19 Jul 2022 | LV= Insurance County Championship Division One 2022
201 all out
82 for 4
457 all out
337 all out
Hampshire win by 6 wickets

Day One

Felix Organ defied blistering heat and all that Gloucestershire's bowlers could throw at him to compile a notable unbeaten half century and put LV=County Championship title contenders Hampshire in credit on the opening day of the 150th Cheltenham Festival.

To the utter relief of his bowlers, Hampshire captain James Vince won the toss and, unsurprisingly, elected to bat on a day when the mercury touched 38 degrees at the famous old college ground. Organ ensured it was a grueling spell in the field for bottom-of-the-table Gloucestershire, ushering the visitors to 203-2 at the close on a day when play was restricted to 72 overs by an ECB directive intended to protect players and spectators alike from a heatwave of unprecedented proportions.

Applying himself diligently, Organ maintained concentration throughout to post 93 not out and dominate stands of 117 and 55 with Ian Holland and Nick Gubbins for the first and second wickets respectively.

Chasing a first win of the season in red-ball cricket, Gloucestershire stuck to their task manfully in energy-sapping conditions, Zak Chappell and Ollie Price claiming the only wickets to fall and Zafar Gohar sending down 17 overs as Hampshire were restricted to 2.88 runs an over. Further resistance will be required over the course of the next three days if Gloucestershire are to remain in the hunt on a pitch that is already offering assistance to spin.

Just 15 points behind Division One leaders Surrey and intent on closing the gap, Hampshire set their sights on laying solid first-innings foundations, compiling steadily and taking few risks in pursuit of a position of strength from which to launch on day two.

Accordingly, Holland and Organ demonstrated admirable patience and discipline to see off naggingly accurate new ball spells from Tom Price and Ryan Higgins. Change bowlers Chappell and Josh Shaw posed rather more questions, passing the bat on a number of occasions, but with additional pace and bounce came more runs. Organ quickly discovered fluency, twice driving Chappell through the covers and then cutting the same bowler to the fence as Hampshire achieved lift-off.

The opening partnership reached 50 in 15 overs and the visitors reached lunch on 79 without loss, Organ raising a 71-ball half century with his ninth four shortly after the resumption. Organ and Holland raised 100 in 35.4 overs, but the latter fell two short of his 50, playing down the wrong line and being pinned lbw by Chappell, having faced 131 deliveries.

Thereafter, Gloucestershire's bowlers turned the screw, restricting Hampshire to just three scoring shots in 7.3 overs up until tea. Effectively becalmed, Organ mustered a mere nine runs in a session that yielded a miserly 44 runs in 24 overs.

Gubbins and Organ resumed normal service in the final session, combining sound placement with quick running to set the scoreboard moving again, only for persistent Gloucestershire to once again apply the brakes. Having chiseled 35 from 63 balls, Gubbins played a tired drive and edged behind, where James Bracey held on after initially securing the ball between his thighs to give delighted off spinner Ollie Price his maiden first-class wicket.

Unperturbed, Organ continued to inch his way towards three figures, summoning a sumptuous off-drive at the expense of Higgins to bring up Hampshire's 200 shortly before the close. He has already faced 208 balls and accrued 16 fours, and his diligence will surely be rewarded when play resumes in the morning.

For his part, Gloucestershire captain Graeme van Buuren was careful to look after his bowlers, rotating the eight used on a regular basis to help conserve energy for when conditions return to something more akin to normal. Even so, Gloucestershire's hard-pressed players were relieved to head back to the dressing room when time was finally called on this longest of short days.

Day Two

Hampshire end Day Two in Cheltenham with a lead of 414 runs thanks to Felix Organ’s second century of the season, with captain James Vince narrowly missing out on a hundred of his own.

Both batters resumed after a shortened day one, and it didn’t take long for the opener to notch up his third career hundred as he clipped Josh Shaw off his legs for four.

Vince meanwhile looked to attack, launching his fourth ball of the day for six off Zafar Gohar, before bad light brought a premature end to the first session, with only half an hour of play possible before lunch.

