COACH Bill Athey criticised the Gloucester Festival pitch rather than his beaten Worcestershire players after a 50-run National League First Division defeat by his old county.

The former Gloucestershire batsman expressed the view that the slow wicket at the King's School, Gloucester, was far from ideal for a one-day game -- and it was hard to disagree.

It produced a game in which the home side posted a modest 188-9 in their 45 overs after winning the toss, yet were rightly confident of victory at the tea interval.

"The toss was always going to be very important," said Athey. "We would certainly have batted first had we won it because the pitch was only going to get slower and lower as the match progressed.

"It was very difficult for either side to play attacking shots nd that isn't good from a spectator point of view. Perhaps we let them get 25 runs too many, but it was always going to be difficult once the toss was made.

"We needed someone to get 70 or 80 and anchor our innings, but it didn't happen. It's a very competitive First Division and that means a lot of hard games."

Richard Illingworth and Matthew Rawnsley showed what could be achieved by bowlers maintaining a good line and length. The two left-arm spinners sent down 18 overs between them for just 46 runs and shared four wickets.

The less experienced Rawnsley impressed by sending back Gloucestershire's captain Mark Alleyne and their overseas signing, Australian all-rounder Ian Harvey, in an excellent spell of 2-22.

But Kim Barnett's patient 41 at the start and an enterprising 34 from Jeremy Snape down the order helped Gloucestershire to a total they knew would be defendable.

The home county had used the same featherbed pitch for their Championship draw against Essex.

Opening batsman Paul Pollard did his best to emulate Barnett's approach in compiling 29, but Worcestershire could not pick up enough singles to keep the scoreboard ticking along and were soon behind the required rate.

When they tried to accelerate from112-4 one disaster followed another and a dismal collapse saw them dismissed for just 138, with off-spinner Martyn Ball returning 2-12 from 7.2 overs.


Barnett b Illingworth 41

Dawson lbw b Lampitt 23

Windows b Illingworth 17

Alleyne st Rhodes b Rawnsley 6

Harvey c Solanki b Rawnsley 9

Russell c Leatherdale b Haynes 13

Snape c Leatherdale b Sheriyar 34

Hancock c Haynes b Sheriyar 12

Ball run out 9

Smith not out 8

Averis not out 0

Extras: 16

Total (9 wkts 45 overs) 188

Fall of wickets: 1-52, 2-83, 3-101, 4-103, 5-118, 6-141, 7-159, 8-175, 9-183.

Bowling: Sheriyar 9-0-38-2; Catterall 8-1-32-0; Lampitt 7-0-49-1; Rawnsley 9-2-22-2; Illingworth 9-0-24-2; Haynes 3-0-17-1.


Pollard c Barnett b Smith 29

Spiring c Russell b Smith 10

Solanki lbw b Ball 21

Leatherdale b Ball 7

Haynes run out 19

Rhodes c Windows b Snape 19

Lampitt not out 14

Illingworth b Harvey 1

Catterall b Snape 0

Rawnsley b Harvey 2

Sheriyar run out 3

Extras: 13

Total (all out 42.2 overs) 138

Fall of wickets: 1-23, 2-45, 3-70, 4-73, 5-112, 6-121, 7-125, 8-126, 9-129.

Bowling: Smith 9-2-25-2; Averis 7-1-24-0; Harvey 8-0-24-2; Ball 7.2-2-12-2; Snape 9-0-34-2; Alleyne 2-0-9-0.