Napier left bittersweet after helping Eagles to victory

Napier left bittersweet after helping Eagles to victory

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Graham Napier admitted it felt “bittersweet” to claim three wickets as Essex beat Gloucestershire in their South Group T20 Blast match on Thursday.

The all-rounder ended a poor run of bowling form with figures of 3/30, including strikes in successive balls during his second spell.

Essex had posted 181 all out, powered by 68 from Mark Pettini, before Gloucestershire managed 163-7 in reply, primarily through 104 not out from Michael Klinger.

Speaking after his performance helped the Eagles maintain a chance of reaching the quarter-finals, Napier acknowledged his recent struggles:

“It’s the nature of the beast in T20 that sometimes if you’re the finishing bowler you’re going to get hit out the park a few times.

“This year I’ve had it a couple of times, which is disappointing personally, but in this format it happens to somebody.

“It has just happened to be me, so it is bittersweet to get back today and get some wickets – T20 can be a cruel game for a bowler.”

Napier helped reduce Gloucestershire to 92/7, as just one member of the top eight aside from Klinger made double figures.

A partnership of 71 from James Fuller and Klinger gave the visitors respectability, after they had earlier won the toss and invited Essex to bat.

Pettini took five boundaries from a Jack Taylor over but the Eagles fell from 114/1 to 127/5 through three quick wickets from Tom Smith, including Westley and Ravi Bopara in successive deliveries.

A cameo 21 from Ryan ten Doeschate preceded Graham Napier and James Foster both hitting consecutive sixes as Essex reached 181, whilst James Fuller claimed excellent figures of 2/22.

Thus Essex claimed their revenge, after 126 not out from Klinger had helped Gloucestershire win the reverse fixture in May.

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