Play resumed at 1:25pm and Organ ticked off another milestone, this time his highest ever score, as he moved onto 118 before edging one through to James Bracey behind the stumps.

Liam Dawson walked out to the crease and had a steady start before he too looked to go aggressive, as he hooked Zak Chappell for six, but when he tried to pull of something similar, he picked out the Gloucestershire captain Graeme van Buuren at midwicket, and had to depart for 18.

Vince meanwhile went past fifty for the 71st time in his career, and Ben Brown didn’t take long to get used to the pitch, as he first pulled Shaw before driving through the covers to bring up consecutive boundaries.

He was then undone by the flight of Gohar and gave the spinner a straightforward catch off his own bowling which brought Aneurin Donald to the crease.

The powerful right hander looked to up the ante before the light became a factor once again, and, along with some drizzle, persuaded the umpires to take an early tea with the score on 353-5.

Donald looked to play a few more shots as he came down the wicket to Gohar before forcing the left armer to a change in length, and he rocked back to cut the ball for four.

The Welshman though had to go when he drove at a ball outside off stump, the umpire raising his finger for a caught behind.

Keith Barker then strode out to the middle, with Vince still there, searching for what would be a 28th First-Class ton.

But, just six overs after the resumption, the umpires took the players off for the third time in the day, as the rain fell once again.

Play resumed half an hour later at 5:15pm and Barker decided to get a move on, as he drove Chappell straight back past him for four, and brought up the Hampshire 400 with a clip off his legs for a couple.

The left hander then whacked Chappell back into the college with a huge six before Vince pulled a short ball off Shaw, and the umpires decided to stop play once again – the light meters being a constant annoyance for Hampshire and especially Vince, having to restart his innings four times throughout the day.

Less than ten minutes later though, and the players were back out there, and another six from Barker brought up the 50 partnership in just 44 deliveries, before the left-hander reached his own half-century off only 37 balls.

By this time, the captain had moved into the 90s, but as soon as Barker reached his milestone, Vince fell short of his own, as he was bowled by a nip-backer from Tom Price for 95.

The floodgates then opened as Hampshire lost the final four wickets for 12 runs, with a potential hour of play left, providing the light held up.

Mohammad Abbas was straight in the action as, with his fourth ball, he trapped Chris Dent leg before for a duck.

However, the Pakistan fast bowler only bowled the one over, as the umpires decided it was too dangerous for Hampshire’s pacemen, and the spin twins of Liam Dawson and Felix Organ were brought on to bowl the remaining 13 overs in the day.

It proved to be a wise decision from Vince to carry on with the spinners, as Dawson took the big wicket of Marcus Harris for ten, as he too was trapped in front of off stump, and Gloucestershire were 17-2 inside six overs.

Ollie Price and Miles Hammond safely saw the rest of the day out, facing 49 and 26 balls respectively for single figure scores, as Gloucestershire closed on 43-2, trailing by 414 runs.

Day Three

Gloucestershire's Miles Hammond staged a brilliant rearguard action to register his first hundred in four years and hold up Hampshire's victory charge on day three of this LV=County Championship match at Cheltenham.

With his side following on and under duress, the Cheltenham-born left hander produced a truly defiant innings of 109 not out to at least take the contest into a fourth day. This is Hammond's first hundred in 38 matches since he achieved that landmark against Middlesex on September 4, 2018, and it has almost certainly saved his team from the ignominy of an innings defeat.

Replying to Hampshire's mammoth 457, struggling Gloucestershire were forced to follow-on after being dismissed for 201 in their first innings, slow left armer Liam Dawson taking 4-44 and James Fuller and Felix Organ weighing in with two wickets apiece. Apart from a career-best knock of 59 from Ollie Price and an unbeaten 58 by skipper Graeme van Buuren, there was precious little to cheer for home supporters among a healthy Festival audience.

Gloucestershire fared little better second time around, Keith Barker claiming 3-34 to raise the prospect of an inside-the-distance win for the Division One title contenders. But Hammond dug in and, together with van Buuren (27 not out), ushered the underdogs through to the close on 191-4.

