RICHARD Dawson is set to ring the changes in Gloucestershire’s under-performing batting line-up for the Specsavers County Championship clash with Leicestershire at Grace Road, starting on Tuesday.
That could mean a first appearance in the competition this season for Benny Howell and only a second for Ian Cockbain.
Young wicketkeeper-batsman James Bracey is also pushing for selection as Dawson seeks to solve a problem that has dogged his team for much of the season.
The head coach was unhappy with the efforts of some of his batsmen in the 189-run defeat by Worcestershire at New Road during the week and admits there have not been sufficient runs from the top order.
Dawson said: ‘We lost wickets through silly mistakes in our first innings and it has to stop.
‘We asked for a bit of backbone. Jack Taylor through the match batted very well, while Gareth Roderick went out in the second innings and showed he can bat against good spin bowling.
‘But overall you want your batsmen to go on and make big scores and we’ve not done that often enough.
‘We have four games left before I sit down and start thinking about next summer. That is a lot of cricket, but we have to start posting scores that put the opposition under pressure.
‘We are not a rich club and I always seek to develop talent we have, rather than looking outside for answers.
‘But we need our batsmen to spend more time at the crease. We actually played Ravichandran Ashwin well at Worcester when he was expected to be the main danger, only to make mistakes against the other bowlers.’
Howell looks set to come into the side following a century for the Second XI against MCC Young Cricketers during the week and there could also be a place for Cockbain, who made 27 against Northamptonshire in his only Championship appearance this season.
Both players have been regulars in one-day cricket and have the experience to bolster the batting unit.
Bracey, 20, made his Championship debut against Sussex at Bristol in the final game of last season. He hit a century for the Second XI against MCC Universities recently and is close to another first-team opportunity. David Payne missed the Worcestershire game, having suffered a reaction to a hernia operation he had earlier this summer, and faces a fitness test before the Leicestershire match.
But Liam Norwell, who suffered a badly dislocated finger at New Road, was able to bowl after visiting hospital to have it put back in place and should retain his place in the side.
Norwell took his wicket-tally for the season to 46 with seven victims against Worcestershire, despite hav- ing played in only eight games.
Tom Smith finished with six wickets at New Road on his first Championship appearance of the season and bowled really well, according the Dawson. Other than that, there was little to cheer the head coach. ‘Worcestershire played the conditions better than we did with both bat and ball,’ he admitted.
‘We thought we did a de- cent enough job with the ball on the opening day, but in our first innings we made too many unforced errors which put us behind in the game.’