County cricket has not been at the forefront of our minds recently, at least until we spotted Surrey captain Rory Hamilton-Brown on our run home from work yesterday. For those of you wondering what county players get up to in pre-season, we can exclusively reveal that he was carrying two takeaway pizzas from Pizza Express and a can of Coke! Presumably a Chris Adams-approved pre-match meal.
Anyway, on to matters at Nevil Road. Can fans of the Shire harbour any hope of promotion this year or are we doomed to yet another season of toil near the base of Division Two? To be honest, we don't have a clue!
The departure of 2011's leading run-scorer Chris Taylor in fairly shameful circumstances has left a potentially gaping hole in the Glos middle order. The addition of Dan Housego from Middlesex has left us with one big question, how do you pronounce his name? Is it How-sego or House-go? A tricky dilemma for those of us who have barely seen him play. Commenters please feel free to put us right. We will see if his reputation as 'the best player in the 2nd XI championship' can help replace the Child's 1137 runs.
No sooner have we written this then a glance at Cricinfo confirms the slightly more exciting news that we've re-signed Kane Williamson as overseas for the first half of the season! Let's hope Kane can continue his form from the recent test series against South Africa (where he scored a match-saving hundred in the third test) as opposed to last year's Glos form (831 runs at 36.13). His is still only 21 and according to King John has improved in all forms of the game for New Zealand in the past few months. Goodness knows we could use some improvement in limited overs cricket, so let's hope so.
In other batting news, we're hoping from another solid season from captain Alex Gidman, although 1000 championship runs has to be the bare minimum requirement these days. The same should be said of Chris Dent, who can no longer rely on the tag of 'promising youngster' as justification for not converting attractive 50s into 100s.
Worryingly Hamish Marshall has been named vice-captain. Let's hope he's not doing too much mentoring of Housego and the youngsters, otherwise we could be seeing a lot more quick-fire 30s and 40s from the batsmen, before departing LBW to an ugly swipe. Even more worryingly, Jon Batty is still on the books. Notwithstanding the stacks of catches he took in his first season when we had Gemaal Hussain, Kirb and Lewis on the books, surely his signing has been an unmitigated disaster? Here's hoping we're not relying on him for key runs this season.
It has also been announced that we have signed the lesser-known Muchall brother, all-rounder Paul, from Durham after a pre-season trial. Here's hoping he can recreate the success of the last all-rounder with limited first class experience signed from Durham.
Speaking of Will Gidman, if he can produced 80% of last season's 1006 runs and 51 wickets then Glos fans will be more than happy. We hope you will be, anyway.
For the first time in around 15 years, the seam attack will not be led by Jon Lewis. His departure for the bowler's paradise at The Oval has left a lack of real experience among the promising seam attack. The emergence last year of the better Gidders, David Payne and Liam Norwell, plus the return to fitness of Ian Saxelby has left us with a raw but promising core of quick bowlers. We're also hoping to see more of tearaway Kiwi quick James Fuller, who tore through a team of Oxford students in a recent pre-season game at The Parks.
The two young spinners, Ed Young and Jack Taylor are both relatively inexperienced, having made their debuts in the last couple of years. Young spent the winter honing his
Here at the Jessop Tavern View we are not noted for our optimism. With an inexperienced squad shorn of two stalwarts of proven quality in Taylor and Lewis we foresee a season of struggle. The best we can hope for is a repeat of 4th or 5th place and a good run in one of the interminable one day competitions. We fear that 6th or 7th may be more realistic though. Here's looking forward to how it goes.