Batsmen dominate on day three of festival

DAY 3 | Gloucestershire CCC 504 for nine declared v Leicestershire CCC 252 & 78 for two

SCORECARD | Available from Cricinfo HERE

REACTION | To follow

REPORT | The Foxes attack again worked tirelessly but bat dominated the ball on the third day of the Specsavers County Championship CCC game at Cheltenham.

At the start of the day, Gloucestershire CCC were only 23 runs ahead at 275 for six and given County had finished day two strongly, momentum appeared to be on the visitors’ side.

But Gloucestershire CCC posted a first innings score of 504 for nine declared, leaving the Foxes with a deficit the same as their first innings score - 252.

A seventh wicket partnership between Jack Taylor (99) and Benny Howell (76) totalled 157 and surged Gloucestershire CCC into a substantial lead while Chadd Sayers and Ethan Bamber added 48 more before the declaration.

For County, Chris Wright and Will Davis each took three wickets, with the latter recording his best competition figures for the Foxes.

Leicestershire CCC lost two wickets in their second innings before rain ended play four overs early, with Hassan Azad (38no) and Colin Ackermann (8no) the unbeaten batsmen.

County had ended day two on a relatively high note after four wickets in 15 overs since the new ball was taken in the final session, and were hoping that their form would continue into day three.

However, the batting duo of Taylor and Howell came out on top in the first hour of play as they earned the third batting bonus point before the 110-over window had closed.

The early attack of Muhammad Abbas, Wright, Neil Dexter and Callum Parkinson bowled well without a great deal of fortune. The ball beat the outside edge on several occasions, but the festival hosts achieved the main objective – they avoided losing early wickets.

Taylor was heading up the early surge on day three for Gloucestershire CCC and soon earned himself a half-century from 93 balls.

Gloucestershire soon moved 100 runs ahead of Leicestershire with Taylor’s eighth boundary of the game in the 188th over.

The duo Taylor and Howell were the second partnership to last a whole session without losing a wicket and put on 112 runs in the first session. Gloucestershire CCC lunched at 387 for six, as a tough session for the Foxes came to an end.

Half-an-hour into the second session and Howell joined his partner at the crease on a half-century having faced 115 balls.

The partnership finally came to an end in the 140th over after Davis steamed in and sent the bails flying after smashing the middle and off sticks – similar to his wicket of Ryan Higgins yesterday. The former-Derbyshire seam bowler prevented Taylor from posting his eighth first-class century as he went for 99.

Six overs later, and the other half of the 157-run sixth wicket stand was gone, again, to the bowling of Davis as one came back in and pinned Howell in front.

Parkinson brought the innings to a close with the dismissal of loanee Bamber for 15. The slow left-armer enticed the youngster down the track for a big swing, which was missed due to the spin of the delivery. The ball beat the batsman and Harry Swindells was on hand to flick the bails off the sticks.

With this, Gloucestershire CCC took the decision to declare as tea came with the home side sitting on a 252-run lead.

The opening partnership started well and was looking assured at the crease as they entered the 20th over. Both Paul Horton and Azad had got themselves in having faced 120 balls between them, and hitting boundaries when the bowlers offered the opportunity.

However, the stand came to an on 48 as Horton was trapped leg before wicket for the second time in the game, this time by Higgins for 26.

Higgins then made it two as Neil Dexter (0) was caught in the slips by Miles Hammond, who had previously dropped the captain during his innings despite having three bites at the cherry.

The Foxes now found themselves in a dangerous position as Gloucestershire CCC sensed an opportunity with 13 overs remaining.

Ackermann came out and played well with Azad, with their gameplan clearly being to see the third wicket through to the final day.

With five overs left to play, play was halted as the umpires took the players off the pitch due to rainfall.

The delay in play did not last long though as by five minutes later, the players were back in the middle with one over having been lost.

Ackermann had time to earn his first boundary of the innings before more rain arrived. He chopped Tom Smith down through gully and over the rope, albeit, aided by a misfield.

Leicestershire CCC successfully saw things through to stumps without further loss to set up an interesting final day at the College Ground.

Although County have the opportunity to get out of arrears and develop an advantage, they will need to bat most of – if not all of – the day to ensure they take a positive result home.

Figures (1st inns) | Abbas 29-8-82-1, Wright 31-3-89-3, Davis 29-8-73-3, Dexter 17-2-53-0, Mike 18-2-82-0, Parkinson 21.1-3-74-1, Ackermann 9-2-33-0.

TEAM | Horton (capt), Abbas, Ackermann, Azad, Davis, Dearden, Dexter, Mike, Parkinson, Swindells, Wright.

Gloucestershire CCC | Dent (capt), Hammond, Roderick (wk), J Taylor, Howell, van Buuren, Higgins, M Taylor, Sayers, Bamber, Smith.

IMAGES | Thanks to John Mallett of Outside Off for providing the images throughout the game.

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