CHRIS Dent is being groomed as a future Gloucestershire skipper and will take on more responsibility this season after being named vice-captain.

Although director of cricket John Bracewell is trying to convince current captain Michael Klinger to extend his stay beyond the end of this year, he knows he will find a successor for the Australian eventually and hopes to find someone within the current ranks.

Thornbury Cricket Club product Dent, 23, led Gloucestershire during their opening pre-season friendly victory over Glamorgan and Bracewell revealed he has been handed a new role under Klinger this year.

“I see him as a future leader and we have to develop that skill,” Bracewell told the Gazette at the county's press day today.

“We have to have a succession plan of leadership and we see Chris as someone developing maturity.

“We would like to push him in with Hamish Marshall in a vice-captain’s role. They will share that role and work on that development of that particular skill.

“There are a couple of others but first and foremost you have to secure your place in the side and there’s no doubt that Chris has done that in all forms of the game, barring injury and obviously form, but he’s one of the first ones picked on the score sheet with leadership qualities.

“Good captaincy comes from experience of having good captains and Chris Dent is a guy that learnt so much from Michael and his demeanour last year, as he has learnt a lot from having Alex Gidman stand next to him in the slips over the last couple of years.”

Gloucestershire showed signs of progress under the impressive leadership of Klinger last season, and Bracewell believes they should be capable of improving further on a sixth place finish in Division Two of the County Championship.

“We should be there or thereabouts in terms of promotion,” he said.

“I think we’ve got one of the more experienced batting line-ups in Championship cricket with three batters in their 30s, the development of Chris Dent, who got his first 1,000 runs last year, and that should hold us in good stead having four solid batters consistently in positions in that particular tournament.

“I think we have a depth of spin, in particular with the signing of Tom Smith as a left-armer and his consistency, the comeback of Jack Taylor and that should give us strength and take some pressure off the pace bowling attack.

“I certainly think it’s a developing pace bowling attack with Craig Miles being involved in the national structure this year with the England development programme, the return of Ian Saxelby after two years out with injury and obviously the growing maturity of players like Matt Taylor, David Payne, James Fuller and Liam Norwell in particular.

“That gives us some penetration for Championship cricket.”