Kent game meanders to a draw
Kent game meanders to a draw

Not even a badly damaged finger could prevent Gareth Roderick from keeping Kent at bay on the final day of Gloucestershire’s Specsavers’ County Championship game in Bristol.

The day began with Gloucestershire’s official website claiming Roderick would miss the remainder of the season after suffering a significant finger injury whilst keeping wicket on day three.

However, when the host county found themselves in a spot of bother in mid-afternoon, Roderick reached for his pads, gloves and bat and duly held up Kent’s push for victory.

By the time captain Phil Mustard declared, bringing the match to an earlier than scheduled end, Roderick was 78 not out, Gloucestershire were safe and Kent were left to wonder what might have been.

It had been anything but a successful start to the day for Gloucestershire. Kent, desperate for early wickets, left an indelible mark on Gloucestershire’s top order, thanks to veteran all-rounder Darren Stevens. The 41-year-old sent back Chris Dent (41) with the very first ball of the day and then trapped captain Mustard lbw, three balls later. When James Bracey departed in the same manner, Gloucestershire were 91 for 3. With the news of Roderick’s likely no-show, that, effectively, was 91 for 4. Or so we thought.

First innings batting hero Cameron Bancroft, and George Hankins, provided some respite and took the hosts to 146 before the latter edged Mitch Claydon to Sam Billings and though Bancroft and Jack Taylor survived to lunch and beyond, there was further trouble ahead.

Bancroft departed for 72, at 186 for 5 and Taylor, who was dropped at second slip on 9, at 163 for 4,  followed the Australian back to the pavilion a dozen runs later when Matt Coles had him caught behind by Billings for 27. It got worse, for Gloucestershire, before it improved, with Kieran Noema-Barnett, driving Stevens to mid off where sub fielder Imran Qayyun took a comfortable catch.

From that juncture, the pressure fell on the shoulders of Roderick. With Josh Shaw providing solid support, the 26-year-old looked in precious little trouble or discomfort as Kent struggled for the break through.

By the time Stevens helped himself to a fifth wicket in the innings, that of Shaw, for 2, Gloucestershire were just about home and dry at 249 for 8.

Roderick passed his 50 off 76 balls, with eight fours, and continued to help himself before the players shook hands with 26 overs still remaining.

Gloucestershire’s Gareth Roderick said; “It was sore, but I decided early on that if I was needed I would bat.

“I tried on a batting glove and that was fine, so I knew that if required it would be okay to get out there.

“We knew it would be a tough day if we lost early wickets against a side liuke this. We did lose those early wickets so we had our backs against the wall.

“However, we batted well later on and I thought Josh Shaw epitomised what was required.

“He gets some stick for his batting, but he has shown before that he can bat and he did that today.”

Kent coach Matt Walker said; “I think the most overwhelming feeling at the moment is that our season is over. We are not going to get promoted and that was what we set out to achieve at the start of the season.

“I cannot fault our effort today. I thought we were outstanding and we kept going, all day.

“But that is probably the story of our season – it was never quite enough.

“To win a division or win promotion you have to be good from start to finish and we have probably just fallen short on too many occasions.”