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Will Gidman continued to be a thorn in Leicestershire’s side on the second day of the LV=CC game at Bristol.
After snapping up a career-best 6-15 with the ball yesterday, the all-rounder posted a personal high 143 as Gloucestershire racked up 516-9 declared to claim a first innings lead of 399.
Leicestershire were left a horrible period of 15 overs to bat and showed character to move to 60-1 with Angus Robson on 19 not out and Ned Eckersley 32*.
The number three hit 28 of those in boundaries to underline his talent and form – Eckersley requires just eight more to reach 1,250 first-class runs for the summer.
The duo put on a welcome unbroken 47, and the team will therefore resume 339 behind with nine second innings wickets intact.
County ended the first day well but Gloucestershire still resumed in a decent position on 210-4 and three successive partnerships of substance kept them in control.
Hamish Marshall (81, 152b) extended his stand with Benny Howell to 69 before adding 97 with W Gidman, who then put on 131 with Tom Smith (50, 121b).
Gloucestershire extended their advantage by 102 for the loss of Howell (34, 61b) in the morning session. Ollie Freckingham (18-2-91-0) started with a maiden but Howell struck Matthew Hoggard (17-1-58-0) for four in the next over before Marshall hit two boundaries in the next over.
Howell again found the fence in the 56th and 57th over and Marshall struck two fours as Ben Raine entered the attack. A total of 38 runs had been added without loss in the first eight overs, so it had been a solid start for Gloucestershire. A Howell four in the 61st over ensured Gloucestershire banked a second batting point.
Hoggard bowled a maiden to check progress and Raine (19-3-78-2) built on that by having Howell caught by Sykes at extra cover. Wyatt replaced Hoggard to bowl the 66th over, and only one came from it. But seven runs were scored from the first two balls of the next over from Raine to put the hosts 150 ahead.
Wyatt had replaced Hoggard and Sykes then came on in place of Raine. Marshall picked up another couple of fours as he progressed to an 83-ball half-century, and W Gidman collected his third boundary to take the score beyond 300.
Shiv Thakor (12-2-49-2) had a burst alongside Sykes and the pair took their stand to 50 before the new ball was taken two overs before lunch. Freckingham and Thakor had an over each but no further breakthrough was forthcoming, Gloucs going in on 311-5.
That represented a lead of 195 and the batsmen picked up where they left off by each striking a trio of boundaries in the first ten overs of the session. A leg bye took Gloucestershire to a fourth batting point but the stand was put paid to by Raine, who trapped Marshall leg before.
It gave Leicestershire a second bowling point but another partnership emerged. W Gidman hit Freckingham for three consecutive fours in the 100th over, the first of which took him to a 104-ball 50. W Gidman then took 14 off the 103rd over bowled by Sykes. Again he picked up three boundaries in an over, including a wonderful lapped sweep.
Leicestershire now had spin from both ends and Gloucestershire moved to full bonus points in the 107th over. W Gidman swept to the ropes later in that over, and Smith moved to 16 in the next over by driving Josh Cobb (13-1-46-0) for a straight four.
The advantage moved past 300 and by tea, Gloucestershire were 428-6 with Gidman unbeaten on 96. He moved to a 150-ball century after the interval, the landmark including 13 boundaries.
Smith was a good foil and collected a couple more fours. The stand moved into three figures and the score reached 450 simultaneously with a Smith single, before both batsmen hit another four as Gloucestershire continued to kick on.
A sixth boundary for Smith, followed by a single four balls later, took him to a maiden first-class 50 from 124 deliveries. W Gidman then went past his career best score with a four off Sykes (31-2-120-2), but the spinner responded well by having Smith caught by Matthew Boyce at mid-wicket.
W Gidman upped the ante by hitting a couple of maximums and a four and Craig Miles also opened his boundary account. But a mix-up led to Miles (9, 14b) being run out by Wyatt at short fine leg, and W Gidman was then caught at deep mid-wicket by Greg Smith off Wyatt (20.3-5-66-2) to prompt a declaration.
There was a nice moment as Robson got off the mark for Leicestershire in the opening over from W Gidman. A nice drive brought the batsman three in Matt Taylor’s opener and Smith then picked up a couple of fours in W Gidman’s second over.
But Smith (9, 14b) fell leg before to David Payne in the fifth for an early setback. Eckersley again looked in fine fettle by picking up a trio of boundaries off Miles; a stroke down to third man was followed by a punchy cover drive and a well-timed cut.
Robson and Eckersley both flicked down to long leg for four before Eckersley clattered his fifth four of the innings through extra. Eckersley took ten off Howell's only over, including another couple of fours. A two scored inbetween those strokes took the score to 50.
Robson picked up six runs off the last over as Leicestershire ended the day in good shape, but there is still lots of hard work to do.