One of the delights of four-day cricket is the opportunity it provides to listen to the conversations around the ground while the cricket itself forms a pleasing backdrop.
Here, as well as the usual talk of the promotion and relegation chances of local football clubs, the topic was the proposed T20 franchise tournament for 2020, as outlined by Gloucestershire CEO Will Brown at a lunchtime members’ forum.
Perhaps not surprisingly the views expressed were largely sceptical. The red-ball enthusiast is not known for a favourable attitude to change, hardly surprising when Championship cricket is starting these days in temperatures more akin to winter.
But few in this predominantly grey-haired crowd would argue with the need to attract a younger audience, and to foster an interest in cricket which reputedly is virtually non-existent in the majority of primary school age children. As Brown says, most cricket lovers can remember the first match they attended and their favourite players from their team. Kids these days are simply not having the same opportunity.
Back to 2017, and more mundane matters. On the field Gloucestershire resumed this morning on their overnight 236/4. The morning session belonged to the home county’s right-handed batter Will Tavaré, as he went from his overnight 73 not out to the fifth century of his career. Three seasons have passed since the Bristolian Tavaré first broke into the Gloucestershire side.
At that stage, the weight of expectation on his shoulders was considerable. Not only was he the nephew of a famous uncle but he notched his highest first-class score on debut at Bristol in 2014. Not the most flamboyant of cricketers, Tavaré has struggled to reproduce the form of that summer when he scored over 1000 runs.
Injuries and loss of form has meant that he has often seemed on the fringes of first team action. But the retirement from Championship cricket of Hamish Marshall and Michael Klinger has given Tavaré a chance to resurrect his career – a chance, on this form, he seems determined to take. His century here came from 274 balls with eight fours and one six.
Today Tavaré was not to go on and build on his 100, becoming Gavin Griffith’s third victim, bowled for 101. Meanwhile acting skipper Phil Mustard and Jack Taylor took the score towards a position where the home side were assuming control.
After lunch, Mustard was bowled by Neil Dexter for 72 but Taylor sailed on with his usual highly attractive, attacking fashion, before he edged to the keeper for 60. Payne played some equally enterprising shots as Gloucestershire passed the 400 mark with the Foxes looking towards their turn to bat.
The Gloucestershire declaration came on 466/8 soon after Payne reached an excellent 50 which helped to increase the scoring rate and put the home side in a strong position.
Leicestershire’s best bowler was Griffiths with 4-101 from his 34 overs of right arm medium-pace. They were the 23-year-old Lancastrian’s first Championship wickets, having made his Leicestershire debut last week.
The Foxes’ response started half an hour before Tea in the worst possible fashion with the loss of both openers Paul Horton and Harry Dearden for just 14 to hostile spells from Payne and Liam Norwell.
After Tea Neil Dexter followed, well caught at second slip off Payne for a duck. At 14/3 Leicestershire must have had the dreaded feeling that they would repeat the 81 all out they scored in their first game last week against Nottinghamshire.
But captain Mark Cosgrove’s 48 and Mark Pettini’s 54 stemmed the tide with a fifth-wicket stand of 102, before they were both dismissed just ahead of the close.
With Ben Raine falling for a duck, the Foxes ended the day in real trouble on 165/6.