Thursday, February 26, 2009

Chief-Exec behind Clarke

JOHN LIGHT, Gloucestershire chief-executive has spoken out in favour of his ECB counterpart Giles Clarke, following criticism of the man who oversaw the controversial deal with Allen Stanford.

There had been calls for Clarke to stand down following an investigation that found Stanford to be involved with fraudulent activity in the United States, but our man has given his support, describing Clarke as a man of 'energy, drive and commitment'.

The comments come as no surprise to members who have seen the club put plans in place to develop the County Ground, and ECB funding will be vital to ensure the success of such plans.

Light sighted the £670,000 grant that has enabled the new drainage system to be installed at Nevil Road, and 'don't-bite-the-hand-that-feeds-you' must be the attitude in order to secure more funding, and long-term, entice more major cricket to Bristol.

JOHN BRACEWELL will be arriving in Bristol this weekend, ahead of a press conference on Monday that will see the New Zealander's second term as head-coach begin.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Lewis seeks to be fighting fit

Jon Lewis has expressed his excitement to resume his opening bowling partnership with fellow-quick Steve Kirby once the new season gets underway.

In an interview with the club's official website the 33-year-old said he is pleased to be able to concentrate fully on his cricket now that the burden of captaincy is off his shoulders.

A fit and firing Jon Lewis will be essential to the shire's success this season. His experience makes him a vital part of the attack, with his ability of bowling at the death especially important in the one-day arena.

Lewis has been working hard to improve the strength of his ankles, following his surgery that kept him out for long parts of the 2007 season and is hoping for an injury-free season that will hopefully bring success back to the club.

Success according to Lewis, will be any trophy. I have to disagree strongly with that idea.

Most Gloucestershire supporters would like to see all-round improvement, particularly in the county championship, where the shire were embarrassed last season after finishing bottom of division two without a single win. This is the cricket that matters to most real cricket fans, and I wouldn't accept a Twenty20 cup triumph with another bottom-placed finish; one would suggest that the chief executive certainly would.

While the 2007 finals day at Edgbaston was a fantastic day out, a replication this year would not match the excitement should the shire be in with a shout of promotion on the final day of the championship season.

If Jon Lewis can regain the form he showed to gain a England call-up a few seasons back, it will go a long way to improving the glos' fortunes, however, it will take a whole team effort to bring back real success to Nevil Road.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Relaying in progress

The first of the new turf for the outfield at Nevil Road was laid down earlier today.

At 9.30am contractors began the relaying process for what everyone hopes will be the dawn of a new era. The event marks the final stage of the outfield development which saw a new drainage system installed, aided by a sizable grant from the ECB.

The hope is that a month will be sufficient period for the new turf to bed in, with the contractors - who relaid Ascot racecourse - having prepaid the soil to enable the the grass to root quickly.

The shire now have a new outfield, new kit, but only one new player. While the re-signing of long-standing experienced players has been positive news, members continue to wait for a major addition to the squad to provide evidence of the club's commitment to producing a cricket team worth following.

Hopefully we only have 10 days to wait until wheels begin to turn. On Monday 2nd March John Bracewell will walk back into the County Ground amid much anticipation of his impact in the second-coming of the man who led the county to much success around the turn of the century.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Glos sign Woodman

Gloucestershire have made their first signing of the winter by agreeing terms with 22-year-old Rob Woodman.

The left-handed all-rounder scored in excess of 1,000 runs for MCC Young Cricketers last season and will get his second stint of first-class cricket, having previously appeared for Somerset in three championship and four one-day matches in 2005.

He appeared on trial for Glos in the final match of last season, taking 4-65 to raise hope of a second-coming.

Tom Richardson described Woodman as a promising young cricketer and the signing was motivated by the club's desire to develop youth.

Develop youth maybe, but will his batting be worthy of inclusion in the top five? Or will his capabilities as an all-rounder see him slot in at number six? A great deal of emphasis will be on his left-arm seamers and whether they will be good enough to allow the shire to play with an extra batsman, or whether he will become part of the back-up squadron, placing even greater emphasis on the four front-line bowlers.

