Neighbours Gloucestershire and Glamorgan do battle on Friday night in Bristol.
Gloucestershire host Glamorgan for their second game of this year’s Blast. The fact Gloucestershire have a game under their belt may give them a slight advantage, with this being Glamorgan’s opening match, but the batting frailties that have dogged them in Championship cricket were on view again against Kent, as they were bowled out for just 113 in less than 17 overs. Kent reached the target in 13.3 overs. Chris Dent (55) was the only batter to get going, opening with Grant Roelofsen, the South African batter recruited for the T20 competition. Gloucestershire will be pleased to have David Payne fit again following ankle surgery, but the bowling resources have been hit hard by the departures of Benny Howell and Ryan Higgins. Zafar Gohar fills the second overseas slot having not played in the Blast for the last two years, but the bowling is further weakened by the absence due to injury of Marchant De Lange with a quad strain and Tom Price, their most effective performer so far this season in Championship cricket. Paul van Meekeren made his first appearance of the season in the Kent game, but his two overs went for 30 runs.
Glamorgan have a new white ball coach in Mark Alleyne, a player who was a key contributor to Gloucestershire’s success in this format, culminating in them winning two one-day cups and the National League title in 2000. He has been brought in following Glamorgan’s poor performances in the Blast in recent years, although he may have his work cut out in the absence of significant changes to the squad, which has lacked the big runs and strike bowlers that are needed in T20. They have also been hit by the loss of David Lloyd, due to a hamstring tear and Tom Bevan who has a shoulder injury. Both are set to miss most of the Blast campaign. Wicket keeper Chris Cooke strained a groin muscle during the last Championship game, but is reported as being fit, having played in a second team T20 match this week. Sam Northeast was the form batter last year, but he has struggled in the opening Championship fixtures making just 190 runs at 21.11.
There are a number of surprise inclusions in the Glamorgan squad. Michael Neser was not expected to be available having been called up to the Australian training camp and seamer Ruaidhri Smith, who was released at the end of last season, has been re-signed on a short-term contract. There is also a spot for 19-year-old Ben Kellaway, who has impressed with some big hitting in the second team, in particular 62 off just 28 balls against Gloucestershire seconds last week.
Glamorgan start as marginal favourites given the run of form Gloucestershire have suffered this season, while both counties will struggle to make the latter stages of the competition.
Chris Dent has been a thorn in Glamorgan’s side over the years and was the one Gloucestershire player to register a score against Kent. As with the other Gloucestershire batters, he has struggled in the Championship with just 231 runs at 25.66, but will be hoping that this half century will be the start of a turnaround.
Kiran Carlson has rediscovered the form he showed when he first came into the Glamorgan side and was talked about as a potential England player. He has scored 472 Championship runs this season at 47.1, including three centuries and has the ability to perform in the shorter formats. He will take on the captaincy in the absence of Lloyd.
Marchant De Lange and Tom Price remain unavailable, while Graeme van Buuuren is included dependent on a fitness test of his hamstring injury.
Gloucestershire squad: Jack Taylor (c), James Bracey (wk), Ben Charlesworth, Chris Dent, Zafar Gohar, Miles Hammond, David Payne, Joe Phillips, Oliver Price, Grant Roelofsen, Josh Shaw, Tom Smith, Matt Taylor, Graeme van Buuren, Paul van Meekeren
Colin Ingram replaces Marnus Labuschagne as the second overseas player alongside the surprise inclusion of Neser. There is only one specialist spinner in the Glamorgan squad following the omission of the experienced Andrew Salter.
Glamorgan squad: Kiran Carlson (c), Eddie Byrom, Chris Cooke (wk), Dan Douthwaite, Colin Ingram, Ben Kellaway, Jamie McIlroy, Michael Neser, Sam Northeast, Harry Podmore, Billy Root, Prem Sisodiya, Ruaidhri Smith, Timm van der Gugten
Weather and Conditions
There are no issues with the weather, temperatures expected to be in the high teens.
There should be plenty of runs on offer if the batters can get set.
Date: 26th May 2023
Ground: Seat Unique Stadium, Bristol
Odds (SkyBet): Gloucestershire 4/5; Glamorgan 10/11