Cricket: Walsh calls for calm

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The Independent Online
Gloucs 319-7 dec & 80-4; Surrey 73-3 dec

AFTER two draws and a defeat, Courtney Walsh's view against the Championship high flyers might have taken the you-put-us-in, you-get-us-out variety, but with a day and a session lost to the weather he needed to be more positive here. In which case, Walsh could not be said to have disappointed.

One glance at the heavens and the pitch on day one at Archdeacon Meadow suggested that even divine intervention would not make much difference. When morning play disappeared too on Friday, Walsh was probably in a quandary.

Gloucestershire's West Indian captain, who could bear witness to some fragile batting, has decreed a tightening of belts, none of which was aimed at cavalier stroke play. Hence a rather cautious start to proceedings yesterday when Tony Wright and Bobby Dawson resumed, Wright apparently carrying things to extremes.

On 47 overnight, Wright took 35 minutes to get off the mark and to reach his second half-century of the season, a painstaking application to his governor's wishes which took three hours and included only five boundaries. Dawson, meanwhile, was more flamboyant once the slow left arm of Neil Kendrick was introduced.

Dawson, on the other hand, needs some introduction, the 24-year-old from Devon making his first Championship appearance of the season as Walsh cast about for batting backbone. Dawson duly obliged, plundering two fours off Kendrick in the 98th over of the innings and another in the 100th to bring up the 100.

Dawson went on to make his own half-century and the fifth-wicket partnership had risen to 125 before Kendrick took a tumbling catch at gully to remove Dawson. Three overs later and Wright followed, Joey Benjamin claiming his 31st victim of the season.

When Jack Russell became the 32nd, splicing one to mid-on to leave Benjamin with figures of four for 51, Walsh declared a halt. Walsh was also involved in some behind-the-scenes negotiations which then saw Surrey, three down for 72 and having mixed up their batting order, declare 247 behind one ball after tea.

Playing a lead role in the late acts of the day was Cameron Cuffy, Surrey's fast bowling import from St Vincent who whistled out Broad, Hancock and Cunliffe. Now Walsh has to ponder another declaration tomorrow, the Gloucestershire lead currently standing at 327.