Thursday, March 26, 2009

Glos gear up for new season

Gloucestershire have announced their pre-season programme ahead of the new first-class season, which begins on Wednesday 15th April.

With information about the club dripping out slower than drizzle from the Jessop's stand guttering, one could have been forgiven for wondering whether arrangements were in place to build on the anticipation of John Bracewell's return as Director of Cricket, however, a series of six fixtures will build up match fitness ahead of the first championship match of the season, away to Surrey.

Confirmed oversees player James Franklin will have a chance to feel his way back into the glos dressing room, including games against Somerset and a two-day fixture at Middlesex in the most competitive of the fixtures, and the New Zealander will be looking to have an early impact on a squad that is seeking to bounce back from a disastrous 2008.

Director of cricket, John Bracewell, has identified the lack of ability to take 20 wickets as a primary cause for a poor showing in the championship, and Franklin will be looked upon to lead the attack. The shire posses quality and experience in John Lewis and Steve Kirby, and these players are capable of making a big impact in what will be favourable early-season conditions - even at the Oval.

Alex Gidman meanwhile, after donning what must have been a third sweater to deal with the Cheltenham March breeze, seems to have been pondering the power-play regulations. One thinks the emphasis should be on building a innings to last long enough for a power-play to be effective.

This is especially poignant in the Twenty20 cup, where it is essential that wickets remain to the latter part of the innings. In such a short format, the game can be over in 15 minutes unless teams recognise 20 overs actually is a decent length of time to be able to build an innings - Marcus North showed the way last season with some excellent measured performances.

With Surrey, Sussex and Essex providing the opposition in the opening weeks of the season, the shire need to be able to hit the ground running, if a positive start to 2009 is to be achieved.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Franklin is glos target

JAMES FRANKLIN has been unveiled as the target for the shire's oversees player for the 2009 season.

Were the 28-year-old to be secured, it would be a second return to the past for the glos, as Franklin played three championship matches for the shire in 2004.

The left-hander has the ability to take the new ball and will provide variation in the attack. He is able to swing the ball - as England found out to their detriment in 2004 - and is seeking a return to his best form before a knee tendon injury that saw him sit out a majority of the 2006/7 season, and prevented a first-class comeback until last November.

Franklin has potential to develop into a quality all-rounder, having worked hard on his batting, and were he to arrive at Nevil Road in April, the hope would be that his continuing relationship with John Bracewell would see him able to lead the attack for the shire and provide good runs in the lower middle-order.

The signing would, however, limit opportunities for recent signing: youngster Rob Woodman, who would see the all-rounder's slot occupied by Franklin.

Franklin is a name, but doesn't quite hold the same attraction as a Kyle Mills or the youthful exuberance of a Tim Southee. Supporters will perhaps feel his spell in the failed Glamorgan side of 2006 is evidence of his lack of impact in the English game, however, Franklin put in some useful performances in the principality, and the hope will be a more experienced cricketer will be able to propel the shire back to glory.

The New-Zealander has an improving record in first-class cricket. His bowling would suit British conditions and could provide runs at number six. Can the shire close the deal?

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Bracewell in business

Despite having a piece of luggage stolen at the airport on Saturday, John Bracewell says he is glad to be back in England and keen to help Gloucestershire progress.

In an interview with Bracewell stated his enthusiasm for his new role as director of cricket and the responsibility for all levels of cricket at the shire.

This is encouraging because it should be a priority to develop young talent through the academy, as well as ensuring the senior team become more competitive in all forms of the game.

The New Zealander was keen to stress his desire for achievement in all forms of the game. He said the team need to learn how to take 20 wickets in a match and stated that promotion in the county championship was a 'very important objective'. This will be pleasing to supporters who, in a poll conducted by this blog, saw 85% vote the county championship the trophy they would most like to see the glos win in 2009.

Bracewell said the shire have a batting line-up that should yield big runs, saying it should be a banker that four or five guys should score 1,000 plus runs this season, reaffirming the belief that the club posses very talented batsman, who nearly all failed to perform last term.

He also hinted that a deal to bring in a bowling oversees player was close - hoping to make an announcement 'very soon'. His description of someone who can take the new ball and bat at six will spark rumours amongst members who are desperate for a big name to install confidence that the club are committed to bringing successful cricket back to Nevil Road.

John Bracewell's reappointment at the helm of Gloucestershire cricket can only be a positive step for the county. He now has the experience of the international arena and his new role will hopefully enable the club to form a stronger base to breed success not just for the immediate future.
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