Gloucestershire fall short in chase
Leicestershire's bowlers held their nerve to deny Gloucestershire victory on a thrilling final day
Gloucestershire 229 and 209 for 8 (Gidman 62, Henderson 4-80) drew with Leicestershire 162 and 288 (Sarwan 93)
Leicestershire's bowlers held their nerve to deny Gloucestershire victory on a thrilling final day. Set 222 to win in 53 overs, the hosts faltered badly at the death, finishing 13 runs short of their target.
Gloucestershire looked to be favourites after half-centuries from skipper Alex Gidman and Dan Housego but, needing 47 off the final 10 overs, they lost four quick wickets before putting up the shutters and settling for the draw. Leicestershire were indebted to veteran South African spinner Claude Henderson, who bowled unchanged from the Chapel End after tea to return figures of 4 for 80 and undermine the chase.
Gloucestershire were well and truly in the hunt after Gidman smashed 62 from 55 balls in a stand of 94 in 18 overs with Housego, who made exactly 50. Gidman was brilliantly caught by Ned Eckersley at short midwicket off Henderson and Housego followed him back to the pavilion soon afterwards, caught at the wicket fending at a rising delivery from Robbie Joseph, who claimed 3 for 36.
Joseph then removed Hamish Marshall and Ian Cockbain in quick succession, while the wily Henderson accounted for Ed Young and Ian Saxelby to halt Gloucestershire in their tracks. Rather than risk defeat, the ninth-wicket pair of James Fuller and David Payne played out the last three overs with a minimum of risk.
Resuming their second innings on 142 for 5 - just 75 ahead - bottom-of-the-table Leicestershire were under pressure from the outset on a two-paced pitch that was offering assistance to spin. But any thoughts Gloucestershire might have had of achieving a quick and decisive victory were dispelled by Ramnaresh Sarwan and Matt Boyce, who staged a restorative stand of 83 for the sixth wicket.
Gloucestershire were becoming frustrated when they were gifted a much-needed breakthrough in unexpected fashion, Boyce being run out for 23 by Benny Howell's throw from deep midwicket following a farcical mix-up.
Sarwan still stood between the home side and a third Championship win of the summer and Gidman, Gloucestershire's captain, played his trump card in a bid to remove the former West Indies batsman, throwing the ball to occasional bowler Howell. The ploy paid almost instantaneous dividends, Howell's medium pace inducing Sarwan to offer a catch to Housego at extra cover via a leading edge.
When Paul Dixey was pinned on the front foot by paceman Fuller in the last over before lunch, Leicestershire were 240 for 8 and Gloucestershire were clearly fancying their chances.
Wayne White and Henderson offered up further defiance in a gritty ninth-wicket partnership of 48 but the new ball did for them both. Saxelby located White's outside edge and Cockbain held on at second slip, while Liam Norwell wrapped up proceedings in the very next over, clean bowling Henderson with a ball that jagged back. But, by then, they had done enough.