Dale Benkenstein looks ahead to Royal London Cup
Dale Benkenstein expects the future of Gloucestershire cricket to be on view in this season’s Royal London Cup.
The head coach is confident of a strong challenge for the 50-over competition, which the club last won in 2015, despite the loss of seven players to The Hundred.
A depleted squad means Gloucestershire’s Royal London Cup campaign, which begins against Warwickshire at Cheltenham College, will be heavily dependent on their young guns.
The likes of the Price brothers, Ben Wells, Luke Charlesworth, Dom Goodman and Will Naish will compete for places alongside the experienced Marcus Harris, Chris Dent, James Bracey, Jack Taylor, Tom Smith, Paul van Meekeren and Josh Shaw.
Left-arm spinner Zafar Gofar is also available, but Benkenstein is particularly looking forward to see how the younger brigade perform.
“We enter every competition believing we can be successful and this is now the last one we can win this season, so we will be giving it a real go,” he said.
“I genuinely believe we will have a very competitive team. We will be looking to trim the squad in the winter, but the young players selected for the Royal London will be those we feel can take the club forward.
“That should make interesting watching for our supporters and hopefully they will see some developing talent.”
While Tom and Ollie Price, wicketkeeper Wells and seamer Goodman have already tasted first team cricket, rookies Charlesworth and Naish could make their debuts.
Charlesworth, younger brother of Gloucestershire’s Ben, is a seam bowler, while Naish is an all-rounder. Both signed their first contracts earlier this year.
Benkenstein believes the blend of youth and experience will be replicated around the country, as other counties seek to replace players lost to The Hundred.
In Gloucestershire’s case, they are Graeme van Buuren, David Payne, Glenn Phillips, Ian Cockbain, Miles Hammond, Ryan Higgins and Benny Howell.
“We still have some proven one-day players to call on and I expect them to help the youngsters,” said Benkenstein.
“But, however we perform, there will be changes to the squad during the winter. Decisions are already being taken to that effect.”
It has so far been a disappointing first season at the helm for Benkenstein and head of performance Steve Snell, with Gloucestershire stranded at the foot of the LV= Insurance County Championship first division table, having failed to qualify for the knock-out stage of the Vitality Blast.
“I would like us to have a smaller group of players with more potency and quality next summer,” said Benkenstein. “We also need a better balance. At the moment we have too many batters and need more bowling options.”
Gloucestershire are expecting a big crowd for the Warwickshire game, the only one-day fixture at this season’s Cheltenham Festival and the match which brings it to a conclusion.