Nottinghamshire ended the day at Nevil Road in a position from which they will hope to secure their fifth win of the season on the final day.
In reply to Gloucestershire’s first innings 303, Nottinghamshire had reached 221/3 from 82 overs at the close of the second day, with Samit Patel (78) and night watchman Luke Fletcher (0) the not out batsmen.
The entrance to the Brightside Ground, Bristol is festooned with colourful adverts for the forthcoming NatWest Blast and the Women’s World Cup, Bristol being one of the host grounds for the women’s competition next month. Had any local fan of the shorter formats been tempted to whet their appetite with a spot of red ball cricket, today they would readily have understood the reason for the wide stretches of empty grey seating.
That’s not to say that we have had two days of uninteresting cricket, or seen poor quality performances by the cricketers.
What we have seen is cricket played on a pitch with no pace or bounce, with the result that runs have come at 2.7 an over for two days. It may sustain the interest of the few who watched today, but certainly not the next generation, hence the ECB’s understandable desire to attract youngsters to the game through the 20 over format. For those brought up on three, four and five day cricket it’s a dispiriting story.
Gloucestershire resumed this morning on their overnight 256/7 with Gareth Roderick not out 88 and Craig Miles on 14. Even the keenest Trent Bridge devotee (and there were a few on the Hammond Roof today) wouldn’t have begrudged Roderick his century in his first innings of the season. He had batted beautifully.
But Luke Wood had other ideas. With the young South African just four short of his 100, he was bowled off his pads looking to flick Wood into the onside. David Payne was bowled next ball so Wood had the same chance of a hat-trick as Brett Hutton yesterday, a chance he spurned with the ensuing loose delivery outside the off stump.
Miles and Chris Liddle added 23 for the last wicket, including an intriguing micro-match with Miles hitting nine from a Wood over, the 110th, to claim Gloucestershire their third batting point.
When Miles was lbw to Samit Patel for 47, Gloucestershire were all out for 303 in the 112th over. A run rate of well below three was testimony to the accuracy of the Nottinghamshire bowling group, Harry Gurney returning the best analysis of 3/68 from 30 overs.
Nottinghamshire progressed to 32/0 after 13 overs at lunch, with Steven Mullaney on 13 and Jake Libby on 16. The pair looked in no trouble but, following the pattern of the Gloucestershire innings, progress was laboured.
Mullaney was the first to show his frustration, trying to hit the slow left arm of Graeme van Buuren over long-on only to hole out for 38 with the total on 72. Libby followed in the next over from Miles, caught behind by Roderick who has taken over the gloves from Phil Mustard.
Again the pattern of the home innings was being repeated, wickets falling in pairs. Indian Test star Cheteshwar Pujara and Patel then set about re-establishing the innings, taking Nottinghamshire to 125/2 from 48 overs at tea with Pujara on 20 and Patel 31.
After tea Pujara and Patel made steady, if unspectacular progress against some accurate home bowling, with Patel passing his second Championship fifty of the season. The pair had put on 146 for the third wicket when in the penultimate over of the day, Pujara, quite uncharacteristically, had a wild swing at off spinner Jack Taylor and was caught at cover for 67, leaving Patel and Fletcher to see out the day.
The home bowlers performed with the same discipline as the Nottinghamshire attack had done yesterday, van Buuren particularly so with the outstanding figures of 1/59 from 27 overs.
The visitors will need to try and push the score along more quickly tomorrow if they are to give themselves time to get into a winning position on the final day, assuming the pitch retains its blandness. At this stage in the match, it looks as if the pitch may be eventual winner.