Cheltenham (second day): Gloucestershire 283 (M J North 98, D O Brown 83, Kabir Ali 6-94) v Worcestershire 325-1 (V S Solanki 179 no, S C Moore 120 no)
Batting milestones were made and long-standing records broken with alarming regularity on the second day of the Division Two championship match between Gloucestershire and Worcestershire at Cheltenham.
It was one of the most one-sided of cricket contests imaginable. No wickets fell in the day’s 53.3 overs, during which time 301 runs were scored.
Captain Vikram Solanki, who started the day on nought after play the previous evening ended with the dismissal of Daryl Mitchell and the scoreboard reading 24 for one, hit a superb 88-ball century before lunch.
However, as time wore on and Gloucestershire’s woeful attack was smeared to all parts of the ground the records quickly came within reach.
The unbeaten stand between opener Stephen Moore and Solanki is not only the highest first-class partnership of the season but, more impressively, it became the highest ever second-wicket partnership between these two sides, beating the 239 posted by New Zealander Glenn Turner and Alan Ormrod in 1970.
More impressively still, by the time rain dislodged Moore and Solanki for a well-deserved early tea from which they never returned, their partnership had also become Worcestershire’s highest second-wicket partnership in history, beating the 300 amassed by Graeme Hick and Phil Weston against and India select side in 1996.
Personal landmarks were also aplenty.
Both Moore’s 120 (182 balls,16 fours, one six) and Solanki’s 179 (161 balls, 32 fours) were their highest championship knocks of the season and on reaching 93, the opener won the race to become the first batsman in the country to score 1,000 first-class runs in the season.
Not to be out done, when Solanki reached 137, he also passed 13,000 career runs.
He said: “Have I? I am glad you told me that. Landmarks like that are all well and good. The most important thing is that we are in a commanding position in this game.
“Obviously we are disappointed the rain wrote off the last session and we can’t look too far ahead - but we are in a strong position.
“We will see how we come back and how quickly we can score. But the way Stephen and I played today should not detract from the way the guys bowled yesterday.
“Kabir [six for 94] has been brilliant all year.
“We have lost the toss on the last two occasions and have been able to bowl sides out in tough conditions. This is a very good wicket to bat on.”
How dispiriting it must have been for Gloucestershire.
Their captain, Alex Gidman, used seven bowlers in his fruitless quest to break up the partnership but apart from Steve Kirby, who toiled manfully, they were hopeless.
How half of the players at Gidman’s disposal have secured professional contracts is a mystery.
Not only did Solanki and Moore never look like being dismissed, they scored at a freedom (5.5 runs per over) more commonly associated with the one-day format.
It was the captain’s knock that was particularly pleasing on the eye: few in the game are more graceful when in full flow.
A variety of crisp cover drives and pulls off the pace of Kirby were allied to late cuts and punishing straight drives the less threatening seamers, particularly Oliver Newby, on loan to Gloucestershire from Lancashire where he is supposedly highly-rated. He went for 83 from his 11 overs.
Moore’s century was more methodical than that of his partner, but he looked equally untroubled and reached his fourth first-class century (140 balls, 13 fours, one six) of the season shortly after lunch.
By then the floodgates had been obliterated. Gloucestershire will be praying for rain.