Gloucestershire 2015 preview April 1, 2015

New regime can freshen up Gloucestershire

Geraint Jones takes over as Gloucestershire four-day skipper for at least the start of the season © PA Photos

Last season
Championship: 7th Div 2; NatWest Blast: 8th South group; Royal London Cup: quarter-final

IN: Geraint Jones (Kent), Tom Hampton, Kieran Noema-Barnett, Peter Handscomb
Outs: Will Gidman (Nottinghamshire), Alex Gidman (Worcestershire), Graeme McCarter, Dan Housego Tom Shrewsbury (all released)
OVERSEAS: Michael Klinger

2014 in a nutshell
It was another season of little cheer and saw John Bracewell's second stint as director of cricket come to an end. They say never go back and while a disappointing second period will not tarnish Bracewell's legacy in Bristol, the glittering edge of those trophy-laden years has been slightly chipped. Supporters dreamed of rolling back the years when the county qualified for the quarter-final of the Royal London Cup, only to lose a poor game at Kent. Twenty20 has been poor for some time but Gloucestershire won only one fewer match than Glamorgan who went through, which represented progress. Will Tavaré was a good find in the Championship - a campaign propped up by a final round victory at Kent - and Alex Gidman enjoyed a second consecutive outstanding season, only to announce his departure for Worcestershire after 14 years at the club.

2015 prospects
As Oscar Wilde implied: to lose one Gidman is unlucky, to lose two is careless. Will Gidman has been one of the leading allrounders in the country since joining Gloucestershire in 2011. His wickets may be compensated for by a number of bowlers who were blighted by injury last season - James Fuller, Liam Norwell and Craig Miles - all of whom have shown potential, particularly Miles, and if fully fit this term will provide more options. Finding a batsman to replicate the four-figure returns Alex Gidman has produced in the last two years looks the tougher task. It will be another season of getting the best out of a young squad but a new regime under Richard Dawson should bring fresh energy.

Power brokers
There is a new team in charge with the highly-regarded Richard Dawson, who previously served as Gloucestershire spin and one-day coach before spending last season with Yorkshire, installed as head coach and Ian Harvey, immensely popular during his time as overseas player in Bristol, appointed assistant. The captaincy situation is rather vague with Michael Klinger - skipper of the past two seasons - not arriving until June. Geraint Jones will captain the four-day side to begin with but no announcement has been made on the one-day captain. Ian Cockbain had led the side in pre-season.

Key player
Geraint Jones has signed purely as a batsman and will also be the four-day captain, at least until Michael Klinger arrives. You don't have to look back too far to see Jones making 1000 first-class runs in a season and his obvious pedigree as a former Test player suggests he still has plenty to offer. With the departure of two senior players, Gloucestershire need Jones to perform if they are to improve on the showings in the Championship of the past few seasons.

Bright young thing
Craig Miles made his debut as an exceptionally slight 16-year-old back in 2011 but returned two years ago looking far more suited to bowling in the Championship and took an impressive 43 wickets to earn a place on the England Potential Performance Programme. A back injury took out most of last season but back fit he picked up 18 wickets at 19.88 in just four Championship matches. Still just 20, he could well be required to lead the Gloucestershire attack this season. Gareth Roderick, at 23, is also a very promising wicketkeeper-batsman.

ESPNcricinfo verdict
Losing two outstanding performers of the past two seasons makes it difficult to predict anything more than a mid-table placing in the Championship. Gloucestershire have a somewhat unexposed set of young seamers that could recompense for the loss of Will Gidman but finding enough runs is a bigger conundrum. Bettering last season's return could hinge on the form of second overseas signing Peter Handscomb before Klinger arrives in June. Their hopes in one-day cricket best lie in the 50-over format.

Bet365 odds
LV= Championship Div 2: 22/1, NatWest T20 Blast: 28/1, Royal London Cup: 25/1

Alex Winter is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo He tweets here

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