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    Bracey's Record-Breaking Innings Strengthens Gloucestershire’s Position Against Glamorgan
Bracey's Record-Breaking Innings Strengthens Gloucestershire’s Position Against Glamorgan
Gloucestershire Team. Source: espncricinfo.com

Bracey's Record-Breaking Innings Strengthens Gloucestershire’s Position Against Glamorgan

On the third day of the Vitality County Championship Division Two fixture at Cheltenham, Gloucestershire took a commanding position thanks to a record-setting performance by James Bracey, who played a historic innings against Glamorgan.

Bracey, the former England left-hander, achieved a career-best score of 204 not out, becoming only the tenth player in the history of College Ground to reach a double century. He joined a distinguished group that includes legendary Gloucestershire players like WG Grace, Charlie Townsend, and Wally Hammond.

Australian batsman Cameron Bancroft contributed 184 runs, while Beau Webster added an unbeaten 65 as Gloucestershire declared their second innings at 610 for 5 just after lunch. The Glamorgan bowlers struggled throughout the day, with only Timm van der Gugten showing a notable performance by taking 2 for 98 from 22 overs. 

During the final session, Marnus Labuschagne and Sam Northeast fought hard, forging an unbroken fourth-wicket partnership of 66 runs. However, Glamorgan ended the day at 222 for 3, still requiring 371 more runs to win the match, while Gloucestershire remained optimistic about securing a victory.

Glamorgan’s immediate challenge was to avoid the follow-on target, which required scoring an additional 55 runs. Despite the opportunity for over 1300 South West schoolchildren to watch for free, the Glamorgan batsmen faced a tough task. Abell fell lbw to Michael Booth without adding to his overnight score, and Kasey Aldridge, after a brief but productive spell, was dismissed by Booth, edging to Yates at second slip.

Overton, aiming for a captain’s performance, survived a close lbw call and batted effectively, scoring six boundaries. Partnering with James Rew, he secured a batting point at 250 for 8. Rew’s three runs off Ed Barnard’s delivery marked the end of Somerset’s innings, and Hannon-Dalby, using the second new ball, claimed the final two wickets, including Migael Pretorius with a yorker. 

At the start of their second innings, Glamorgan managed to make a decent start, with an opening stand of 67 runs between Billy Root and Eddie Byrom. However, Gloucestershire’s bowlers worked hard for a breakthrough, and Root, after scoring 46, was dismissed by Marchant de Lange, caught by Ajeet Singh Dale at deep fine leg.

Labuschagne faced a challenging spell from De Lange but managed to resist as Graeme van Buuren rotated six bowlers in search of further breakthroughs. Byrom, who scored 37 from 100 balls, was eventually dismissed by Singh Dale, leaving Glamorgan at 156 for 3. Kiran Carlson’s quick departure to Matt Taylor left Glamorgan in a precarious position, but Labuschagne and Northeast fought back, adding 67 and 47 not out, respectively.

In the morning session, with the new ball in play, Gloucestershire continued to accumulate runs quickly. Bracey reached his third first-class century of the year, his twelfth overall, with a push to square leg. Bancroft, a crucial figure in Gloucestershire’s innings, formed significant partnerships with Miles Hammond and Bracey, the latter’s patient innings spanning 266 balls and including 20 fours and a six. Bancroft’s departure was met with relief by Andy Gorvin, who finally got him out with a straightforward catch for Cooke behind the stumps.

Despite a brief halt when van Buuren was dismissed without scoring, Bracey’s superb innings continued, and he reached his 150 with a six off Douthwaite. He and Webster added 50 runs in just 56 balls before the declaration came, with Bracey’s 200 achieved through a sweep off Carlson. At declaration, Bracey had faced 231 balls, hitting 20 fours and 4 sixes, and Webster’s unbeaten 65 from 68 balls contributed to an unbroken partnership of 136 runs in 20.2 overs.

With Glamorgan still needing 371 runs to win, the final day will see them striving to save the game against Gloucestershire’s formidable total.

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