August 15, 2000

Gloucestershire make it four finals in a row

It matters little to Gloucestershire supporters that their team were bottom of the County Championship last year and are running last in the County Championship against this year. For in the one-day game they are the outstanding team in English cricket over the past two seasons.

Yesterday, they resoundingly defeated Lancashire by 98 runs at Bristol to qualify for their fourth Lord's final in the last four English domestic oneday tournaments to have a Lord's final, an unprecedented achievement. And their record so far is three wins out of three.

Gloucestershire's win, in the postponed NatWest Trophy semi-final at Bristol, means that they will face Warwickshire at Lord's in the final on August 26.

Gloucestershire captain Mark Alleyne, the spearhead of the county's success in limited-over cricket in recent years, was named man of the match for scoring an unbeaten 36 from 27 deliveries, and then taking 1/20 from his ten overs.

With the match deferred to Monday because of bad weather on Sunday, Lancashire captain John Crawley chose to field after winning the toss. The decision backfired as early wickets did not fall quickly. Tim Hancock (26), Kim Barnett (80) and Jack Russell (55) gave Gloucestershire a solid base on which to build their eventual total of 248 for 7. Peter Martin took 3/44 for Lancashire, while Ian Austin's 1/29 from nine overs was the most economical of the Lancashire bowlers. Overall, however, Lancashire's bowlers delivered nineteen wides.

There was controversy in the first over of the innings. Kim Barnett took a wild swing at a ball from Glen Chapple wide of off stump. Wicketkeeper Warren Hegg took the ball claiming that Barnett had edged it. Umpire Alan Whitehead called a wide. The Lancashire fielders disliked the decision.

Lancashire, who had crushed Gloucestershire by ten wickets in their National League clash last Friday, were back to the more dismal form that they had displayed earlier last week. They slumped to 114 for 9, with only Crawley (41) and Flintoff (22) making any sort of fist of it, before Austin (18*) and Martin (18) delayed the end for a short while.

Lancashire were finally bundled out for 150 in 45.2 overs. Mike Smith, with 2/18 from his ten overs, was outstanding, while Averis (2/34), Ball (2/41) and Lewis (1/30) joined Alleyne as the remaining wicket-takers. Saurav Ganguly, who made a devastating hundred against the same attack on Friday, was out for 4.

Gloucestershire were without all-rounder Ian Harvey yesterday, absent in Australia on international duty, but he will be back in time for the final in a fortnight.