Australian’s Michael Klinger and Andrew Tye inspired Gloucestershire to victory on the final day of the Cheltenham Cricket Festival, as Glamorgan were defeated at the College Ground.
Klinger batted through his teams twenty overs scoring 77, while Tye’s 3-17 helped restrict Glamorgan to 167-9 as the hosts moved to the top of the South Group with their fourth win in six matches.
Beyond just the win, Gloucestershire’s triumph came at the end of a great two weeks for the club at Cheltenham. Record attendances, two fabulous Championship matches and a club rejuvenated after a less than impressive first half of the season.
The day began with Glamorgan captain Colin Ingram winning the toss and deciding he wanted to chase on a ground well known for its short boundaries.
Though it may have been a decision he was regretting as Miles Hammond took the attack to the Glamorgan bowlers, striking three sixes, including one from the second ball of the match as the hosts got off to a flyer.
It took a beauty from Timm van der Gugten to remove the opener, a delivery that just clipped the stumps. Hammond out having scored 34 of Gloucestershire’s 43 runs thus far. More than he should have got, after being dropped by Carlson on 16.
Captain Michael Klinger had watched the carnage from the other end, but he and Ian Cockbain were in no mood to allow Hammond’s dismissal to regress the Gloucestershire charge. The pair continuing to move the run-rate along and at 91-1 in the tenth over a score of 200 plus was on the cards.
However it would be Andrew Salter, who had gone for just six singles in his first over that would instigate a period of Glamorgan revival. The spinner getting one to spin away from Cockbain on 26, who was left stranded allowing Chris Cooke to nip off the bails.
The canny Salter had given Glamorgan an opening, something which Ruaidhri Smith would brutally exploit in the next over. The Scotland international forcing Kieran Noema-Barnett to edge behind to Cooke before Benny Howell offered a simple catch to Hogan at mid-off. 91-1 had quickly become 98-4.
As it often does, much now relied on Klinger for Gloucestershire. The Australian was initially watchful following his team’s mini-collapse but a massive six off Graham Wagg in the fourteenth towards the hospitality tents, took him towards a half-century. The milestone coming up off 38 balls in the next over.
Klinger though, was still happy for the most part to allow his more aggressive partners to have the strike. Firstly Ryan Higgins who famously struck 68 off 28 balls on this ground last year for Middlesex, smashed 30 including two sixes in a 53 run partnership with Klinger until being excellently run-out by Ingram.
Though Jack Taylor and then Andrew Tye would pick up where Higgins left off. Taylor hitting Michael Hogan for back-to-back sixes at the end of the eighteenth, a spritely 14 being ended by Wagg in the following over. Tye would then hit the same bowler for a maximum and a score of 177-6 with six balls remaining meant the hosts had at least reached a par score.
But Klinger clearly wasn’t satisfied, as he moved from 57 to 77 in the final over of the innings bowled by Hogan. Four boundaries, including a six, coming in successive deliveries at the start of it, and all the momentum was now with the West Country outfit heading into the run chase with 197-6 on the board.
However any momentum that Gloucestershire had gathered, was non-existent for much of the early part of Glamorgan’s run chase.
Opener Aneurin Donald struck a brisk 26 from 13 balls, the youngster threatening to spray the ball to all parts of the idyllic College Ground until David Payne took a magnificent low diving catch off his own bowling.
Usman Khawaja and Colin Ingram took up the mantle left by Donald as the experienced batsmen started to make Gloucestershire’s total look mediocre. 36-1 after four overs became 72-1 after six, a run of seven boundaries in as many balls coming in that period.
The two continued to look at ease thereafter as Khawaja hit Smith for a huge six early in the eighth over. Glamorgan now 89-1 and Gloucestershire’s unbeaten home record in this competition looked under serious threat.
A sell-out crowd were in need of something to cheer about and their bowlers duly obliged as the game was turned on its head.
Smith would be the first in on the act, lulling Khawaja, on 33, into another big shot only for the ball to balloon straight up in the air and be caught at fine-leg by Payne.
New man Joe Burns was Gloucestershire’s next victim as Smith did the catching this time. Khawaja’s compatriot being caught on the boundary. Howell, bowling for the first time since picking up an injury against Middlesex a few weeks ago taking his first wicket.
Glamorgan’s early peppering of the boundary meant that despite those two quick wickets, at 102-3 after ten overs, they were still on course to reach their target of 198.
You sensed so much relied on Ingram though, but with 38 to his name in the twelfth over, a tame shot sent the ball straight back into the hands of bowler Higgins. Ingram not playing the anchor role his team required that Klinger had done so brilliantly.
Klinger’s fellow Perth Scorcher, Tye, who would return to the attack to bowl the fourteenth over, would do his best to steal all the headlines from his captain.
His effective use of slower balls and change ups bamboozled the rest of the Glamorgan batsmen, who struggled severely to even get him away for runs.
Carlson and Cooke tried the aerial root but both could only hole out to fielders in the deep. Their dismissals ending any hope that the visitors had of winning.
Tye would return in his final over taking a third wicket, this time Salter who gave Klinger an easy catch at extra cover. The international finishing with figures of 3-17, only conceding a boundary from his very final delivery.
In between the dismissals of Cooke and Salter, Higgins induced a big shot from Wagg as Cockbain claimed another catch and the all-rounder would take the ninth Glamorgan wicket as van der Gugten fell for 5.
Klinger and Tye may take all the headlines but Higgins three wickets added to his 30 runs was a fitting way for him to end a week that also saw him score his maiden first-class hundred against Durham.
The final pair of Smith and Hogan did at least bat out the twenty overs and it was perhaps fitting that the final ball of a glorious two weeks at Cheltenham went for six.
Of course it was far too late by that point, as the Gloucestershire fans united in cheers as their players left the field, victors by 30 runs.