Skip to main contentAccess keys helpA-Z index

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
| Help
Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 July, 2003, 14:55 GMT 15:55 UK
Bracewell flouts fashion
By Martin Gough

Gloucs captain Mark Alleyne
Gloucs captain Mark Alleyne has swept a clutch of trophies
The Twenty20 Cup is the new, fashionable face of county cricket: bright lights, star names, a blur of runs and wickets.

In-between the two semi-finals and final on Saturday, popstrels Atomic Kitten will perform to a youthful audience at Trent Bridge.

It is a slight disappointment for Gloucestershire coach John Bracewell, who admitted with a grin to the BBC Sport website: "I was hoping for the Seekers".

Alas for the marketing men, one of the favourites to carry off the title on finals day are one of the least fashionable sides in the country.

But then the use of the word "fashion" in a sporting sense has always been a way of talking up under-achievers and doing down those who are successful.

The Gloucestershire Gladiators have dealt with the verbal barbs before, especially when they ruled the roost in one-day cricket, collecting five trophies in 1999 and 2000.

John Bracewell
We've a strong team ethic that brings out the best in players
John Bracewell
Few of their players have spent any time in the England side - if you discount the evergreen Jack Russell, whose broken thumb is likely to keep him in the dugout on Saturday - but they are still consistently effective.

At the helm is New Zealander Bracewell, who has brought the best out of a middling bunch over the last five years.

"You might call them 'dobbers' but they're the fastest we've got," he protests on behalf of opening bowlers Mike Smith and Jon Lewis, "and we're the only side in the Championship with 28 bowling bonus points.

"Most of our bowlers have an effective change of pace and that is a skill they have worked hard on."

It is an ability that has proved perfect for Twenty20, with a battery of seamers tying opposing batsmen down and a couple of hired guns blazing past the target.

The approach they take in any format of the game has not really needed to change.

1999: B&H Cup, NatWest Trophy
2000: B&H Cup, C&G Trophy, National League
2001: B&H Cup finalists
The opening pair of Kiwi Craig Spearman (who qualified as a home-grown player with a British passport) and Australian World Cup winner Ian Harvey are both naturally aggressive batsmen.

And Harvey, once described by Steve Waugh as the world's best bowler at the death, has proved a wet blanket to opposing batsmen.

Bracewell had a slight head start on his rivals with experience of a similar competition, Cricket Max, back home.

Spearman has played it, as too did captain Mark Alleyne when he toured with England in 1997, and each had their own ideas to offer.

Bracewell noticed that spinners were effective wicket-takers purely because opposing batsmen thought they would offer easy pickings - off-spinner Martyn Ball has six scalps so far.

A Twenty20 title would be a great way for Bracewell to cap his career in the West Country before taking up his new post as New Zealand coach in November.

Ian Harvey
Harvey scored the first Twenty20 century
But his five-year plan to make the club successful in all forms of the game has not progressed quite as expected.

Bracewell admits they are a year behind: they are now in the pack pushing for promotion to Division One of the Championship rather than slumming it at the bottom and are still in contention for the C&G Trophy.

"The problem with anything that is successful quickly is that it can get out of hand," he says of the dressing room squabbling that spoiled the team's 2002 campaign.

"Players given a small but important part in the team unit wanted a star on their door."

He does not need to name former England one-day spinner Jeremy Snape, who could face his old team if they and Leicestershire reach the final.

Bracewell admits Championship promotion would be the icing on the cake but, "part of my thinking is to leave the club in a better state than when I came, more self-manageable and with more ambition.

"To win all of the trophies you have got to have budget resources. We have got to make do with what we have."

A sixth trophy in four years would be more than making do.

E-mail services | Sport on mobiles/PDAs


Back to top

Sport Homepage | Football | Cricket | Rugby Union | Rugby League | Tennis | Golf | Motorsport | Boxing | Athletics | Snooker | Horse Racing | Cycling | Disability sport | Olympics 2012 | Sport Relief | Other sport...

BBC Sport Academy >> | BBC News >> | BBC Weather >>
About the BBC | News sources | Privacy & Cookies Policy | Contact us
banner watch listen bbc sport