When Leicestershire’s Clint McKay was out at 3.22 this afternoon it confirmed the Foxes’ fifth successive defeat, Gloucestershire’s fourth victory of the season and the first time in seventeen seasons that the home side had won both their matches at the Cheltenham festival.
Gloucestershire won by 155 runs, bowling out Leicestershire for 169 today. The visitors’ victory quest hardly got out of bottom gear. It spluttered into life faintly when Aadil Ali and Ben Raine put on 54 for the seventh wicket, and when skipper Mark Cosgrove provided similar resistance to that which he showed first time around. But in truth a Gloucestershire victory never looked threatened by a limp batting performance from the Foxes.
Leicestershire began the day on 11/0 after eight overs. Angus Robson was soon out, Craig Miles sending his off-stump cartwheeling for six. Next ball Ned Eckersley was caught at first slip by Michael Klinger and the Foxes were in trouble at 20/2. Mark Cosgrove prevented the hat-trick without undue alarm and looked in similarly obdurate mood to the first innings.
The Gloucestershire pace bowlers consistently looked to induce shots just outside the off stump but the visiting batters were able to leave too many balls without the necessity to play. However, the introduction of medium-pacers Kieran Noema-Barnett and Benny Howell swung the game firmly back in favour of the home county when Noema-Barnett got Boyce lbw for 22 with the score on 61.
Four runs later Cosgrove followed for 24 in the same way, this time to Howell, and Leicestershire looked doomed to defeat at 65/4. James Fuller got in on the act, having Greg Smith caught a second slip for four to make it 75/5.
At lunch, after 38 overs, Leicestershire were 77/5, which became 87/6 soon after as Lewis Hill was brilliantly caught at deep point (by substitute Miles Hammond) for ten. Aadil Ali and Ben Raine showed admirable resolve in putting on 54 for the seventh wicket before Raine was out in one of cricket’s most unfortunate ways. As Adil began to take the initiative against off-spinner Jack Taylor, he drove down the pitch. The ball ricocheted off Raine’s boot to Taylor’s hand and on to the stumps with Raine out of his ground. This made Leicestershire 141/7.
Taylor then accounted for Ali who added to his 40 in the first innings with an excellent 41 from 93 balls before misjudging a drive, and Naik who was out first ball, caught at short leg. 141/6 had become 147/9. A few lusty blows from McKay lifted the gloom for the visitors momentarily until his dismissal, caught behind off Liam Norwell for 18 sealed Leicestershire’s fate.
Gloucestershire bowled and fielded skilfully and with great endeavour with Craig Miles, whose two wickets first thing this morning set his side on their way, returning the best figures of 3/27.
Gloucestershire coach Richard Dawson said after the match that he thought the game was an “old-school, attritional four day cricket match” in which his players did well to cope with the loss of captain Ian Cockbain due to injury during the match. He also thought that the session after tea yesterday when Howell and Noema-Barnett stepped up the pace to take the game away from Leicestershire was crucial.
Leicestershire bowled well throughout the match, but as in the last Championship game against Kent, their batting let them down.
Gloucestershire move up to fifth in the table on 119 points while the Foxes remain rooted the bottom spot on 76.