History

A brief history of Gloucestershire

Sam Collins

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Formed 1871
First-class debut 1870
Admitted to Championship1890
County Championship Best - Runners-up 1930, 1931, 1947, 1959, 1969, 1986
Gillette/NatWest/C&G 1973, 1999, 2000, 2003, 2004
Benson & Hedges 1977, 1999, 2000
Sunday League 2000, 2002 (Div Two), 2006 (Div Two)
Twenty20 Best - Semi-finals 2003

Gloucestershire is the county of W.G. Grace, and as such will always be synonymous with the English game. Even Grace's achievements pale in comparison with those of Wally Hammond, scorer of 113 hundreds for the county, yet remarkably they remain perennial bridesmaids in the County Championship, having finished runners-up on no fewer than six occasions. In recent years, especially around the turn of the millennium, they have proved the team to beat in one-day cricket.

The first record of cricket in Gloucestershire is of a game that took place in Gloucester in September 1729. From then, little is known until the formation of a club known as the Cheltenham and County of Gloucester Cricket Club in 1863, which was replaced by what we now know as Gloucestershire CCC in 1870. These early years were dominated by the Grace family, with W.G. captaining the side for twenty-odd years after its formation, including their admission to the County Championship in 1890. Ironically, under Grace's captaincy they won the unofficial Champion County title three times in the 1870s, but have not managed to win it since.

Hammond formed the base of a strong pre-World War Two team, and many of his records survive today, with the team finishing runners-up twice in consecutive years in his era in 1930 and 1931. Post-war Gloucestershire has featured players of the calibre of Tom Graveney and Jack Russell, as well as some outstanding overseas players such as Mike Procter, Zaheer Abbas and Courtney Walsh. Still the County Championship eludes them, and for their last second-place finish one must go as far back as 1986.

Under the captaincy of Mark Alleyne and the coaching of the New Zealander John Bracewell Gloucestershire developed into a highly effective one-day unit in recent years, as nine trophies between 1999 and 2006 testifies.

Sam Collins is a freelance journalist based in London.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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