Alex Gidman: Our away form must improve if we are to progress in t20
IF we are going to give ourselves a realistic shot at qualifying for the later stages of the Friends Life t20 competition, we can no longer be so dependent upon home comforts. Although our record in matches in Bristol has been pretty decent down the years, we cannot say the same of our performances on the road.
Remarkable wins against Surrey at The Oval and Sussex at Hove stand out in recent seasons, but successes away from Nevil Road have been few and far between.
And therein lies the reason behind our failure to make the quarter-finals since 2007.
Cricket tends to be like football in that it is easier to play at home than away and more victories are achieved when conditions are familiar.
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Until Gloucestershire are able to perform outside of their comfort zone, qualification for the knockout stages will continue to prove an uphill struggle.
Of course it is more difficult to compete in the opposition's back yard, especially in t20 cricket where bigger crowds tend to be more hostile.
Conditions can sometimes be unfamiliar and the home side will invariably have quality players who rise to encouragement from the supporters and put you under pressure.
You cannot afford to be a shrinking violet in those circumstances; you have to stand up to it and learn how to cope with the pressure. In short, we are on a steep learning curve and we must learn from the difficult experiences on the road and find a way to win on other grounds if we are to improve as a group.
It can be hard for young players when they are asked to perform in a hostile and unfamiliar environment, but the best teams simply do not allow themselves to be intimidated.
Away games in t20 do not come any harder than Somerset at Taunton and that is something we have to face up to and deal with on Friday.
People are quick to point to the heavy defeats we have suffered there in recent years and describe Taunton as a bit of a graveyard for us. I guess it is easy to fall into that negative mind-set, especially when you have been on th wrong end of a bad result. But it is not all doom and gloom and I recall winning as many games as I have lost down there during my time at Gloucestershire.
In particular, I remember one time when we bowled Somerset out for about 120 and then Craig Spearman and Ian Harvey knocked off the runs inside ten overs to complete a stunning triumph. As if to prove that was no fluke, we won again a couple of years ago against a team that included Justin Langer, Marcus Trescothick and Cameron White.
If we travel to Taunton suffering from any kind of inferiority complex, we will more than likely be beaten before we even take the field.
We have to believe we can win if we are to cause an upset.
In my opinion, Somerset are by far the best t20 team in the country this year and they are the benchmark by which every other teams measures itself.
If I am honest, I think we are playing for second place in our group, along with a number of other teams. Our best chance lies in Somerset winning their games, and the group, and us sneaking through in second place. That is in no way defeatist, rather an honest assessment of where we are when it comes to t20 cricket.
Given that we have four points from as many games and Warwickshire are in second place with six from five, tonight's meeting with the Bears in Bristol is likely to prove a pivotal contest in the race for the last eight in the competition.
Certainly, we have nothing to fear playing at home and we will be looking to pick up where we left off against Northants at Nevil Road last Friday.
Just as we did in the Championship and CB40 competitions, when we lost to Essex and the Netherlands, respectively, we lost our opening game in t20 to Worcestershire.
Once again, we were a bit ring-rusty and paid the price for failing to adapt quickly enough.
Yet on each occasion we have bounced back strongly to win the next game, beating Hampshire in the Championship, Middlesex in the CB40 and Northants in the t20.
If nothing else, it shows that the players are prepared to listen and learn from their mistakes.
It also proves they have the strength of character to bounce back from adversity, always a good sign in a team that has ambitions to win trophies.
I was particularly impressed with our fielding and bowling display against Northants, an area in which we fell short in the opening game at Worcester.
Our bowlers have worked really hard on improving their skills during the winter and our at-the-death bowling was top class against a Northants batting line-up that carried a very real threat.
Ian Saxelby's spell with the new ball grabbed the attention but, for me at least, it was his accuracy in the final overs that saw us home.
Interview: Andy Stockhausen