Gloucestershire continued their impressive Royal London One-Day Cup campaign with a 71-run victory over holders Durham at Bristol. It was their fourth win in the competition and their sixth successive victory from completed matches in all forms of the game. It lifted them to third position in Group A with Durham lying in fifth place.
In a game shortened by rain to 41 overs per side, the home side’s victory was built upon a magnificent 135 not out by captain Michael Klinger, scored from 114 balls with 12 fours and five sixes. He played shots all round the wicket and helped his side to a challenging 289/7. It was his seventh century in all formats for Gloucestershire since he arrived in early May. Rarely can the 35 year-old Australian have played better.
Klinger’s efforts were backed up with some tight bowling and excellent fielding which reminded some at Nevil Road of the days of Gloucestershire’s one day dominance in the early 1990s.
Although handicapped by the wet ball for some of the Gloucestershire innings Durham were disappointing. Too much of the bowling was poorly directed and when they batted they rarely threatened the home total.
On a cool, cloudy morning Gloucestershire won the toss and batted. Chris Dent was soon out, wafting outside off- stump to John Hastings. An early rain break reduced the over allocation to 45, and soon after a second heavy shower to 41. Immediately after the second interruption Gareth Roderick played too early to a Chris Rushworth delivery which stuck in the pitch and was caught at mid-on for 13 at 30/2. Klinger was batting with typical fluency and reached a superb 50 with his second six from Ryan Pringle’s first over.
A further short break after 24 overs at 137/2 did little to disrupt the positive progress of the home batters. Geraint Jones moved to his second half-century of this 50-over campaign before he swung rashly at Pringle and was bowled. Benny Howell announced his arrival in splendid manner, hitting John Hastings for a four and a six then reverse sweeping Pringle twice for fours in the 30th over. His breezy innings ended when Scott Borthwick kept a leg-spinner low to bowl him for 45 scored off 24 balls.
Klinger, by now batting with a runner due to a tight hamstring, completed his second successive RLODC century, scored from 95 balls with ten fours and three sixes as Gloucestershire progressed to 236/4 in the 34th over.
In the final overs Borthwick took two more wickets in an impressive spell of 3/26, when he dismissed Kieran Noema- Barnett and James Fuller but Klinger was still there at the end for a superb 135. Gloucestershire would have been more than happy with a total of 289/7 from 41 overs, Durham much less so. They would have known that Klinger’s was the prize scalp, and the failure to even threaten his dismissal would make the game a difficult one to win.
Durham began their pursuit of a Duckworth/Lewis revised total of 286 in 41 overs in bright fashion, Mark Stoneman clearing the rope twice in the first three overs. Attempting a third he skied David Payne to mid-off for 19. Phil Mustard and Borthwick were making good progress when on 68, Mustard was brilliantly taken by Dent low down at short mid-on from Howell for 28 in the 14th over. Howell, continuing his excellent all-round form, had Borthwick caught smartly by Payne at mid-wicket to tilt the advantage in favour of the West Country side at 77/3.
With Durham on 90/3 after 20 overs, Gloucestershire’s bowlers were applying a stranglehold which Graham Clark loosened with a successive six and four from Tom Smith. But Smith and Miles stepped up the pressure with more tightly controlled bowling. Clark was soon tempted to offer an easy catch, close in on the leg side in a Miles wicket-maiden to make Durham 124/4 after 24 overs. Smith’s stifling accuracy soon accounted for Calum MacLeod, holing out to deep long-on.
Hastings, fortunate to escape a dropped catch when on 5, set about the bowling with Gordon Muchall’s help, using his muscular power to try and keep Durham’s hope alive. Payne’s reintroduction accounted for Muchall for 34. Pringle, having scooped Payne for a boundary, tried a repeat and was caught off the back of the bat as only the burly Australian stood between Gloucestershire and victory. He was eventually lbw to Payne for 46 and Durham’s slim chances disappeared. Usman Arshad also fell to Payne, who ended with an impressive 5/40, and when Rushworth was bowled by Miles the Gloucestershire players enjoyed their well-deserved celebrations.
Gloucestershire now visit Worcester tomorrow with a great chance of reaching the quarter finals while Durham travel to Leicester on Thursday knowing that improvement is needed if they are to realise the same ambition.