Royal London Cup, Bristol, April 28th 2019
Gloucestershire 246-6 beat Somerset 242-9 by 4 wickets
The law of averages of one-day cricket said it had to happen sooner rather than later. But why-oh-why against them at that God-forsaken ground?
I’ve got nothing against Bristol or Bristolians per se. I did my degree there and they were three of the happiest years of my life. But how can the city of Grace and Brunell, of Clifton College, The Downs and The Suspension Bridge tolerate such a depressingly sole-destroying place as Nevil Road?
If JK Rowling had a cricket ground in mind when she dreamt up Azkaban, it was her.
And as if the ground isn’t depressing enough the playing surface draws away your last hope of enjoyment. It is, to keep the analogy going, the Dementor of all surfaces.
Gloucestershire are, for their part, a county like Kent. Little talent at first-class level, bits and pieces cricketers. Journeymen. I’d only covet James Bracey among their ranks to wear the Wyvern.
So how, you ask, do both these sides give Somerset so much white-ball trouble?
Well, in Gloucestershire’s case (I must focus my bile carefully here) they have built a team and playing style to suit the surfaces they use. Then they exaggerate the surface to enhance the players they have. And so it goes until you end up with a team of nudgers, nurdlers and dibbly-dobblers.
You’ve got it by now. I don’t like Gloucestershire very much. Never have since the days of Proctershire. Never will. Get on with it.
Somerset were given the dubious honour of first use of the pitch and a total of 105-4 after 30 overs which contained only two boundaries told its own story.
That the visitors were able to muster a respectable total of near 250 was due to the herculean efforts of Tom Abell, Craig Overton (again) and Lewis Gregory.
Somerset’s bowlers got off to a tremendous start in their attempt to defend their 242. The home side was reduced to 25-3 off 14 overs and, after a stoic fourth-wicket partnership of 61, were pegged back again to 114-5 in the 31st over.
But as the ball softened and perhaps concentration levels slipped Van Buren and Hammond built a substantial 6th wicket partnership of 84. But even these two were not able to increase the scoring rate substantially leaving the game delicately balanced into the final five overs.
Unfortunately, it was not to be. Timmy G bowled the 46th over that went for 17 and when his next over also proved inordinately expensive. In a relatively low scoring game, a couple of overs like this were too much, especially in the last phase of the game.
Somerset headed back down the M5 with their unbeaten record gone but in the bigger picture satisfied with a four from five start.