The sun shone and optimism was high in Bristol as Gloucestershire hosted their annual media day at the Brightside Ground on Thursday.
Recent inclement weather, which has limited the side to only two days of cricket so far in pre-season, had disappeared as the team led by new captain Chris Dent posed for photos in their new Specsavers County Championship and Royal London One Day Cup kits.
While generally 2017 must be considered a disappointment, there were signs of improvement as the season went on. You sense that the players and coaches remain quietly optimistic of improving on sixth place in the Championship and challenging for trophies with the white ball in 2018.
Last year’s player of the year, Liam Norwell, felt 2017 saw the team improve their Championship performances.
“Last year it felt like we were on the right end of draws, hopefully we can improve on that,” Norwell said.
“When we won we were dominant and our draws were better, so we just need to turn some of those draws when we were better into wins.”
Reflecting on his own personal achievements, Norwell was delighted at being called up for the North vs South Series and MCC Champion County Match, despite eventually having to miss out due to injury.
“It was really nice to see that you’re being noticed and that they’re taking an interest in you.
“Everybody wants to get to the top of the game and to play for your country would be the pinnacle but I’ve just got to keep performing for Gloucestershire and keep doing my job here and if I’m consistent I might get a chance further down the line.”
There are a couple of new faces that Gloucestershire fans can look forward to seeing this year, and one of them, Ryan Higgins explained his motivation behind joining the club.
“The coaching staff I’d worked with before and the general atmosphere I always got from Gloucestershire and the lads,” Higgins highlighted as his main reasons.
The former Middlesex man also spoke of trying to get more opportunities within red ball cricket as a factor behind his move.
The addition of Chris Rogers as batting coach for the first two months of the season represents a major coup for the county and he was pleased with how the batsmen went about their business in their one and only pre-season match against Cardiff MCCU.
“Coming in, I’ve been pretty strong with some fundamentals,” Rogers said. “I was more interested in how they went about it, the shapes they were playing with and I was just really impressed with that.
“There’s been a lot have bought into what I believe in and to see them go out and play well was really satisfying.”
Rogers also spoke highly of his fellow countryman Dan Worrall, Gloucestershire’s new overseas player for the first three months of the season.
“He’s going to be excellent with the dukes ball over here, he’s suited to conditions in England.
“He’s a real competitor, he’ll give everything and he’s a great team man. I think he could be a surprise package and one of the better overseas players.”
2018 is a big year for the club, another disappointing year and the progress made back in 2015 and 2016 will be forgotten.
However if the positivity within the squad can be translated onto the pitch, then a successful season is certainly on the cards.