Worcestershire stumble after Miles four
Gloucestershire 181 for 2 (Roderick 88*, Gidman 57*) trail Worcestershire 194 (Oliver 52, Miles 5-54) by 13 runs
Promotion favourites Worcestershire endured one of their worst days of the summer in the Championship when dismissed for 194 by Gloucestershire on a seaming surface at New Road. Having come into the match with a game in hand and 43 points ahead of second-placed Surrey, they are already looking at a sizeable deficit after the visitors' smooth progress to 181 for 2.
Gloucestershire briefly wobbled at the start, slipping to 43 for 2 when Will Tavare was caught in the slips off Charlie Morris' second delivery, but Gareth Roderick seized the initiative, adding a fluent and substantial half-century to five catches behind the wicket.
The South African cruised to 88 not out with 15 fours off 107 balls and so far he has put on 138 with Alex Gidman, unbeaten on 57, in cutting the gap to a mere 13 after a day when most things went right for their side.
Gloucestershire became the first county to dismiss the Division Two leaders for under 200 in a first innings this season, despite the absence of Will Gidman through injury in advance of confirmation that he will be with Nottinghamshire in 2015.
One look at a grassy first-day pitch made it a straightforward decision for Alex Gidman to field first, after taking over the captaincy when Michael Klinger rested a neck injury prior to a make-or-break fixture in the Royal London Cup. With a quarter-final spot secured this week, Gloucestershire are looking to book a home tie by winning their final Group A game against Derbyshire at Derby next Thursday.
Another objective is to improve their form in the Championship. Injuries have been a major factor and apart from the absence of the younger Gidman, the attack here is probably as strong it has been following the last-minute registration of New Zealand offspinner Mark Craig.
With the ball consistently moving about off the seam, Craig Miles led the assault on Worcestershire with 4 for 54 and the other wickets were equally shared by Liam Norwell and Benny Howell.
The batsmen could quickly see trouble ahead, when Daryl Mitchell, the leading batsman in Championship cricket, registered his first duck in a season of 1,222 runs. He was stranded in front when a delivery from Miles kept low and ducked into his pads. Miles also removed Tom Fell with the first of Roderick's dismissals, but there was hope for Worcestershire as Richard Oliver collected a dozen fours from only 46 balls in maintaining his record of a half-century in each of his four Championship appearances.
Howell finally stemmed the flow when Oliver, on 52, was added to Roderick's haul and Worcestershire quickly slipped to 112 for 5, with Alexei Kervezee lbw to Norwell for 31. The only other higher-order contribution came from Ben Cox with 25 before he, too, was caught behind the wicket.
The ninth wicket went down at 149, but infuriatingly for Gloucestershire the last pair put on 46, the biggest stand in the innings. A missed chance in the slips allowed Shaaiq Choudhry to reach 27 not out and the No. 11 Morris made his highest Championship score before falling for 24, another victim for the Roderick-Norwell combination.
Matt Mason, Worcestershire's assistant coach, said: "It was probably our most disappointing day of the season so far. We were put in and it was tough to bat early on. Richard Oliver acquitted himself well but everyone else struggled. With the ball, we were disappointing as well, if for once I can criticise the bowlers."