Director of Cricket John Bracewell has warned Gloucestershire’s young seam bowlers they must come of age quickly if promotion to Division One of the LV= County Championship is to be considered an attainable goal this summer.
When at full strength, Gloucestershire’s four-day bowling attack is among the most potent operating in Division Two.
But injuries to key players have exposed a small squad’s lack of depth in recent years and Bracewell believes the time has finally come when promising youngsters are required to bridge the gap between second XI and first -class cricket.
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Gloucestershire are again beset by injuries to new-ball bowlers ahead of today’s opening home Championship match of the season against Northants at Bristol. Ian Saxelby and James Fuller are on the treatment table and teenage prospect Craig Miles has been promoted to a 12-man squad that also includes fellow swing bowlers David Payne and Liam Norwell.
Those three are expected to join seamer Will Gidman in an all-pace attack and will shoulder a considerable burden of responsibility as Gloucestershire attempt to build upon an encouraging draw against Essex at Chelmsford in their opening fixture two weeks ago.
Having nurtured a clutch of youngsters and overseen their progress through the academy system, New Zealander Bracewell knows they now have to deliver.
He said: “Losing Ian Saxelby and James Fuller is a blow but, equally, Liam Norwell, David Payne and Craig Miles need to start stepping up to the mark. Will Gidman already does that day-in and day-out bythe ball in the right areas.
“But he is predominantly a seam bowler and these other guys, who are swing bowlers, have to learn the line and length they need to bowl on a consistent basis. They need to do that without being too adventurous and getting too excited about swing.
“It is all aboutthe ball in the right areas more often than not.”
Teenager Miles, who made his Championship debut for Gloucestershire against Northants at Bristol in 2011, may well go straight into the side again if conditions prove unfavourable to spin.
Northants arrive in Bristol having crushed Essex by an innings and nine runs last week, with 23-year-old left-arm pace bowler David Willey, son of umpire and former England player Peter Willey, claiming eight wickets in the match.
That win put Northants top of the Championship Division Two table after two games and they can be expected to pose a genuine threat to a Gloucestershire side captained at home for the first time by Australian batsman Michael Klinger.
Wicketkeeper Cameron Herring, 18, will make his home debut after again earning his place in the side ahead of Richard Coughtrie and Gareth Roderick.
Gloucestershire (from): Klinger, Dent, Housego, Howell, Marshall, A Gidman, W Gidman, Herring, Miles, Payne, Norwell, Taylor.