Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Season preview: The only way is up, up, up.....

We're sure we are not the only ones, but with the weather still freezing, we're not exactly in the mood for the start of the county championship. still, we are nothing if not professional so we'll grit our teeth, fire up the heating, and have a think about what we might expect from Gloucestershire this year.

We still feel that last year's wooden spoon wasn't quite as terrible as it would appear on paper, and that there were definitely enough positives, or perhaps more accurately, glimpses of positives, for us to move towards the 2013 season with a little bit of optimism.

The only major new signing has been the appointment of Aussie Michael Klinger as captain. Klinger doesn't exactly come in on a wave of great form, his 330 runs at an average of 19 during the recent Australian season is a slight worry. His one day average of 42 suggests his preferred format, and also points towards where Gloucestershire's focus is for this season. Still, he represents an experienced new face, and whilst he isn't in the class of Kane Williamson he fills the troublesome openers berth.

Other than that, what would represent success for Gloucestershire?

Promotion will of course be talked about, and whilst this is a fairly obvious goal it would be nice if Gloucestershire could at least be in the mix come the final month of the season. The squad looks painfully thin, and only an injury free season would really allow the Shire to seriously push for promotion. As already mentioned, the signing of Michael Klinger probably means that our main focus will be on the one day competitions. Last year saw the green shoots of recovery in both the t20 and the 50 over competition. The signing of t20 specialist Dan Christian will provide the batting firepower that has been lacking in the past few years.

On paper, Gloucestershire's strength would appear to be in the batting. Klinger, older Gidman and O'Mish should all be targeting 1,000 runs. Chris Dent, Dan Housego and Ian Cockbain will all be looking to break away from their 'promising' tags and really put down a marker that they are real players of substance. Last year only one Gloucestershire batsman posted more than a solitary hundred. That man was Kane Williamson.

The bowling again appears to be a worry. The continual injury woes of Ian Saxelby puts into doubt exactly where the wickets will come from. Saxelby and Will Gidman have been consistent performers for Glos over the last two seasons. They are backed up by Liam Norwell, David Payne and James '38' Fuller. All three of them have shown promise. The question is, can one of these make the next step and become a 40 wicket a season bowler? One of them will need to. We are going to ignore the spin option. Let's just say that the Nevil Road groundsman won't be digging out the short blade on the mower and he can leave the rake at the back of the shed.

Who keeps wicket is anyone's guess. Richard Coughtrie's lack of runs seemed to see him fall from favour at the end of last season. The door is therefore wide open for youngsters Cameron Herring and Gareth Roderick. Lets just praise the Lord that it won't be Jon Batty.

King John has repeatedly made clear that it is no longer acceptable for the team to hide behind the 'inexperienced' tag. Whilst this remains a young squad, all of the youngsters now have a good two seasons behind them. If these young guns are to be the future of Gloucestershire cricket then it is time for them to stand up and be counted.

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