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Last Updated: Saturday, 30 August, 2003, 18:09 GMT 19:09 UK
Is this the end for Gloucestershire?
By Martin Gough
BBC Sport at Lord's

Gloucestershire celebrate their C&G victory
The balcony erupts as Gloucs seal another one-day title

There was a sense as Gloucestershire cruised to victory in the C&G Trophy final that the top one-day side of the new millennium had reached the end of an era.

An XI with an average age of over 33 at Lord's is beginning to show signs that it can no longer set the pace in the limited-overs arena.

They will certainly have to do without inspirational coach John Bracewell next year, as he takes over at the helm of New Zealand from November.

And Australian all-rounder Ian Harvey admitted afterwards he had no idea if he would be back.

Since former Test off-spinner Bracewell arrived in 1997, Gloucestershire's whole has been greater than the sum of their parts.

The canny Kiwi realised quickly the club had neither the players nor the resources for consistent first-class success, and opted instead to look for one-day silverware.

He concentrated on the one-day basics: miserly medium-pace bowling and rambunctious fielding, basics that are still to the fore.

With Harvey the single major change in personnel, controversially replacing fan favourite Courtney Walsh, Bracewell stocked the trophy cabinet.

Nineteen-ninety-nine brought back-to-back successes in the knockout competitions, and a year later they added the National League title for a treble of one-day crowns.

Ian Harvey
Could Harvey be on the way out?

After two years without a trophy - 2001 brought their first ever defeat in a Lord's final while internal squabbling beset the 2002 campaign - Gloucestershire added extra firepower.

There may be a 34-year-old fielding at backward point but Jonty Rhodes remains one of the best in the world, and can still be seen pulling down the shorts of team-mates during fielding drills.

And Craig Spearman, Kiwi born and bred but a British citizen, made the batting brutal when he arrived two years ago.

But the glue that holds the stars together is beginning to break up.

Captain Mark Alleyne has struggled with a back injury and his bowling is now on the slow side of medium, even if he could still land the ball on a handkerchief.

Left-arm paceman Mike Smith has agreed a new contract but his back kept him off the field for all but nine overs of the final.

Wicket-keeper Jack Russell made his county debut in 1981, and cannot maintain his jack-in-a-box demeanour forever.

In fact, 22-year-old Alex Gidman, who took two wickets filling in after Smith left the field, is the only young player to have made a permanent impact in Bracewell's reign.

"We are a mature side, although we haven't lost our agility in the field," said Alleyne after the victory.

"It might be a good time to drip-feed younger guys in but as long as players are fit and able to perform then age is not a barrier."

Alleyne did not touch on the squabbles of last year as he basked in another triumph but some players see Bracewell as something of a drill instructor.

And the current skipper wondered if a different type of approach might now be needed and said the whole team will have a say in choosing Bracewell's successor.

"John has put in a lot of effort at Gloucestershire and he deserves the win," he said.

"We're a mature side so we might not need that type of person again.

"We might need someone who brings youngsters through and looks to the future as opposed to the present."

Will this be the last in Gloucestershire's run of one-day wins?

"It is possible," Alleyne admitted.

"But there was no shortage of motivation for this one."



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