Head coach Richard Dawson believes Gloucestershire are better equipped to win promotion in the Specsavers County Championship than at any time since he took charge in 2015, writes Richard Latham.

The match against Glamorgan at Bristol, starting on Sunday, will see Dawson’s men defending an 11-match unbeaten run in the competition, stretching back to August last year.

This season Gloucestershire have won one and drawn five of their six Championship matches. They are 14 points behind Sussex, who occupy the third promotion position in the Second Division, with a game in hand on all three teams above them.

One of those are second-placed Glamorgan, making the forthcoming clash between the sides a potentially key fixture.

Dawson admits as much and is looking to his players to continue the progress made since the midway point of the last Championship campaign.

“The challenge for us this summer was to continue where we had left off last year and that has proved the case,” he said.

“If we couldn’t win games, we had to become difficult to beat. The last game against Leicestershire was a perfect example of that because they made a big first innings score and we responded by going past it.

“I also challenged our top order batsmen to not just make centuries, but big hundreds. Chris Dent hit 176 and Ryan Higgins 199, which is something we have not seen enough of from our batting unit while I have been head coach.

“Against Glamorgan we will probably be asked to bat first because that is what usually happens when teams visit Bristol. If so, we need to apply scoreboard pressure.

“We have players in the form to do that. Having become very resilient as a side, we now need to force some victories.

“That is the next step, but I believe we are moving forward and that this group of players is the strongest I have had.”

Matt Taylor was rested for the Leicestershire game and could return to the bowling attack, having claimed 19 wickets in five Championship appearances this season.

The Glamorgan match is expected to feature the home debut of overseas signing Chadd Sayers. The 31-year-old Australian claimed three for 91 in the first innings at Grace Road, his first wickets since replacing the injured Dan Worrall.

Dawson said: “The pitches we have played on at Arundel and Leicester since Chadd arrived have not helped him much. He is shorter in height than Dan and relies on skidding the ball through.

“There is a lot more to come from him because he will generally be suited by English conditions.”

Higgins goes into the Glamorgan match on the back of successive centuries in his last two Championship appearances. Last season the former Middlesex all-rounder excelled with the ball and is proving an outstanding Dawson signing.

“Ryan has been fantastic for us,” said the head coach. “He has three Championship hundreds to his name already this summer, reward for all the hard work he puts into his game.”

Another all-rounder, Benny Howell, has signed an extended three-year contract with Gloucestershire, tying him the club until the end of the 2022 season.