Gloucestershire triumph in Blast derby


James Bracey struck a fantastic 63 and Benny Howell took 3-34 as Gloucestershire secured a 5 wicket victory in the Severn Bridge Derby over Glamorgan at Sophia Gardens.

Sent into bat by the visitors, Glamorgan’s innings got off to a quiet start with only four runs coming from the first over which nearly saw captain David Lloyd run-out, narrowly making his ground while completing an ambitious single. The second over was much of the same before Lloyd’s opening partner Sam Northeast finally got a clean strike away, hoisting Glenn Phillips away over midwicket for the first maximum of the evening.

Lloyd joined in on the fun in the following over, pummelling 15 from David Payne’s second over as the pair raced to 26-0 from three overs. Gloucestershire continued to persist with spin from one end in the powerplay and Lloyd was only too eager to capitalise, punishing the slow left-armers of Tom Smith with another sumptuous cover drive to the boundary as the opening pair refused to let the bowlers settle.

Josh Shaw was the next bowler called upon and he was promptly milked for eight runs off his opening over, the pair picking up a smattering of singles while Lloyd muscled another delivery away over wide mid-on for another boundary. The powerplay ended with the Welsh side on 49-0.

Opposing skipper Jack Taylor continued to tinker with his bowling options in search of a breakthrough, however he would have been far from pleased when Zac Chappell offered up a chest-high full-toss for Lloyd to scoop away for four before the resulting free-hit was flicked for the third maximum of the Glamorgan innings in only the seventh over. Lloyd raced through to his half-century in the following over, sweeping Smith fine for another boundary as the hosts took control of the early stages.

Wily pacer Benny Howell was the next option for Taylor and he fared no better, Lloyd carving a delightful cut shot away for four before audaciously reverse-scooping him over short third-man for another boundary before Taylor brought himself on and nearly drew the breakthrough as Northeast miscued one down the ground, however a diving Miles Hammond couldn’t cling on to a difficult chance to leave the hosts 89-0 at the halfway stage.

Howell did eventually find a breakthrough in the following over however as he squeezed one through Northeast’s defences to claim the wicket of the former Hampshire man and break the stand on 90. This brought former South African international Colin Ingram to the crease and he wasted little time getting into the action as he hammered his first ball through the off-side field for another boundary.

After knocking Taylor’s following over for a smattering of singles, Lloyd decided to up the ante once more, scooping another four over short third-man before hammering a catch back at Howell to finally end his innings on 68 with Glamorgan in a strong position at 106-2 with seven overs left.

Phillips returned for the following over and he would keep runs to a minimum, leaking only five singles before the man known affectionately as ‘Kingram’ would try and loft him for another maximum but only succeed in picking out Ian Cockbain on the boundary. Winter recruit Eddie Byrom joined former captain Chris Cooke in the middle at the fall of Ingram’s wicket and a welcome six would come in the following over as Cooke muscled Howell away over the legside before slamming a four straight back over the bowlers head from the very next delivery.

Smith had looked one of the more-threatening Gloucestershire bowlers all evening and with his penultimate delivery, he would pick up a much-deserved wicket as Cooke attempted to sweep him away for another maximum but could only miscue the ball straight up and offer the bowler a fairly simple catch as Glamorgan slipped to 129-4 with four overs left.

All-rounder Dan Douthwaite was the new man to the crease and he would succeed where Cooke failed, hammering David Payne into the River Taff from the first delivery of the 17th over before Payne would send his leg-stump out the ground with the very next delivery. Kiran Carlson was next to perish attempting a big shot, top-edging Phillips to Hammond at deep-midwicket as the Welsh side’s innings looked in danger of petering out with a bit of a whimper.

Byrom was still there however and, together with James Weighell, they took nine off the remainder of Phillips over and seven from the first four balls of the 19th, again bowled by Payne, before he cleaned up Weighell. Byrom would then drag a delivery from Ryan Higgins out in the direction of Howell, who took a spectacular diving catch to add to his earlier wickets before Prem Sisodiya and James Harris scrambled Glamorgan to a respectable 158-8 which was probably about 20 runs short of where they hoped to be after their flying start.

The visitors reply started strongly, with Hammond thumping Michael Hogan for six in the opening over of the chase before firing another two through midwicket as they took 10 from the first. Harris would limit them to only two runs from the second however with some fantastic fielding from both Carlson and Lloyd cutting off scoring opportunities effectively before James Bracey got away to a fortuitous start, miscuing Hogan away over Northeast at extra cover for another boundary, the first of the Gloucestershire response. Hammond would pick up another four in near-identical fashion a few balls later.

Weighell would fare little better when he was introduced to the attack, Bracey thrashing his first delivery away for another boundary as the English side looked to be positive from the outset. Harris would then change ends for the fifth over and meet a similar fate, disappearing for back-to-back boundaries courtesy of Bracey before Hammond skied one out towards Weighell on the square leg boundary and the Glamorgan man could only look on helplessly as the greasy ball shot through his grasp and down to the turf as a key chance went begging.

A second six of the innings would come in Weighell’s next over as Hammond dispatched the bowler’s half-tracker away over midwicket for a monstrous six as the powerplay ended with the score on 54-0. Douthwaite was the next bowler to face the fireworks as Hammond refused to let any of the bowlers settle before one big shot too many would prove his undoing, a thick outside edge flying out to Byrom at point who hung on to break the opening partnership with the score on 58. Cockbain would ensure the over was still a successful one for the visitors as he survived a vociferous lbw shout first ball before clipping the bowler away for another boundary to end the over.

Spin would be introduced for the first time in the eighth over, and the decision would reap immediate rewards as Sisodiya conceded only seven and drew a leading edge from Cockbain which he held onto calmly as the ball came back to him and leave Gloucestershire two down. Further quiet overs from Douthwaite and Sisodiya would see the visitors reach the halfway point 12 runs and 2 wickets worse over than the hosts had been at the same stage.

In Bracey and Phillips, Gloucestershire still had a highly dangerous pair at the crease and Douthwaite’s opening delivery of the 11th over was once again crashed through the covers before Bracey then smacked him back over his head for a second boundary in the over.

Phillips would require little invitation to join in the fun, crashing a returning Hogan for another boundary down the ground to take Gloucestershire beyond 100. Captain Lloyd would bring himself on for the 14th over and Bracey would bring up his half-century midway through the over, calmly nudging the ball to midwicket for a single before Phillips dragged one away behind square and then bludgeoned one down the ground for consecutive boundaries as Gloucestershire crept closer to their target.

More runs would be leaked from the next over as Harris conceded a boundary to each of Bracey and Phillips respectively before Sisodiya would be dragged back into the firing line as Phillips launched another boundary down the ground. With four overs left, Gloucestershire were well in sight of their target, with only a further 20 runs required as Bracey marshalled the chase superbly while Phillips provided some crowd entertainment on a ground which he previously lit up in the Hundred last summer.

Douthwaite would give the Cardiff crowd a fleeting glimmer of hope as Hogan pulled off a fantastic one-handed catch at long-on to dismiss the big-hitting Kiwi before having Higgins caught behind by Cooke first ball, but by that stage the damage was done as Bracey would carry Gloucestershire to the verge of victory before holing out to Carlson for a fantastic 63 with 8 runs required for victory.

Captain Taylor struck the winning runs to take Gloucestershire to victory while Glamorgan will be rueing a collapse of 8-64 with the bat. Up next for the Welsh side is a clash with fellow strugglers Hampshire while Gloucestershire face another South-West derby against Somerset on Thursday evening.

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