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Spearman steals Flintoffs thunder

Underdogs Gloucestershire recorded a shock eight-wicket win over Lancashire in the opening Twenty20 semi-final.

Big guns Stuart Law and Andrew Flintoff failed to fire after Lancs were put in, neither reaching double figures.

Brad Hodge hit six fours in 32 but the total of 148-6 always looked short, particularly when the Glos openers took 23 from James Anderson's second over.


Spearman was in stunning form
Craig Spearman took them within 12 of the target with 86 from 54 balls, containing eight fours and four sixes.

Lancashire's problems began in the nets when key opener Loye suffered a back spasm.

Dominic Cork was hit in a painful spot but recovered his composure sufficiently to take his place in the starting line-up.

Neither of the captains came to the centre equipped with a coin so TV presenter Paul Allott was forced to dig into his pocket to produce a 50 pence piece.

Mark Chilton, who revealed he would have left himself out of the team had Loye not been injured, called incorrectly and Lancashire were asked to take first use of a pitch that had been 'glued,' a substance used to bind the pitch.

Law might have gone second ball when he slipped at the non-striker's end, but in the third over he advanced down the pitch and skewed to slip where Craig Spearman took an oustanding catch.

Flintoff had been dropped shortly before that when a mis-timed drive was spilled by Alex Gidman above his head at mid-off, but he did not last much longer and did not wait for the third umpire after he was sent back by Hodge.

The Australian looked set for a major innings but fizzed a drive straight to extra-cover, when a yard either side would have given him his seventh boundary.

Gloucestershire's purposeful out-cricket proved successful again, Ben Edmondson running out Steven Cross with a direct hit from fine-leg as the batsmen sought a second and Hamish Marshall pouching a Chilton top-edge.

The 100 came up in the 15th over but Croft struck three successive boundaries in the next from Gidman.


Flintoff departs after being run out for 3
Another outstanding catch, with wicket-keeper Steve Adshead flying to his right, accounted for Croft in the next over.

Greenidge cut down his run to a few paces and deceived the batsmen but Glen Chapple lofted him down the ground in the penultimate over and it just cleared the ropes for the only six of the innings, although Lancashire's total was 10 below the average score batting first on finals day.

New Zealanders Hamish Marshall and Craig Spearman gave the Glos reply some early impetus and 23 came from the third over, Spearman lofting James Anderson nonchalantly over long-off for six.

Chilton then decided to bring on Flintoff, who was on the mark straight away and made the breakthrough in his first over.

After a strong appeal for lbw was rejected, Flintoff had Marshall sharply taken at backward point by Hodge.

Then it was the turn of star spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, but two boundaries came off his opening two deliveries.

The unflappable Spearman continued to keep Glos ahead of the rate, often employing a deft reverse sweep, and reached fifty from 35 balls with a towering straight six off left-arm spinner Gary Keedy.

Kadeer Ali launched an even bigger blow when Hodge's off-spinners were introduced in the 12th over, bouncing on the committee room roof and out of the ground.

Cork was kept back until the 13th over but Spearman flicked him off his pads sublimely for his third six and with six overs remaining only 30 were needed.

The pair had a verbal exhange in the first innings when Cork initially took an extra run when the ball ricocheted off his pad, and the New Zealander was determined to have the last word.

He fired two sixes and a four in three balls, Chapple just failing to scarmble across to a half-chance that was to prove their final hope.

When Spearman succumbed to a leading edge to mid-wicket there was a stunned silence, but the Lancashire celebrations were decidedly muted with 12 needed from 26 balls.

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source - bbc.co.uk

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