A BOY who grew up less than 20 miles from Cheltenham College enjoyed one of the best days of his cricketing career yesterday – the only trouble was that he was wearing a Worcestershire cap.
Pears skipper Daryl Mitchell was born in Badsey and grew up playing in the youth and senior ranks of Bretforton in the Cotswold Hills League.
But when he was facing Overbury, Emley Castle and Exhall and Wixford a decade ago he could not have dreamed of a day like he enjoyed yesterday.
First, he carried his bat through the Worcestershire innings, making an outstanding and unbeaten 167 as his side added 96 quick runs on the second morning to complete a first innings 395.
That masterful display with the bat was put into sharp focus as Gloucestershire were blown away for an inadequate 156 in their first dig.
But while Mitchell was marvellous the hosts were horrible. They simply melted away in a mess after some hostile new ball bowling from Mitchell McClenaghan blew the door open.
Tall, powerful and sharp enough to have the wicketkeeper leaping to gather, the Kiwi made two crucial openings either side of lunch before Gloucestershire had time to settle.
In just his second over he delivered a brute of a ball to Michael Klinger from the Chapel End that the home skipper could only fend to a sprawling Ben Cox behind the stumps.
After the resumption Will Tavare was then forced back by a barrage of bouncers from the Hawkes Bay native and was in no position to counter the full-pitched one that disturbed his timbers.
Alex Gidman was also bowled in the next over, Charlie Morris the wicket-taker as the veteran batsman swished across the line and played on via bat and pad.
The next ball was struck crisply by Ian Cockbain and appeared to be racing to the boundary only for Morris to divert it into the stumps and run Hamish Marshall out before he had faced a ball.
In the space of five balls, Gloucestershire had lost three wickets without scoring a run and were looking in tatters at 15 for four.
Cockbain and Will Gidman steadied the ship somewhat making it to 53 for four, but when Gidman steered one from Jack Shantry to Tom Fell at leg slip, it signalled another collapse.
Cockbain edged Joe Leach to a gleeful Mitchell for the addition of just seven more before Benny Howell charged the left-arm spin of Shaaiq Choudhry and was stumped for two.
Adam Rouse was pinned on his pads just after tea by Morris before Craig Miles and Tom Smith showed some resistance with a half-century stand for the ninth wicket.
Miles, who completed a five-wicket haul in the morning while Mitchell made hay with the tail, blasted a quick 29 before holing out to mid-on.
Smith, who also completed a milestone in the morning when completing career-best figures of four for 76, batted well for an unbeaten 41, sharing in a last-wicket stand of 29 with Liam Norwell.
Norwell’s dismissal for 18, caught at long leg off Joe Leach with eight overs to go ensured that Gloucestershire would follow on, 239 runs behind.
And there was still further damage to be done as Klinger edged behind for the second time to complete a day of utter contrasts for the two captains.
Tavare (4*) and night watchman Smith (0*), who had not taken his pads off after his first-innings dig, saw their side through to the close at 10 for one, still way behind the buoyant visitors.