Donald fails to break Windows' resolve

Warwickshire's eagerness to correct last year's double relegation will sometimes strain their patience. They knew that a victory beneath the gothic towers of Cheltenham College would bring with it the lead in Division Two of the Champion-ship but found that Gloucester-shire possessed an agenda to which they rigidly stuck, successfully in the end.

Warwickshire's eagerness to correct last year's double relegation will sometimes strain their patience. They knew that a victory beneath the gothic towers of Cheltenham College would bring with it the lead in Division Two of the Champion-ship but found that Gloucester-shire possessed an agenda to which they rigidly stuck, successfully in the end.

It had been a well-balanced match, almost even on first innings before Warwickshire, with customary collective responsibility, forged ahead on Friday. Ian Harvey, a less exalted Australian than some, raised his wicket tally to nine in the match but half-centuries by Keith Piper and Dominic Ostler, bolstered by useful supplements from Trevor Penney and David Hemp, left Gloucestershire to score 323 to win on the final day.

For a side whose one-day achievements have not been repeated in the longer game, this was always a tall target. Warwickshire may well have fancied themselves quite strongly on a pitch expected to turn for Ashley Giles and Neil Smith, especially with Allan Donald to deliver some early softening-up. But something hardened Gloucestershire's resolve, perhaps the sight and sounds of a festival crowd.

The home side have some debts to repay here, in fact, having been beaten by wide margins in their last three Championship matches on this ground. The slow left-armer Giles, bowling 45 overs unchanged, snared two victims after tea when Mark Alleyne and Chris Taylor perished in the intimate company of seven fielders close to the bat, but Glouc- estershire's defences were reinforced with steel. Handshakes were exchanged with 17 minutes of the last hour left.

Tim Hancock and Dominic Hewson had set Gloucestershire's tone on an unyielding pitch, wisely pointing themselves on the path of good sense. They put on a first-wicket partnership of 60 before Hancock met a disappointing end, falling leg before offering no stroke to Giles.

Hewson made good use of anything bowled short and wide, of which there was too much from Ed Giddins, who did not enjoy one of his better days. The miserly Donald was a different proposition but he could see off only Imraan Mohammed, who was also leg before soon after lunch.

The departure of Hewson at last lifted Warwickshire. Having hit 10 fours and flicked the off-spinner Smith for six over square leg, he was going for the sweep when he scooped a dolly catch to short fine leg. However, a 66-run partnership between Alleyne and Matt Windows, the latter recording his second half-century in the match, insured them against defeat.

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