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Paul Edwards at Aigburth
June 1, 2013
Gloucestershire 222 (Gidman 110, Kerrigan 5-68) and 173 for 9 drew with Lancashire 310 (Katich 96, Miles 6-88) and 270 (Prince 64, Croft 64, McCarter 4-95)
A match which had never lacked interest throughout its four days had a fitting conclusion when Gloucestershire's No. 11 Liam Norwell played Andrea Agathangelou's final delivery of the game safely to gully to secure a draw against Lancashire.
That outcome will have cheered Michel Klinger's men, some of whom had defied Lancashire's six-man attack with outstanding technical skill, but it was, of course, a colossal frustration for Glen Chapple and his team, who probably thought that Aigburth was going to supply them with another victory that would shred the nerves before lifting the heart.
But when they review this match the Lancashire hierarchy will assess their decision to bat on for 6.3 overs at the start of the day add 31 runs to their overnight score and extend their lead to 358. Gloucestershire's batsmen never appeared remotely interested in chasing this target down but the same may not have been quite so true of the overnight lead of 327.
Batting a side out of the game has become the norm for many teams these days in preference to setting a tempting target and invites a more attacking strategy. For spectators and players this diminution of cricket's tactical nuances is a great shame. Many Lancashire supporters were hoping their team would declare overnight; many others were bemoaning the decision not have done so when Gloucestershire's last pair survived. It was difficult to supply an effective counter-argument. Sometimes you really do have to run a slight risk of losing a match in order to give yourselves the best chance of winning it. It's an old song but it's still a good 'un.
None of which sermonising should detract from the enthralling sport which both sides provided for the Liverpool public. No Gloucestershire batsman scored a half-century and no Lancashire bowler took more than two wickets and this was strangely appropriate too: these four days have been more about collective effort than individual brilliance.
Nevertheless, the major contributors to Gloucestershire's resistance on the last day of this match were Alex Gidman, who made 46 before becoming Agathangelou's first Championship victim when he played back to the offspinner's quicker ball, and Hamish Marshall, who faced 206 balls for his technically accomplished 44.
Agathangelou was to claim the ninth wicket, that of Graeme McCarter, in addition to taking the catches at short leg and slip that disposed of Michael Klinger and Craig Miles. Agathangelou , a South African-born Cypriot, is rapidly turning into a mighty useful first-team cricketer.
All the same, in the middle portion of the innings, Lancashire's bowlers never took wickets with the sort of rapidity required if they were to win the game. Kyle Hogg removed both Chris Dent and Dan Housego and Simon Kerrigan claimed the key wicket of Klinger to leave Gloucestershire 60 for 3 just after lunch but Gidman and Marshall's fourth-wicket stand of 54 occupied 29 vital overs. Marshall then found Benny Howell an equally obdurate partner until Kerrigan trapped Howell lbw for 17 to begin a period of play which saw four wickets fall in twelve overs and the refrain of "Oh Lanky, Lanky" echo around the ground.
In the event it wasn't quite enough. Ed Young defied a wrist-injury to come out and bat 6.1 overs with Graeme McCarter, this after Marshall had been dismissing fending Wayne White to Ashwell Prince. White even hit McCarter on the head but he held out until the penultimate ball of the 99th and last over of the innings. Norwell then needed to show a bit of nerve in facing the last delivery. He did so, and Gloucestershire survived. What's more, no one could really begrudge them their draw.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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