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Last Updated: Sunday, 29 August, 2004, 11:04 GMT 12:04 UK
The winners ignored by England
By Oliver Brett
BBC Sport at Lord's

Phil Weston
Phil Weston has profited enormously after moving to Bristol

The following are all indisputable facts.

The C&G Trophy is the only domestic tournament in England that replicates the format of one-day internationals in having 50 overs per side.

Gloucestershire have won that competition four times in the last six years.

Nine of the team who won Saturday's final are qualified to play for England, but none are in England's struggling one-day squad.

Go figure.

While the selectors ponder the error of their ways - some cricket fans in Bristol think there is a vendetta against their team - we can only reflect on the achievements.

Success in the same competition in 2003 was regarded as an end-of-an-era triumph for a side coached for the final time by John Bracewell.

Two significant factors in the 1999-2003 triumphs were the brilliant wicket-keeper Jack Russell and the Australian all-rounder par excellence Ian Harvey. And neither of them play for the club any more.

Jon Lewis
Jon Lewis has strong claims for an Enlgand one-day spot

But under the contrasting leadership of Mark Alleyne - Kiwi Bracewell was a hard task-master while his successor is utterly laid-back - they have retained their edge.

Take the case of Phil Weston - discarded by Worcestershire because he found it hard to step up his scoring in one-day cricket.

He moves to Gloucestershire and returns to haunt his old county by hitting an unbeaten century to win the match

Weston admitted: "I would say that was probably the most satisfying innings of my career. They don't come much bigger than this for anyone who has not played international cricket.

"The only reason I'm a better one-day player is that I've been backed at Gloucestershire.

"I feeI I can go out and play and we and I've probably got a lot more confidence in one-day cricket than I did have."

It may be pushing a point to suggest Weston should be playing for England, but Jon Lewis and Alex Gidman do not deserve to be discounted for too long.

Anthony McGrath
Yorkshire's Anthony McGrath struggles in England colours

Some say Lewis lacks pace and would struggle against international batsmen on true wickets.

But why on earth is he behind Kabir Ali and Alex Wharf in the pecking order?

All-rounder Gidman has not been at his very best this season, but why does someone like Yorkshire's Anthony McGrath keep his place ahead of a player bred into the Gloucestershire winning habit?

It seems perverse that the side thrashed by Gloucestershire in two consecutive C&G finals has three more players in the national squad than their clearly superior opponents.

Of course, the more England ignore Gloucestershire, the stronger the side will become in this competition, which has frankly lost its lustre since the arrival of the Twenty20 Cup.

It hardly helps that the last remotely tense final was back in 1993, when Dermot Reeve's Warwickshire overhauled Sussex's massive total of 321.

To put some fizz back into the tournament, the solution, as advocated by the likes of Michael Atherton, is surely to do away with the stale old Sunday league.

That way, the Twenty20 will continue to gain in prominence, and the players will not be quite so exhausted when it comes to their showcase Lord's final.


SEE ALSO
Solanki signs new deal
27 Aug 04  |  Worcestershire
England reveal Trophy squad
06 Aug 04  |  Cricket


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