Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Gloucestershire v Derbyshire day 3

Gloucestershire 356 and 137-5 (Marshall 43 not)
Derbyshire  372 (Madsen 80, Chanderpaul 73, Slater 70, Durston 58)

Gloucestershire lead by 121 runs

With a day to go in an absorbing, probably perfect game of four-day cricket, all three results are possible.

Today was a very good day for Derbyshire, who did very well but perhaps could and should have done better. Of the home side's first innings of 356, 260 runs came from two players, leaving the rest to struggle, on the whole. Conversely, we had four batsmen who made fifty, but none of them went past eighty, something with which they will be disappointed. While the innings marked a far greater concerted effort than we have seen for much of the season, to go from 314-4 to an all out 372 was a little disappointing. More importantly, it let our hosts back into a match we were walking away with.

The final day is nicely set. Gloucestershire are 121 runs ahead with Hamish Marshall their main hope for setting us a tricky - i.e. 200-plus - total to win. The game reminds me of our run chase at Taunton last year and I suspect we're going to need a big effort from someone, as well as a collective effort, to get past the winning post.

Choice of bowlers will be key. There's something in it for seamers and spinners, but it will be important to get the right man at the right end, and quickly. Marshall and Howell could yet put the game beyond us and it will be interesting to see how we approach the target tomorrow.

The wicket isn't easy, but, as Ben Slater said last night, if you can get in it is possible to score runs on it. A fourth day track is likely to have your name on it at some point, so it is important that we don't take the attritional route and allow the bowlers to dominate and set attacking fields. Wes Durston played his natural game today and it was absolutely right for him to do so. He's a better player when he plays his shots anyway, always easier if the spadework had been done by the early order batsmen as it has been in this match so far.

We need to be batting by lunch. I'd suggest that we are currently in the box seat of this game, but need to be ready to battle from the first ball tomorrow, work through the tail and then be ready to chase around 175-180.

More than that and I'd be wary of our chances, but there's a lot to play for tomorrow.

And there is enough talent in this Derbyshire side to finish the job, if they show the requisite self-belief.

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