Keeping Chris Dent fit will be key next season
BOTTOM of the County Championship. End-of-season league tables do not lie and Gloucestershire’s presence there must be accepted.
Yes, there are hard luck stories – two soft declarations allowed Yorkshire two victories, a run chase at Cheltenham was mismanaged, then there was the rain . . .
I could go on but, of course, every county will have such stories. They are not bottom. We are. Why?
Firstly, we have few cricketers in the key age range of 25-30. We did not produce any. Home-grown players such as Will Rudge, Tom Stayt and Jackson Thompson were short of county class. There was no one else. It must be remembered the Gidman brothers came into first-class cricket via the MCC groundstaff.
Worse still, two cricketers from North Wiltshire, now members of the successful Hampshire side, chose to go to Southampton rather than Bristol. Liam Dawson and James Vince would have made such a difference to our side. We should have recruited them.
Now it is all so different. The Academy is producing good young cricketers who will take the club forward, but this is a slow, steady process. Many are not yet ready, and the team has obvious weaknesses.
Spin bowling is one. Ed Young does well with the white ball, but not the red. Jack Taylor has improved his batting but not his bowling and on spin-friendly surfaces at Swansea and Leicester did not measure up. A top-order batsman is needed. We have one but cannot get him on the field.
Chris Dent scored a marvellous match-winning century against Hampshire – it was so good that England selectors came calling. The day they did he broke his finger badly and now has had surgery for a dislocated shoulder. Chris can also bowl. He took four wickets in the CB40 win over Leicester. If he stays fit there is no limit to what he can achieve.
Murray Goodwin from Sussex and Rory Hamilton-Brown from Surrey are available and have been suggested as possible recruits. I would sign neither. Goodwin commands a salary that is equivalent to three junior players and Hamilton-Brown has had, for a variety of reasons, a poor season. Neither are the answer. Perhaps patience is. Our 40-over and 20-over game has improved. We must hope the championship will follow.
The many supporters I encounter as I walk round the ground deserve success. They love cricket and Gloucestershire and are possessed of both wit and wisdom.
They supported me as chairman and have become lifetime friends. When we get promotion, gentlemen, the champagne is on me.
In need of cheering up, Mrs Light and I headed for Nailsworth on Saturday. Surely FGR would lighten our sporting lives. It certainly looked like this would happen when Yan Klukowski hammered in an early goal. Until manager Dave Hockaday admired my jacket, delaying the start of the post-match press conference so to do, the goal was the only highlight. Alfreton battled, Rovers succumbed and an injury-time penalty led to a draw.
Some people thought it was not a penalty. Of course, it was, the ref gave it. Accept it, folks, and look at the real reason for a poor display. There were too many Lord Lucan-type performances, and in drawing we were fortunate. Goalkeeper Sam Russell saved us from defeat.
The next home match is on a Friday night (Lincoln, September 28); this gives a chance for local players and fans to attend. Will the gate top 1,500? We shall see.
Rumour has reached me that Peter Gilchreist is stepping down from his duties at Cirencester Cricket Club. In recent years these have been many and varied with Peter working hard for both the town club and for cricket in the county. He will leave a considerable gap and deserves all our good wishes.
Someone else who deserves a mention is Scott Huband of Bibury FC. As a goal scorer he goes from strength to strength, as do the team itself. I look forward to my next visit.
I close by saying that Mrs Light and I were eventually cheered up on Saturday. We went to Giffords Circus, which was exhilarating and spectacular, and for a couple of hours Gloucestershire’s championship position was forgotten. Thanks Nell and Totti.