New Road (Day Two): Gloucestershire 444 all out v Worcestershire
Bad light prematurely stopped play on day two of the LV championship match between Worcestershire and Gloucestershire after just 11 overs had been bowled.
Rain had been the enemy at New Road previously and prevented any play until 3.30pm - but the 50 minutes of action thereafter proved long enough for Simon Jones to record his second five-wicket haul in successive games.
He did so through brute force, relying on beating the batsmen with his searing pace rather using the helpful overcast conditions which were so dark by late afternoon that umpires Graham Burgess and George Sharp did not allow Worcestershire to come out to bat.
The quick ending to Gloucestershire’s painfully prolonged innings came courtesy of the efficiency and aggression that had been sorely lacking in the hosts’ bowling on the afternoon of day one.
Four wickets for 33 runs went some way to making up for what had been a pretty poor show after the first 22 overs of the match.
Honours are now pretty even but with half the time gone and only half the teams having batted on what looks a decent pitch, the chance of a positive result for Worcestershire has been severely diminished.
Stephen Snell, whose maiden first-class century had been a highlight, failed to add to his overnight score.
His misjudged straight drive off Jones, from the fourth ball of his first over, was snaffled by a leaping Steven Davies who took the ball in front of Graeme Hick at first slip.
Davies was called into action again in order to dismiss Matt Gitsham, his fifth victim of the innings, who fell to Steve Magoffin.
It was a much easier catch.
After a period of evident unease at the crease, Gitsham’s uncertain stay was ended when the Australian seamer bounced him and the batsman kindly gloved the ball to the keeper.
What was evident throughout the Australian’s five-over spell was the steep bounce he was generating from the Diglis End, which might have raised the eyebrows of Worcestershire’s top order batsmen.
The rest was left to Jones and it was the wicket of Mark Hardings (82, 90 balls, 13 fours, one six) that seemed to produce the most joy, perhaps because of the freedom with which he scored.
The Welshman made clear his frustrations after bowling him through the gate.
To put it kindly, the batsman was left in no doubt as to the whereabouts of the pavilion as Jones, clearly scenting another five-wicket haul, pointed him from the pitch with a few choice words in his ear for good measure.
One assumes he was not telling Hardings how well he batted, which he did.
All that was left was Zimbabwean Anthony Ireland who proved more effective at hitting the ball when he was trying to leave it, before Jones got fed up and bunged him a full, straight and very quick one.