Spearman joins the elite
While his former New Zealand team-mates played for pride against England at Trent Bridge, Craig Spearman today broke the record for the highest first-class score by a Gloucestershire player.
Spearman flayed the Middlesex attack, smashing his way to 341 off 390 balls. He hit 40 fours and six sixes in his innings, moving past 318, and the record - previously held by none other than WG Grace - with a leg-side clip for two off Ben Hutton, whose grandfather Len was no stranger to triple-centuries himself. Grace scored his 318 not out against Yorkshire at Cheltenham back in 1876. Spearman's innings was only the fourth triple-century scored by a Gloucestershire player, and the first since Wally Hammond's 302 against Newport in 1939. Hammond also made another 302, his time not out, against Glamorgan at Bristol five years earlier.
Spearman was eventually out, caught by David Nash off Hutton, but his 341 will go down as the highest first-class score in England since Brian Lara's 501 not out in 1994, and is the joint eighth-highest in all County Championship cricket. It is also the third-highest score by a New Zealander, behind Bert Sutcliffe's two knocks of 385 and 355.
Chris Taylor's first century since becoming captain was almost overlooked in the circumstances. He was dismissed for exactly 100 just before lunch, but Spearman went on and on, and eventually Gloucestershire declared at 695 for 9. Spearman, whose previous-highest score was 180, made the Middlesex bowlers look tame. His innings included a repertoire of reverse sweeps and massive sixes, as well as his trademark flowing cover-drives.
Spearman, who has a business-studies degree, decided to give up his New Zealand career in 2001, after 19 Tests and 51 one-dayers, for a career in banking, which brought him to London. It was there that John Bracewell, a fellow New Zealander and the Gloucestershire coach at the time, asked if he fancied a few games at Bristol. He has not looked back since, and after a fairly ordinary international career has become one of the county's most consistent batsmen. He does not play as an overseas player as he holds a British passport - his mother is Welsh.