Still 65 runs behind with six second innings wickets remaining, Gloucestershire face a sizeable task if they are to save the game on a deteriorating pitch that is offering assistance to spin.

Their inability to post substantial first-innings totals on a regular basis has cost the First Division's basement club dear this season. That particular Achilles heel resurfaced with alarming consequences on day three of the Festival match, Gloucestershire being bowled out for a wholly inadequate 201 in 64.2 overs, with six batsmen contributing two runs or fewer.

Their demise was all the more frustrating given that Hammond and Ollie Price, having resumed on 43-2, successfully defied Hampshire's bowlers for an hour and a half in the morning session. No doubt encouraged by taking his maiden first-class wicket earlier in the week, Price followed up by posting a career-best score of 59, helping himself to eight boundaries and sharing in a restorative stand of 76 for the third wicket with Hammond, whose innings was characterised by some handsome off drives.

Still seeking a breakthrough after deploying all four front-line seamers, Hampshire captain James Vince introduced Dawson with devastating effect in the 36th over, the slow left armer striking with his fourth and sixth deliveries from the Chapel End. Tempted onto the front foot, Hammond overbalanced and was comprehensively stumped by Brown, while James Bracey miss-judged the flight and drove the ball straight back at the bowler, who demonstrated safe hands as 93-2 became 93-4 in a trice.

Gloucestershire's fortunes nosedived thereafter, Price nicking off spinner Organ to short leg, where Nick Gubbins took a startling catch at full length, and Ryan Higgins take an utterly unjustified swing at a widish delivery from Fuller and surrendering his off stump in the final over before lunch.

Only van Buuren offered any semblance of resistance, Gloucestershire's captain cutting and driving his way to a hard-earned 58 from 90 balls, his eleventh and final four at least salvaging a solitary batting bonus point for his beleaguered team. Unfortunately for the South African, the rot had set in at the other end, Zafar Gohar, Tom Price, Zak Chappell and Josh Shaw all coming and going with indecent haste, the four tailenders contributing a mere three runs between them as Kyle Abbott, Fuller and Organ combined with the ball to hasten the follow-on.

His bowlers still relatively fresh, Vince did not hesitate to put Gloucestershire in again, a decision that was rewarded when the openers departed in quick succession for a second successive day. Running in hard, Barker did the damage this time, persuading Marcus Harris to edge behind for nine and then bowling Chris Dent for 4 to severely weaken the case for Gloucestershire saving the game.

Ollie Price and Hammond again did their best to obstruct Hampshire progress, staging an obstinate stand of 63 in 21.2 overs either side of the tea interval to at least raise the spectre of a Gloucestershire recovery Clearly, the returning Barker had other ideas, the big man inducing Price to hit straight to Vince at mid-wicket and depart for 20 with the score on 77. 

Bracey arrived in the middle with a further 35 overs still to negotiate, his brief to stay with Hammond, whose continuing resistance took the form of a 78-ball 50, this raised via his tenth four. Yet the task proved beyond the Bristolian, Abbott locating his outside edge and Dawson pouching a catch at first slip.

But there was no stopping Hammond, the 26-year-old going to his third first-class hundred from 160 balls shortly before the close, in the process earning himself a prolonged standing ovation from grateful Gloucestershire members among an enthusiastic Festival audience. Hammond's hundred included 16 fours and a brace of sixes and he found a willing ally in van Buuren, the fifth wicket pair staging an unbroken stand of 80 to afford their team renewed hope.

Day Four

Kyle Abbott took a sensational hat-trick to propel title-chasing Hampshire to a six-wicket win over Gloucestershire in a memorable LV=County Championship match at the Cheltenham Festival.

Bottom-of-the-table Gloucestershire were 216-5 in their second innings and making a decent fist of frustrating Hampshire ambition when the veteran South African paceman made his decisive intervention either side of the lunch interval. Rewarded for bowling straight, he ended Miles Hammond's marathon stint, dismissing the left hander for a career-best 169, and then returned after the break to account for Zafar Gohar and Tom Price with consecutive deliveries.

