Quarter-finals a real bonus – Richardson
Gloucestershire chief executive Tom Richardson says the county's qualification for the quarter-finals of the Friends Life t20 competition is 'a huge bonus'.
Perennial whipping boys in the short format since finishing runners-up in 2007, Gloucestershire's young squad were not expected to emerge from a tough Midlands/Wales/West Group that included Somerset, Glamorgan, Worcestershire, Warwickshire and Northamptonshire.
Yet the Gladiators confounded their critics and upset the form-book, winning three games in succession to come from behind and claim second place behind neighbours and arch-rivals Somerset.
They are now relishing the prospect of causing another major upset when they travel to Hove to take on Sussex on Tuesday, July 24.
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Financial pressures have seen many of Gloucestershire's established players depart the County Ground in recent seasons and director of cricket John Bracewell and captain Alex Gidman have been charged with the task of rebuilding and nurturing a squad brimful of youthful enthusiasm.
Richardson said: "We have said all along that the development of this team will take time and that people are going to have to be patient.
"This remains a work in progress and, as such, expectations have understandably been a bit lower.
"So to get through to the last eight against all the odds is a huge and unexpected bonus.
"This group of young players and the coaching staff deserve a great deal of credit for what is a remarkable achievement.
"All we can ask is that the players continue to progress and the improvement we have seen already this year is hugely encouraging.
"We have real confidence in this squad and the strides they are making prove we have a very good back-room team in place."
Having registered three straight wins over Somerset, Worcestershire and Northants to qualify, Gloucestershire t20 skipper Hamish Marshall and his players will believe they can reach finals day at Cardiff's Swalec Stadium on Saturday, August 25.
Richardson added: "We have to take it one game at a time, but we are only one game away.
"Twenty20 is all about momentum and that is something we have had from the day we beat Somerset at Taunton.
"Sussex are a very good team and it will be tough, but we will go there in good form and good heart."
Gloucestershire had potentially money-spinning home games against Somerset and Glamorgan washed out and Richardson admitted the wet weather had taken a toll on the county's already stretched finances.
He said: "We take out insurance against rain as a contingency, but of course we will lose money.
"I think every county up and down the land has been affected and it is immensely frustrating."