A game, in which Kent looked to be cruising to victory, suddenly came to life in the last ten overs of their reply and ended with the visitors falling short of Gloucestershire’s 275 by 11 runs.
It was Gloucestershire’s second win of their Royal London One-day Cup campaign and kept alive their hopes of qualifying for the quarterfinal stage. The result pushed Kent to the bottom of the South group and all but ended their interest in the competition.
Gloucestershire today had two heroes – one quite predictable, skipper Michael Klinger who hit a brilliant 134 in the home total. The second was totally unexpected- left arm seamer Chris Liddle.
Liddle joined Gloucestershire for the 2016 season from Sussex. He could not have had a worse summer. He played one match, a NatWest Blast game against Sussex, and got hammered for 35 in two overs – his last first team action of the season.
This time around he has put in some useful performances with both red and white balls culminating in his excellent 5/36 from his ten overs today.
Kent’s run chase seemed to be built on a firm foundation, principally an excellent knock of 90 in 108 balls from Daniel Bell-Drummond, and Sean Dickson (50).
It was the fourth time in five games of this 50 over campaign that Bell-Drummond has passed 50, and this would be have been his third century. But when was out in the 39th over, brilliantly caught low down at mid-off by Klinger off Liddle, the visitors’ reply lost momentum.
Sam Northeast applied the long handle with effect, cracking 44 from 40 balls before holing out to mid-on from Liddle to make Kent 220/5 in 42nd over.
Suddenly Gloucestershire smelt blood and when Alex Blake clipped Liddle to mid-on, becoming his fifth victim, Kent were on the run. Jack Taylor accounted for Matt Coles, reverse sweeping a catch, with Kent still needing 36 from four overs with three wickets in tact.
James Harris and James Tredwell both fell to Benny Howell, to catches in the deep by Chris Dent, as Kent desperately attempted to reach their target. But two excellent death overs from Matt Taylor and Howell, to Kent’s last wicket pair, saw Gloucestershire home.
Earlier in the day the feature of the Gloucestershire innings was a magnificent 134 from captain Michael Klinger. To his obvious annoyance he narrowly missed carrying his bat when we was caught in the deep in the 48th over, after an innings that saw him pass 7000 List A runs in his career.
In many ways it was the perfectly paced 50 over innings on a slow pitch. He built carefully but gradually went through the gears, finishing with 11 fours and four sixes. Standing ovations aren’t easily come by in this part of the world, but the affection the Nevil Road regulars have for Klinger guaranteed such an accolade.
Klinger’s main assistants in the home innings were Phil Mustard (26), Dent (43) and Ian Cockbain (35). But once Klinger was out the innings fell apart. Four wickets fell in the last two overs. Remarkably, only Jack Taylor (20) of the last six home batters faced more than three balls.
In truth it was a batting effort that would have been uncompetitive without Klinger.
The Kent bowling was generally accurate, with no bowler going at more than five an over, Matt Coles having the best analysis of 4/57 from his ten overs.
Both counties face must-win games this Friday: Gloucestershire entertain Somerset at the Brightside Ground and Kent face Surrey at the Oval. Their challenges are stiff. Kent’s cause looks lost, and Gloucestershire must win at least two of their remaining three games to have a chance of progress in the competition they won in 2015.