface while third-placed Hampshire paid heavily for their National League win here, losing Nixon McLean and Dimitri Mascarenhas to injury. Although Gloucestershire needed four overs to score, they were little troubled.

Not until Hampshire's fourth bowler appeared, John Stephenson, did they make an impact. He first persuaded Tim Hancock to attempt a lazy-looking cut and then, after lunch, might have been Malcolm Marshall when in 12 balls he took three wickets for seven runs.

Alleyne and Jack Russell had to pick up the pieces, patiently adding 118 in 47 overs before Alleyne, one short of his season's Championship best, drove at a flighted ball and was well taken low at cover; 75 runs, 152 balls, nine fours. Russell just went on riling the bowlers.

Shaun Udal found some turn and bounce by the evening which suggests that Gloucestershire's total may be valuable; their principal spinner Martyn Ball, however, is another injured absentee.