Head coach Richard Dawson reflects on the 2016 county cricket season, which was another mixed one for Gloucestershire CCC
“Overall, in the Natwest T20 Blast we played some good group cricket and deservedly finished at the top of the table. In the 50-over matches we didn’t perform anywhere near where we wanted to be and we deserved to be at the bottom. Last year we had six or seven players contributing every game. This year we had one person making a fifty. You can't do that and then get yourself out of the dirt simply by bowling and fielding well.
“Championship cricket was funny because it was a very tough division, with just one going up and quite a lot of teams of similar ability. It’s always hard anyway when you have sides coming down that are test venues with bigger squads. Last year we had two teams pretty much dominate the whole table. This year the points were shared around much more. However, even when we were going well in the Championship, I think the T20 quarter-final defeat knocked the confidence out of us. Not just the team but the whole club. It took us a while to pick ourselves up.”
The T20 quarter-final, played in front of a packed crowd at the County Ground, saw Gloucestershire as the clear favourites given that they had the best record of all the teams at the group stage, yet they were hardly in the game, despite a valiant late knock by Jack Taylor.
Dawson added: “Their opening batsmen batted very well. Mark Stoneman showed how good a player he is and Keaton Jennings played a really good knock. I don’t think we did a lot wrong in the field and did well to keep them to the 180 total. The disappointing thing was that we then gave them soft dismissals at the start of our innings and we didn’t really have anybody in the top five stake a claim that this total was ‘gettable’. Knock out cricket is all about who turns up on the day and we didn’t respond with our batting and we got outplayed on the night.
There was much about the season that was frustrating. The players were frustrated because we didn’t perform to our expectations in the 50 over. We would have a poor 50-over game and then be on fire the following day in the T20 and to some extent in the championship. So if we could do it in one format why not in the others? That was the thing that was frustrating.”
Dawson was keen to be positive looking ahead.
He said: “Next year the blocks of cricket should make a difference in standard because we will have more time to prepare. This year there was one instance when we played three different formats in eight days. Another time we were travelling back from Chelmsford at 2am and then playing Somerset in Bristol the next day. It’s those things that add up over time with a small squad.
We know we have to be more consistent in four-day cricket, because when we are good we are good but when we are poor we are very poor. Some of that is because we have younger players. When you look at players like Ryan Sidebottom, he knows exactly what he is doing and how to do it; it's the same with Tim Bresnan.
Next year, of course, we will not have Hamish Marshall and we will only have Michael Klinger in the one-day games. Two huge holes to fill but I always say with that it’s an opportunity rather than anything else, particularly for our young players. But certainly over the next few weeks we will be looking at what overseas players we might bring in.”