Gloucs make Sussex toil at Cheltenham - Gillespie says 'We're better than that'

Jason Gillespie / Picture by PW Sporting Photography
Jason Gillespie / Picture by PW Sporting Photography

Craig Miles claimed four wickets as Gloucestershire bowled out Sussex for 286 on the opening day of the Specsavers County Championship match at Cheltenham.

An intriguing start to the annual festival at the College Ground saw fortunes sway after the visitors had won the toss. They looked well placed at 74 without loss and 210 for four, but the home bowlers stuck to their task, led by Miles, who returned four for 68 from 18 overs.

Nineteen-year-old off-spinner George Drissell took his maiden first class wicket on the way to figures of two for 38 from 10 overs. There were also two victims for Kieran Noema-Barnett, while half-centuries from Phil Salt (57), Harry Finch (76) and Ben Brown (59) boosted the Sussex total.

By the close Gloucestershire had reduced the deficit by 42 without losing a wicket, skipper Chris Dent making 12 not out and Cheltenham-born Miles Hammond unbeaten on 27.

Sussex head coach Jason Gillespie said: "We are better than that with the bat and certainly left some runs out there. We didn't build enough partnerships and, although several players got starts, no one went on to a really significant score.

"Then when we bowled we went searching for wickets instead of keeping things simple. We looked like we were trying to bowl the magic ball and were not consistent enough.

"If you maintain a disciplined line and length there is something in the pitch for the bowlers because there is some bounce. On the other hand if batsmen apply themselves there are runs to be made."

Sussex had been given a brisk start by the aggressive Salt, who dominated the opening stand with Luke Wells, reaching a 45-ball fifty, with eight fours and a six. But when Wells, on 17, got a leading edge to Miles and was well caught by Graeme van Buuren at mid-wicket, running towards the fence, the hosts fought back hard.

Salt was yorked by Miles and the tall seamer notched a third victim as Luke Wright was snapped up by the diving James Bracey at mid-wicket for nine.

When Michael Burgess fell lbw to Noema-Barnett for two in the 28th over Sussex had lost four wickets for 23 runs. They went in to lunch on 125 for four from 31 overs.

Finch and Brown then put Sussex back on top by adding 113 either side of the interval before Brown, whose half-century had come off 79 balls, became a maiden first class wicket for Drissell, a local product from Bedminster Cricket Club, lofting a catch to mid-off.

David Weiss fell lbw to Noema-Barnett, shouldering arms, and at tea Sussex were 219 for six, with Finch unbeaten on 65.

Drissell, maintaining a tight line and length from the College Lawn End, had Chris Jordan caught at slip for a third-ball duck and it was 236 for eight when Matt Taylor took a sharp catch one-handed off his own bowling to end Finch’s impressive knock, which occupied 142 balls and featured 13 fours.

Jofra Archer and Ollie Robinson added 35 important runs before Archer played a poor shot to gift Miles his fourth wicket, courtesy of a straightforward Noema-Barnett slip catch. And a patchy Sussex team effort ended when David Payne pinned last man Danny Briggs lbw with the second new ball. Robinson was left unbeaten on 27.

Gloucestershire batted positively in failing light, Hammond surviving a sharp chance to Salt in the slips off Robinson when on 18.