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.

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