Gloucestershire Season Preview 2024

Gloucestershire Season Preview 2024

Glos, Bristol ground pic
Glos, Bristol ground pic

It has been a tough couple of years for the Shire, with relegation from Division One of the County Championship in 2022, followed by a winless season last year. The one salvation was a quarterfinal place in the One-Day Cup.

Dale Benkenstein, who has been the Head Coach for the last two years, has moved on to Lancashire to be replaced by perhaps Gloucestershire’s most decorated player, Mark Alleyne. Alleyne played his last game for Gloucestershire in 2005 and was then Head Coach up until 2007. Since then he has had a number of coaching roles including with the England set up and most recently has been working across the Severn at Glamorgan, where a shared coaching responsibility with Matthew Maynard has ended in both leaving the club.

Along with the departure of Benkenstein, assistant coach William Porterfield has also moved to Lancashire, while bowling coach, Robbie Joseph has gone to Kent. Gloucestershire have been hit by too many high profile player departures in recent years and Alleyne will be embarking on a rebuilding process.

They have signed Australian batter Cameron Bancroft for the season, in place of Marcus Harris, who had been at the club for the last two years. Unfortunately Harris had to go home early last summer, having made a solid start to the campaign with 457 runs from the five games he played, including two centuries. (Harris has since been picked up as Will Pucovski’s replacement at Leicestershire).

Bancroft was at Somerset for a short stint last season, where he was not quite so successful, scoring just 137 runs in seven innings. His last full season in county cricket was back in 2021 at Durham, where again he struggled, scoring 283 runs at 25.72. He was more productive in his previous stint at Gloucestershire in 2017, when he scored 685 runs at 40.29.

Miles Hammond was the club’s top run scorer in the Championship last summer with 812 at 36.90, while 22-year-old Ollie Price had an excellent season, scoring 763 at 42.38. The club were hit by injuries to a number of key players with club captain Graeme van Buuren playing just eight matches, in which he scored 461 runs at 51.22.

The big disappointment was James Bracey, who made just 483 championship runs at 21.95. He was more productive in the One Day Cup with 432 runs at 48.0, but over half of those were in a double century against a second-string Somerset attack.

The Gloucestershire bowlers also lacked penetration, Zafar Gohar ending the season as the top wicket-taker in the Championship with 32 at 48.93. The Pakistan left arm spinner will be returning for a fourth season at the club. Injuries to David Payne and Marchant de Lange did not help the cause and the top seamer was Matt Taylor with 20 wickets at 25.15, but he too only managed to play six matches. Tom Price has looked a good prospect, but he fell away in 2023, landing just 18 wickets at 45.77.

Australian batter Beau Webster has been signed for the Blast, although it is not clear how the three overseas players will used in the competition, given that Webster has a poorer average and strike rate than Bancroft in T20 cricket. Webster topped the Melbourne Stars’ run scoring in the last episode of the Big Bash, although Bancroft was not far behind. Batting was a weakness for Gloucestershire in last year’s Blast, Ben Charlesworth ending as top scorer, but no one reached 300 runs for the competition, so there may be a decision to play both Webster and Bancroft.

Apart from the new overseas players, there is little change in the squad. Three academy players have been given rookie contracts. Archie Bailey has the potential to bowl at pace, while Tommy Boorman is an opening batter who was part of the Young Lions Invitational XI’s tour of Sri Lanka. All-rounder Ahmed Syed bowls slow left arm spin and has been training in Pakistan over the winter. While there have been no further signings, at least there have been no significant departures.

Key player

Miles Hammond started his cricket life as an off spinner, but has morphed into a top order batter who led Gloucestershire’s run scoring efforts last season. To be able to compete in matches they need to start posting bigger totals and Hammond will be one of the batters that will be expected to perform. Last summer he reached 50 on eight occasions, but was unable to convert any into a three figure score. The 28-year-old will be keen to build on the three first class centuries he has so far in his career.

One to watch

Ollie Price is still only 22-years-old, the younger of the two Price brothers currently playing for Gloucestershire. He played age-group cricket for Oxfordshire, before joining the Gloucestershire Academy and made his first class debut back in 2021. A batting all-rounder, who bowls useful off spin, he scored his maiden first class century last season against Yorkshire, before going on to reach three figures on two further occasions. If he can further develop his bowling, he will certainly enhance Gloucestershire’s chances of success.

Overseas signings: Cameron Bancroft (Australia), Zafar Gohar (Pakistan), Beau Webster (Australia, for T20 plus two Championship games in June)

Ins: Archie Bailey (Academy), Tommy Boorman (Academy), Ahmed Syed (Academy)

Outs: Tom Lace (released), Will Naish (released), Paul van Meekeren (released), Jared Warner (released)

How will they fare: Apart from a slight rearrangement of the overseas signings, there has been no significant strengthening of the squad. However injuries were a significant problem last season and if players can stay fit, Gloucestershire can undoubtedly mount more of a challenge than they did in 2023. Nevertheless trophies seem a long way off.

Opening fixture: CC vs Derbyshire on April 5 at Incora County Ground, Derby


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