What a couple of days it has been in the West Country for Australian’s. Matthew Renshaw may have stolen the headlines down at Taunton on Friday, but it was Shaun Marsh’s turn on Saturday with a glorious hundred of his own in Bristol.
The Australian was faultless during his time at the crease and when he signalled his arrival with a delightful punch down the ground for four, you sensed something special may well have been on the cards.
Marsh came to the wicket after an opening stand of 57 from the Glamorgan openers, both of whom had survived an hour of excellent Gloucestershire bowling.
Having resumed on 26-0, Glamorgan made a slow start to the day with just 21 runs coming in the first hour, Dan Worrall bowled with pace and bounce while Matt Taylor, from the other end, was pitching the ball up to dangerous effect.
Selman and Murphy stood firm though, they left well and nullified the Gloucestershire seamers. Selman brought up their fifty partnership with a leading edge down to third man, which incidentally was the first boundary of the day.
Three overs later Selman, who had battled hard, was outdone by a beauty from Higgins, one that nipped away from the Glamorgan opener and crashed into off-stump. It was nothing more than Gloucestershire deserved after a luckless start to the day.
That brought Marsh to the crease, but just as he was settling in, the rain arrived and an early lunch was taken with Glamorgan 70/1.
The players re-emerged at 14:00 and instantly the visitors took a more attacking approach. Murphy who had only scored 24 runs in his first 100 balls hit a couple of boundaries, before Marsh hit the shot of the day, a beautiful straight drive off the bowling of Matt Taylor.
They eventually brought their 100 up in the 43rd over, Murphy cover driving Norwell for four. It certainly had been cricket for the purist but with only one wicket down Glamorgan were in the driving seat.
Marsh pressed on, hitting the returning Higgins for two fours in an over, but Murphy’s resistance was broken in the 50th over lbw to spinner Van Buuren. The Glamorgan opener seemed to signal to the umpire that he had hit it, but he was given out and his 157-ball stay at the crease was over for 47.
The excellent Marsh continued to flourish, bringing up his fifty with a delightful cover drive. It came from 98 balls and when he hit another four two balls later the signs were looking ominous for a Gloucestershire side without bowler Liam Norwell, who had to leave the field due to injury.
Marsh’s new partner Carlson looked uneasy early on against the spin of Van Buuren, but he soon was finding the middle of the bat, including a lovely lofted drive off the spinner.
However, the Australian remained the aggressor and three fours in one Noema-Barnett over just before tea moved him onto 79 at the interval and his century was very much in sight.
Glamorgan were 194-2 with just the final session to come and Gloucestershire needed to pick up wickets if they were to have any chance in a game which was quickly moving beyond them. However, on went Marsh, a cute chip shot off Van Buuren took him to 88. A gentle accumulation of singles moved him into the 90’s and he then hit the spinner for another four to go to 95.
Before he could reach his century, his partner Carlson edged Benny Howell behind to Roderick for 45 with Glamorgan just one behind their hosts first innings total of 236. Though Marsh would not be denied, despite being stuck on 99 for three overs, bringing up his 25th first-class hundred. It took him 171 balls with 16 fours, a fine knock from the Australian who had looked at ease since he walked to the wicket.
By this point Gloucestershire had taken the new ball and despite initially being unsuccessful they eventually got the big wicket of Marsh. Dan Worrall, who had been unlucky so far in the day, finally got his man, having the Aussie caught on the boundary by Higgins as he tried to hook the ball for 111. There were muted celebrations from the Gloucestershire players who knew that Marsh had put Glamorgan in a commanding position.
The wicket of Marsh had given Gloucestershire a small opening but for twelve overs that door was firmly shut by resolute batting from Cooke and Aneurin Donald. They did however add another wicket before the close. Donald on 27 was caught behind by Roderick to give Higgins his second victim of the day with Glamorgan on 287-5.
Cooke and new man David Lloyd safely negotiated the remaining overs to leave their team on 296-5, ahead by 60 and in a strong position heading into day three.
The plaudits though would go to Marsh who was delighted with his efforts.
“Obviously it was nice to get out there and get 100 in my innings for Glamorgan, it was very satisfying,” Marsh said.
“It was a really good day, we are in a good position and hopefully we can come out in the morning and keep driving the game.
“You always feel nervous when playing for a new team but it was just nice to get out there and get into my innings and play well and score that hundred.
“When you come over here with these conditions you have to change your game a little bit, being here last year I got to understand how the wickets work.”
Marsh also praised his fellow batsmen, saying: “The boys did a really good job, but we’ve got to come out tomorrow morning and set the game up in the first hour and hopefully we’ll be in a good position.”