Hancock adds power to G-force

Hammond is long gone, but the H-factor is still playing a significant part in Gloucestershire success. It was never more obvious than yesterday.

Hammond is long gone, but the H-factor is still playing a significant part in Gloucestershire success. It was never more obvious than yesterday.

Gloucestershire's domination of the knock-out competitions this season has relied on a modern army of aitches and thanks to the likes of Tim Hancock, Ian Harvey and Dominic Hewson, the G-men are on the march to Lord's again.

Hancock may be nicknamed Herbie, but he is no Herbert. He made a glorious hundred - his maiden century in his 157th one-day match - and helped to set up the NatWest Trophy holders for a comprehensive, one-sided victory over Northamptonshire.

On the way to his personal landmark, in what was his first NatWest game of the year, Hancock shared an opening stand of 69 with Hewson. Then Harvey weighed in with four wickets and a breezy 20. Northamptonshire even committed the cardinal sin of dropping an aitch - mind you, by then Hancock was on 83 and fairly blazing away.

His performance would not have surprised Gloucestershire fans, as he hit 60 at Lord's when they lifted the Benson and Hedges Cup earlier this season. He made full use of a fair wicket. There was no treacherous bounce or deviation, just the repetition of sumptuous shot after flowing drive.

Northamptonshire's captain, Matthew Hayden, shuffled his bowlers around but it did no good, not until it was too late anyway. Hancock paced himself perfectly, only accelerating once he had reached his fifty.

Then he unwound for a couple of sixes, both off the luckless Graeme Swann, one a monster over long-on. He was finally toppled when he chased a widish delivery from Northamptonshire's more modest hero, Tony Penberthy, and was stumped.

His 131 ball 110 had driven the bowlers to distraction for almost three hours. And after his stand with Hewson came another, weightier one, of 121 with Kim Barnett who passed fifty for the 100th time in his distinguished one-day cricketing career and the second time in successive NatWest rounds.

If the Gloucestershire innings petered out after Hancock's demise it mattered not. Gloucestershire knew they still had Harvey's magic with the ball. They will miss the Victorian when he joins Australia for the forthcoming inaugural one-day tournament against South Africa, but not unduly.

Even though he will miss the semi-final against Lancashire at Bristol - a repeat of their B&H meeting at the end of May which Gloucestershire won easily - there will be little trepidation at the prospect since they were without Harvey's services on that occasion because of an injured hamstring.

Harvey did them proud again with the early wicket of his fellow Australian Hayden and picked up three more to take his total of wickets in the competition to 11.

Jeff Cook, an Australian who qualifies through residence, did send the odd tremor through the Gloucestershire benches, but as it is the G-force remains on target for another red-letter day.

NATWEST TROPHY

SEMI-FINAL DRAW

Gloucestershire v Lancashire Warwickshire v Hampshire

(to be played 12-13 August)

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