BENNY Howell claimed career-best figures of 5-57 as Gloucestershire’s bowlers enjoyed an excellent opening day of the LV= County Championship match with Leicestershire at Grace Road.
The 24-year-old former Hampshire player, who is much more renowned for his batting, had never before taken more than two wickets in a first-class innings.
Howell, pictured, made a mockery of that statistic by claiming three victims before lunch with his medium pace, helping to reduce Leicestershire to 67-5 at the interval after they had won the toss.
Will Gidman bowled Michael Thornely with the second ball of the innings and it became 8-2 when Niall O’Brien was caught behind off David Payne for two.
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Howell then took centre stage to account for Ned Eckersley, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Josh Cobb before the lunch interval.
Gloucestershire were frustrated by a sixth-wicket stand of 125 between Matthew Boyce (55) and Shiv Thakor (75), who batted through the afternoon session before Boyce became a fourth wicket for Howell.
Howell later had Jigar Naik caught by Chris Dent to record his first five-for in Championship cricket.
Off-spinner Jack Taylor claimed the wicket of Thakor and then Will Gidman returned to take the last two wickets in the space of three balls.
He had Ollie Freckingham caught by skipper Michael Klinger for 11 and then had Claude Henderson caught behind for 33.
Gloucestershire’s day was marred somewhat when they lost Dent and Dan Housego in moving to 34-2 by th close.
Dent fell lbw to Robbie Williams for six and Housego edged Freckingham to wicketkeeper O’Brien to depart for two. Klinger and nightwatchman Payne added 12 runs before stumps.