Taylor heroics not enough as Steelbacks are beaten by Gloucestershire in cup opener

Tom Taylor (photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)Tom Taylor (photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Tom Taylor (photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Tom Taylor smashed a stunning century but it wasn't enough for Northants Steelbacks as their Metro Bank One-Day Cup campaign got off to a stuttering start.

The Steelbacks were beaten by 23 runs at Gloucestershire, who had a centurion of their own to thank as Graeme van Buuren posted his first List-A hundred for his side.

Returning after a month spent on the sidelines recovering from injury, the South African top-scored with a pugnacious 108 and helped stage a stand of 104 with Anwar Ali for the eighth wicket as the home side recovered from 142 for seven to make 278 in 48.4 overs.

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Recruited on a short-term overseas contract, Anwar weighed in with an entertaining 61 to redress the balance after seamer Ben Sanderson had claimed three wickets in 13 balls to make a mess of Gloucestershire's top order.

Ajeet Singh Dale then returned figures of four for 58, including a burst of three wickets in 11 deliveries, and Tom Price took four for 26 as the Steelbacks, who never recovered from the wreckage of 30 for five in the 10th, were eventually dismissed for 255 in 48.1 overs.

Taylor at least put up a fight, making a valiant effort to turn the tide in a combative innings of 112 from 87 balls, while skipper Lewis McManus contributed 54 to put Gloucestershire celebrations on hold.

Gloucestershire have now won their opening two games in the 50-over competition to lay down a marker at the top of Group B.

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A large College Ground audience of 4,000 roared their approval as Singh Dale and Tom Price cooked up a storm with the new ball, five of Northamptonshire's top six batsmen failing to make double figures as the reply ran into immediate trouble.

Price had Emilio Gay caught at mid-on and then bowled Ricardo Vasconcelos in his next over from the College Lawn End to set nerves jangling in the away dressing room.

Singh Dale bowled Sam Whiteman and Luke Procter with the last two deliveries of the sixth over and, although Rob Keogh survived the hat-trick ball, he did not last long thereafter, edging a catch behind to spark pandemonium in the marquees.

Only new overseas signing Prithvi Shaw proved immune to the chaos all around him, the Mumbai batsman standing firm and hooking Singh Dale backward of square for a towering six to demonstrate his defiance.

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But not even India's erstwhile prodigal son was up to a task of this magnitude, and he eventually perished for 33, attempting to hook Paul van Meekeren and conspiring to hit his wicket.

McManus led a spirited fightback, raising a 60-ball half century and dominating a stand of 86 in 14 overs with Taylor, only to hole out to deep square leg off the bowling of Zafar with 139 still needed from the final 20 overs.

Gloucestershire could still not afford to relax while Taylor remained at large and he went to his hundred via 80 balls, with 15 fours and two sixes.

The ninth wicket stand was worth 105, Northants required a further 30 from 21 balls and Taylor was threatening to steal Gloucestershire's thunder when Tom Price had him caught at long-off to afford a tense crowd much-needed relief.

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Jack White was last man out, smashing a return catch to Tom Price and departing for 29

It had earlier proved a good toss to win, Sanderson claiming three wickets in 13 balls from the Chapel End. He accounted for Gloucestershire's openers in successive overs, teenager Joe Phillips and veteran campaigner Chris Dent both playing at deliveries outside off stump, offering catches behind and departing for 11 and a run-a-ball 30 respectively.

When Sanderson took a straightforward return catch to remove an out-of-sorts James Bracey for one, he boasted figures of 3-20 from six overs and the home side were in trouble at 54-3 in the 12th.

Playing his first game for a month, van Buuren set about repairing the damage in partnership with the in-form Ollie Price, these two raising 50 from 52 balls as conditions eased to suggest Gloucestershire might yet attain a competitive total.

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But there then followed a slapstick sequence of events that saw the hosts lurch from 105 for three to 142 for seven and hand back the initiative to the Steelbacks.

First of all, Price pushed a ball from Procter to long-on and, encouraged by van Buuren, set off for a sharp single, only to be utterly undone as Keogh's brilliant pick up and throw on the run scored a direct hit and ran him out for 23.

Perhaps unsettled by the demise of Price, van Buuren clipped a ball from Keogh to mid-on and attempted a notional single, in the process taking new batsman Jack Taylor completely by surprise and causing him to be run him out for seven.

Tom Price and Zafar Gohar then succumbed in quick succession to Keogh's off breaks as wickets continued to fall in flurries.

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Shouldering responsibility for making amends for the run outs, van Buuren eased to 50 from 60 balls and at last discovered a dependable ally in the form of debutant Anwar, who brought all his considerable experience to bear on the situation to help turn the tables.

Driving fluently throughout, van Buuren played positively in striking 11 fours and a brace of sixes to reach his first Gloucestershire List-A hundred from 93 balls, the landmark eliciting the loudest ovation of the entire Festival as a relieved College Ground audience gave thanks.

A wily practitioner of white-ball cricket, Anwar played the supporting role to perfection, raising a 50 of his own from 49 balls as the hundred partnership arrived in the 44th over.

Although van Buuren was run out by Procter in the 44th over and Anwar fell to Freddie Heldreich's wrist spin, having helped himself to three fours and two sixes in an entertaining knock that comprised 55 balls, Gloucestershire already had a competitive total.

And it would be enough, despite the best efforts of Steelbacks centurion Taylor.