Spearman fills his boots

Warwickshire 350 Gloucestershire 352-3

After his achievements for Gloucestershire this season Craig Spearman should change his name to something more appropriate - "Batman" springs to mind. And while his five-hour innings here might not have been quite in the superhero class, it further established him among Gloucestershire's immortals.

After his achievements for Gloucestershire this season Craig Spearman should change his name to something more appropriate - "Batman" springs to mind. And while his five-hour innings here might not have been quite in the superhero class, it further established him among Gloucestershire's immortals.

Not content with obliterating the long-standing record of W G Grace for the highest individual innings - his 341 at the beginning of June surpassing the previous mark of 318 not out scored against Yorkshire at Cheltenham in 1876 - the powerful New Zealander yesterday became the first Gloucestershire batsman to score a double century on this ground since Wally Hammond against Somerset in 1946.

He gave not a glimmer of a chance until the record had been secured and even then, on 219, it was probably more tiredness than anything else which saw him carve a hard chance to Jonathan Trott in the gully.

It was all far too much for championship leaders Warwickshire, handicapped as they were by being unable to call on the services of the Zimbabwe strike bowler Heath Streak. He might be called sometime today, but the second innings, if Gloucestershire have to bat again, is the more likely option as he nurses a thigh injury.

His absence was Gloucestershire's streak of luck and they took full advantage. Spearman was immovable, intractable and impossible to bowl at. Despite 19 New Zealand Test caps he is clearly at his best in the West Country, because all three of his big hundreds, when he has passed 150, have been scored for Gloucestershire, and this was his 10th century for the county and the 21st of his career.

He qualifies for England in January 2006, although the England and Wales Cricket Board has dispensation to reduce the waiting time. At 32, though, Spearman is unlikely to feature in England squads, but there is still plenty of county life left in him to satisfy his employers at Gloucestershire.

He reached each of the fifties in his innings with boundaries, the 100 and 150 coming up with big sixes, and each blow further reduced Warwickshire's expectations in this match.

Victory is now pretty much out of the question, although barring disaster they could wring a draw out of the game, especially if Streak can get into the action. But in this form even he might struggle to find a way past Spearman's bat.

It was a disconsolate Warwickshire who trooped off for bad light three-quarters-of-an-hour before the scheduled close of a day in which 20 overs in total were lost to the weather, with Gloucestershire a nose in front.

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