Will Gidman's first century of the season underlined his growing importance to the Gloucestershire cause as he helped his side to a 149-run lead after day three of the LV= County Championship Division Two match against Hampshire at the Ageas Bowl.
Gidman, coming in at number six, was 109 not out at the close having featured in what could prove to be a match-winning stand of 161 with Ian Cockbain for the fifth wicket.
Only once did Gidman look in any trouble and that was when he scrambled desperately to make his ground, going for the single which brought him only the third hundred of a late-blossoming career.
Gidman hit the ball to Michael Carberry, one of the best fielders in the game, and set off. Had Carberry's throw from mid-off hit the stumps, which it so nearly did, he would surely have been out. As it was he got a bonus run from an overthrow.
Gidman, now 29, can now add more than 500 championship runs to the 35 wickets he has taken with his medium pace, making him a vital component of the young side captained by his brother Alex.
— Gloucestershire CCC (@Gloscricket) July 9, 2014
There was nothing in the wicket to help the Hampshire bowlers and the home side's captain, Jimmy Adams, used eight of them in an attempt to break the back of the Gloucestershire batting but between them they managed only four wickets on a one-sided day.
Starting from their overnight 94 for one in reply to Hampshire's first-innings total of 297, Will Tavare and Alex Gidman proceeded without alarms to 163 before Hampshire at last broke through, left-arm spinner Danny Briggs winning an lbw decision against Gidman, but it was a rare bowling success on an easy-paced strip.
Opening batsman Tavare seemed certain to reach three figures, having done all the hard work in making 86, but then drove Sean Ervine into the covers where substitute fielder Liam Dawson - on for the injured James Vince - held the catch. Tavare had faced 176 balls and hit 15 fours and Gloucestershire were now 206 for three.
Hamish Marshall contributed a breezy 96-ball 56 before being bowled by Ervine at 254, but Hampshire were wrong if they thought their punishment was over.
It was then that Cockbain and the left-handed Will Gidman came together and in the next 42 overs took the match away from Hampshire, almost certainly for the duration.
Hampshire fielder Joe Gatting was lucky not to have been injured when, fielding at short-leg, he was struck on the helmet by Gidman. After medical attention and a new helmet, Gatting was able to continue.
— Hampshire Cricket (@hantscricket) July 9, 2014
Cockbain was soon outscored by the more aggressive Gidman but still made a useful 61 with eight fours before turning James Tomlinson's left-arm seam to square-leg where Gatting held on.
Gloucestershire were then 415 for five but Gidman and former Hampshire batsman Benny Howell added another 31 by the close to compound Hampshire's frustration.
At stumps, Gloucestershire were 446 for five from 123 overs with the prospect of more of the same on the last day and Hampshire needing to bat with greater resolve in their second innings to earn a draw.
''Over the past three or four matches we have under-performed with the bat but today was a positive day," said Will Gidman. "Hopefully we can kick on and make the most of it tomorrow.
''It is up to the captain if he wants another quick 50 or so or get straight in there with the ball.
''It is a decent deck. The new ball nipped about a bit but it is up to us now to build on the advantage gained so far.''
Hampshire coach Dale Benkenstein said: ''Gloucestershire are in a commanding position, 149 ahead. They might have been tempted to put us in again tonight and it is good for us that they did not.
''Having been out in the field all day, the last thing we wanted was to bat again even for a few overs. The fewer overs we have to bat on the last day the better.''