Kane Williamson and Benny Howell lead the Gloucestershire fightback
KANE Williamson and Benny Howell started a Gloucestershire fightback that dashed Derbyshire's hopes of an innings victory in their LV= County Championship match at Derby.
Howell scored his second first-class half-century, while New Zealand Test batsman Williamson showed his international pedigree with an unbeaten 106 as the visitors closed on 219-2, a lead of 37, when bad light ended play at 6pm.
The prospect of the game going into a fourth day looked remote when Gloucestershire were bowled out for 206 and forced to follow-on 182 runs behind.
With the overcast conditions favouring the seamers, Derbyshire were scenting their third victory of the season when Chris Dent left a ball from Tim Groenewald in the second over and had his off-stump knocked out with only eight on the board.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
But the way Paul Muchall and Ian Saxelby had played in the morning, when they secured a batting point, suggested there were few problems in the pitch and Derbyshire had to wait another 41 overs for their next success.
Howell, pictured, is playing for a second chance after he was released by Hampshire at the end of last season and the pressure was on the 23-year-old Bordeaux-born right-hander after his failure to score in the first innings.
But Howell played calmly and with Williamson growing in confidence, the pair slowly chipped away at the lead against disciplined bowling.
Howell straight drove left-arm spinner David Wainwright for six on his way to a 72-ball half-century and the stand with Williamson was worth 117 when Derbyshire finally broke through.
A slower ball from Jon Clare, who was awarded his Derbyshire cap before play along with Tony Palladino, Martin Guptill and Wes Durston, deceived Howell and beat his back-foot forcing shot.
But acting captain Hamish Marshall joined Williamson and the pair kept their concentration through several rain breaks to wipe out Derbyshire's advantage and put their side in credit.
Wainwright kept the pressure on and at one stage conceded only seven runs in 12 overs, but Williamson made few errors and brought up his second century for Gloucestershire when he cut the former Yorkshire spinner behind point for two.
It had taken him 209 balls to get to three figures, but it has given his team a fighting chance of saving the game on the fourth day after he added 94 with Marshall, who was on 32 when bad light held up play for the last time.
John Bracewell insists Gloucestershire's players must rid themselves of all fear if they are to achieve anything in one-day cricket this summer.
Arguably the finest one-day team in the land when winning seven titles between 1999 and 2004, Gloucestershire have since become also-rans in the short format, enduring a series of heavy defeats in both t20 and the 40-over league in recent seasons.
Confidence has been affected and director of cricket Bracewell believes some of his players are exhibiting signs of mental scarring in the one-day arena.
Gloucestershire will be out to make amends for their one-day under-achievement when they launch their Clydesdale Bank 40 campaign with back-to-back games against the Netherlands at Bristol tomorrow and Middlesex at Lord's on Monday.
Bracewell said: "We have the enthusiasm to be a good one-day side - whether we have the confidence to let go and the fearlessness to be a good one-day side remains to be seen.
"We've had four years of getting battered around in one-day cricket and that has been one area where our players have not stepped up to the mark.
"They have done it in the four-day game, but they have not taken responsibility in one-day cricket. In fact, the older players have probably shown more fear of failure than our youngsters. They have been very good in Championship cricket, but not good in the short format, and that has been disappointing. If we can take away some of those inhibitions, it may free the guys up."
Play is scheduled to start at 1.45pm at the County Ground tomorrow.