Gloucestershire take control as wickets tumble against Northamptonshire
ALEX Gidman was at a loss to explain how 17 wickets fell on the opening day of Gloucestershire's LV=County Championship match with Northamptonshire at Bristol.
The skipper himself looked in fine form, striking ten fours in a 48-ball half-century as his side posted 220 after losing the toss, Jon Batty contributing 55.
It looked a modest total until Northants slumped from 30 without loss to 73-7 by the close, James Fuller and Liam Norwell claiming three wickets each.
Pitch inspector David Hughes made a point of visiting the pressbox to pronounce himself happy with the wicket and Gidman was scratching his head to provide an explanation for the carnage.
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"The pitch has just offered a bit of seam movement and most of the damage has been done by deliveries of almost half-volley length," he said.
"The ball hasn't swung much and it's hard to explain why batting has been so tough. It has been difficult to hit through the ball because the wicket is quite slow. But full balls don't usually cause such problems. I can't see the pitch getting any better, so hopefully, we are in a good position, but there is a lot of hard work still ahead."
Gloucestershire went into the game bottom of the Championship Second Division and Gidman added: "It's tough because we feel we have played better cricket than our position suggests. However stats are stats and our points tally tells a story, so we have to fight like mad over the last couple of games to get off the bottom. Two wins would take us to mid-table, which is where we feel we should be."
It was Andrew Hall (3-37) who ripped out the home side's top order, taking his wickets in the space of 11 balls at a cost of two runs as Gloucestershire slumped from 41 without loss to 44-4.
There was little sign of the problems ahead when openers Benny Howell and Ed Cowan put together a solid opening stand of 41 at the start of the day.
Then Howell, on 29, was dropped at second slip by Stephen Peters off Luke Evans and it signalled a transformation in fortunes. Next ball Evans rapped Howell on the pads and gained an lbw verdict. Ed Cowan went leg-before for eight in the next over as Hall began to make rapid inroads, getting the ball to nip around from the Ashley Down Road End. His next two overs saw Dan Housego bowled off stump out of the ground for one and Hamish Marshall pinned lbw on the back foot for a duck.
Gidman launched a counter-attack with four fours in an over from David Willey, all punched through the off side, before with the score on 95 Ian Cockbain had his middle stump sent flying by Willey, having made ten.
It was 95 for five at lunch and the afternoon session saw Gidman reach his half-century. He added 33 for the sixth wicket with brother Will before falling to another lbw verdict, Willey claiming his second victim.
Will Gidman was caught in the slips driving at a wide ball from Jack Brooks and when Fuller edged a catch to the wicketkeeper off Evans Gloucestershire were 151-8.
Batty and Anthony Ireland saw the home side to tea at 206-8 and the former Surrey keeper reached a battling half-century straight after the interval, having faced 89 balls and hit six fours.