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Gloucestershire chief fears Welsh Fizzle as Bristol is frozen out of inaugural Hundred season

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Gloucestershire’s chief executive Will Brown has admitted his frustrations about the fact Bristol will not host any matches – men’s or women’s – in the inaugural season of the Hundred, and expressed a strong desire to bring the tournament to the South West of England in future seasons.

Fixtures in the competition were initially planned to be played around the country, with men’s games staged at the eight major Test venues and women’s matches spread out around 20 venues, but the ECB announced in November that all men’s and women’s fixtures would be played back-to-back as double-headers – with the exception of the tournament’s two opening games – for reasons relating to logistics and exposure.

For the ten counties whose main ground will not host any Hundred fixtures, the move was a significant blow, leaving them on the periphery of the competition’s inaugural season. Every county is represented in the competition at board level, but without staging games, smaller clubs’ involvement will be limited.

That is particularly apparent in Gloucestershire’s case. The ECB deliberated over whether the team representing Glamorgan, Gloucestershire and Somerset would be given the identity of ‘Western Fire’ or ‘Welsh Fire’, but opted for the latter and unveiled a bright-red kit and a crest featuring the Welsh translation Tân Cymreig in late 2019.

“We have frustrations locally that there is not a 100-ball team in this part of the world,” Brown said. “We’re incredibly supportive of the Hundred. We have been since day one and we think it’s a good vehicle for engaging new audiences, but it’s definitely a frustration that the women’s Hundred is not going to be as visible and as present as we’d like it to be at Bristol this year. We very much hope that it will return in 2022 and that the commitment to it going back to those venues will be what happens.

“[The team] is Welsh Fire. Myself and Gordon Hollins [Somerset’s chief executive] are part of the board of directors at Welsh Fire and we love having that role, and we’re 100% supportive of Welsh Fire. [But] there have to be honest and real conversations about how easy it’s going to be for us attract supporters from Taunton, Devon, Cornwall or even Bristol across the river to support a team that effectively represents another country.

“I think that’s going to be a challenge and I think we have to accept that and do our best to make Welsh Fire the success that Wales needs, rather than a success for Bristol and Taunton – we could spend a lot of money and time trying to promote something which probably doesn’t resonate over here.

“We’re frustrated. We understand the reasons this year but we hope we get it back in 2022, and more than that, that there’s a recognition around what the South West can do for cricket. My preference is still that you drop a ninth team in down here and we run it between us. We’ve certainly got the cricketing pedigree and the venues to do it, so I’d like to see it.”

Brown admitted that there would be some “practical considerations” as to how games would be split between Bristol and Taunton, and how such a team would be branded, but he emphasised Bristol’s status as a city with a young, diverse population, which he believes makes it an ideal venue to fit into the ECB’s wider vision for the Hundred.

“From the minute we didn’t get it, we’ve been lobbying for that,” Brown said. “In an ideal world you’d have 10 teams or whatever it might be, and it’s a funny debate about would it be Bristol or Taunton, or both – there would be some practical considerations. We’ve been lobbying, making comments – snide and optimistic – for the last three years about it. We’ll keep banging that drum.

“All we can do is make the best business case we can for Bristol, and we think the strategy we’ve got means that if you’re trying to engage with families, different audiences – if you look at our sales record around youth, the number of women coming to matches, young families, and even Bristol as a city, it’s disproportionately weighted to that young family audience.

“We’re trying to create a venue that people come up and they go ‘yeah, I recognise this, it feels like an extension of Gloucester Road or Stokes Croft or wherever I’ve come from. I’m a Bristolian and this represents me, and therefore this club represents me’. And then when we do get the Hundred or anything new and try and grow, people look at us locally and nationally and go: f***, they understand their communities, and want to be with them.



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England head coach Chris Silverwood to take time off during Sri Lanka, Pakistan ODI series

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England head coach will hand over to assistants Thorpe and Collingwood during busy summer

Chris Silverwood will miss the ODI series against Sri Lanka and Pakistan as part of England’s rest-and-rotation policy.

Silverwood, the England coach, was one of few ever-presents on England’s tours of Sri Lanka and India and accepts he will find it hard to switch off. But he also acknowledged the need for fallow periods amid England’s relentlessly busy schedule and said that without such breaks, he “won’t be providing the level of service” players deserve.

England’s assistant coaches, Paul Collingwood and Graham Thorpe, will each take charge of an ODI series in his absence.

“It is important we keep our personnel as fresh as possible,” Silverwood said. “It’s not fair on the players if I am operating at less than 100 percent and it is not fair on myself either. I won’t be providing the level of service that I need.



