Six teams from the top two divisions of the Wadworth 6X Westof England Premier League (WEPL) have been allocated Gloucestershire CCCprofessionals for the 2014 season.
Bristol, Cheltenham, Downend, Frocester, Keynsham andThornbury all took part in a draft similar to the system used in Americanprofessional sport, with the lowest ranked side from 2013 getting the firstpick.
This was successfully brought in last year to try and supportGloucestershire teams in maintaining their status in the top two tiers of clubcricket. Despite being just outside the county, Bristol and Keynsham areinvolved due to their ongoing support of Gloucestershire cricket.
GCCC professionals were split into three pairs and threegroups of three players to ensure that clubs are likely to have one of themavailable every Saturday. Where possible players that perform similar roles werepaired together to allow clubs to pick based on the specific needs of theirteam.
As in 2013 Cheltenhamwere the first club to choose and opted for the trio of batsman Dan Housego andseamers David Payne and Liam Norwell. Thornbury picked allrounders Will Gidman– who played six times for them last season – and Graeme McCarter. They arealso able to play Chris Dent and Tom Shrewsbury who are classed as 'homegrown'players as they played for the club for a minimum of two years before being contracted
Downend CC have drafted seamers James Fuller and Craig Milesalongside batsman Ian Cockbain who scored 426 runs at an average of 106 in justsix innings for them last year.
Last season's Premier 1 runners-up Frocester CC will behoping to go one better after picking up spinners Jack Taylor and Tom Smith,while Bristol - who finished one placebelow them - have been allocated 'keepers Gareth Roderick and Cameron Herring. Theylwill also be able to play 'homegrown' player Will Tavare.
Young seamer Matt Taylor returns to Keynsham for whom heplayed 11 times in 2013. He will be joined by fellow bowler Ian Saxelby andbatsman Benny Howell.
The allocation was organised by Gloucestershire CricketBoard chief executive Steve Silk and GCCC batting coach and academy director OwenDawkins.
Owen said: "Strong, competitive leagues are crucial fordeveloping all cricketers in Gloucestershire. When the schedule allows we arekeen for our professionals to play their part in driving the competitionforward. The lads that played club cricket last season really enjoyed it and itbecame a good topic of conversation in the dressing room."
In 2013 Gloucestershire players made more appearances forclubs than ever before, with 14 professionals played a combined total of 70times in the league. Downend (14) had more player appearances than any otherclub followed by Bristol (12) and Keynsham (11). Allocated pros at GloucesterCity Winget and Cheltenham played 10 times while Thornbury (7) and Frocester(6) had the lowest number. Matt Taylor (11) was the pro who made the most clubappearances.
Steve Silk said: "The draft process that we have put inplace, with the lowest ranked teams getting first pick of players, provedsuccessful last season and has been received positively by our clubs. We feelthis approach supports Gloucestershire clubs to remain in Premier 1 and 2 whichis important for the development of our young players.
"Last year was our most successful to date with playersmaking more appearances in club cricket than ever before. The skills andexperience they bring to a dressing room are invaluable and can only improvethe standard of club cricket going forward."
Under the allocation agreement teams will not be allowed to play two GCCCplayers in the same match unless one of them is home grown. However Academyplayers are free to play alongside a professional.
The final decision on availability will be made by GCCC based on thefitness, recent work load and the individual needs of the players. For exampleseam bowlers will generally not bowl in club cricket and are more likely toplay as a batsman in order to prevent injuries. One of the other conditions ofthe draft is that GCCC are able to stipulate where their players bat eg topfour, top seven etc.
Clubs will not pay their allocated players but will providefree pitch hire for Second XI, Academy and county youth games when required.
In addition to the draft, three pros have been allocated toclubs and/or leagues as non-playing ambassadors. Hamish Marshall will performan ambassadorial role for the Gloucestershire County Cricket League andRockhampton CC, Alex Gidman will do the same for Stroud CC and Hatherley andReddings CC. Gloucestershire skipper Michael Klinger will support the BristolYouth League and Brislington CC.
2014 Gloucestershire Player Allocation
Bristol CC –Cameron Herring and Gareth Roderick
Cheltenham CC –Dan Housego, David Payne and Liam Norwell
Downend CC – IanCockbain, James Fuller, Craig Miles
Frocester CC –Jack Taylor, Tom Smith
Keynsham CC –Benny Howell, Matt Taylor, Ian Saxelby
Thornbury CC–Will Gidman, Graeme McCarter