Calm, understated, and by England, some might argue, underrated. The curtain has now fallen on former Gloucestershire captain Alex Gidman’s career after an injury to the index finger on his left hand forced his retirement at the age of 34. His first class statistics for Gloucestershire are comparable with those of Pakistan opener Sadiq Mohammed, who played 41 Tests. Gidman, however, was overlooked.
Nothing tends to give supporters of any team more pride than to see a local player become a regular part of the first team, and for more than a decade at Gloucestershire Alex Gidman’s name was rarely off the scorecard. Learning his cricket at Wycliffe College in Stonehouse and at club level with Hatherley & Reddings in Cheltenham, Gidman came up through the Gloucestershire system and forced his way into the one day team in 2001, making his Championship debut a year later. He was soon on the radar of ECB Academy Director Rodney Marsh, who liked the temperament Gidman showed in the 2003 C&G Final against Worcestershire with both his bowling and batting.
His captain in those early days, Mark Alleyne, called him “unflappable” and there was sign of a good cricket brain too, as he was named as skipper for the England A tour to India in 2003-4, only to break his right thumb and return home early. The England A side, or the Lions as they are now, was the closest Gidman came to a Test cap.
At one point in his Gloucestershire career, Gidman might have left to join Warwickshire. There was interest from Edgbaston, with the possibility of enhancing his international chances by playing at a Test venue, but the all rounder remained loyal to the county that brought him through until the end of the 2014 season. His move to Worcestershire, as things have turned out, has lasted only one summer.
Two winners medals from Lord’s finals (2003 and 2004) is a modest return for a man who played in 449 first team matches for Gloucestershire, 262 of those in limited overs cricket. His ability to contribute with bat and ball changed as his career matured. Increasingly troubled by niggling back problems, his career evolved from one of a genuine all rounder first to a batting all rounder, and then to a batsman who only bowled occasionally. He once said it took him 50 deliveries in a first class innings to play himself in – an illustration of that patient temperament – yet a tally of over 5,000 runs in one day cricket showed he could judge a situation and play aggressively too.
Alex Gidman bowed out at the Bristol County Ground with a career best 264 against Leicestershire. Only five men have made bigger scores in a single innings for Gloucestershire. By that stage he was no longer captain, having taken on the role from Jon Lewis in 2009 and held it until 2012, when he relinquished the responsibility to concentrate more on his batting. The fact that in both 2013 and 2014 he made 1000 first class runs – a feat he achieved four times previously – showed his appetite for the game remained strong.
His Gloucestershire career included 28 hundreds across all cricket, but also 78 half centuries, and even allowing for his steady withdrawal from the bowling attack, to take more than 150 wickets in first team cricket proved he was a more than useful bowler on his day.
His younger brother Will, who is now at Nottinghamshire after two spells at Gloucestershire – the second stint between 2011 and 2014 alongside Alex – took to Twitter after the announcement and said “Very sad, but very well done big brother. Wonderful career.” Succinct, but no less accurate for that.
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