Gloucestershire’s first home game of the 2023 season begins today, Thursday as they play host to title-favourites Yorkshire in the County Championship at Bristol.
Both sides have aspirations of promotion following their drop from Division One in 2022 and Gloucestershire got off to a mixed start in Division Two, collapsing to 165 in the first innings of the season, as Cardiff-based Glamorgan posted 404, before a stunning fightback led by captain Graeme van Buuren, who made an unbeaten 110, helped Gloucs post 569-7 declared to set Glamorgan 331 to win in 46 overs. The comeback was so strong that it was the Bristol-based side who were left frustrated as Glamorgan held on to draw after losing three early wickets.
Yorkshire meanwhile, were inexplicably unable to defend 389 on the opening weekend after declaring against a Leicestershire side who hadn’t won a County Championship match since 2021.
After posting 517 in their first innings, Yorkshire declared on the morning of day four at 286-8 to leave Leicestershire with 87 overs to claim victory. Ryan Patel’s maiden first-class century and knocks from Colin Ackermann (72) and Peter Handscomb (68 not out) helped claim the county’s first Championship win at Headingley since 1910.
It has been a strange build up to the 2023 season, with every county’s pre-season impacted by poor weather, so it was difficult for the captains to know what to expect, especially with the curtain raisers coming in April, an often-unpredictable time for batters with a swinging ball. Round one, however, dished up 19 centurions across the two divisions.
van Buuren told BBC Radio Bristol: “Coming off not a lot of prep because of the weather, the boys did an excellent job in coming back as teams could have easily rolled over.
“[Glamorgan] bowled really well and put us under pressure (in the first innings), Timm van der Gugten was fantastic, and there was a bit of movement when the pitch got wet in that little spell when they couldn’t get the covers on, though you can’t blame anyone.
“No excuses, but the boys then showed fantastic character, especially the fast bowlers, and we got the points we needed.”
Yorkshire coach Ottis Gibson said: “First of all, what a fantastic game of cricket. You hate to come out on the wrong end of a result like that, but you saw two teams trying desperately to win.
“We could have batted on longer, but sometimes you have to risk losing in order to win. Credit to Leicester, they deserved to win.
“We’re not going to dwell on it too much because it’s the first game of a 14-game season.
“I’ve said to the lads, ‘When you go home and come back to training on Tuesday, please don’t bring it with you. Come back with a positive mindset and look forward to Bristol’.”
Round two of the four-day matches all get underway at 11am on Thursday, with Gloucs’ local rivals Somerset travelling up to Trent Bridge to play Nottinghamshire in Division One after both sides drew their opening match. Gloucs and Yorkshire are on eight and seven points respectively and hoping to kick start their campaigns with a win.