Robert John Cunliffe
November 08, 1973, Oxford
Right hand Bat
Right arm Medium
Rob Cunliffe was one of several players to leave Gloucestershire in 2001. He asked to be released one year from the end of his contract due to the lack of first team cricket he was playing. An enormously talented right-handed batsman and sharp fielder, as a teenager Cunliffe appeared destined for an England career. Unfortunately he has never fulfilled this potential, with bad luck and selection inconsistencies no doubt playing a part.
Technically correct, with the ability to bed down or attack with a flourish, one senses Cunliffe was never sure of his place in the team, or in the batting order when he did make the side. There can be few players in county cricket with his eye for a sharp single, and the ability to steal runs from the fielding side.
Despite this, a lack of consistency frustrated fans and detractors alike, and 2001 was always destined to be a crunch summer. The 28-year-old played only five Championship matches last summer, with a average just scraping above 20. There was no reason other than loyalty for Gloucestershire to stick with him, particularly with a number of teenagers pressing for batting spots late in the season.
Cunliffe's greatest problem was inconsistency. To see his knock in the 1999 Super Cup Final, where he made 61 in an electric 157-run partnership with Mark Alleyne, was to realise his enormous talent. Put bluntly however, statistics dominate this game, and his numbers simply have not made the grade. With Chris Taylor and Jeremy Snape scoring runs more consistently, and the signing of Craig Spearman, a continued contract at Gloucester would have likely meant an extended run in the second team.
As with all of the players released by the club at the end of the 2001 season, Cunliffe now has the chance to make a fresh start. Maybe he will find his touch again, and in the coming years return to the County Ground and thrash the bowlers round the park. He is more than capable of doing so. (Sean Beynon, Copyright CricInfo January 2002)
Batting & Fielding