At the start of the season I picked out Chris Dent as the Gloucestershire player to watch this summer. Now his county captain has endorsed what he called Dent’s “huge” potential.
I watched the former England Under 19’s left hander make his first Championship century at the 2011 Cheltenham Festival against Surrey. He missed the early part of last season with a broken finger but still averaged 30, and then last Sunday punished the Glamorgan attack to the tune of 151 not out, his first hundred in one day cricket.
Dent, at 22, won’t feel out of place in a team that for this week’s Championship match at Worcester has eight players who are 24 or under. Against that backdrop, Klinger sees a player with all the right components to his game.
“He’s got good technique and temperament” the Australian told me. ” He’s patient but he scores off the bad balls. The pitch here (New Road) was a bit tacky at the start but he played the ball late and had got a start Richardson bowled him a good one. That happens. He looks in good form and I’m sure a big score in the Championship will come for him.”
Klinger agreed to lead Gloucestershire’s youthful squad just before Christmas, and he puts his solid form in the first few weeks, which has already seen him hit two Championship centuries, down to his short spell with Worcestershire last summer. It was his first taste of county cricket.
“It was helpful because it gave me a sight of the busy schedule over here, and it is very different” Klinger said. “It’s held me in good stead and enabled me to get some scores on the board. Runs are important because I’m someone who tries to lead by example and obviously we have a young group. You’ve got to expect some ups and downs but we demand discipline and we’re always aiming to be more consistent.”
As captain, Klinger also has to use all his man management skills when things aren’t going Gloucestershire’s way. Wednesday wasn’t one of the better days so far.
Worcestershire dismissed Gloucestershire for 234, and then batted through the final 23 overs of the day with openers Mitchell and Pardoe still together. However this is the latest in a series of away matches, caused by the club’s request to load home games at the back end of the summer because of the redevelopment work at the County Ground. It’s a situation Klinger says the squad can cope with.
“The guys have been receptive to new ideas and although we’ve been on the road a lot we’re in a decent position on both the Championship and the 40 over competition. We lost quite a lot of the Hampshire championship game to rain but still played some good cricket, and we want to make Bristol a ground people dislike coming to – a bit of a fortress, if you like.”
The fixture list showed only 10 days of first team cricket at Nevil Road between the start of the season and June 5th. Factor in the Cheltenham Festival and there is no championship game at Bristol for more than two months after that. Gloucestershire’s fortress will be well and truly refurbished by then.