Gloucester (final day of four): Gloucestershire 420 (C G Taylor 104, C M Spearman 95, W T S Porterfield 63, J E Anyon 4-86) & 228-8 dec (C G Taylor 77) v Warwickshire 410 (T Frost 144 no, J O Troughton 79, I J Westwood 68)
Gloucestershire (11pts) drew with Warwickshire (10pts)
He may have had an excellent game with the bat, but it was Tony Frost’s error with the gloves that ended any lingering hopes Warwickshire had of victory at Gloucester.
Frost, quite inexplicably, left an outside edge from Steve Snell before the batsman had scored. Had the catch been taken, Gloucestershire would have been 111 for six just a few minutes after lunch. As it was, Snell survived another 16 overs and helped add 76 runs. It was a costly error.
In all, Frost dropped three chances in this game; all off Neil Carter. He has been faultless with gloves and bat until now but a case could be made for playing Frost, who is clearly struggling with sore hands as well as the hip injury that caused him to retire in 2006, as a batsman and giving the gloves to Richard Johnson.
Poor Carter. He has not only suffered 14 missed chances off his bowling this season, but the ball has invariably continued to the boundary. He may just be the unluckiest bowler in the club’s history.
It did appear, for a short time, as if Warwickshire could wrap up an unlikely victory. 37 runs came from the first five overs as Craig Spearman took a shine to Chris Woakes’ medium-pace, but some complacent shots saw four wickets fall for just 12 runs.
Spearman drove to mid-off before William Porterfield edged a footless cut; Hamish Marshall was punished for playing back while Alex Gidman, a Warwickshire target, was beaten by a perfect inswinging yorker to complete his ‘pair.’ When Marcus North was deceived by a slower ball and drove to cover, Warwickshire scented victory.
The failure to dismiss Snell, and more admirable batting from Chris Taylor, made the game safe, however. The slow pitch negated the fine bowling of Carter and Ant Botha and by the time Ian Westwood took an astonishing one-handed catch, throwing himself backwards at long-on, to dismiss Taylor, the game was dead.
Where does this leave Warwickshire? Unbeaten this season, but with only one championship win in 13 months, they stand second in the second division having played a game more than the sides below them.
Reinforcements are certainly required, but bearing in mind that they are without their captain, an overseas player and their two best players on England duty, they can feel quietly satisfied with their progress.
“I’m not worried about ‘Jack’s [Frost] form,” Giles said later. “He’ll probably think he’ll want to do better in the next game, but these things happen.
“We’ve dropped six catches in this match and it has cost us. We’re dropping them in practice, too, so we’re going to have to practise harder and with more intensity.
“I strongly feel we’re going in the right direction. We remain unbeaten and had a couple of opportunities to win this game. Unfortunately we couldn’t take them.
“It wasn’t the aim, but we are playing 11 England-qualified players. I’d like to have an overseas fast bowler in there, but we’re doing better than sides packed with Kolpak players.”
Such issues were put into perspective by matters elsewhere. Warwickshire lost a loyal member on the eve of this game with the untimely death of Seamus McGillicuddy. His quiet good humour, his old-world manners and his ever present straw boater will be much missed.
His wake will be held in The Dollery Suite at Edgbaston on June 11 at noon.