Essex v Gloucestershire – strong light stops play!s

A warmish day compared to recent times and venues welcomes Gloucestershire as the visitors for a day/night extravaganza in Chelmsford.

Essex win the toss and elect to bat and no interviews whatsoever! A small crowd for this lunchtime start on a work day soon grows and sees Chopra run out Cook (Sir A) for 18. Given that Sir A doesn’t play T20 and that next year onwards sees this competition as a ‘development’ tournament Sir A probably won’t play…so when will he play his next one day game? I suggest never…today could be his last as Essex have no further interest after today’s game.

Sir As last one day innings?

That brings an overall sense of ‘after the Lord Mayors show’ to proceedings but that’s the way the tournament pans out.

One other aspect of the day/night extravaganza is that it brings out some of the T20 element somewhat early in that the group around me is inversely proportional in size to the volume of noise produced (let alone the lack of knowledge) and then there’s the relationship to the volume of drink consumed; by the end of hour one they’ve each reached the bottom of their third pint- and there’s another seven to go!

Rest assured they didn’t make it to the end of the Essex innings let alone the rest of the game!

After an hour and a bit, Essex reach 104/1 off 21; Chopra 63no Westley 19no. The Gloucestershire captain is ringing the bowling changes but this looks like a fine batting track, a lighter green than the rest of the square but doesn’t look too dry. There’s little evidence of the ball doing much so the one wicket to date…no make that two…as I write – have been run outs! Chopra the ’cause’ in both cases. Essex are on track for min 250 but probably need closer to 300 in these run fests as the cool of the evening will, no doubt, take effect.

After 35 overs Chopra is homing in in his century (the least he can do given his appalling running and run outs), Patel is fresh in at 11no and Essex 176/4;

still on track for 300; some of the umpiring has shown its inexperience with a reserve list umpire here but in general, the sun is beating down, you find a corner out of the wind, sit back and enjoy…if only the PA system and the over excited PA man would tone things down!

Essex went for the slogathon approach but the wheels came off – all out 293 in 50th over. Chopra made his 150+ but no one else really made many.

There are two sounds in cricket which chill to the bone – the first is the sound of your boots as you walk across the Long Room on the way back to the dressing room for nought – that’s all you hear! And the second is the ultra-partisan crowd at the CloudFM County Ground when anyone other than an Essex player does well…the silence is deafening.

However I’m glad to say that this was broken this afternoon after Hammond (great Gloucestershire name!) put down a sitter in the outfield just in front of me and was roundly barracked but next ball, the first of the next over he pulled off an amazing full stretch catch in the deep…shame TV is not here but the crowd did applaud at length. Perhaps they’re just ultra-hard to please or their grumpy levels are set too high? Who knows?

An hour in and Gloucestershire reach 86/2 off 20 – both Essex spinners on early. Dent 43no and Bracey 15no are steadying the ship. Duckworth says 102 at this stage. In the past couple of hours the temperature has dropped five degrees, cloud cover is almost 100% and hence the ball is doing more for Essex than in the sunlit uplands of the afternoon for Gloucestershire. Beard seems to be able to extract a bit more than most but it’s a close run thing – a close shave for Beard one could say!

Beard…certainly added a yard or two of pace

Both teams give the impression of wanting this over as quickly as possible but if Dent can make one in the innings then its favourites for Gloucestershire but there’s a long way to go as yet.

Black batting gloves….nows there’s a novelty!

Gloucestershire make steady progress and either exceed the Duckworth or keep close to it as wickets fall. Bracey is playing well in support of Dent who goes for a fine 80, a couple of quick wickets – to Beard and Harmer – bring Essex back into the game but their issue of the fifth bowler has been their weakness all tournament long; today it’s shared between Bopara Westley and Lawrence- batsmen all – and their 10 overs go for 73!

Coles gets in on the jumping approach

Bracey steer Gloucestershire home with Howells help (and Hammond as a Runner) with balls to spare. I’m convinced that the lack of information on the scoreboard is hindering the fielding captain as Harmer whose today’s captain brings Bopara back for the 47th over when he didn’t need to (unless Porter was injured or unwell as could be the case) and he got hammered. Coles whose lack of discipline we’d hoped was a thing of the past bowls a no ball and the free hit goes for six…and that’s the match!

The winning hit

One very curious incident happened today – at just before 7.30pm after 44 overs strong light stops play! Sky Sports News have had a camera, reporter and strong TV light on all day by the side of the boundary. At 90 degrees to the wicket it hinders neither batsmen, bowler or umpire until…when combined with the illuminated hoarding it seemed to upset one of the players or umpires; so for five minutes strong light stopped play; the simple solution would be to turn off the over-glowing hoarding but no…advertising must take priority!

The ‘strong’ light in the afternoon

So Essex and Surrey depart this tournament- the former through lack of a fifth bowler and ill discipline throughout, not concentrating as they should have and Surrey just too bad for words. We now get to the business end…and could Middlesex make it to the final final? Who knows!