Leicestershire 252 (Dexter 56, Taylor 3-39) v Gloucestershire
Matt Taylor and Ethan Bamber led the way with three wickets apiece as Gloucestershire bowled out Leicestershire for 252 on the opening day of the Specsavers County Championship match at Cheltenham.
Left-arm seamer Taylor returned 3 for 39 from 18 overs and debutant Bamber 3 for 53 from 22.3 overs after the visitors had won the toss and elected to take first use of what looked likely to be a good batting wicket. Neil Dexter and Paul Horton top scored for Leicestershire, who were reined in by more miserly bowling from Ryan Higgins in sunny conditions at the College Ground.
The opening day of the annual festival began with new loan recruit Bamber taking a wicket with only his second ball for Gloucestershire as Hassan Azad was caught behind down the leg side by wicketkeeper Gareth Roderick in the second over.
Signed to replace Josh Shaw following his recall by Yorkshire, the 20-year-old Middlesex seamer went on to beat the bat on several occasions in sending down 23 overs.
It was soon looking a decent pitch as Horton and Dexter added 73 for the second wicket under sunny skies before Horton fell lbw to Taylor, having faced 60 balls and hit 8 fours.
Dexter was unbeaten on 29 at lunch, which was taken at 92 for 2. That became 124 for 3 in the afternoon session when Colin Ackermann, on 21, miscued an attempted pull shot off Taylor and skied to Graeme van Buuuren at mid-wicket.
Taylor’s six-over post-lunch spell from the Chapel End included three maidens and saw him concede only three runs. Harry Dearden and Ben Mike, the latter playing in place of Mark Cosgrove, who suffered a blow on the head batting in the nets before the game, could make only 7 apiece before being bowled by Higgins and Benny Howell respectively.
When Dexter’s patient 178-ball knock ended with an edge to second slip off Sayers, Leicestershire were 151 for 6 and in danger of not collecting a batting point. But either side of tea, Callum Parkinson and young wicketkeeper Harry Swindells added 46 in solid fashion before Parkinson, on 19, became a third victim for Taylor, lbw looking to play a full delivery through the leg side.
The second new ball was taken at 199 for 7 by which time Chris Wright had joined Swindells and quickly began to assert with some meaty boundaries.
Swindells produced one of the shots of the day to square drive Higgins through the covers for four, but departed leg-before to the next delivery for a well-made 32 on only his third first-class appearance, with the score on 226.
Wright also played well for his 30 before being bowled by Bamber with less than three overs remaining in the day’s play. Last man Mohammad Abbas then secured a second batting point for Leicestershire by clipping Higgins off his toes for two before being caught in the slips off Bamber to end play.
Gloucestershire were without young batsman Ben Charlesworth because of a hand injury and selected left-arm spinner Tom Smith for his first Championship appearance of the season, believing the pitch will turn as the match progresses.