Royal London One-day Cup Final: Gloucestershire Preview

Royal London One-day Cup Final: Gloucestershire Preview

They aren't a flashy side with big names in the line up, but Gloucestershire have a strong team with a fine mix of experience and youngsters. If the side can rise to the big occasion, and history suggests they can, reporter Kirby Meehan believes they have a good chance of lifting the trophy.

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Having reached the semi-final stage, there were few people who thought Gloucestershire would topple Yorkshire on home turf. Topple the Tykes they did, however, and with apparent ease. Gloucestershire have reached their first One-Day cup final in eleven years and will meet Surrey at Lord’s on Saturday.

At first glance, if you put the West Country side up against Surrey it looks an easy win for the Londoners. No stranger to the big international names, this year Surrey are sporting Kumar Sangakkara as well as regulars such as Gareth Batty, Jade Dernbach, Ben Foakes and the seemingly unstoppable Curran brothers. Gloucestershire, if you believe the media, have only Michael Klinger.

The Australian is an extraordinary talent, certainly, but only a fool would believe Gloucestershire have reached the One-Day cup final on the strength of just one player.

Geraint Jones has shown that he can still make a valuable contribution for his side, contributing just fewer than 300 runs with the white ball this year. As Saturday is likely to be his final appearance for Gloucestershire, he will be keen to go out on a high. In addition to this, the effect of Jones’ experience on the young team is not to be underestimated. Youngsters like David Payne and James Fuller, whose work with the ball could be crucial at Lord’s, hold the veteran in high esteem.

Outshone by Klinger in the semi-final was Benny Howell, whose rather inventive deliveries have seen him finish the competition as Gloucestershire’s leading wicket taker. Having not lost their first wicket until they were into three figures, the Tykes looked to be amassing a huge number of runs, but Howell’s impressive bowling was largely responsible for limiting the total to just 263. The 26 year old is also growing into a fine batter, capable of scoring runs under pressure.

Hamish Marshall may not be the explosive man that Klinger is, but the Kiwi is capable of bringing a much-needed stability to the middle order. His contribution at Headingley should also not be overlooked and, if he can rise to the occasion at Lord’s on Saturday, he could prove vital once again.

Gloucestershire are a largely inexperienced team and few will fancy their chances against a big fish like Surrey. It might be worth remembering, however, that Gloucestershire have reached five One-Day cup finals, all of them at Lord’s, and have lost none of them. If history has any bearing on the present, it looks as though this year’s underdogs are very capable of handling the big games. They have every chance of going home with trophy number six this Saturday.

Strengths and weaknesses:

Gloucestershire’s strength does not lie in big name players or occasional explosive appearances by short-term overseas players. Their major asset is simply that they are a solid team. The power of Klinger is ably supported by the all-round quality of Howell, the spin of Taylor and the vast experience of Jones. Gloucestershire’s weakness is that they lack marquee players and are one of county cricket’s perceived minnows. Is this likely to hold them back? It hasn’t so far.

Key player:

While it is certainly true that Gloucestershire are more than just a one-man band, there is little doubt that their key player is Michael Klinger. The Australian has batted in the tournament seven times and only been dismissed on four occasions. In those seven appearances, he has made three centuries and two half-centuries, with 531 runs to his name thus far. While Howell’s excellent bowling was also a factor in the semi-final victory, had Klinger not returned from Australia in time to appear at Headingley we may very well have been watching Yorkshire at Lord’s this weekend.

Previous appearances:

1973 Gillette Cup (winner)

1999 Natwest Trophy (winner)

2000 Natwest Trophy (winner)

2003 C & G Trophy (winner)

2004 C & G Trophy (winner)

Tournament highlights:

  1. Gloucestershire get an unlikely last-ball win against Derbyshire at Bristol, as the visitors illegally post 6 fielders on the leg side and conceded a last minute no-ball.
  2. Leicestershire are beaten on the last ball at Grace Road in July.
  3. Durham and Somerset are beaten in the final over at Bristol, both in August.
  4. Klinger and Hamish Marshall chase down Yorkshire’s 263 with unexpected ease in the semi-final at Headingley.

Likely XI: Chris Dent, Michael Klinger, Gareth Roderick, Hamish Marshall, Benny Howell, Geraint Jones, Jack Taylor, James Fuller, Tom Smith, David Payne, Liam Norwell

Odds (Skybet): 11/8

Stats:

The side’s top run scorer is, unsurprisingly, Michael Klinger with 531 runs – almost 200 runs ahead of second place.

The top wicket taker is Benny Howell with 15 wickets.

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