Gloucestershire finished day three at the Brightside Ground, Bristol 234 runs ahead of Glamorgan with two second innings wickets in hand. It was a day of hard work for both batsmen and bowlers on a slow Bristol pitch, and both emerged with credit.
The fact that the home county have turned their first innings deficit into a position where they are level in the match with the visitors was due for the most part to a grittily determined innings by captain Gareth Roderick who made 67, and major contributions from Cameron Bancroft (70) and Hamish Marshall (58).
The Glamorgan seamers bowled all day with great spirit and accuracy in the absence of Graham Wagg, missing with a sore arm. Michael Hogan returned the impressive figures of 4/68 from 28 hostile overs. The other four wickets were shared equally between the Timm van der Hugten and Harry Podmore, both of whom helped to exert control over the home batters.
Gloucestershire began the day on 60/1 with Cameron Bancroft 35 not out and Graeme Van Buuren unbeaten on 22. Without a run added, in one of those peculiar nominal oddities that cricket provides, van Burren was lbw to van der Gugten: the Australian born Dutchman triumphing over the young South African making his Gloucestershire Championship debut.
Bancroft reached his first Championship half century with a hooked boundary off van der Gugten. It has been a disappointing spell in England for the young Western Australian who makes way for Michael Klinger when he returns at the end of the month, but here he was batting with greater assurance.
Rain and poor light forced an early lunch at 12.30 with Gloucestershire 109/2 with Bancroft on 68 and skipper Gareth Roderick not out 14. It had been an exercise in patient application by the batsmen, both of whom are short of runs this season, against some well controlled Glamorgan quick bowling.
Soon after lunch Bancroft, being watched by Klinger who arrived from Australia overnight, was caught at short mid wicket from Michael Hogan for 70 with Gloucestershire 117/3, just 48 ahead. Hamish Marshall joined Roderick and set about blunting Glamorgan’s hopes of pushing for a third day win.
He looked in fine form, taking a particular liking to Andrew Salter’s off breaks, hitting his first delivery into the flats at the Ashley Down End for six. Marshall reached his 50 (from 69 balls with seven fours and one six) with Gloucestershire on 192/3,124 ahead and the game evenly balanced.
A century in successive matches for the veteran Kiwi looked a possibility but on 58 he drove at Hogan and was caught at point with Gloucestershire 212/4.
George Hankins, the first innings top scorer, joined Roderick who was batting patiently on 43. He reached his 50 from 144 balls, an effort of great perseverance in which he struggled to rediscover the form that has eluded him this season.
With rain forecast for late afternoon and much of tomorrow Gloucestershire looked to have batted themselves to safety at tea which was taken on 232/4 from 84 overs, a lead of 164.
After tea, Glamorgan took the new ball and in the second over van der Gugten bowled Hankins for 18 with one that kept low. Roderick’s long stay ended when he was lbw to Hogan for 67 with Gloucestershire 248/6.
Kieran Noema-Barnett became Hogan’s fourth victim playing a casual shot, a half- drive to be caught at mid- off. Jack Taylor made a typically spirited 17 before he flat- batted Podmore to mid- on to make Gloucestershire 271/8. The hosts had lost four wickets to the new ball since tea to give Welsh county a sniff of victory.
But Glamorgan’s hopes of beginning their fourth innings tonight disappeared with excellent resistance from Craig Miles (23 not out) and David Payne (not out 9), and the murk and drizzle which enveloped the Brightside Ground with seven overs remaining.
With heavy rain forecast for much of the day tomorrow a draw seems the most likely outcome of this match. This is a great pity, as the game is so evenly poised. It could be a fascinating day.