Rain brought an early end to the day at Cheltenham with Gloucestershire 98 runs ahead with six wickets standing, to give visitors Leicestershire a slight advantage going into tomorrow’s third day.
Leicestershire were bowled out today for 218, a first innings lead of 35 and in their second innings Gloucestershire have reached 133/4. On a day in which seam bowlers were again to the fore, it was Gloucestershire’s David Payne who took the honours with figures of 5/36 in the Leicestershire innings.
The visitors resumed this morning on 122/5, 61 runs behind Gloucestershire, with Angus Robson not out 49 and Ned Eckersley on 16. Robson duly completed his patient 148 ball half-century. On 57 he was dropped by skipper Michael Klinger at first slip, off Josh Shaw’s first ball.
Fortune was not to smile on Shaw. When Craig Miles was introduced at the College Lawn End he dismissed Robson for 62 with his first ball, this time Klinger holding on at slip.
Eckersley chipped Miles to mid-wicket with the deficit still 15. First ball syndrome struck again as David Payne replaced Miles, the left-armer’s initial delivery trapping Clint McKay lbw for 11 at 201/7. Richard Jones was out in the same way to one that Payne skidded through, and when Payne bowled Charlie Shreck five minutes before lunch Leicestershire were all out for 218 in 70.4 overs.
Payne’s excellent return of 5/36 came from 19.4 overs. His spell this morning shows what a dangerous bowler he can be when he swings the ball into the right- hander. Miles and Shaw took two wickets each and Norwell one.
When Gloucestershire batted, Tavare was first out. After looking in good touch he swished outside his off stump in Shreck’s first over, and was caught at slip.
Graeme van Buuren soon followed, bowled leg stump by Ben Raine to make Gloucestershire 46/2. Chris Dent, after a hesitant start, was brilliantly taken by Mark Cosgrove low down to his left at second slip for 34, with the hosts 80/3.
Hamish Marshall, on his last Championship appearance at Cheltenham, never settled and was out caught at slip for 6 from Neil Dexter’s bowling. With Gloucestershire 100/4, a lead of just 65, the visitors seemed to be in control.
Tea came with Gloucestershire 112/4 after 37 overs, with Klinger not out 32 and Jack Taylor unbeaten on 4. But in the sixth over after tea at 4.30 pm, light rain started to fall on the College ground. It gradually became heavier and at 6pm the umpires decided to abandon play for the day with Klinger on 43 and Taylor on 13.
Gloucestershire will feel that they need to get a lead of at least 200 tomorrow to get into a competitive position in this match, a match they need to win to go to the top of Division Two. It could be a fascinating day.