Gloucestershire took 12 Leicestershire wickets at Brightside Ground, Bristol, to win by an innings and six runs in a performance inspired by seamer Liam Norwell’s 10 wickets for 99 in the match.
Most of the predictions for this season’s Division Two suggest that there are three, four, or possibly even five teams that could win promotion.
Gloucestershire and Leicestershire are two of the counties not in the fancied quintet. So victory against one of the teams in the same group is essential for mid-table respectability. Today it was the West Country that was celebrating against an out of sorts looking East Midlands county, whose batting failed them for the second match in succession after the Foxes losy heavily to Nottinghamshire last week.
Leicestershire’s main scourge today was Norwell, who had a marvellous day at a chilly Brightside Ground.
Having taken 5-66 in the Foxes’ first innings, he followed that up with 5-33 second time around as the visitors were bowled out for 201, and we made to follow on trailing by 207.
Norwell was well supported by David Payne with match figures of 5-93.
This is Norwell’s seventh season in the Gloucestershire side and the 26-year-old Cornishman has grown into one of the most reliable and consistent bowlers in Division Two.
He has taken already taken 18 wickets this season with three five-fers. When he bowled in tandem with Payne on Sunday, the visitors’ batsmen always looked vulnerable. With Payne looking quicker and sharper this season, they appear a formidable pair.
Leicestershire resumed the third day on their overnight 165-6. With the second ball of the morning, Clint McKay became Liam Norwell’s 200th first-class victim, shouldering arms to lose his middle stump.
Richard Jones joined Ned Eckersley and the pair set about giving the Foxes’ innings an air of respectability, so much so that they took the score past the 250 mark in pursuit of the 316 to avoid the follow on.
But on 255, and the eighth wicket stand on 89, Eckersley played the wildest of wild slogs at Norwell and was bowled for an otherwise excellent 88. It was a shot that belonged more to the final over of an IPL innings at Bangalore than a County Championship rearguard action at Bristol.
When Gavin Griffiths was caught at slip to give Norwell his fourth victim Leicestershire, and with Colin Ackerman unable to bat due to a hand injury, the Foxes’ innings closed on 259. Jones, batting more like a number seven than a ten, was not out on 23.
Leicestershire followed on and faced one over before lunch with no mishap. But after lunch it was a dramatically different story. Openers Paul Horton and Harry Dearden were quickly dismissed to be followed by Neil Dexter and Mark Pettini.
Leicestershire, bowled out for 81 in their second innings against Nottinghamshire last weekend, looked set for a repeat performance at 31-4. Norwell, in particular, was bowling quite superbly taking 3-19 as he gave way to Craig Miles at the Ashley Down End.
Then skipper Mark Cosgrove, provider of stubborn resistance in the first innings, was yorked by Payne, leaving Leicestershire 51-5.
Eckersley and Ben Raine halted the Gloucestershire victory charge with a sixth wicket stand of 86, Eckersley registering his second half-century of the day. But the stand ended when Raine was run out, in an attempt for an impossible single, for a spirited 42.
The return of Norwell and Payne after Tea sealed the home victory. McKay fell to Norwell for 29 and Jones wasn’t to repeat his first innings success, nicking behind off Payne without scoring.
When Eckersley was caught on the cover boundary for 85, and Ackerman again unable to bat, the Foxes’ inevitable fate was sealed and star man Norwell deservedly led the home side from the field.