Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Glos exodus: An alternative view

The Jessop Tavern View wrote recently about the potential loss of senior players Hamish Marshall, Chris Taylor and Jon Lewis. This situation could prove disruptive for a youthful Gloucestershire squad seeking promotion to Division 1 for the first time in years, but in the interest of balance, we would like to offer an different view on the situation.

Marshall, Taylor and Lewis are good pros and all three would be missed to varying degrees. You only have to rewind to the end of last season though, and a similar situation was occurring. At the time, the departures of the majority of our fast bowling attack seemed like a devastating blow which signalled the county's lack of ambition and, possibly more pertinently, money. Thinking about this with the benefit of hindsight however, the only player who has been a real loss to Gloucestershire is Steve Kirby. Gemaal Hussain has disappointed for Somerset, having failed to recreate last season's form on the flat pitches at Taunton. He is not currently in their Championship side. One could argue that at this point in his career, he is a prime example of a 'one season wonder'. William Porterfield scored his career-best 175 for us towards the end of 2010. He flattered to deceive throughout his Glos career though, and hasn't exactly been brilliant for Warwickshire so far, with 465 runs at 29. The less said about Anthony Ireland the better.

The point of this post was to look dispassionately at the potential departure of some of our senior players. It is worth suggesting that when John Bracewell was reappointed as coach towards the end of last season, he took a good hard look at personnel and contracts and made some tough decisions. Kirby, Hussain, Anthony Ireland and William Porterfield were out of contract at the end of 2010 and all had been subject to 28 day approaches by other counties. Bracewell and the Glos management may have taken a decision that it was worth losing these senior, but pricier, players in the hope of bringing through youth from the academy and elsewhere.

On to the case of Lewis, Taylor and Marshall. Jon Lewis has been a superb servant to Gloucestershire, but at almost 36 years old, will he take wickets on Division 1 pitches. Chris Taylor has had a good season, but it's his first one for a while. He's 34 and doesn't have many years left either. Hamish Marshall is a bit of a mystery.. In his first season in England he was top class, with 5 hundreds and 1200 runs. However, that was in 2006 and since then he has scored progressively fewer runs each season. This year, although limited to 5 Championship matches by family weddings and injuries, he has scored only 305 runs at 38 and is without a hundred. This is not the kind of record that makes an impoverished county desperate to offer you a new contract.

This is really the point with all three of the players above. You have to wonder whether any of them are up to Division 1 standard. They're good, but not great, and all are getting on a bit. It would be a great shame to see the back of Lewis, who has anchored the young seam bowling attack admirably, but at some point you have to say goodbye to even the longest-serving pros.

In summary then, perhaps the rumoured exodus of Glos players is not all bad. Fingers crossed that the new, younger generation of players have enough talent to deliver should we get promoted to Division 1. It will be a steep learning curve, but this season's performance have shown that the youngsters don't lack for fight.

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