DIRECTOR of cricket John Bracewell insists Gloucestershire will be a more powerful and street-wise force in the newly-named T20 Blast competition this season.
The county face Somerset in their opening game at Bristol on Friday (5.30pm), hoping to fare better than they did last year against their neighbours, who won both T20 fixtures between the sides convincingly.
Gloucestershire only won three of their ten games in that campaign as they finished bottom of the Midlands, Wales and West group, and to make matters worse the ECB’s pitch panel deemed the pitch used for their six-wicket defeat against Warwickshire at the Cheltenham Festival poor, leading to a two-point deduction in this year’s competition.
However, Bracewell believes his young bowling attack is learning fast in the short format, and he expects an improvement from the batsmen after they worked on their big-hitting during pre-season.
“I think we’re capable of being a darn sight more consistent in Twenty20,” said Bracewell.
“We’ve worked on a lot of things in that regard, trying to find a little more power to up our boundary count, and I think our bowlers are starting to mature to be able to make better decisions.
“If you look around the world the best bowling attacks are quite aged ones and our guys are young but they’re willing to learn and they’re certainly willing to adapt so I think we’ll see a better and more consistent performance.”
After Australian all-rounder Dan Christian failed to live up to expectations last season, Gloucestershire are heading into the T20 Blast without an extra overseas player this time.
Will Gidman is expected to miss the game against Somerset after a knee problem ruled him out of the County Championship game against Surrey at The Oval this week, but he could return for the four-day game against Kent at Bristol, starting on Sunday.
Gloucestershire will have to make a decision on whether to hand a T20 debut to the in-form Will Tavare or leave the 24-year-old to concentrate on first class cricket after he scored a half-century against Surrey this week to add to the two tons he had already hit since joining the club.
Tavare admits he is more suited to the red ball game but felt he improved in the shorter formats while playing grade cricket in Melbourne during the winter.
He said: “The longer format is my strongest format but I figured a few things out in Australia about my one-day game.
“My main aim right now is to just keep working out my long format and then see where the one-day game takes me.”
The new format of the T20 Blast has divided the 18 counties into a North and South Division, with each team playing 14 games between May and August before the top four in each group progress to the quarter-finals, while there will be more games on Friday evenings in an attempt to boost crowds.