Hancock steers Gloucestershire to semi-finals
Photo © Gary M Prior / AllSport
In his first NatWest Trophy match of the summer, Tim Hancock scored his maiden one-day century to steer Gloucestershire to a convincing 62 run win over Northamptonshire at Bristol.
The 28 year-old Gloucestershire vice-captain, who fractured his knuckle during fielding practice in the match against Zimbabwe last month, missed Gloucestershire's controversial start to their NatWest campaign.
But in making a superb 110, he more than made up for his enforced absence and provided Gloucestershire with the strongest of platforms for their formidable 280 total, the highest score ever recorded by Gloucestershire batting first at Bristol.
He brought up his hundred with a well-timed and powerfully struck six off spinner Graeme Swann which had a capacity crowd on their feet in noisy appreciation. It was his second big hoist of the 120 ball innings and came on top eight boundaries.
Only one chance was offered in an otherwise flawless innings but David Sales, fielding at long on misjudged the angle of the ball's fall from the skies and tipped it over the boundary to take Hancock to 87.
He was eventually stumped by David Ripley when he erred wide outside the off stump to reach for a ball from medium pacer Tony Penberthy but by then Gloucestershire were 234 for four and giving their opponents another demonstration of why they have dominated the one-day game in England over the past two seasons.
Hancock's partnership with Dominic Hewson gave them a flying start - against Northamptonshire's opening attack of Darren Cousins and Michael Strong, the pair put on 17 in the first two overs and it was not until the 17th when the score was 69, that Hewson departed caught behind to Strong.
The experienced Barnett, demoted to bat at three as part of his rehabilitation from a knee injury, joined Hancock and the pair put on a magnificent 121 for the second wicket which was the second highest in the county's history.
Against an attack that was missing both Devon Malcolm through loss of form and Paul Taylor through injury, the batsmen made light work of the challenge posed by the remainder with spinners Jason Brown and Graeme Swann proving especially expensive.
But in the 39th over, having made his half century, Barnett was beaten for pace by Cousins and was bowled with the score 190 for two. The arrival of Ian Harvey to the crease prompted a spurt in the run rate and by the time he left three overs later, they had moved the score to 231, his own contribution 20.
By then, the match was already swinging heavily in Gloucestershire's favour but some big hitting down the order added another 49 to the total with skipper Mark Alleyne and Jack Russell giving valuable support.
When Northamptonshire captain Matthew Hayden, who had earlier lost the toss, was dismissed in the eighth over of their reply, the cheers from the home crowd indicated the importance of Harvey's breakthrough and from that point, Northamptonshire's hopes of revitalising their season appeared to fade.
Jeff Cook, the lanky Australian who this year qualified to play as an Englishman, impressed with an entertaining innings of 48 but after he was caught at extra cover off Alleyne's bowling, the rest of the order crumbled with only Penberthy showing any resistance.
He made 54 before holing out to Hancock, who was subsequently named the NatWest man of the match and Northamptonshire finished their 50 overs with 218 for nine.