Tom Price’s inspired return of 8 for 27 sets up Gloucestershire victory


Gloucestershire Beat 255 (Taylor 71, Yadav 5-90, Briggs 3-79) and 149 for 7 (Dent 64, van Buuren 49, Yadav 4-47) Warwickshire 274 (Sibley 120, Briggs 65, Gohar 5-64) and 128 (Davies 60, T Price 8-27) with three wickets

For much of this match, Gloucestershire revealed many of the vulnerabilities expected from a side rooted at the foot of the Division One table. But they now have their win to back them up over the winter months, one won by a thrilling last day of cricket in Bristol this summer, and it means Warwickshire’s chances of relegation have become all the greater.

Tom Price’s inspired return of 8 for 27 – the best analysis in the championship this season – fueled Gloucestershire’s three-wicket win by keeping their aim for 148 manageable proportions. A few more runs and the stage would certainly be set for Jayant Yadav’s tempting offspin, who posed a constant threat on a spinning pitch and unfortunately couldn’t add to his four wickets.

But Price will also dwell on a single vital moment with the bat at a time when there were so many tiny tremors around the ground that you’d imagine a fracking license had already been ratified on Ashley Down Road. With seven needed, three wickets left, and Yadav just taking three for 8 in 16 balls, Price bet on a loft shot over deep mid-off against the slow left arm, Danny Briggs, and the ball bounced over the line the third jump.

Zafar Gohar drove Yadav for the winning goal in the next over to bring general joy to one of county cricket’s coziest grounds. Yadav had proclaimed on his arrival “I think everyone expects results and I am here to deliver” and with 9 for 137 in the game he had given his best. But his compatriot pace bowler, Mohammed Siraj, who had also been brought in on a short-term contract, was absent from Bristol and that cost Warwickshire a lot of money.

A defeat leaves the survival of the Warwickshire First Division out of their hands. They must beat Hampshire next week in Edgbaston and hope to see one of their relegation rivals beaten hard. Their attention will rarely stray from events at Canterbury, where Kent meets Somerset (who may also be involved in the commotion if they don’t beat Northamptonshire in their current match at Taunton), and Headingley, where Yorkshire, who have made five of their last seven, Gloucestershire face.

When Gloucestershire lost four for 30 against the new ball, a victory in Warwickshire seemed eminently possible. Oliver Hannon-Dalby had Ben Charlesworth catch on the second slip – a weak drive to a wide ball – and removed Ollie Price (Tom’s brother) on the first slip with a lifter, but it was up to the spin bowlers to win the match and they were unable to oblige.

Yadav was the biggest threat. Despite the smooth simplicity of his action, he is an attacking spinner with the ability to spin the ball sharply. Briggs is considerably more conservative, flatter and rarely a big spinner of the ball, a product of his age. Both had early success. Yadav waived Miles Hammond for a duck with a third ball at gully. James Bracey left sadly when his slog sweep seemed to deflect off Briggs’ forearm, but it was an uncontrolled blow for a player yet to score.

Graeme van Buuren and Chris Dent tackled the situation in an enterprising manner and took the chase with a score of 97 in 23 overs. Briggs welcomed Van Buuren with a full throw and long jump, both gratefully punished. He is a stocky, spirited stroke player, strong on the back foot, but he also left Yadav wringing his hand with a solid drive back to him. Dent was held up by the cut shot.

With 15 it took the game in Gloucestershire’s grasp, only for Yadav to intervene. A full ball had Van Buuren lbw on the sweep, Jack Taylor holed trying to clear the deep midwicket, and Dent’s cut didn’t work well for once, the ball too close to him when he was caught at the wicket. Tom Price defended a little nervously, his blow to Briggs coming when he least expected it.

Warwickshire, 58 to 5 at night, had advanced to 128 before being thrown out within 39 overs as lunch approached. Paul Farbrace, their outgoing cricket director, had identified a target of 150 as something that would make the game interesting; they managed 148.

Gloucestershire’s impenetrable seam attack had been a major cause of not winning a championship match. But in Tom Price, they had a tousled, busy seam bowler at the height of his game. Match figures of 10 for 73 gave him the first ten-wicket-haul of a career that was still in its infancy. He regularly hit the seam and found a level of movement unmatched by any other pace bowler in the game. He will give Gloucestershire hope as they try to get a more competitive speed attack back in Division Two.

Price had 4 for 20 at night and he started Gloucestershire in a preliminary five-over spell. He stitched one away from left-handed Jacob Bethell for Dent to keep a slim chance of third slip and, in his next over, found another significant move to throw Briggs through the gate.

Alex Davies, who had made 41 of Warwickshire’s 58 the previous night, was starving and eventually fell for 60 pounds when Gohar tossed the ball high and tapped the pad before Davies dug out the yorker.

He’d found a willing accomplice in Henry Brookes, who clumped 32 of 532 balls, gave Singh Dale some solid blows to the side, but Brookes left in the next over when Price returned to squeeze a ball between bat and pad and a marginal win. decision for a catch on the wicket. Another big nip-backer, this time from Ryan Sidebottom, ended the innings.

Based on this evidence, Price could be an exceptionally good county professional, a man who will delight the faithful in Gloucestershire for many years to come. Life isn’t all about those who get a mention in high-quality ECB seminars. Or at least it shouldn’t be.

David Hopps writes about county cricket for ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps