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Banerjee buoyant despite Gloucestershire departures

Vikram Banerjee
Banerjee took 34 wickets in all forms of county cricket last season

Vikram Banerjee is confident the large turnaround of players in the off-season will not harm Gloucestershire's hopes of success when the new season starts.

The county have seen a raft of first-teamers leave, but spinner Banerjee says morale remains as strong as ever.

"The changes have brought about a real team spirit with the guys that are left and the guys that have arrived," he told BBC Radio Gloucestershire.

"We do have that us-against-the-world mentality and we'll have to this year."

It is expected that Gloucestershire will have a testing season following an exodus of players that includes William Porterfield, Steven Snell, Kadeer Ali and Rob Woodman.

In addition, and arguably more significantly, seam bowlers Anthony Ireland, Steve Kirby and Gemaal Hussain have left and New Zealand international James Franklin is expected to follow them through the exit door.

County Championship
Kirby, Hussain, Ireland & Franklin took 66% of the 269 wickets
Kirby, Hussain, Ireland & Franklin took 36% of the 90 wickets
Kirby, Hussain, Ireland & Franklin took 54% of the 72 wickets (Ali, another departee, took three)
Kirby, Hussain, Ireland & Franklin took 58% of the 431 wickets

That quartet took 178 wickets in last season's four-day campaign - 66% of Gloucestershire's total - and their absence will put a far higher degree of responsibility on Banerjee's relatively experienced shoulders.

But in partnership with veteran seamer Jon Lewis, the 26-year-old left-arm spinner is relishing the role of acting as the cricketing guardian to Gloucestershire's new generation.

"I'm really looking forward to the next year. It's going to be a challenging year, but that's exciting," added Banerjee, who made his Gloucestershire debut in 2006 and was rewarded with a new contract at the end of the last campaign.

"And the challenge of taking on more responsibility throughout the season is one of the things I'm looking forward to, especially in the four-day game where the experience just isn't there at the moment.

"The young lads will be looking to learn and learn quite quickly. I have to make sure that when the season comes I'm in a position to take on that responsibility and I'm in a position personally and individually where I'm ready for that.

"The first thing to do is to make sure my game is in order and lead by example in that stage and how I prepare and through that hopefully help some of the young lads that we have in the squad."

Gloucestershire will open their campaign in the Division Two of the County Championship at home to Derbyshire on Friday, 8 April when there will be an onus on the batsmen to show their relative experience compared to the bowlers, find early form and show the consistency that was missing last season.

"We need to produce scores that our bowling attack can bowl at," Hamish Marshall told BBC Radio Gloucestershire.

No player recorded an average of more than 40 with the bat in the four-day game in 2010 and former New Zealand international batsman Marshall had the second-highest average, behind the departing Porterfield, with 35.36.

But he expects the new blood to help on that front and infuse the squad with youthful exuberance, with the likes of 19-year-old Chris Dent pushing on and learning from his experiences last season.

"He came through with some big scores and can carry on from where he left off and then there are the new signings. There's some good potential there," added Marshall.

"Having a fair bit of youth, they don't know what first-class cricket's about because they're coming in new to it so they come with fresh minds and they're not scarred from issues they've had playing the game and going through tough patches.

"So they may come in with this fresh attitude and play some really good cricket and that will be refreshing for us."

Alex Gidman also highlighted Dent, as well as fellow batsman Jack Taylor and left-arm seamer David Payne, as players who prove the county has the right set up to develop young cricketers.

Like Banerjee, he plans to ensure they mature as quickly as possible and help the county confound the expectations in the coming year and seasons beyond.

And Gidman hopes 23-year-old Ian Cockbain can be added to that list of youngsters to keep an eye on having followed his own route into the game into the professional ranks in moving to Nevil Road from the "very good grounding" of the MCC.

"He's apparently an exciting young cricketer and is desperate to play first-class cricket, which is the attitude we're looking for," Gidman told BBC Radio Gloucestershire.

"A couple of other young signings have the same attitude, so it's great to know the sort of players we're going to have.

"You get the opportunity to play a lot of cricket [at the MCC] and test yourself against some good second XIs and if you have a good record there you know you've played some good, hard cricket. It's a great system and we know we're getting some good players from it.

"The development of our young players has been very good in the last four or five years with the Dents and Taylors representing England Under-19s and David Payne. The proof's there that our system's working.

"It will be exciting to see them develop over the next few years."

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see also
ECB releases 2011 county fixtures
14 Dec 10 |  Counties
Gloucestershire sign soldier Wade
14 Dec 10 |  Gloucestershire
Glos snap up MCC batsman Cockbain
08 Dec 10 |  Gloucestershire
Glos braced for challenging year
06 Dec 10 |  Gloucestershire
Gloucestershire sign up Coughtrie
23 Nov 10 |  Gloucestershire
Gloucestershire sign academy trio
17 Nov 10 |  Gloucestershire
Paceman McCarter gets Glos deal
10 Nov 10 |  Gloucestershire
Dent set to reach top - Russell
09 Nov 10 |  Gloucestershire

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