2008 County Preview - Gloucestershire
Mediocre is probably the best word to describe the Gladiators’ performances last year. They finished seventh in the County Championship Division Two and sixth in the Pro40 Division One. Gloucestershire are renowned as being one of the better One Day sides around as of late, and this was no more evident than a successful Twenty20 campaign that saw them edged out in the final against Kent. They also narrowly missed out on making the semifinals in the Friends Provident Trophy, coming in third place in their group, edged out by Essex on run rate.
The Gladiators have not felt the need to change their squad to much. They have the foundations of a good young side that if they stay together can form a decent team in the future. Players such as Ben Brown, Steven Snell and Tom Stayt will look to get into the side on a full time basis with some impressive performances.
Australian batsman Marcus North will return to the Gladiators after a short stint last season. He topped the averages and will definitely add some much needed stability to the top of the order. Runs will be expected from him, with William Porterfield of Ireland also coming in to strengthen the batting. Gloucestershire regulars Alex Gidman and Craig Spearman will also be vital, and will be relied upon to set an example for the Gladiators youngsters.
Also, Hamish Marshall, who has plenty of international experience with New Zealand, remains a key part of the Gladiators batting line up. He adds that extra class needed and was in fact Gloucestershire’s most consistent run scorer last year.
Steve Kirby will again join Jon Lewis to spearhead the bowling attack; he was included in the England Lions tour to India, so some impressive performances from him for a second successive year could allow him to knock on the door for international selection. These two form a quality opening attack with the ball, on their day they could run through most county sides with the two bowlers contrasting each other nicely to make it difficult for the batsman to settle. Lewis is a more accurate bowler, whereas Kirby will get into the batsmen’s head and be the ‘aggressor’.
Gloucestershire will look for more out of their more experienced players this year, especially in the County Championship. They have some players that would make it into most county sides, but they seem unable to fire at the same time, which they will need to do if Gloucestershire want to get their hands on a trophy in the near future.
In: William Porterfield
County Championship Division Two: 7th
Pro40 Division One: 8th
Friends Provident Trophy: Group Stages
Twenty20 Cup: Group Stages
Star Man: Hamish Marshall
Top Tip: Kadeer Ali
By Pierce Morley-Barnes