FEISTY Cameron Herring provided a major plus for Gloucestershire on a day that was otherwise characterised by negatives.
Thrown in at the proverbial deep end on his home debut, the teenage wicketkeeper, pictured, emerged at the end of the opening day of the championship match against Northants with his reputation enhanced.
Arriving at the crease to embark upon his maiden first-class innings with his team deep in trouble on 90-6, Herring demonstrated admirable strength of character to defy the Division Two’s form team.
Showing no sign of nerves, the 18-year-old, from Abergavenny, contributed 43 much-needed runs and shared in stands of 48 and 33 with Jack Taylor and Liam Norwell for the eighth and tenth wickets respectively to raise Gloucestershire to the relatively giddy heights of 192.
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That total was later put into some kind of perspective when Northants reached the close in a position of strength at 107-3, just 85 behind with seven wickets remaining.
Inexplicably, the visitors did their best to keep Gloucestershire in the game, David Sales and Stephen Peters falling to ill-judged pull shots and giving their wickets away cheaply.
But there was no doubting the authenticity of Kyle Coetzer’s dismissal, Will Gidman locating his outside edge and Herring taking flight to execute a stunning take behind the stumps.
In the context of what might yet turn out to be a low-scoring game, his contribution with the bat could prove crucial. If Northants expected the youngster to depart quietly, they were taken aback when he instead greeted fire with fire.
His was an attitude of mind partly borne out of a stint playing grade cricket in Perth last winter.
Herring said: “The Australian approach to the game rubbed off on me while I was over there and I learned a lot. It was a difficult situation, but I decided to try to hang around as long as I possibly could and get under their skins.
“I had a bit of a scare when I mistimed my first ball, but the plan pretty much worked after that and you could tell they were getting annoyed when they started bowling short to me.”
If Gloucestershire skipper Michael Klinger’s intention was to post a score and lay down a marker after winning the toss, his decision to bat first backfired as the home side slumped to 70-5 during the morning session.
Certainly, Northamptonshire’s seam attack relished bowling on a green-tinged pitch beneath cloud-laden skies and left-armer David Willey followed up his eight-wicket match haul against Essex last week with a return of 4-71, the product of late in-swing, to put the visitors in the ascendancy.
Willey and seam bowler Steven Crook (3-47) did most to undermine the top and middle order, while veteran off spinner James Middlebrook swept up the tail, claiming 2-4 in 3.1 overs as Gloucestershire were shot out in 63.1 overs shortly before tea.
Klinger said: “There are no excuses. We wanted to post a score and there was no fault in the wicket.
“We lost a few wickets too many before lunch and, although a number of guys got starts, they failed to go on. We would have liked about 260-plus, but the wicket is still doing quite a bit and we’re confident we can get back into the game and be competitive.”