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Alex Winter in Bristol
May 8, 2013
Hampshire 165 for 8 (Adams 74*, Miles 3-44) v Gloucestershire
Gloucestershire's bowling attack is reflected in the state of Nevil Road at the moment - being in a state of repair. Cranes are swinging around the ground and the physiotherapist's arms are equally as busy in the dressing room. But the bowlers Gloucestershire got on the field proved their worth on the opening day at Bristol.
Around £10 million is being spent to upgrade the ground to keep Bristol as an international venue and, while only fractions of that sum are available for the playing staff, they earned every penny with a disciplined bowling display that ran through a far richer Hampshire batting order, save for Jimmy Adams' loneliest of lone hands.
The bowler who enjoyed most success must be one of the lowest paid professional cricketers in the country. Craig Miles, 18, signed a two-year deal last September when Gloucestershire's financial pressure almost reached breaking point as they tried, and eventually succeeded on appeal, to get their development plans off the ground.
Miles has potential to earn a few more quid from the game. He and all of Gloucestershire's bowlers are capable of moving the ball either in the air or off the pitch but maintaining a consistent line and creating pressure has proved a major difficulty. They have leaked far too many runs too quickly. But here there was control not seen since Jon Lewis left the club two years ago. There were few four balls, they put together successive maidens and created sufficient pressure to force several loose strokes.
The opening 10 overs was a textbook period of cricket with the new ball. Overs five, six, seven and eight yielded just one run and with the first ball of the ninth, Michael Roberts, an ersatz Michael Carberry, who is away with England Lions, followed a length ball from Will Gidman that nibbled away. He edged it behind and walked off with 9 on his Championship debut.
Liam Dawson was drawn into driving to third slip in Gidman's next over and a run out chance a delivery later encapsulated the pressure that Gloucestershire had developed.
Hampshire bullied Leicestershire and Worcestershire in their opening two games but their mental capacity was found wanting last time out at Chelmsford and here they were guilty of being impatient. George Bailey attempted a second lavish cover drive in three balls and was bowled,
Sean Ervine mistimed a drive and chipped to point, Chris Wood popped a catch up to mid-on and Adam Wheater swung across the line to be lbw to Jack Taylor. Indiscipline with the bat it may have been but Gloucestershire deserved much of their success. Miles' second wicket of his three was a good delivery, nipping back to have James Vince lbw.
Miles, born in Swindon, is one of a number of academy products creeping into the first XI out of necessity. A lack of available finance for the playing staff and a bad injury situation has given several Gloucestershire youngsters opportunities that might not have existed five years ago.
He was called up last week against Leicestershire as the last fit bowler available. Currently Ian Saxelby, James Fuller, Liam Norwell and Paul Muchall are sidelined. You can therefore imagine the fear of the home supporters when Gidman left the field after tumbling in his follow-through. But it was a precautionary rest, described as an "ankle twinge" which Gloucestershire are not too concerned about.
Before his early departure Gidman had bowled a fine opening spell - 8-2-10-2 - which in partnership with David Payne gave very little away. Miles then replaced Gidman to do the majority of the damage before rain, and Adams, prevented Gloucestershire closing out the Hampshire first innings on day one.
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