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Recent Match Report – Durham vs Worcs Group 1 2021

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Durham seamer draws level with Graham Onions after five-wicket haul

Durham 246 (Lees 99, Tongue 5-39) and 79 for 1 lead Worcestershire 213 (Fell 44, Leach 42*, Rushworth 5-56) by 112 runs

Chris Rushworth joined Graham Onions as Durham’s highest first-class wicket-taker after notching a five-wicket haul to dismiss Worcestershire for 213 in their LV= Insurance County Championship clash at Emirates Riverside.

Rushworth was at his imperious best to claim figures of 5 for 56 to put the hosts in a strong position and move level with his former team-mate with 527 first-class strikes for Durham. Brydon Carse and Ben Raine were also on point, although late resistance from Joe Leach kept Worcestershire in the game.

Although the home side lost Alex Lees early in their second innings, Scott Borthwick and Will Young held firm to leave the north-east outfit in control of the contest with a lead of 112 runs.

Durham made a strong start to day two through Rushworth, who began the day by dismissing Daryl Mitchell for the ninth time in his first-class career, pinning the opener lbw with an inswinger. Jake Libby performed well in tough conditions, mustering 24 before he was undone by a brilliant delivery from Raine.

The seamers were on the mark and did not allow Jack Haynes to settle. In his second spell, Rushworth removed Haynes lbw for 8 to reduce the visitors at 60 for 3. Brett D’Oliveira battled with Tom Fell to take Worcestershire into the lunch break, but the pressure resumed immediately after the restart.



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Recent Match Report – Kent vs Sussex Group 3 2021

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Sussex take significant lead but unbeaten half-century gives visitors a platform

Kent 145 and 138 for 2 (Crawley 61*) lead Sussex 256 (Quinn 5-54, Gilchrist 3-51, Stevens 3-64) by 27 runs

A day of modest innings and hard-won advantage in sharp air nevertheless retained the soft magic one always associates with watching cricket at Hove. This may be a cold spring rather than summer’s highest feather but there was much to prompt recollection of a distant past and much to enjoy from a rich present.

Instead of John Langridge easing the ball through the covers for Sussex we had Tom Clark batting pleasantly before he was bowled round his legs by Nathan Gilchrist for 42. Instead of Stockport-born Fred Ridgway rumbling in for Kent we had young Gilchrist taking three prime wickets. Instead of that great old warrior Darren Stevens bowling medium pace we had…hang on a mo…well no matter, they were three absorbing sessions and a long evening ended with Zak Crawley unbeaten on 61 and stroking the ball around the place with the quiet assurance that betokens high class.

That Kent should have ended the day 27 runs to the good and with eight wickets in hand halfway through a match they might have already lost was also to the credit of Stevens, Gilchrist and latterly Matt Quinn, who between them shared the ten home wickets and made breakthroughs just at the point when Sussex seemed about to assert absolute dominance. Ben Brown would have settled for a 111-run lead on first innings when this game began but it is more than a statistical nicety that, though five of Brown’s top six reached 20, no-one managed more than Stiaan van Zyl‘s 52. And having reduced Sussex to 202 for 6 when the Sussex captain was beaten by Stevens’s movement off the pitch, Daniel Bell-Drummond happily left it to Quinn to take the final four wickets. Until then it had never seemed like that sort of day.

But dull orthodoxy and mere expectation have always been a provocation to this area and even conservative Hove is not as neatly separated from Brighton as once it was. As the players were warming up this morning, a man was sitting on his next-to-last legs in a shop doorway half a mile away and croaking a song of undying love, although his only audience was the can of strong lager in his hand. A couple of streets along, two women were discussing a virtual flower festival over their coffees. On Kingsway, runners and cyclists pounded out miles in their quests to achieve the idealised physiques they had once glimpsed in magazines. For the men it may have been that of Jofra Archer, whose presence has pervaded this game even when he has been merely strolling from mid-on to mid-on with his hands in his pockets or abstractedly massaging a troublesome elbow.

So perhaps it was fitting that Archer should take the first wicket of Kent’s second innings when a high-class inswinger gave Graham Lloyd little option but to send Jordan Cox on his way. However, not to be upstaged by mere fame, Ollie Robinson gave another exhibition of his own gifts, conceding 12 runs off his first ten overs and claiming the wicket of Bell-Drummond for 27 when the Kent captain appeared so worn down by the bowler’s accuracy that he edged a catch to Clark at third slip.



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