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Alex Winter in Bristol
May 10, 2013
Gloucestershire 284 for 2 (Klinger 131*, Housego 56) lead Hampshire 274 (Adams 138*, Briggs 54, Miles 4-83) by 10 runs
The question hanging over Nevil Road at the moment is whether Gloucestershire will get a return on their investment. That chiefly applies to rebuilding the ground but the club hope that the signing of Australian batsman Michael Klinger pays an immediate dividend.
Much faith has been placed in Klinger as the overseas player, new opening batsman and captain on a two-year deal. The early signs are positive. He followed up a century in guiding Gloucestershire to victory at Grace Road last week with another one here as his side got quickly among the batting bonus points.
Reaching 400 inside 110 overs is the most realistic result for Gloucestershire, with more than a day's play lost in the game. But they are on course after two meaty partnerships that came at a good run rate. Gloucestershire were keen to set up matches on the final day of rain-interrupted games last season and haven't ruled out setting Hampshire a target here.
But they must be wary of doing so having lost twice to Yorkshire in contrived finishes in 2012. Captain Klinger will be the negotiator tomorrow. His unbeaten century has given his side the option of trying to press for the win.
Klinger blazed a trail, the like of which Gloucestershire haven't seen since they days of Craig Spearman. Like the planning permission for the ground development, Klinger needed a second chance. But the rationale for Bristol City Council's initial rejection of the club's plans could be better understood than Liam Dawson's dropped catch at second slip. A regulation edge off the bowling of David Balcombe went straight through Dawson's hands at knee height to his left-hand side. Perhaps a steel girder in the pavilion was moved at the wrong time.
A wicket then, with the total only 11, might have jolted Hampshire into action - their only hope to force an unlikely win, barring an agreed chase, being to enforce the follow-on. But the dropped chance had the opposite effect as Balcombe and James Tomlinson leaked 48 in 11 overs, with eight boundaries.
Klinger, in excellent touch on the front foot, played the shot of the morning session past extra cover, the final straw in Tomlinson's opening spell. After lunch, Danny Briggs' slow left-arm went twice over long-on, the first of three balls lost to the construction site.
Klinger added 119 in 31.2 overs with Chris Dent, the partnership being ended by Tomlinson, who changed ends after lunch to have Dent caught behind wafting at a wide delivery.
Dent, who played for England Under-19s, is very much in the classy left-hander category: the ability to please spectators with effortless cut strokes and flicks off the legs but then have them pulling their hair out with a loose dismissal. It comes with the territory. Dent is a delight to watch and was in complete control for his 45 but needs to tighten up to produce the returns his talent promises.
Dent could do with borrowing a bit of Dan Housego's doggedness. As in the opening match at Chelmsford, Housego was as solid as the new Bristol pavilion's framework. But he has another gear and his large forward stride brought plenty of runs through the covers. Raising Briggs for six over long-on brought up his half-century in 77 balls before tea and it was a shock to see him beaten by a quicker, full Briggs delivery the second over after the extended interval.
That gave Alex Gidman, now free of the captaincy and eager for runs, to push Gloucestershire into a slender lead with some lusty hitting, including a flashing back-foot drive off Chris Wood.
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