If it proves the latter, he may join the Ali/Porterfield scrap and, given the chance, runs must be made if he is to get a run in the side. Otherwise a season of 2nd X1 cricket beckons. Hopefully he has developed since his first exposure at the top-level, and an older, more experienced head will be able to cut his teeth.

The club do not need more average cricketers with a bit of talent, capable of scoring a hundred every five matches. Quality is needed, and he will be judged by weight of runs - so lacking in the lower-middle order. Ideally, he will be able to bat with the tail and provide resistance when required, in order to put a stop to the dreadful collapses endured last season.

It is an interesting signing, hopefully one for the future, but a quick bowler is still required to provide the much-needed firepower and aggression only currently provided by Steve Kirby, and with the Kyle Mills deal falling through, the search continues.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Lewis to end career at Glos

Former captain Jon Lewis has signed a new deal that will keep him at the shire until the end of his career.

Lewis said the recent changes behind the scenes felt like a new beginning: "there is a lot of optimism about the place, people are excited and I want to be a part of that. I feel very at home with Gloucestershire and I want to help bring back the good times if I can," said Lewis who's new contract will end when he is 36.

The deal adds to the list of senior players that have committed their future to the Glos. Steve Kirby, Chris Taylor and new captain Alex Gidman have all re-signed during the winter.

While some may be calling for an overhaul of the current playing staff, I believe that a competitive squad already exists, but the circumstances have not been in place for these players to fulfil their potential.

It is vitally important that the core of the squad - a much talented core - remains, and careful additions are made to compliment the experienced old guard. A youth element is there with Saxelby and hopeful a quality oversees acquisition will also be installed.

Jon Lewis has a proven track record, particularly in one-day cricket, and hopefully, free of the burden of captaincy, he can recreate the form that saw him gain an England selection as recently as 2007, and help the shire rebuild and become a force on the county circuit once again.

Interview by GCCC:

Saturday, February 07, 2009

IPL means no Mills for Glos

Blessing in disguise for the shire?

Gloucestershire's chances of securing the services of New Zealand fast-bowler Kyle Mills were dashed as the Kiwi was snapped up in the Indian Premier League auction on Friday.

Chief-executive Tom Richardson declared that a deal was almost done with Mills, but his participation in the IPL scuppered the deal, which would have seen the 29-year-old at Nevil Road for the first half of the season.

The news is a major blow to supporters who saw the signing of a quality oversees player a necessity, and in Kyle Mills an ideal candidate was found. The bowler provides enough pace to be a genuine threat - lacking in Glos attacks of recent seasons - and his ability to swing the ball would have been enhanced in British conditions; going far in helping the side take 20 wickets in a match - a rare feat of late.

However, with a deal for only half the season on the table, would that have been the right move? Should the shire find themselves well placed and ready to kick-on in the second half of the season, what a major blow it would be to suddenly lose the man who's spearheaded the attack.

I would like an oversees player to be able to offer a great deal to a squad and help them develop, not to simply swan around for three months, collect the cheque and get the next flight out of Bristol airport - now I'm not doubting what Kyle Mills could offer, but surely a longer term deal would be a better investment?

When Herschelle Gibbs arrived at Glamorgan last year, he blazed a few runs in the Twenty20 cup and propelled them into the quarter-final, however, in his absence the team flopped and continued to perform poorly to include a pro40 play-off defeat. Gibbs was the quick-fix - set up some excitement but in reality achieve nothing. Mills could have been just that for Gloucestershire; has the Bombay Indians' $150,000 avoided potential long-term problems?

There is another young New Zealand fast-bowler who's phone number I'm sure incoming coach John Bracewell will have to hand. Tim Southee is an excellent cricketer who would be fantastic acquisition - and perhaps the 19-year-old could be persuaded to stay for the full term? I would certainly prefer a player of his ilke, rather than a journeyman signing - as the flirtation with Ben Hilfenhaus may prove to be.

Supporters can take heart that the county were able to attract such quality as Kyle Mills and one can hope this is Gloucestershire recognising what is required and taking positive steps to deliver.
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