Gloucestershire 66 for 6 (White 2-18) v Northamptonshire – Match abandoned

The Bob Willis Trophy match between Gloucestershire and Northamptonshire at the Bristol County Ground was abandoned after lunch on the opening day for Covid-19 reasons.

Lunch was taken at the normal time, 12.30pm, but it was then announced that there would be a delay to the start of the afternoon session. No explanation was initially given. More than an hour later the umpires Jeremy Lloyds and Ian Blackwell were seen out on the pitch in consultation with the ground manager and the two captains.

Lloyds, officiating in his last first-class match after 23 years on the list, then lifted a stump out of the ground to signify that the match was over.

No interviews were granted, but the clubs and the ECB issued a joint statement that read: “In the interests of player welfare, it has been agreed between Gloucestershire, Northamptonshire and the England & Wales Cricket Board that the Bob Willis Trophy match currently being played at the Bristol County Ground has been abandoned.

“Just before lunch of the first session of play, it came to light that a member of the Northamptonshire playing squad has tested positive for Covid-19. Although the player was not part of the group that travelled with the squad to Bristol (and has been self-isolating at home), further members of the Northamptonshire squad have been in contact with the player within 48 hours of the player developing Covid-19 symptoms.

“Gloucestershire, Northamptonshire and the ECB are unified in the belief that player welfare is paramount and that no risks should be taken with the health and safety of the players, officials and administrators involved in this match. The match has now been abandoned and the Northamptonshire squad will return home to Northamptonshire today.”

What play there was had seen Northamptonshire’s seamers cash in on winning the toss by reducing Gloucestershire to 66 for 6. Overcast conditions and green tinged pitch persuaded visiting captain Ricardo Vasconcelos to field first and his decision was soon made to pay off by some penetrating bowling.

Ben Charlesworth was pouched at first slip off Brett Hutton in the third over and soon it was 17 for 2 as James Bracey, opening in place of the injured Chris Dent, edged Blessing Muzarabani through to wicketkeeper Harry Gouldstone, making his Northants debut on a day he will never forget.

Graeme van Buuren looked in good form, but on 22 he was caught at third slip by Emilio Gay off Jack White. Gay took another catch in the same position to send back Tom Lace, who chased a wide ball from Luke Procter and it was 46 for 5 when White nipped a ball back off the seam to bowl George Hankins for 6.

Ryan Higgins and George Scott looked to be steadying Gloucestershire’s sinking ship, but in the final over before lunch Scott edged left-arm spinner Simon Kerrigan to slip and departed with head bowed.

In the absence of Dent, sidelined by a back problem, David Payne had taken over as Gloucestershire captain.

The players formed a guard of honour before the start to applaud Lloyds onto the field. Little was he to know then that his last first-class match as an umpire would last just two hours. Neither team were in contention to qualify for the final, but with the match deemed a draw Northants took ten points and Gloucestershire eight.

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