GLOUCESTERSHIRE director of cricket John Bracewell is rubbing his hands at the prospect of his side taking on the South Africans in a one-day match at Bristol next Wednesday, August 22. The former New Zealand head coach is determined to put one over on the tourists, who will be finalising their preparations for a five-match ODI series against England, starting just two days after their visit to the County Ground.
But Bracewell also believes the match will be a tremendous learning experience for Gloucestershire’s young squad, as well as providing a feast of entertainment for home supporters.
He said: “South Africa are becoming a formidable one-day side. Their bowling attack is gathering the ability to be successful in all forms of cricket and I am looking forward to seeing our guys tested by the likes of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel.
“They are starting to be up there with the Lillee-Thomson, Marshall-Holding fast bowling partnerships and they instigate fear through pace, hostility and, above all, control.
“As far as their batting is concerned, of all the great players in the world, I think A.B.de Villiers is an absolute star of one-day cricket.
“His ability to find space in the field and also hit the ball out of the ground is something to behold.
“I hope that first and foremost we are competitive because it is always a challenge facing top international opposition and we will set out to win the game.
“Secondly, South Africa are one of the most professional units in world cricket at the moment, so I hope our players watch how they operate.
“The best teams not only have talent, but put together a lot of those one per centers to make the difference. The sides who deal in detail are the ones really worth watching.”
It says a lot about Bracewell that even at an advanced stage in his own career he will be looking to pick up some coaching tips from the tour game.
He said: “I shall be looking at how their coach Gary Kirsten operates, even though he is younger and less experienced than I am.
“There is nothing wrong with people being younger than you and you looking up to them. Gary has some very special skills that I can glean information from.”
Bracewell expects the tourists to field a very strong side so close to the start of the ODI series.
He said: “They will be treating the tour game as a serious preparation for the one-day series against England so our supporters will have the opportunity to see some of the best cricketers in the world gathered together.”
Tickets are available from Gloucestershire CCC at advance prices of £15 for adults, £5 for under-16s and £32 for a family of four (two adults, two under-16s). There is also a group offer to buy tickets for £10 each when you buy five or more. Supporters can call the ticket phone line on 0117 910 8010 or buy online via www.gloscricket.co.uk Gloucestershire need to beat Lancashire in their final home group game of the Clydesdale Bank 40 at Bristol on Sunday (1.45pm).
They will be boosted by the return of all-rounder Will Gidman, who was named in the squad to face Kent in the County Championship this week after being kept on the sidelines for the last month with a side injury.
James Fuller has also recovered from a side injury, but fellow seamers Ian Saxelby (knee) and Paul Muchall (back) are doubtful after picking up injuries in the four-day game against Hampshire last week.
Group leaders Lancashire, who are three points ahead of Gloucestershire having played a game less, will book their place in the semi-finals with a win.
Gloucestershire’s most realistic chance of qualifying is by finishing as the best runner-up from the three groups, meaning they still have to win their last two games.