The Empire Strikes Back?
It's a shame that tomorrow's weather forecast is so awful, because Gloucestershire were in a fair amount of disarray when the close came tonight. They made 45-4 today on the type of wicket that we have faced in the last couple of games, suggesting that we're far from alone in struggling with such tracks.
Indeed, one very good judge whose opinion I respect told me tonight that he doubted Gloucestershire would have lasted another twenty-five overs with the way the wicket played. Of course, we bowled well too, something we failed to do when I saw us against Hampshire earlier in the summer.
The crux of our problem is simple but more complex to resolve. We need to get both the batting and bowling playing to potential, then we will win games. I look at our batting and see the potential for good runs; I look at the bowling and see guys who can take wickets regularly. One without the other rarely wins matches, but on wickets such as this, 275 is a good effort.
Against Essex this year we bowled well and batted badly. Against Hampshire we did the opposite. At Worcester we had an all-round nightmare, against Kent we fought back from a poor start. After tomorrow, there are still 44 days of championship cricket to be played, and while promotion is a distant dream at this stage, a couple of wins would see us rise through the table.
Earlier tonight I chatted for a delightful hour with former Derbyshire spinner Edwin Smith, a lovely man with an encyclopaedic knowledge of cricket. In the course of our chat he told me that Cliff Gladwin used to tell the team of the 1950's that if they scored 250 they would win more often than not. Of course, an attack that featured Gladwin, Jackson, Morgan and Smith was the stuff of legend, but the same goes today.
275 is a decent score and unless the wicket dries out (which the regular coverings have prevented in this game) those runs on the board will always be important. What was better in this game was the resolve shown by our lower middle order, a return to the form when we have played our best four-day cricket. If that can be repeated on a regular basis and our top order fires, we will move up the table.
Having said that, we'll see little more cricket in this match, so it will need to wait for now.