Gloucestershire: County Championship 2023 team guide

COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP 2023 TEAM GUIDE: David Payne starts the season injured, Marcus Harris could be Ashes-tied and the batting lineup needs to shoot, but in Marchant de Lange there’s good reason to think there’s going to be an upturn in fortunes.


Some sort of rebuild is needed in Gloucestershire, even if many of the protagonists remain the same.

After a driftwood campaign in 2022, it may be a clean slate this time around for head coach Dale Benkenstein and captain Graeme van Buuren, but patience can wear thin quickly in the event of a slow start.

Certainly the members will not appreciate having to wait until the long nights roll around for the first home win of the County Championship season, as was the case last year.

There’s an emphasis on youth and left-handers, lots of exciting (though perhaps untested) talent, and Marchant de Lange. Do you want a prediction of how everything will turn out? It is not an opportunity.

Coach: Dale Benkenstein

Appointed to the role in November 2021, Benkenstein found his first season somewhat difficult. Gloucestershire won just two first-class matches on their way to relegation to Division Two, while the white ball campaigns brought some joy. There’s no doubting the South African’s coaching acumen, but there’s a lot to be done in 2023 to show that the glove of this particular job suits his hands.

The ACE Program at Bristol enjoyed a significant breakthrough when manager Robbie Joseph was promoted to Gloucestershire’s senior setup late last year, having impressed the academy. He will look after the bowlers, while William Porterfield, the former Ireland captain, returns as batting adviser.

Captain: Graeme van Buuren

Continue in the position for which you were appointed last year. Van Buuren’s first year as skipper did not go as planned, with a shoulder injury that forced him to miss several rounds of the championship. However, the club evidently have faith in him, as evidenced by the award of a long-term contract in August.

in s: Marchant de Lange (Somerset), Zaman Akhter (SACA), Marcus Harris (Australia), Zafar Gohar (Pakistan)

Departures: Ryan Higgins (Middlesex), Ian Cockbain (thrown)


Marchant de Lange (centre) adds strength to the Gloucestershire attack (Harry Trump/Getty Images)

How strong is the batting?

It is up for debate.

Gloucestershire have topped 300 in the first innings on just five occasions in 2022, and with the bonus point system having been adjusted, with 250 now the level when batting points are activated, that makes for a daunting prospect.

The departure of Ryan Higgins, who returned to Middlesex in 2022, remains a considerable blow. The all-rounder has been among Gloucestershire’s most consistent players for a number of years, both with bat and ball, and his multi-dimensional influence within the team will be hard to replicate with just one replacement.

Chris Dent is a very experienced starter who should thrive in Division Two. Dent made 714 runs at 36.99 last season, 207 of which came in a single innings against Surrey in a ridiculously placid early-season wicket away at Bristol (the match total for the game was 1,046-12).

Joining him, at least early in the season, is Australian international Marcus Harris. Harris hit three hundred for County in a seven game spell last year and he is expected to provide stability and big runs in the first block of Championship matches.

He will be around for much of the summer, depending on whether or not he receives a summons from Ashes. Gloucestershire will be desperate that Baggy Green does not call, as his departure would create problems.

James Bracey’s position in the batting order has been the subject of discussion. Gloucestershire were concerned during a period last year that coming up high in the order after long spells on the pitch was hampering their batting, but Bracey is a top-order natural batsman. He is more likely to sit at No. 3 (and he must improve with a return of 702 runs in 27 if Gloucestershire are to challenge for promotion).

The middle order, minus Higgins, will likely feature the precocious Miles Hammond and Ben Charlesworth. Charlesworth, who returned 208 runs at 20.8 last year in a campaign interrupted by a stress fracture in his foot, would be Benkenstein’s starting choice if Australia call up Harris.

Only three of Gloucestershire’s regular top orders (Harris, Dent and Hammond) averaged over 30 in 2022. That has to change this time around.

There are a large number of left-footers in this line-up (in fact, the top five), which could expose Gloucestershire against some attacks.

How loud is the bowling alley?

David Payne will miss the start of the season with injury in what is a particularly cruel blow for Gloucestershire. Payne suffered an ankle injury while playing for Perth Scorchers in the Big Bash over winter and has since undergone surgery. He may not be in shape until the start of the T20 Blast.

Good thing, with that in mind, that Marchant de Lange has secured his status as a local player. De Lange arrives from Somerset desperate for some regular red ball playing time, and he’ll certainly get it at Nevill Road. A very different bowler to Payne: raw pace, rebounding and aggression are De Lange’s strong points; however, he offers valuable experience to a rather green group.

There is at least one other left-arm stitching option for Gloucestershire, with Matt Taylor in line to replace Payne for at least the start of the season.

Beneath him, however, is a nursery of emerging talent. Dom Goodman, Ajeet Dale and Tom Price are all under 23, while South Asian Cricket Academy pick Zaman Akhter has only played one first-class match.

While it shouldn’t be unexpected for a young player to step up, as Price did last season with 32 wickets at 20, there is a risk that an injury to a senior member of the sewing department could set off a domino effect. difficult.

Zafar Gohar returns to deliver the slow left-arm spin that brought him 48 wickets at 20 in the 2022 Championship. It remains to be seen how influential he will be early in the term, but in the July and September rounds, it could be the difference between finish in the top two and another year in Division Two.

Jack Taylor and van Buuren offer alternatives.


A prominent role in the batting lineup attracts James Bracey (Harry Trump/Getty Images)


As discussed, Harris could end up missing through June and July on international duty. Gohar is expected to be available throughout the campaign.

There is little chance of Gloucestershire becoming involved in the Ashes from England’s perspective, with Bracey now well down the pecking order. On the backend of the campaign, it’s possible Payne could be called up for the cue ball internationals.

Why should fans be excited?

In short, it surely has to be better than last year.

Gloucestershire have only won one home Championship game in 2022, and even that came at the end of September.

While there are several teams in Division Two that will provide a severe test, the overall quality is reduced. In particular, there should be a better chance for the top order to make more runs.

In a twisted sense, there may be some Gloucestershire fans hoping Harris will force herself into the Ashes conversation because that will have meant big runs in the first six games of the campaign, and those big runs could just be the catalyst for the Quick Start. club desperately needs.

Why should fans care?

The team looks thin and too easily affected by an injury or two early in the season. No one knows how it balances through the June and July madness, while many of the same gamers are also saddled with an improved screen on the T20 Blast.

Payne’s absence is a gut punch, and while De Lange will bring plenty of energy to the setup (Benkenstein has already praised him for his work with the club’s younger players, including academy closers), he can’t charge with seam attack.

That means Tom Price is replicating last year’s backend form, which is asking a lot from a 23-year-old with 15 first-class games to his name.

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