Division Two leaders Lancashire inflicted a dramatic post-lunch collapse on Gloucestershire to secure a 91-run victory at Bristol. Chasing 252 for victory the home side were bowled out for 160. This was the Red Rose county’s fifth Championship win of the season and stretched their lead over second-place Surrey to 31 points.
In a remarkable spell immediately after lunch the home side spiralled from 113/2 to 119/7, with four of the wickets falling to Zimbabwean international right-arm seamer Kyle Jarvis in the space of 17 balls. Jarvis finished with 5/39 from 21 overs, to add to the 4/67 he took in the first innings. This means that he has now taken an impressive 47 wickets this season. After the match he said that he was “at his best when he could run the ball back at the batsmen, and that is what started to happen this afternoon”. He showed the value of bowling fast, full and straight in a spell which decided what had been a close contest throughout the four days.
This morning Gloucestershire resumed on their overnight total of 26/1 with Chris Dent on ten and Michael Klinger 15, needing 226 to win. As on previous mornings crease occupation appeared a difficult process requiring patient application. Klinger freed himself from the shackles imposed by Tom Bailey and Kyle Jarvis with successive fours driven through cover. Dent survived some plays and misses from Bailey, and Klinger a couple of unsuccessful lbw appeals. Such was the care taken by the home batsmen that only 23 runs were added in the first hour from 16 testing overs.
The efforts of the Lancashire bowlers were finally rewarded in the 36th over when Klinger attempted an expansive drive at James Faulkner and thin-edged to wicket-keeper Alex Davies for 42 with the total on 68. It was the Australian’s first Championship wicket in his second game for the Red Rose county.
Klinger’s dismissal brought in Liverpool-born Ian Cockbain, whose father played for Lancashire, but it was Dent who assumed the senior role playing with increased assurance. The runs gradually came more freely as lunch approached, Dent progressing to one short of his 50 at lunch. The lunch score of 104/2 from 48 overs would have given the hosts more quiet satisfaction than Lancashire: 148 needed from a minimum of 65 overs with eight wickets remaining. Yet in a game where the new ball had proved more potent than the old, perhaps the key statistic was that 32 overs needed to be bowled before the second new ball was due.
Dent duly reached his 50 in the first over after lunch, a reward for stubborn resistance this morning. It came as a surprise when he donated his wicket to a grateful Jarvis, flat-batting tamely to Ashwell Prince at mid-on for 54 to make the score 113/3. Bailey bowled a particularly hostile over to new batsman Gareth Roderick which the young South African did well to survive as Lancashire tried hard to build on Dent’s departure. In the next over they achieved this when Jarvis got his third victim, trapping Cockbain lbw for 15.
At 115/4, and both Roderick and skipper Geraint Jones on nought, the balance was tipping towards Lancashire. In Bailey’s next over he swung things very much the visitors’ way when he dismissed Roderick lbw for a duck to make the score 118/5. Benny Howell became the third lbw victim since lunch when Jarvis dismissed him for Gloucestershire’s third zero of the innings. In the same over Jack Taylor was clean bowled, also without scoring.
Although there was evidence of uneven bounce it was the pace, movement and accuracy of the bowling which turned the match in Lancashire’s favour.
Jones and Craig Miles attempted to steady the ship for the home side after the immediate post-lunch carnage. Jones was dropped at second slip by Croft from Chapple’s bowling when on 14 at 145/7 but the miss did not prove costly as Jones, without adding to his score, slashed wildly at Faulkner and was caught at the wicket to make the score 154/8.
Matt Taylor suffered the same fate as his older brother, dismissal for a duck, this time caught behind the wicket from Faulkner. Gloucestershire’s tenth-wicket record holders Miles and Liam Norwell found themselves batting together, but they only added four before the Lancashire win was sealed when Miles skied to Faulkner at mid-off to give Jordan Clark his only wicket.
More bad news came from Gloucestershire skipper Geraint Jones after the game when he confirmed that Gareth Roderick had batted despite a small fracture in his thumb. He’s not expected to play again until the Cheltenham Festival in early July. Despite the defeat, Nevil Road side will take heart from the fact that they have beaten the runaway leaders once this season and matched them throughout this match until Jarvis’s devastating spell on the final afternoon.