Match Preview: Gloucestershire v Lancashire
Lancashire take on Gloucestershire at Cheltenham College
Gloucestershire v Lancashire
Specsavers County Championship, Division Two
Monday May 27 - Thursday 30, 11am
After beating Worcestershire inside three days at Emirates Old Trafford last week, Lancashire face another promotion rival in Gloucestershire.
The Red Rose sit top of Division Two having won their first three matches of the season, something they haven’t done since the days of 1995 when Mike Atherton opened the batting, Wasim Akram was overseas and Mike Watkinson was captain.
Gloucester are unbeaten having won one and drawn two and sit third in Division Two, 20 points behind Lancashire.
They consigned Durham to a fourth straight defeat at Emirates Riverside last week, their first win of the campaign.
Jake Lehmann is staying with Lancashire as their overseas player in Championship cricket.
Lehmann, a feature in the second half of the recent Royal London one-day Cup, debuted in the Championship against Worcester last week having replaced fellow Australian Joe Burns, who returned home for personal reasons.
Alex Davies comes back into contention having suffered a broken thumb in the opening round Championship win against Middlesex at Lord’s last month.
Gloucestershire have not played Division One cricket since 2005, but will be hoping their promising start to the season translates into promotion later this summer.
They suffered a recent injury blow with the news that Australian overseas seamer Dan Worrall has been sidelined for the entire summer because of a back injury.
He has not yet been replaced, but they have signed Yorkshire seamer Josh Shaw on loan for his fourth spell with the Bristol based county.
Their top three batsmen of captain Chris Dent, Miles Hammond and wicketkeeper James Bracey are all highly rated, while experienced left-arm quick David Payne leads their bowling attack. He took six wickets in the match against Durham and has taken 12 in all.
Bracey is their leading run-scorer with 299, including a century. All-rounder Ryan Higgins is their only other man to have posted a Championship ton this summer.
Lancashire-born Iain Cockbain is yet to feature in the Championship this season.
Coached by former England spinner Richard Dawson, Gloucester play three Championship matches at Cheltenham College this summer.
They have won five of their last eight Championship matches at their out-ground venue.
The two counties shared victories in 2015 when Lancashire were last in Division Two, with the Red Rose winning the most recent of those fixtures at Bristol’s County Ground in early June of that year by 91 runs.
Karl Brown and captain Steven Croft scored first-innings fifties in 275 all out having been inserted before Michael Klinger’s 102 earned the hosts a first-innings lead of just two. New ball pair Tom Bailey and Kyle Jarvis claimed four wickets apiece.
Opener Brown, who hit 57 in the first innings, then top-scored with 56 in the second as Lancashire were bowled out for 253, setting a target of 252 late on day three.
Gloucester closed on 26-1 and were handily placed at 118-2 on the final day. But Zimbabwean Jarvis continued his stunning run of form that season with 5-39.
Gloucester lost five wickets for six to fall to 119-7 and failed to recover, eventually bowled out for 160. Lancashire went on to be promoted as runners-up behind Surrey.
Lancashire last visited Cheltenham in 2004 when both sides were in Division One. They drew a high-scoring affair which saw Dinesh Mongia and Mark Chilton score centuries.
WHAT THEY SAID
Rob Jones insists Lancashire will not rest on their laurels having won three from three.
“Every team in this division has strong players, and it’s always tough,” he said. “So we’ve got to keep playing our best cricket and stay together as a team, which is vital.”
Jones has also been delighted to see that contributions have come from right across the team and squad this summer.
“Everyone is contributing no matter what game. Even in the one-dayers you saw we dovetailed really nicely. Steven Croft had an outstanding tournament then, but it might be someone else’s turn on a different day.
“It would be nice to score runs every week, but that doesn’t happen.
“As long as someone is there contributing and winning games for the club, no matter who you are - Jimmy Anderson or a young lad - it doesn’t matter.
“It may be a 30, a 90 or a hundred, whatever. Even a couple of catches might win a game.
“As long as everyone is contributing and offering to the team, that’s where we want to be.”
Lancashire's Director of Cricket Paul Allott is also a happy man and spoke about Lehmann, who is playing Surrey club cricket with Reigate Priory, remaining with the club having replaced Joe Burns.
“We’re really pleased with how everything’s gone so far. Worcester was a tricky game on a pitch that helped the bowlers all the way through,” he said.
“I thought the boys played really well.
“To win three out of three is a start we probably only dreamed of.
“If you play good cricket, you should win games. But when you play against Worcester, who are a good side and were top of the table, it’s hugely pleasing.
“I know Jake didn’t score many runs against Worcester, but he played really well when he stood in for the 50-over competition. He fits in beautifully with the lads and is a delight to have around the dressing room.
“That was an eleventh hour call to him on Sunday evening - ‘Can you get yourself up to Emirates Old Trafford this evening because we’d like to put you in the squad and make you available for selection?’
“He said straightaway, ‘I’ll be up there, no problems’.
“We were in a fortunate position because we’d maintained his registration, so there was no hitch.
“We’ve got Glenn Maxwell coming back for T20. He will be back with us once Australia’s World Cup gig is over. Whether that’s after the semi-final, final or the group stages, I don’t know. We can’t tell can we.
“We have another seven Championship games to go before then, and at the moment Jake’s our man.”
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