County Cricket Championship begins this week: Preparations in full swing for Gloucestershire

Summer is on the horizon, and that means the County Championship isn’t far from getting underway.

One of the staples of the English cricket season, which was first officially played in 1890, begins on Thursday and runs until the end of September.

After a couple of Covid-effected seasons, the tournament will return to two separate divisions this year, with 10 clubs in Division One and eight in Division Two.

Gloucestershire finished 3rd in the first stage of last year’s competition, placing them in Division Two for the second stage.

Their second-placed finish there means that they’ll play in Division One this time around.

Gloucestershire have been involved in a warm-up match this week against Exeter University, but the final day of the three-day contest has been delayed by rain.

Leading by 53 runs after the first innings, Gloucestershire have the narrow advantage.

Former England player James Bracey is in the XI, and was dismissed for 30, while Matt Taylor took five wickets.

Gloucestershire get their league campaign underway on Thursday away to Northamptonshire, and it’s the first in a gruelling schedule of fixtures, with six four-day games to be played in the space of seven weeks.

19-year-old Naseem Shah will be fit to play, which will be a welcome boost for Dale Benkenstein’s side.

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