25 wickets tumble on day one as play at Cheltenham lasts only two days

(Photo: Getty Images)

By Richard Latham

Kieran Noema-Barnett appears to be enjoying his cricket more now than at any other time in his three seasons with Gloucestershire.

The 30-year-old hard-hitting New Zealander is a laid-back character even in adversity, but says he is feeling more relaxed about his game this summer.

And, while Noema-Barnett has always looked suited to one-day cricket, his all-round performance in an extraordinary opening game of the Cheltenham Festival, which saw Gloucestershire clinch a ten-wicket win well inside two days, suggested his best days in the Championship could lie ahead.

Described by Gloucestershire head coach Richard Dawson as a cricketer who “does the dirty work which enables others players to do their jobs”, the Otago-born player chipped in with vital runs and wickets.

With his team in trouble at 66-6, replying to Glamorgan’s 117, Noema-Barnett batted with assurance to make a top score of 34 and secure a 24-run lead.

Then, having taken the key wicket of Aneurin Donald, along with that of Graham Wagg in Glamorgan’s first innings, he claimed two more victims, including opener Nick Selman, with his deceptive medium pace in the second.

“It was a good couple of days at the office for me personally,” said Noema-Barnett. “I managed to get some runs when the ball had got a bit softer on a pitch that was tricky to bat on.

“The opening day was hard for anyone to explain. A number of dismissals had nothing to do with the wicket. There was a little bit of variable bounce and some swing, but neither were exaggerated. Some good balls were bowled by both teams.

“I am a bit more relaxed about my cricket at the moment and really enjoying it. Other than that, I am not sure why my performances have been improving.”

Dawson was delighted with a much-needed victory, but as mystified as anyone about the first day carnage.

“It wasn’t a great outcome for the Festival, finishing in two days, but it was great for the team and gives us extra time to practise for T20,” he said.

Result: Gloucestershire (141 & 137-0) beat Glamorgan (117 & 158) by 10 wickets

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