Director of cricket John Bracewell believes Gloucestershire are going places now that an ambitious project to redevelop the County Ground is finally underway.
While Bristol’s football clubs, City and Rovers, have faced frustration and delay in their plans to move to new stadiums, Gloucestershire are the first of the city’s major sporting institutions to modernise their facilities.
And New Zealander Bracewell is convinced a revamped County Ground will play a crucial role in improving performances on the field.
Hit hard by the recession in 2008, Gloucestershire were forced to cut costs dramatically and have, as a direct consequence, endured a number of fallow seasons.
Through prudent management of the finances, Gloucestershire have since returned to profitability and the transformation of the club’s Nevil Road headquarters into a venue fit to host international cricket is expected to signal a return to competitiveness on the field.
The County Ground may resemble a building site right now, but there is a refreshing air of optimism around the place as Gloucestershire look forward to their first home LV= County Championship fixture of the season against Northants, starting tomorrow.
“The investment in the ground will help us become a destination club,” said Bracewell, who has become accustomed to Gloucestershire’s best players moving elsewhere for more money in recent years.
“You have got to become a destination club if you want to progress. If you are seen as a feeder club, or develop a mentality as a feeder club, you are not going to get anywhere.
“If players are going to come to you and stay until you have made them good enough, it means other clubs will then benefit from your hard work further down the line. That is something we have to avoid at all costs.
“At the moment, we are not attractive enough, because our playing facilities are not good enough. That is now part of the cricket plan and our business plan is very heavily slanted towards investment in cricket.
“That was the point of me coming back (for a second spell as director of cricket).
“Unfortunately, the whole process has taken six years and the club has had to take some steps back to move forwards again.
“Cricket has borne the brunt of that and we have had about £500,000 taken out of our budget over the past three or four years.
“We have lost our senior and middle management within the team, because players have gone elsewhere for money.
“You cannot blame or accuse the players of anything, because it was what it was. But no longer – now we can make a difference.
“In three years’ time, I think we will see that investment bear fruit. International cricket will help us retain our best young players, because the extra £300,000 or so that comes from that will be invested into cricket.”
Gloucestershire’s plans for the game against Northants have been thrown into turmoil by the injury that has forced fast bowler James Fuller on to the sidelines.
Fuller fractured a finger on the final day of the drawn match against Essex at Chelmsford and joins fellow bowlers Ian Saxelby and Paul Muchall on the treatment table.
Forced to make changes to their seam attack, Gloucestershire skipper Michael Klinger will have no option but to consider youngsters Graeme McCarter, Craig Miles and Matt Taylor when selecting a side to face Northants.