Record-breaker Roderick drafted in by Cheltenham
GARETH Roderick could return to action for Cheltenham this summer – but only if he's not required for county duty by Gloucestershire.
Prolific run-scorer Roderick enjoyed a superb 2012 season at the Victoria Ground, breaking the aggregate run record in the West of England Premier League with 1,231.
The South African-born wicketkeeper-batsman's form for Cheltenham alerted Gloucestershire to his talents and after impressing on trial, he penned a two-year professional deal with the County.
Roderick will be joined in the Cheltenham ranks by fellow keeper-batsman Richard Coughtrie – now the County's two senior wicketkeepers.
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The retirement of veteran former Surrey stumper Jon Batty at the end of last season, left Coughtrie and Roderick as Gloucestershire's two specialist glovemen and the two are set to battle it out to be the County's first choice this season.
County professionals were allocated to clubs for the 2013 campaign based on an American-style draft, whereby the teams finishing lowest in last season's West of England Premier League get the first pick.
And Cheltenham, who are newly promoted to Premier Two, had the first choice.
The new system has been implemented to try to ensure local teams maintain their status in the top two tiers of club cricket.
It has been devised by Steve Silk from the Gloucestershire Cricket Board and Gloucestershire batting coach and academy director Owen Dawkins.
Silk said: "This is the third year of the draft, and in last two years it was done in a hierarchical system with the sides that finished highest in the previous season getting the first pick.
"We felt that to develop Gloucestershire cricket we need more teams in Premier One and Two, so by using the US model where the lowest teams pick players first it gives them a better chance of maintaining their status in the division and will make the league more competitive."
Cheltenham, Bristol, Thornbury, Keynsham, Frocester, Gloucester City Winget and Downend are the sides who have benefited from a list of seven pairs of players.
The pairings have been made to try to ensure that one of the professionals is likely to be available every Saturday, and where possible players that perform similar roles have been paired together.
Teams will not be allowed to play two allocated players in the same match unless one of them is home grown, and academy players are free to play alongside a professional.
The final decision on availability will be made by Gloucestershire based on the fitness, recent workload and the individual needs of the players.
Dawkins said: "As a County club we are dedicated to the long-term development of all Gloucestershire cricketers in partnership with the Gloucestershire Cricket Board.
"The aim of the new draft system is to improve the overall quality of the league, which we hope will strengthen cricket in Gloucestershire at all levels.
"A competitive league is crucial for developing better cricketers and we want to play our part by making sure our professionals play club cricket when available."
In addition to the draft, four pros have been allocated to clubs and/or leagues as non-playing ambassadors.
For example, former Gloucestershire captain Alex Gidman will help mentor Stroud and his home club Hatherley and Reddings.
Silk explained: "All of the pros are ambassadors whether they are playing or non-playing, but the idea of these new roles is for some of the more senior players to help get GCCC out into the community."
GCCC Player Allocation 2013: Bristol CC – Dan Housego and Jack Taylor; Cheltenham CC – Richard Coughtrie and Gareth Roderick; Downend CC – Ian Cockbain and Paul Muchall; Frocester CC – Liam Norwell and Benny Howell; Gloucester City Winget CC – Ed Young and Graham McCarter; Keynsham CC – James Fuller and Matt Taylor; Thornbury – Will Gidman and Craig Miles.