Nightwatchman Liam Norwell hit his maiden first class century as Gloucestershire claimed maximum batting points on the third day of the Specsavers County Championship match against Derbyshire at the Brightside Ground, Bristol.
The 24-year-old seam bowler and regular number 11 made 102 in a second-wicket stand of 168 with Chris Dent, who went on to score 180 as the hosts ran up 563 all out in reply to Derbyshire’s 444, Hamish Marshall contributing a brisk 72 and Kieran Noema-Barnett 58.
Norwell hit 14 fours and three sixes in batting for two and a half hours to eclipse his previous highest score of 78, made against Worcestershire at Cheltenham in 2014. Last summer he averaged 8.3 in 19 Championship innings.
Norwell said: “I had never made a hundred in any form of cricket so I am still in shock. I think my previous best was 98 in an U13 game for Redruth.
“Chris Dent talked me through it and it was great having him at the other end. I thought my chance had gone when I missed a high full-toss on 94, trying to hit it too hard.
“I was surprised Derbyshire bowled so short to me. The century will mean more to me if we go on to win the game, but I am very proud.
“When I walked off I was annoyed at getting out because I had been telling myself to stay calm, but since then other players have been telling me to enjoy the moment.”
Dent’s hundred was his ninth in first class cricket. The left-hander did not give a chance until he was on 156 and was not dismissed until the final session.
Both players profited from some loose Derbyshire bowling. The visitors tended to pitch too short to Norwell, in particular, even though he played and missed at several fuller deliveries.
A benign pitch made batting look easy as Gloucestershire began the day on 110 for one, with Dent on 61 and Norwell two.
Carter inadvertently set the tone for the morning as his first delivery of the day was a wide towards second slip and the third directed down the leg-side, costing four leg-byes.
Norwell moved to 50 off 70 balls, with eight fours and a straight six off Wes Durston, while Dent brought up his hundred off 154 deliveries, with 14 fours and a six.
The pair added 144 runs before lunch, which was taken at 254-1, with Norwell on 88.
On 94 he failed to make contact with a high full-toss, trying to hit the ball too hard, and must have wondered if his chance of three figures had gone.
It came from an equally generous short ball outside off stump from Ben Cotton, thumped for four off the back foot.
Norwell raised both arms in delight and was visibly annoyed when pinned lbw, playing across a ball from Chesney Hughes.
Derbyshire did have some success with the second new ball, Luke Fletcher having Ian Cockbain caught behind off an outswinger for 19 and Andy Carter clean bowling Gareth Roderick for five.
But by then Gloucestershire were well on course for a first innings lead.
Marshall and Dent went on the attack in the final session, the latter finally being bowled trying to sweep Hughes, having faced 312 balls and extended his boundary count to 21 fours and 2 sixes.
Wickets continued to fall in the evening sunshine as Marshall blasted 10 fours, Noema-Barnett three sixes and Benny Howell (41) four maximums to drive home the home side’s advantage.
During the lunch interval Gloucestershire announced the signing of South African batting all-rounder Graeme van Buuren on a two-year contract.
The 25-year-old, who qualifies as a non-overseas player through his British wife, was at the ground and is expected to be in the squad for the next Championship game against Worcestershire.