GLOUCESTERSHIRE director of cricket John Bracewell insists his side will be ready to deal with an intimidating Taunton crowd when they take on Somerset in a must-win NatWest T20 Blast clash for both sides on Friday evening (5.30pm).
Despite starting with a two-point deduction, Gloucestershire have put themselves in the frame to qualify from the South Group after winning their last two games at Bristol against Kent and Sussex to move within three points of fourth-placed Glamorgan with four games left.
Somerset, led by former England international Marcus Trescothick, started the competition as one of the favourites but they’ve only won three of their nine games since beating Gloucestershire in the opener and are a just one point and one place above them.
Bracewell said: “It’s tough down in their neck of the woods, it’s a hostile environment, but it’s one we always look forward to and we’re match hardened for it so bring it on.
“They’re struggling to get to that top four as well so we’re all in the race. The winners have got to keep winning and people are going to scrap for that fourth spot.
“We’re starting to play more confidently and the players are getting used to their roles.
“On top of that it’s the amount of cricket – eventually you’re going to get better – so it’s nice to see us get some sort of momentum, especially without any overseas players, and then putting together competitive performances.”
Gloucestershire may have to do without captain Michael Klinger once again as he continues to recover from a broken toe but he hopes to return in time for the Cheltenham Festival next week.
Left-arm seamer Matthew Taylor has been ruled out of the opening four-day game at the College Ground against Derbyshire, starting on Monday, after suffering with shin splints.
The 19-year-old has enjoyed a breakthrough season, having taken 21 wickets in nine first class games.
Bracewell said: “He’s carried a big burden for us and at times has been outstandingly courageous in his efforts so it leaves us a bit thin but it creates an opportunity for someone else.”
James Fuller (foot) looks set to miss the Cheltenham Festival but Bracewell hopes that fellow seamer Craig Miles (back) and wicketkeeper Gareth Roderick (broken finger) may be able to play some part after they featured for the second team this week.
He said: “It’s not just a matter of them being fit to play, you’ve actually got to be in form and cricket fit as well so they’re running out of time to contribute to the whole of Cheltenham but they might contribute to some of it.”
Meanwhile, Gloucestershire have announced their intention to bring Cricket World Cup matches to Bristol in 2019 and hope to submit a planning application to Bristol City Council for new floodlights later this year.
If they are installed, the club will also be able to host their Friday evening matches slightly later at 7pm.
Public consultations will be held at the ground on Friday, July 18 (3-8pm), Monday, July 21 (5-7pm) and Saturday, July 26 (11am-2pm).