Losing to Derbyshire may be depressing but it doesn't usually call for a public apology. Yesterday, however, the Gloucestershire captain Alex Gidman was forced to prostrate himself, metaphorically at least, before his club's supporters after his side somehow conspired to lose a Championship match to Derbyshire despite bowling them out for 44 in the first innings.
It was a remarkable contest, the East Midlanders securing a 54-run win when they bowled out the hosts for just 70 at Bristol yesterday. The hero of the hour for Derbyshire was not a bowler but the West Indian 19-year-old batsman Chesney Hughes, who hit 96 not out in a second-innings total of 236 all out. That left Gloucestershire needing 124 to win but ill-disciplined batting saw them slump to the most humiliating of defeats. Their hopes of promotion to the First Division are now over.
Gidman subsequently issued a public apology to supporters. "We have blown our promotion hopes and I can only apologise to our supporters, who have every right to feel let down," he said. "When we don't apply ourselves in the right way with the bat it's like a ticking time bomb and it has happened far too often this season. There are no hiding places and no excuses. All we can do is apologise to our supporters because we have let them and ourselves down."
Another captain who may have to confront irate fans is Kent's Robert Key. His side look likely to join Gloucestershire in the Second Division next season after a largely abject performance in what amounts to a relegation play-off at Edgbaston against Warwickshire.
Last night his side were battling to stay in another low-scoring game, 131 for 5 chasing a very unlikely 324 to win. Hampshire look slightly less forlorn forlorn in their contest with Lancashire, trailing by 223 with 10 second-innings wickets remaining at Liverpool.