Gloucestershire captain Jack Taylor and David Payne optimistic for 2024 Vitality T20 Blast campaign following opening day win over Essex Eagles

Gloucestershire made a winning start to this year’s Vitality T20 Blast campaign with an emphatic five-wicket win over last year’s finalists Essex Eagles.

It was new head coach Mark Alleyne’s first white ball game in charge.

At the Seat Unique stadium in Bristol T20 Captain Jack Taylor won the toss and elected to field first.

England international David Payne made a fast start, taking two wickets in the first over.

Before the game Payne spoke about his specific preparation: “For myself, not playing in the red ball stuff I’ve had a huge training block and managed to do some really good focused training on white ball cricket.”

“I feel fresh and ready to hit the ground running.”

The fast bowler finished the game with figures of 4-24 from his four overs, taking the wickets of Essex’s top three batsmen and the Australian all-rounder Daniel Sams.

“In an ideal world I would have liked to have played a couple more warmup games,” Payne added.

“For some of the red ball lads they might have one hit in a warmup match so they will be going in fresh, but sometimes that works well.”

Taylor’s decision to bowl first proved to be effective as his side restricted Essex to a total of 141/9 from their 20 overs.

Speaking after Gloucestershire two T20 warmup fixtures against Northamptonshire, Taylor said: “We wanted today as a final run out to practice some skills ahead of Essex.

“All of the boys were involved in one of the warmup games, it’s good to have a run out and be back here in Cheltenham.”

Starting the tournament with a double header against Essex and Sussex Sharks doesn’t worry the captain, with him going on to say: “I’m fully confident we’ve got the squad that can get us to those quarter finals, which is the first step.

“We want to play as good a cricket as we can, we will just be trying to take each game at a time.”

Taylor scored 88 (50) in the first warm-up match against Northamptonshire to help lead his side to victory, also taking two wickets.

“It’s nice that we are playing some good cricket and have a few players in form,” Gloucestershire’s captain added.

Despite a strong start in their opening game of the tournament Gloucestershire’s Payne believes the sides expectations are “very open” for the tournament.

“From the outside it feels like people are expecting us to not compete and not do well which for our group works well”, added the left-arm bowler. We thrive off an underdog feeling.”

Sussex play their opening game of the tournament against Gloucestershire who will be hoping to reverse the result from the County Championship in this shorter white ball format.

Gloucestershire’s Ajeet Singh Dale has featured in Alleyne’s red ball side against Sussex and is also in the T20 Blast squad.

Having prepared with competitive cricket in Division Two of the County Championship Dale believes the side are: “really excited.”

Dale noted the improvement from last season, where Gloucestershire finished bottom without a win, saying: “It’s been a great start from a four day perspective so we are looking to take that into the blast.

“We’ve had fresh ideas going into this season, we are in a really positive mindset.”

Having featured in the second T20 warmup game against Northamptonshire, where Dale took two wickets in Gloucestershire’s 33 run victory, he admitted he is: “really excited to get out here and play a different format of cricket.”

The right-arm fast bowler holds similar expectations to his teammates heading into the tournament, saying: “Our first objective is to be competitive in each game.”

With new coach Alleyne adding a change in mentality, Dale said: “We started with the four day stuff just to get to day four with the belief that we can win.

“Going into the white ball format we want to see how far we can go.”

With the top four from the North and South group’s making the knockout stages, Dale is managing expectations.

“At the end of the day you want to win trophies but there’s 14 games so we just want to take each game as it comes, get as many wins as possible and see where that puts us at the end of the group.

“Hopefully it get us to finals day."