Kent v Gloucestershire, Canterbury, 3rd day April 21, 2012

Gloucs put Kent under the weather

Gloucestershire 255 and 191 for 6 (A Gidman 60) lead Kent 150 by 296 runs

The Canterbury weather created a rather ugly third day that alienated many would-be spectators. Thus, Kent's first Saturday of the season was played out to very few indeed at the St Lawrence Ground.

Most of the audience drifted away shortly after lunch where only 15 minutes were possible before the first of two long rain breaks. When they came back for the longest session of the day, Gloucestershire took control as Alex Gidman and Hamish Marshall produced their first meaningful innings' of the season.

Gloucestershire's 296-run lead sets up the chance to win consecutive matches providing enough overs are possible on Sunday and their attack, shorn of David Payne, can squeeze out 10 wickets on a slowing, flattening surface.

The best knock was played by the captain, Gidman, who more than doubled his previous best this season with an 84-ball half-century. Gidman is unlike his younger brother Will, who made a gritty 56 in the first innings, in that his runs are never ground out. Alex has to find flow to his innings to make runs. And that is just what he managed against a rather flat Kent attack as James Tredwell 's off-spin wheeled away at the Pavilion End and the seamers rotated from the Nackington Road End.

The problem was an inability to create any kind of pressure. One lofted drive from Marshall was enough to persuade Tredwell to place long off and on back, deep midwicket soon followed and Gloucestershire merrily knocked the ball around: scoring at almost five-an-over in the final hour of the day. The field spread in similar fashion for the seamers too.

The rate accelerated from the patient progress of Richard Coughtrie's two-hour 40 but it was important for him to make a solid score. He was clearly exceptionally disappointed with his dismissal - a top-edged sweep that Geraint Jones scampered towards square leg to take.

Coughtrie's departure allowed Marshall to find form - another player who gets runs quickly or not at all. His fifty in 64 balls was testament to that. He and Gidman added what may well be a match-winning stand of 94 in 22 overs.

Only twice in the innings did Kent threaten. For two overs Matt Coles developed a head of steam and had Chris Dent poking around outside off stump; he finally nicked one through to Jones. On the second occasion, Mark Davies posed similar problems to Gidman but one loose ball drew Gidman's best stroke - a straight drive for four - and from then on the visitors strolled it.

And strolling to the ground was what many were still doing as Kent's first innings ended inside the first hour. Tredwell chopped on and Jones edged behind to give Will Gidman 5 for 43. Matt Coles took a single to a diving James Fuller at mid-on and was run out and Charlie Shreck closed the innings, caught at short leg to Ed Young's fifth ball of the day.

The efficiency in which Gloucestershire cleaned up the tail typified their smart cricket for two-and-a-half days of this match. But their progress towards the close was also a warning sign about the calming of the wicket.

"It's now a very placid pitch," Alex Gidman said. "Bowling them out will be very tough. The lads have worked really hard for three weeks now so we'll probably err on the side of caution. We're a bowler down too."

Payne's side strain will keep him out of action for at least two weeks but even with three seamers and Young - who showed glimpses of being useful in the first innings - Gloucestershire are firm favourites with the weather perhaps their biggest obstacle.

Alex Winter is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo