Friday, 8 April 2016

The future is Bright (side) for Glos in 2016

It's early April. The whole cricketing world is still excited by a memorable T20 World Cup. English cricket fans are still reeling from Ben Stokes' decision to see whether Carlos Braithwaite could continually hit balls in the slot 90m over the fence. Capitalising on all of this is the start of the world's most exciting cricket competition. Pieterson, Kohli, the Universe Boss. None of these will be playing in the county championship. Yep, it is that time of year when all cricket fans scratch their heads at why we're starting the season when it is still cold and wet.

Step forward the 2016 English cricket season, and step forward cricket being played at The Brightside Ground. History be damned, this is is business. In a extra comic twist the 'Brightside' commercial partnership coincides with some spanking new neighbour irritants, otherwise known as floodlights and an outrageously bright yellow one day kit.

New floodlights. New one day kit. Exciting new ground name. None of these exactly points towards the club prioritising 4 day cricket for 2016. However, as traditionalists, the Jessop Tavern View has always held a deep love for the old competition. So what does 2016 have in store for Glos.

Batting will very definitely continue to be the key to any 4 day success for Gloucestershire. With Maxi Klinger not arriving until the end of May, young Aussie opening bat Cameron Bancroft will be seen wandering around with 3 jumpers scratching his head as another 60mph medium pacer loops balls down at him as he gropes around outside off stump wondering what his mates are doing back in Oz. Bancroft is a potentially very exciting signing having been good enough to get a test call up a few years ago. He is the sort of signing you can see being very successful, and it would be interesting to see if Glos try to develop him as a long term successor to Maxi.

Alongside Bancroft we are convinced that this is the year of The Chris Dent. 2,000 runs across all formats. 5 championship hundreds. We've no doubts. Potentially he will need to score the runs as poor Gareth Roderick appears to have been asked to be our keeper-captain. Clearly Roderick must have impressed everyone with his cricketing acumen, however you can't help but feel that the captaincy might impact his development as a cricketer at a fairly crucial stage of his career.

O'Mish will presumably bat like O'Mish, unless someone packed him off to some Mindfulness retreat to make him appreciate the enjoyment that can be felt from a good leave outside off stump and from scoring more than 30 before top edging to one of the 3 men back on the leg side. Complementing the top order will be Benny the bowler, Kieran Gourmet-Burger and presumably Ian Cockbain. We've always liked Cockbain so we'll back him to have a good 2016.

The bowling on the other hand continues to look paper thin. The addition of 32 year old Chris Liddle from Sussex looks like an attempt to fill James Fuller's shoes. Liddle has only 25 first class matches to his name and was seen as a one day specialist at Sussex. Whether he can replicate Fuller's ability to go all round the ground remains to be seen. The rest of the bowling remains. Miles will be backed to continue his remarkable progress and he will need support from David Payne and Liam Norwell. It would be nice if Jack Taylor could mature into an all-round cricketer to provide an alternative to Tom Smith.

However, that is about it. Scary really. Especially if you consider that none of the seamers have great fitness records. Aussie T20 player Andrew Tye will parachute himself in for the T20 Blast having impressed enough in the Big Bash earlier this year to have forced his way into the Aussie World T20 squad. You suspect that the T20 is very much where Glos see their bread being buttered.

2016 looks very much like a season for one day cricket at Gloucestershire. The club have clearly, and sensibly, identified this and based on the glorious success of last season it would be great to see the Shire build upon that. More pertinently, you cannot help but feel that the next few years will be very telling for the future of county cricket, and for clubs like Gloucestershire.

With city franchises looking more and more likely it is vital that Glos manage to create some sort of buzz around the club and start to attract the crowds to back this up. We now have what looks like a fairly sensible business strategy, new floodlights, new kit and some 2015 success. The club now just need to produce on the field to make Gloucestershire a relevant cricket club again. However, the club's decision to not invest more in the squad may yet scupper all the other careful planning. We hope not.

Good luck boys! Let's have some more great memories like last year.

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