AS STRANGE as it may sound for a side that finished bottom of the County Championship this year, but Gloucestershire fans can look forward to 2013 with renewed optimism.

With work now underway on developing the County Ground in Bristol the club can finally look to the future.

The initial plans were turned down by Bristol City Council in January, fuelling speculation that the club were going to move grounds, with Filton airfield discussed as a possible site.

However, the revised plans were approved in May, allowing them to continue hosting international cricket.

County members can also look forward to seeing a new captain next year with Australian Michael Klinger taking on the role last week after Alex Gidman stepped down in September.

Klinger replaces Kane Williamson as Gloucestershire’s overseas player after he joined the club for a second spell on the eve of the season in April, while the position was also filled in short spells by Rob Nicol and Ed Cowan, whose progress with the Australian team ended the hopes of him returning next year.

Gloucestershire boosted their batting lineup with Dan Housego arriving in January and Benny Howell joining in April, the same month that a settlement package was reached with Chris Taylor after his long spell at the club ended in acrimonious circumstances in February.

Muttiah Muralitharan’s two-year spell as the club’s T20 overseas player came to an end after he helped them reach the quarter-finals for the first time in five years.

The curtain came down on his county career in a game where Scott Styris hit the third fastest century in t20 history to see Sussex to victory by 39 runs.

Wicketkeeper Jon Batty also retired at the end of the season in September, but the departure that could turn out to be the biggest blow came when highly-rated bowling coach Stuart Barnes joined Surrey in October.

Gareth Roderick immediately arrived as Batty’s replacement with high hopes that he can replicate the form that saw him score over 1,000 runs for Cheltenham this year and with several talented young players tied down to long term contracts there is genuine hope that performances on the pitch will improve next season.

In the local cricket scene, Cam had more to celebrate as both their first and second teams were promoted from Division Two and Division Five respectively of the Gloucestershire County League in September.

There was also a special guest at the club in April when England women’s captain Charlotte Edwards opened their new nets.

A Lashings XI side featuring Mohammed Yousuf, Devon Malcolm and Ian Harvey returned to Rockhampton CC for the second year in a row, while Mike Smith took a side of Gloucestershire Legends to Oldlands to officially open their new pavilion in May.

Dursley Rugby Club celebrated promotion in April, and are now playing at the highest level in their history in the Gloucester Premier Division.

In football, Forest Green Rovers continued to make progress with the backing of green energy tycoon Dale Vince as their chairman, and will be hopeful of having something special to celebrate themselves in 2013.

A run to the play-offs of the Blue Square Premier proved beyond them in the 2011/12 season despite improved performances in the second half of the campaign that saw them finish tenth.

Boss Dave Hockaday made a raft of high profile signings this year, including goalkeeper Sam Russell, midfielder Jamie Collins and striker Magno Vieira, to fuel hopes of a promotion push this season and an impressive first half means they will head into the New Year with their sights set firmly on the play-offs at least.

Former chairman Trevor Horsley ended his long association with the club in June after a war of words with Vince.

However, Vince’s friendship with former England defender Gary Neville also saw a Manchester United XI visit the New Lawn for a friendly in August, with a brace from Yan Klukowski, who has enjoyed a fine year, securing a 2-2 draw for Forest Green.

Cam Bulldogs smashed club records on their way to promotion from Gloucestershire Northern Senior League Division Two in April as they recorded 12 successive wins and clean sheets in a row.

However, there was a major loss for local football when Cam’s Ladies disbanded in September due to a lack of players.

Wotton Hockey Club had much to celebrate with their men’s first team winning the Davis Wood League Severn Division and their women’s second team being promoted as runners-up from Hereford and Gloucestershire Division Two.