Cricket: Russell is rebuked on finish: Midlands' rivalry promises heated contest at headquarters while tourists are still seeking contest of any kind

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The Independent Online
Gloucestershire 278-9 dec and 201-7; South Africa 129-6 dec. Match drawn

IT WAS one of those days when players and public alike anxiously scour the skies for signs of rain. Unfortunately, none arrived and everyone had to hang around until this meeting - one hesitates to call it a match - was formally laid to rest at 5.20, the earliest possible hour.

It had been killed long before, when Gloucestershire's acting captain, Jack Russell, refused to respond to South Africa's pre-lunch declaration, 149 behind, and batted out the day to increasing public discontent.

After the match more than 100 members gathered outside the pavilion to call for Russell. On emerging he said that if South Africa (193 behind overnight) had declared then, he would have declared at lunch. 'There was no point in declaring later, I'm not prepared to play Mickey Mouse cricket,' he added. The crowd, clearly dissatisfied, responded with cries of 'rubbish, your batting was Mickey Mouse' as Russell disappeared.

Though a weak side made weaker by Courtney Walsh's absence, Gloucestershire ought to have set a target, even if it was a stiff one, if only in an attempt to entertain the spectators and win some beer money off Tetley Bitter. However, South Africa had talked the previous night of batting all day and may have done, if Kepler Wessels and Peter Kirsten had not been dismissed.

The tourists, weakened by Craig Matthews' absence with a groin strain, were diplomatic in public, their expressions of discontent being restricted to Mike Procter's 'we're disappointed' and the sight of the wicketkeeper Dave Richardson in the outfield (Gerry Liebenberg took over the gloves) and Wessels bowling.

But in private they were upset by the wasted day. A month into their tour and, apart from a contrived match which ended in defeat at Kent, they are yet to have a competitive fixture.