Cricket: Swann makes Gloucestershire toil

Northamptonshire 137-4 v Gloucestershire
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The Independent Online
THEY ARE no doubt muttering down in the West Country that these one-day finals are all very well, but when are Gloucestershire going to do themselves justice in the County Championship?

The side that finished fourth last season have not, for various reasons, functioned as efficiently this time.

Now injuries have taken a hand and they went into yesterday's game against fellow stragglers Northamptonshire with a much depleted seam attack, with Mike Smith, Jonathan Lewis and Ian Harvey all absent.

Sod's Law, of course, decreed that they would lose the toss and have to bowl first on a good pitch, albeit one which offered a degree of bounce to the new ball. The inexperience of Ben Gannon and debutant seam bowler Mark Hardinges showed, however, and Northamptonshire had an easier passage than might have been the case.

Rob Bailey, timing the ball as though he had never been away after a six week absence, and Alec Swann put on 70 from 19 overs with few problems; then Michael Cawdron started to move the ball around from the requisite full length and had Bailey well picked up at slip by Robert Cunliffe, who might well have been distracted as the wicketkeeper dived across him.

Mal Loye produced an array of exotic strokes, including four fours off one over from Gannon before getting carried away and venturing after a very wide outswinger. The more restrained Swann completed a steady, half century from 125 balls on a day in which 55 overs were lost to the weather.

n Heavy rain put paid to the first day of the match between Hampshire and Warwickshire at Southampton. Umpires Chris Balderstone and Nigel Plews delayed their decision until after lunch but it was no more than a formality as there were pools of water on the outfield.