Wednesday, October 28, 2009

David Shepherd passes away

The former Gloucestershire cricketer and international umpire David Shepherd, has died aged 68 after a long battle with cancer.

A most popular and well respected man, Shepherd's skills on the cricket field combined with his wonderful attitude to the game made him a much loved character. In a 14-year career, Shepherd scored 10,672 runs in first-class cricket for Gloucestershire, including 12 hundreds and scored 3,330 runs in 173 one-day appearances.

After beginning umpiring in 1981, his rapid elevation to the international circuit was testament to his ability, and his individual idiosyncrasies, particularly his aversion to 'Nelson', produced joy everywhere he went. He stood in three consecutive world cup finals amongst 172 one-day internationals, and 92 tests; his last appearance coming at the Oval in 2005.

Gloucestershire chairman, John Light, paid this tribute: "He was friendly, outgoing and straightforward. He believed cricket was a simple game and he took a straightforward approach to it in his cricket and his umpiring; he always put a smile on your face."

A sad loss to the game, he will be truly missed; sympathies go to his wife and family.

Glos swoop for Batty

Gloucestershire have signed wicketkeeper-batsman Jon Batty from Surrey on a three-year deal.

The deal comes days after Steve Adshead was released and is a quality signing that will add much value to the squad, albeit not the most forward-thinking move.

35-year-old Batty, who described the move to link up with John Bracewell and Jack Russell as an "exciting opportunity", is a quality cricketer who will fill the hole that Glos have at the top of the order, and his attributes, particularly in one-day cricket, are cause for excitement.

John Bracewell described the signing as "the missing link between the first and second divisions" and claimed his versatility in the batting line up will give Glos "great flexibility for all competitions".

Batty, who has spent his entire career at Surrey, played 179 first-class matches for the Oval-based club averaging 34.05; his 20 hundreds made him the leading Surrey wicketkeeper-batsman by some distance. He will bring the valuable experience of winning championships in 1999 and 2002 and the Sunday League and Twenty20 Cup in 2003.

Many hoping for a younger signing, such as ex-Hampshire Tom Burrows, will be disappointed, but Batty was a signing that could be afforded and is able to come into the side and provide a major impact while working with the younger wicketkeepers in the squad and aiding their development.

Official report: www.gloscricket.co.uk

Monday, October 26, 2009

Adshead's contract not renewed

It has been announced that Gloucestershire have decided not to renew the contract of wicketkeeper Steve Adshead.

The move almost certainly confirms his move to Worcestershire, a deal many believed was done well before the end of the season, and is a further cricketer that has been on the staff for a reasonable amount of time, to depart Nevil Road.

Having joined the club in 2004, Adshead served the majority of his time as the one-day wicketkeeper and played in 89 matches, scoring 1,378 runs at 23.36 with 92 catches and 26 stumpings.

A fairly average set of statistics are replicated in his first-class performances, where he played 70 matches, scoring 3,077 runs at 32.05 with three hundreds; 185 catches and 13 stumpings also.

2009 saw a much improved Adshead, and he recorded highest scores in both forms of the game. His 156 not out at Southend was a remarkable performance as he shared a partnership with James Franklin that set up a memorable victory against Essex.

He will depart having never fulfilled his true potential at Glos, but the decision to release him was motivated, in the words of John Bracewell, by a need to "continue to strengthen the squad at every opportunity." Words that suggest a direct replacement is being sought, and the club won't simply persist with Steve Snell and Richard Coughtrie.

Already names such as Jon Batty from Surrey and the exciting youngster Tom Burrows, recently released by Hampshire, have been bandied around as potential targets, and certainly the latter of those would be very much a coup for Glos.

Official report: www.gloscricket.co.uk

Monday, October 19, 2009

Draw for ECB 40 League made

Gloucestershire have been drawn alongside the Netherlands in group B for next season's revamped 40-over competition: the ECB 40 League.

Trips to Derbyshire, Essex, Middlesex, Northants and last year's 50-over opponents Yorkshire are also in stall for Glos following the draw made at Lords. Derbyshire in particular, are pretty unfamiliar to Glos in one-day cricket, but plenty of matches have been played against Northants in recent times.

The format was eventually decided after months of review; each team will play each other home and away with matches predominantly on Sunday afternoon's (one can only assume a standard and sensible start time will be arranged). The final returns to a showcase September slot on Saturday 18th September - an excellent move, with nearly all club league fixtures having been finished by then.

But in a poor move, only semi-finals are scheduled, therefore just the group winners and a best runner-up will qualify, potentially creating countless dead rubbers - why the ECB have not learned from the failed north/south group system in the Friends Provident Trophy is a mystery.

