Russell leads the fightback

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The Independent Online
reports from Cheltenham

Lancashire 231 and 87-8 Gloucestershire 265

After the Latin, almost tropical extravagances of Thursday this was a proper English day: low cloud, occasional sunshine, rain spots, cool wind and bloody-minded tail-enders. Gloucestershire, in danger of a two- day defeat at the start, 44 for 5 and needing another 37 to avoid following on, finished likely early winners after Javagal Srinath had reduced the Lancashire second innings to rubble.

Gloucestershire's Rob Cunliffe, 21, as solid as a barn door, spent 98 overs on his 92 not out. He held one end while others, notably Jack Russell, exploited the other against an attack in which Wasim Akram returned the best figures but Ian Austin produced the best bowling.

Matthew Symonds played on to the first ball of the day. It so happened that as Russell took guard the chairman of selectors, Ray Illingworth, arrived. Russell then showed why he should regain his England place.

The seventh-wicket pair added 125 in 50 overs against a Lancashire attack. Mike Watkinson eventually removed Russell (13 fours off 159 balls) with the help of a fine slip catch but Cunliffe's hopes of a deserved maiden Championship century were dashed when Watkinson claimed a new ball for Wasim.

The new ball was even more devastating to Lancashire. Steve Titchard was beaten by Mike Smith's swing; Srinath removed John Crawley before the arrears of 31 had been cleared and Mike Atherton was caught at cover with a lead of 15. Srinath feeds on success: he had Neil Fairbrother caught behind, Watkinson caught at slip and Wasim, second ball, just behind square leg.

With seven wickets gone, and a lead of 31, Lancashire's Thursday heroes Warren Hegg and Austin lasted only three overs.