THIS is the time to look forward. It is the time for hopes and dreams – a metaphorical buckling on of pads or taking one’s seat in the stand.

It is a time to plan trips to exciting fixtures or tournaments and above all it is a rare time for total optimism.

That is how I regard the future fortunes of our county cricket club. The fixture list is the most exciting for years and we have some fine emerging cricketers.

We looked short of an opening bat and captain but then came the news that Gloucestershire had signed the experienced Aussie Michael Klinger.

This is another coup for John Bracewell and the county, especially as Klinger is available for all three domestic competitions.

Yes, we are short of a spin bowler – but perhaps not for too much longer, as two players in Gloucestershire’s Academy have been selected for the England U19 tour of South Africa.

Tom Shrewsbury and Miles Hammond are further examples of the raft of young talent at Bristol, following Chris Dent and David Payne in gaining international recognition at U19 level.

Their tour consists of both Test matches and ODIs and will be a real learning experience for two talented cricketers.

Tom, from Cornwall, is completing his education at Wycliffe College, Stroud, as part of an agreement between school and club. Miles is based in Oxford.

Both have been under the wing of Academy Director Owen Dawkins and could be pushing for first team recognition this season.

Of the senior staff, Alex Gidman is slimmer and trimmer and looks capable of glorious Gidman runs. At the most exciting Cheltenham Festival, cheering his 1,000 runs for the season would be a delight.

The signing of 2012 was Carolyn Prosser, who is now responsible for PR at the County Cricket Ground and acts as Tom Richardson’s PA.

Possessed of both glamour and gumption in abundance, Carolyn is expert at keeping everyone informed at what happens at Bristol – look at the website and you will see what I mean.

I have one challenge for her. My greatest achievement as chairman was restoring caramel slices to the lunch bag given to journalists.

The national cricket press rose as one in acclaim. I was mentioned in ECB dispatches. They have been withdrawn again to the dismay of the press. You know what you have to do, Carolyn.

The lowest moment of 2012 came at Cheltenham. Gloucestershire’s promotion push was still possible but a run chase against Leicestershire was mismanaged. Forty-seven runs needed, six wickets in hand, ten overs left. It should have been easy. I hope lessons were learned.