On a lovely Spring day at Brightside Ground, Bristol Gloucestershire finished the third day on 175/3, 59 ahead of Durham who finished their first innings this afternoon when they were all out for 419. Although the pitch is still offering the bowlers little help, the 116 first innings lead enjoyed by the visitors may be crucial in determining the outcome of this match for which Durham must be narrow favourites.
This morning Durham resumed on 270/4 from 88 overs with skipper Paul Collingwood on 28 and Michael Richardson 25. Both reached their 50s but on 57 Richardson missed a pull against a wide Craig Miles delivery to be caught behind.
Stuart Poynter and Brydon Carse came and went while their captain soldiered on in pursuit of a healthy first innings lead. At lunch he was 78 not out, with Durham 372/7 from 121 overs.
The afternoon session saw Mark Wood and Graham Onions dismissed as Durham moved beyond 400. Attention turned to the possibility of Collingwood’s 33rd first-class century. It would have been well deserved, but it wasn’t to be. On 97 he attempted a reverse paddle at Graeme van Buuren’s slow left arm only to turn it into the hands of George Hankins at slip.
Durham’s 419 came at just over three an over on a pitch that offered little pace and bounce to bowlers or batsmen. This made Craig Miles’s 5/99 from 28 overs all the more praiseworthy. The young Wiltshireman, still only 22 years old, has played second fiddle to Liam Norwell this season but here he made the most of his happy knack of taking wickets when his side most needed them.
Gloucestershire’s reply began in mid-afternoon against Wood and Chris Rushworth. Cameron Bancroft began confidently. He was watched by Western Australian colleague Michael Klinger who flew in last night from Australia and is returning to Nevil Road in time for this week’s first outing in the Royal London One- Day Cup. But Bancroft, yet to register a big score this season, was lbw to Rushworth to one that kept low with Gloucestershire still 86 in arrears. Chris Dent looked in touch and Will Tavaré progressed to tea with Dent on 29 and Tavaré on 25 – Gloucestershire 76/1.
After tea the young Gloucestershire pair pushed the score along against the Durham quicks. But hard though the seamers strove, it was the introduction of leg-spinner Cameron Steel which saw the breakthrough. Tavaré, after an entertaining 55 from 77 balls chopped on to Steel’s third delivery to give the 21 year- old his first Championship wicket.
Van Buuren, dropped behind off Carse when on 12, played confidently before falling lbw to Onions to make 159/3. But then Dent and Hankins dug in and took the home side to the close without further loss, with Dent on a fighting 64 not out from 147 balls.
Much will depend on the first session tomorrow morning but Gloucestershire will have to bat with the same resolve as they showed this evening if they are to prevent their visitors’ first win of the season. It could be an fascinating last day.