ADAM Rouse became an instant hero with the Bristol faithful as he led Gloucestershire to a stunning win over Kent to reinvigorate their hopes of reaching the NatWest T20 Blast quarter-finals.
The wicketkeeper, making his first appearance at Bristol after signing a one-month deal, struck an unbeaten 35 off just 16 balls, hitting the winning runs off Australia international Doug Bollinger from the last ball of the match to move Gloucestershire to within two points of fourth-placed Sussex, who they face in the South group at the County Ground next Friday.
Gloucestershire needed 62 off six overs to reach their target of 151 with five wickets left when Rouse came to the crease and when Will Gidman was bowled by James Tredwell for 22 in the 16th over with the score on 101 the game looked over.
Some clean hitting by Rouse and Jack Taylor kept them in contention, though, and a big six by the trialist over the leg side boundary off the last ball of the penultimate over, which had to be completed by Adam Ball after Dave Griffiths injured himself in the process of bowling Taylor (19), proved decisive, leaving Gloucestershire requiring 12 to win off the last over.
Tom Smith (4*) scored three off the first two balls before Rouse struck consecutive fours to level the scores.
He could only hit a full toss straight back at Bollinger from the next ball, but when served up a similar delivery at the death he hit it over the fielders on the leg side for four.
Rouse’s innings made amends for dropping Sam Northeast on two when standing up to Will Gidman in the sixth over before the Kent batsman went on to score 75 off 49 balls, including a second-wicket partnership of 65 with Daniel Bell-Drummond (32) in their total of 150-6.
However, Gloucestershire’s bowlers reined Kent in from what looked to be a dominant position, Graeme McCarter the pick of the bunch with 2-26.
Gloucestershire’s batsmen struggled to get going with Mitch Claydon (3-24) doing the most damage, removing openers Alex Gidman (8) and Chris Dent (8) within three balls of each other before returning to dismiss the dangerous Benny Howell (26), but that only succeeded in bringing Rouse to the crease and the rest is history.