Promotion sealed after last-day washout
GLOUCESTERSHIRE and Northamptonshire both clinched promotion to Division One of the Specsavers County Championship without even taking to the field on the final day of the match at Bristol.
Their elevation was confirmed when news broke that play had been abandoned for the day in the match between Durham and fourth-placed Glamorgan at Chester-lestreet, denying the Welsh county the victory they needed if they were to retain any hope of overhauling either of their rivals.
Umpires Mike Burns and David Millns then took the decision to abandon play for the day at the Bristol County Ground after heavy overnight rain again left the outfield under water.
Northants claimed seven points from a drawn match to finish second behind Lancashire, one place ahead of Gloucestershire, who took six points. And players from both sides then celebrated together in the dressing rooms.
Having finally lead Gloucestershire to Division One after five years in charge, head coach Richard Dawson admitted: “This has been my aim all along, since I first arrived here from Yorkshire.
“I remember playing just half the season when Yorkshire won the Championship in 2001 and I remember how difficult that was.
“To be able to put it together on a consistent basis over the course of an entire season is something else, and that’s the message I’ve had to try and get across to the players here. “They were playing well for a session or two, then having a poor session and wondering why they were losing games. You need to be at it all of the time, you cannot afford to drop off for even a single session if you want to win games. “They now know just how much work needs to go into winning a four-day game. The big difference this year, is that they have been able to maintain the levels required for much longer.”
He added: “Nobody outside of Gloucestershire gave us a chance of doing this at the start of the season. It’s a special kind of achievement and I make no apology for finishing third and going up.
“You have to play the hand that is given you and it’s the top three that go up this season. We’ll take it. “I’ve not allowed myself to think too much about Division One, in case it brought us bad luck. But I’m now looking forward to the challenge and I know the players are excited about that.
“We’ve played the best sides in one-day cricket and matched them and that will now be our aim in four-day cricket. It’s about having the ability to play good cricket day in and day out.”
Gloucestershire won four of their last six games to advance from a mid-table position at the start of July, while Northants surged into second place courtesy of four straight wins in August and September.
Gloucestershire all-rounder Ben Charlesworth was left high and dry on 77 not out as the game was abandoned with the home side on 220-7 in their first innings.
Despite needing just one more run to establish a new career-best score, he was philosophical, saying: “It’s about the team, not me. We’re delighted to have got the job done.”
Persistent rain meant only 73 overs were possible in a match which saw two complete days washed out.
Put into bat in damp conditions on the opening day, Gloucestershire collapsed to 80-6, Ben Sanderson taking two wickets to advance his tally for the season to 60.
Any nerves were dispelled when Charlesworth and Graeme van Buuren, pictured, (93) joined forces in a seventhwicket stand of 151 on the third day to carry Gloucestershire to the brink.