CHRIS DENT admits the time for excuses is over.
Now in his fourth full season with Gloucestershire, the 22-year-old batsman now feels like an experienced player and says the young squad must deliver the goods this year.
Gloucestershire finished bottom of the County Championship last year, prompting director of cricket John Bracewell to state that he will no longer accept being too young as a reason for under-performing.
Acknowledging the standards have now been raised for players like himself, Thornbury Cricket Club product Dent said: “Twenty-two is not that young in cricket, especially in this squad, so I think that sort of mentality of being young and getting away with things isn’t the same this year.
“I don’t feel like one of the young lads anymore. I think we’ve all got to accept we’re not young lads anymore.
“We’re experienced players now so we’ve got to step up.
“There is more pressure on us, but that’s cricket for you. You’re expected to score more runs and that’s your job, it’s something you have to put up with.
“Some of the guys who were young last year or the year before are more experienced and I think we’ve definitely got a good chance of doing better than last year.”
Dent started the previous two seasons in promising form before suffering long-term injuries, and was being watched by England scout and former Gloucestershire team-mate Chris Taylor when he broke his finger against Derbyshire last year.
His comeback was cut short when he fractured a shoulder, but the former England under-19 international is hoping for an injury-free season and to reach 1,000 runs for the first time in his career to catch the eye of the selectors once again.
“If I can put some more performances together like I did at the start of last year hopefully I’ll get some interest from them, but obviously that’s just through scoring runs for Gloucestershire which is the main objective,” said Dent.
“I think I’m a much better player than I was last year and I’d like just to complete a whole season at the moment and see how my stats go.
“As a batter you want to get to 1,000 runs and things like that. I’m pretty confident.”
Dent has been a mainstay in Gloucestershire’s County Championship side when fit since making his debut against Northants three years ago and the left-hander has opened the batting in the first two games of this season with new captain Michael Klinger.
He is hoping his off-spin bowling will help him earn more chances to play in the Clydesdale Bank 40 and Friends Life T20 competitions this season, having featured less regularly in the shorter formats of the game.
“It gives you another string to your bow and gives you a better chance to stay in the team,” said Dent, who recorded career-best one-day figures of 4-43 against Leicestershire last year.
“If I’m willing to bowl and able to do a job with the ball it takes the pressure off the batting, but if I don’t get any runs that day it’s not like my game’s over.
“I’ve been working hard on my one-day cricket. It’s something I really enjoy.
“I haven’t played many games because the team has been pretty solid and doing well but it’s definitely something I’d like to play in.”