Abbott claimed the last five wickets in 12 balls to finish with figures of 6-76, while Keith Barker took 4-65 as Gloucestershire were bowled out for 337 in their second innings.

Pursuing a modest 82 to win, Hampshire reached their target in 9.3 overs for the loss of four wickets. Skipper James Vince scored a quickfire 24 from 16 balls to render the outcome a foregone conclusion, Liam Dawson hit the winning runs and Ryan Higgins taking 3-41 by way of consolation.

Under pressure to prevail after title rivals Surrey and Lancashire had both won, Hampshire took 23 points to maintain their grip on second place in the First Division table, while Gloucestershire (two points) are still without a win in 10 Championship matches this summer.

Given the possibility of rain arriving by mid-afternoon, Hampshire were understandably eager to finish the job in quick time, and there was a real purpose to their work after Gloucestershire resumed their second innings on 191-4, still 65 runs behind.

Hampshire achieved the early breakthrough they craved, Graeme van Buuren playing a little too far away from his body in fending at a rising delivery from Barker and Vince taking a head-high catch at first slip. Gloucestershire's captain had batted for 107 minutes, faced 66 balls and helped add 90 for the fifth wicket in company with centurion Hammond, and his departure, 14 overs before the new ball was due, raised the prospect of a rapid conclusion.

Hammond, of course, was reading from an altogether different script, and when he pulled Barker to deep square leg for a single to move to 124, he eclipsed his previous highest first-class score made against Middlesex at Bristol in September 2018.

The advent of Liam Dawson's slow left arm from the Chapel End brought with it further opportunities for the visitors, who nevertheless appeared intent upon allowing chances of a quick victory to literally slip through their fingers. Hammond was fortunate to be afforded three lives on 124, 125 and 127, Brown and Vince spilling outside edges behind the wicket and at slip respectively, and Organ then making a hash of things at backward point when Hammond top-edged a reverse sweep. Three drops in as many overs and, on each occasion, the frustrated Dawson was the aggrieved party, his evident discontent serving to sow the first seeds of doubt.

Having avoided the ignominy of an innings defeat, Gloucestershire were two runs to the good when the new ball was taken at the first available opportunity. Hammond greeted Barker's return with a contemptuous flick of the wrists that yielded a boundary through backward point, in the process bringing up his maiden 150 via 235 balls, with 22 fours and 3 sixes. A much-reduced final day audience were generous in their applause for the home-town boy.

Eager to atone for the irresponsible nature of his first-innings dismissal, Higgins proved a reliable partner for Gloucestershire's top scorer. Eschewing excessive risk in favour of a more conservative approach, Higgins carved out a workmanlike 50 from 79 balls, with seven fours, his efforts adding to Hampshire's growing sense of frustration.

But the visitors continued to plug away and the sixth wicket partnership was worth 115 when Hampshire were at last afforded relief in the final over before lunch, Hammond edging a length ball from Abbot to Vince at slip. His magnificent defiance spanned five and three-quarter hours and encompassed 278 balls in an innings liberally studded with 27 fours and 3 sixes. 

As well as Hammond played, his demise meant lunch was taken with Gloucestershire on 316-6, a lead of 60 which was precarious indeed given the continued absence of those rain showers forecast to arrive from the South West.

By the time Abbott had completed the 95th over, Gloucestershire's position had been rendered hopeless. Zafar was caught at the wicket off the first delivery after lunch, while Tom Price was adjudged lbw to a full delivery next ball, at which point Abbott wheeled away in celebration, pursued by his delighted team-mates. This was the South African's second first-class hat-trick, following on from one achieved against Worcestershire in 2018.

Gloucestershire effectively ran up the white flag when Higgins, having made 63 from 94 balls and struck nine fours, hoisted a short-pitched delivery from Abbott high to Fuller on the deep square leg boundary. Last man Josh Shaw also succumbed to Abbott, at which point the home side had lost five wickets for the addition of 21 runs in four overs.