GROUP B
Gloucestershire; Derbyshire; Essex; Middlesex; Netherlands; Northamptonshire; Yorkshire

Official report: www.gloscricket.co.uk

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Glos players in England Performance squad

Ian Saxelby & Vikram Banerjee have been included the category C England Performance Squad for the winter.

The squad, for young emerging players with little first-class experience, will give the players opportunity to develop their games at the national academy in Loughborough and the Glos players will be joined by talented youngsters including Kent's Sam Northeast and Max Waller of Somerset.

The squad will also attent the CSA high-performance centre in Pretoria in December, with the possibility of being included on the England Lions tour after Christmas.

Another plus for the youth developing through the Gloucestershire ranks, it will provide both players with a platform to improve during the close season, and, for Banerjee in particular, to attempt to gain a regular first-team place for next season.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Kirby named in Team of the Year

Steve Kirby was named in the Professional Cricketer's Association's team-of-the-year at an awards dinner last week.

The accolade follows being named Gloucestershire player & bowler of the year, and is further reward for a fine season by the 32-year-old, in which he claimed 64 first-class wickets.

Kirby has performed magnificently for the Shire this season, and led the line wonderfully well with his raw determination providing some memorable spells throughout the season, most notably his 5-44 in the second innings against Kent at Beckenham, when he fought Glos back into the match despite a good batting wicket and unbearably hot conditions.

Steve Kirby is a fantastic character to have on a cricket field, always wears his heart on his sleeve and will hopefully continue to spearhead the attack next season.

PCA Team of the Year:

Marcus Trescothick (Somerset), Andrew Strauss (Middlesex & England, captain), Jonathan Trott (Warwickshire & England), Ed Joyce (Sussex), Ian Blackwell (Durham), Craig Kieswetter (Somerset), James Foster (Essex, wicketkeeper), Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire & England), James Tredwell (Kent), Graham Onions (Durham & England), Steve Kirby (Gloucestershire)

Friday, October 02, 2009

Spearman ends Glos career

Craig Spearman has ended his Gloucestershire career by deciding to leave the club a year in advance of the expiry of his contract.

His eight years at Bristol brought some wonderful cricket to the West country, and his record 341 will be his lasting legacy on the club.

It was his ability to completely dominate an attack that made him such a prolific batsmen and few would argue that Spearman in his pomp was one of the greatest sights one could wish to witness on a cricket field, such was his strokemaking ability. He made 7,176 first-class runs for Gloucestershire at 38.79 including 20 hundreds and 28 fifties.

After leaving New Zealand for a banking career in London in 2001, John Bracewell tempted him down the M4 to resume his cricket and so began the entertainment, the high-point of which came in 2004 in the leafy setting of Gloucester's Archdeacon Meadow. Like the Indian's flocking to watch Sachin Tendulkar, the Glos faithful hurried into the ground to admire Spearman's mastery in becoming only the third Gloucestershire player to record a triple century on his way to the club record first-class score.

The King's school ground was also the venue for the New Zealander's highest one-day score, as he struck 153 from just 123 balls against Warwickshire in 2003. It was his ability for fast scoring that made him such a threat in the shorter form of the game. 4,211 runs at 36.62 doesn't exactly do justice to Spearman's impetus at the top of the order - he was able to drive over the top in total control and he played a vital role at the top of the order.

Hindsight will tell us that his Glos career was ended in 2008 when struck on the eye by a Johannes van der Wath bouncer at Milton Keynes. Such was the impact of this blow, Spearman would never appear on the pitch the same again and it was a disappointment to see him desperately trying to resurrect his game, but continually failing. A sad slide to the end for a wonderful player who brought so much joy to those who watched him.

Craig Spearman will always be remembered as a player who was able to provide a miraculous innings, and we did get a final hurrah with his innings at Headingley in the Friends Provident Trophy earlier this season. His 92 from 71 balls was vintage Spearman and, like many of his majestic innings, helped Glos to a memorable victory.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Brown to leave Glos

David Brown has agreed to leave Gloucestershire one year ahead of the end of his contract.

The all-rounder's departure continues the cupboard emptying exercise that has occurred since John Bracewell arrived back at Bristol, and will hopefully pave the way for quality signings.

Grant Hodnett, Matthew Gitsham, Tom Stayt and now Brown have been offloaded, and with continuing rumours over Craig Spearman's future, there certainly appears scope for the calibre of signing member's are hoping for.

Being a small county on a very limited budget, it is sensible that players are not kept while only providing a limited impact at the top level.

With a strong academy set up and many youngsters breaking into the first team, the second eleven can now become an even better breeding ground for the future of the club, and quality can be added to strengthen the club as a whole.

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